The study investigated the Effects of Ethno-Religious Conflicts on Economic Development of Nigeria: A Case Study of Langtang North LGA of Plateau State. Descriptive survey research design was adopted. Questionnaires were administered to147 respondents which include 80 Christians, 33 Muslims and 34 Traditionalists, who were selected using the quota sampling technique. Out of 147 questionnaires administered, 142 were returned, out of which 2 were wrongly filled and thus rejected. At the end, only 140 questionnaires were used. Simple percentage was used to analyse the data collected. Chi-square test was used in testing the research hypothesis. The table value was 9.49 while the calculated value was 72.2. The null hypothesis was therefore rejected. The work revealed that the effects of ethno-religious conflicts on economic development of Nigeria are enormous among which are: destruction of human and material resources, unstable educational system, diversion of government resources to security for maintenance of peace, retardation of economic development, weakened of patriotism, disinvestment of local and foreign companies with continuous capital flight and loss of confidence in the economy etc. Therefore, it was established that ethno-religious conflicts do significantly negatively affect economic development of Nigeria and is capable of disintegrating the country. The researcher however, to avert this, went ahead to make some useful recommendations on how to control if not prevent ethno-religious conflicts in the country, if the country must remain as an entity and also to developed.





Nigeria is the most populated black nation in the world. It has a population of about one hundred and sixty million (160,000,000). According to Salawa B. (2010), Nigeria has over four hundred (400) ethnic groups, belonging to several religious sects. Since independence Nigeria has remained a multi-ethnic nation state, which has been grappling and trying to cope with the problem of ethnicity on the one hand, and the problem of ethno-religious conflicts on the other. This is because over the years the phenomena of ethnicity and religious intolerance have led to incessant recurrence of ethno-religious conflicts, which have given birth to many ethnic militia groups like the O’ dua People Congress (OPC); the Bakassi Boys; the Egbesu Boys; the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC); and the Igbo People Congress (IPC). Others include the Arewa Poeple Congress (APC) the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB); and the Ohanaeze N’digbo (Daily Trust; 20/8/2002). With the emergence of these ethnic militias and the deep divides between the various ethnic groups, religious intolerance has become more violent and bloody with more devastating results using the ethnic militias as the executors of ethno-religious agenda.

While it is true that it is not possible to know the exact number of ethno-religious conflicts due to lack of adequate statistical data on this issue, it is interesting to note that about forty percent (40%) of ethno-religion based conflicts in Nigeria are credited to the fourth Republic. The fact that there is a recent increase in the number of ethno-religious conflicts in the country makes it a relevant issue of research. Also because of the violent nature of ethno-religious conflicts, which often take the form of riots, sabotage, assassination, armed struggles, guerilla warfare, crisis and secession in Nigeria, they no doubt have implications on economic development of the country and thus making it an important issue for research. Ethno-religious conflicts in whatever context even becomes more necessary given the fact that there is a phenomenal recurrence of ethno­religious conflict across the nation thereby increasing the level of general insecurity particularly in the areas where such conflicts had ever occurred.

By ethno-religious conflict, it means a situation in which the relationship between members of one ethnic or religious group and another of such group in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society is characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion and fear, and a tendency towards violent confrontation. Lamenting on this, a former military Head of State and later a civilian President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was said to have highlighted this “Fear, suspicion, intolerance, and greed have been constant in every crisis and confrontation in Nigeria. It is the psychological fear of discrimination and domination. It is fear of deprivation or not getting one’s fair share. It is variously described; at the political level, it is constitutional imbalance; at economic level as uneven distribution of national cake; and at the educational development level as inequality of opportunity” (Daily Times, 1984).

In Nigeria, it is interesting to note that ethnicity and religious bigotry have become a fulcrum of various forms of nationalism ranging from assertion of language, cultural autonomy and religious superiority to demands for local political autonomy and self-determination. All these sometimes lead to some forms of contextual discrimination of members of one ethnic or religious group against another on the basis of differentiated systems of socio-cultural symbols and religion. Therefore, in a multi-ethnic and religiously diverse society like Nigeria, with some forms of contextual discrimination, relationships between people may be characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual suspicion and fear as it is the case among the ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria.

The history of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria can be traced back to the early 1980s. Thus, before the present democratic dispensation in Nigeria, there were ethno-religious conflicts that claimed so many lives and property (Mohammed, 2005). Notable among such crises are the Maitatsine religious disturbances in parts of Kano and Maiduguri in 1982; Jimeta-Yola religious disturbances (1984), and Zango Kataf crises in Kaduna State (1992). Others are Kafanchan College of Education Muslim Christian riots; Kaduna Polytechnic Muslim-Christian skirmishes (1981-1982); and the Cross vs the Crescent conflict at the University of lbadan (1981-1985). Yet other early ethno-religious conflicts include the Bulumkutu Christian-Muslim riots (1982); Usman Danfodio University Sokoto (1982); and the Muslim-Christian Clash during a Christian procession at Easter in Ilorin, Kwara State (1986).

In 1990, the invitation of Reinhard Bonnke, a German Christian preacher to Kano, was met with bitter opposition by the Muslims, who felt cheated for previously denying Ahmed Deedat, a Muslim preacher from South Africa, to come to the country for the same purpose (evangelism). The crises took place between 11 and 14, October 1990 and left behind a casualty of over 500 lives and million-worth property.

The October 1991 Tiv-Jukun ethnic crisis is a conflict over land ownership and political domination. The crisis was said to have claimed not less than 5,000 lives with dozens of villages burnt, while up to 150,000 residents fled the war zone in the exodus that followed (Newswatch, 1991).

With the birth of the fourth Republic, Nigeria and Nigerians have no-known peace. In October, 1999, Governor Ahmed Yerima of Zamfara State introduced Islamic law known as Sharia and was greeted with pockets of unserious protest. However, the hitherto subdue fire was ignited when Governor Mohammed Makarfi of Kaduna State tried to introduce the Islamic code in February 2000. Because of the deep seated animosities or ill feelings between the Muslims and Christians in Kaduna State in general and the state capital in particular, coupled with the fact that both Christians and Muslims are almost at par in population, the two went for their swords and many were slained in cold blood.

In the Kaduna riots, the Igbo tribe who are predominantly Christian ethnic group were mostly affected. As it should be expected of Nigerians, Enugu and other Igbo cities erupted in violence when many Igbo returned dead and those who were lucky to escape had tales of woe to tell, as they too were targets of attack by the Hausa/Fulani in Kaduna. It is important to note here that the Kaduna/Enugu ethno-religious riots had some features that look like the prelude to the 1967-1970 Nigeria civil war.

In October, 2000, another ethno-religious conflict occurred. This was the Lagos-(Idi-Araba/Oko- Oba) Kano mayhems. The cause of this was the misunderstanding between the Hausa residents and the Yoruba in Idi Araba in Lagos over the use of a convenience by a Hausa resident; as a result of this misunderstanding, each group went for their swords and many lives and property were destroyed.

In October, 2001, there was another mayhem in Kano. This was, however, caused by an international event when some terrorists attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in the United State of America. Shortly after, the United States launched an offensive attack against the Taliban government in Afghanistan and because of this; Kano erupted with another round of ethno-religious conflict. In this case, some Islamic fundamentalists who felt that the United States of America had no reason to bombard Afghanistan decided to set the city of Kano on fire. Like the most crises in the city, Christians were the target.

In February 18, 2006, it is disheartening to observe that over 700 lives were lost in crisis which erupted consequent upon certain cartoons against Prophet Muhammad published in Denmark. As if the ‘loyalists’ of the said Prophet were watching and waiting-by in Nigeria, they took to the street of Maiduguri in demonstration destroying properties worth billions of naira and burning Christian places of worship this act later turned to an ethnic crisis where several Igbo were killed. A revengeful attack on the Hausa communities in Enugu, Abia, Anambra, and Delta states therefore took place. The Hausa had their own share of the Igbo aggression where many Hausa Muslims were killed and mosques destroyed and burnt.

Jos -Plateau which was once referred to as the “Home of Peace and Tourism” at the time of conducting this research the city is being mockingly referred to as the “Home of Pieces and Terrorism” (Jeadayibe and Kudu, 2010), due to the activities of “Boko Haram” in the state of recent.

There were conflicts or crises between Hausa/Fulani and the Berom, Anaguta and Afizare in Jos North Local Government in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2010. The Tarok Vs Hausa/Fulani 2004 in Langtang North LGA had their share. In 2010 there was another dispute over reconstruction of a house destroyed by clashes of 2008 crisis in Jos North which claimed thousands lives and property worth millions.

In 2011 there was dispute between farmers and herdsmen over farmland in Barkin- Ladi leading to wanton destruction of lives and property.

In February, 2012 a suicide bomber ran into the headquarters of Church Of Christ in Nations (COCIN) Jos, instantly killing three, injuring 38 and damaging 30 vehicles.

Gunmen attack over 10 villages, killed over 300, including a serving Senator Gyang Dantong, and the majority leader of Plateau House of Assembly, Hon. Gyang Fulani in July, 2012 at Barkin Ladi (Kwaja, 2012).

Langtang North which is the case study of this work is not spared in the ethno-religious conflicts. Between 2000 to date there have been series of ethno-religious conflicts in the area.

Consensus in the literature on ethno-religious conflict is that ethno- religious conflict is a permanent feature of the Nigeria state (Salawu, 2010; Akinrinade; 2000; Irobi, 2010; and Adeyemi, 2007). What could be responsible for the country’s deepening ethno-religious contradiction?

The reason for all these turmoils witnessed across the country is attributed to the country colonial masters. The British had laid the foundation for the present ethno-religious crises by their 1914 amalgamation policy. Upon arriving, the British simply adopted their rules to the existing hegemonies in the North, East and West, thereby putting different ethnic and religious people together without any consultation with the various indigenous communities and ethnic groups which they met on ground on how best to co-exist and manage human and material resources. Regretting the action of British to merge diverse ethnic groups into one in Nigeria, the former Secretary of State at the British Colonial Office (1952-1959), Sir Peter Smitters, was reported to have lamented in an interview, thus: “During the debate for independence of Nigeria, the view of the Secretary of State at that time, was that in Nigeria we should attempt to put together a large and powerful state with ample material resources. This was attractive but it involved forcing several different ethnic and cultural groups into a single political structure. In exculpation, it must be said that we did not then have the examples of the collapse of Yugoslavia. It should now be clear for all but the willfully blind to see that it is extremely dangerous to force diverse radical and social entities into a single political structure” (Ali, 2004).

As stated earlier, Langtang North Local Government Area is not immune from ethno-religious conflicts. Langtang North came into existence as a result of the splitting of then Langtang Local Government Area. Langtang North Local Government is one of the seventeen LGAs of Plateau State. It was created on 27th August, 1991 during the administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida . It is situated 194 kilometers south east of Jos the state capital. It has four (4) districts, namely: Gazum, Kuffen, Pil-Gani and Bwarat. Langtang is the headquarters of Langtang North. The main ethnic group of the area is Taroh. Its population, by 2006 census figures, is 140, 643. It has fourteen (14) electoral wards.

Langtang North is greatly endowed with resources that make it an industrial haven yet to be appreciated. These include Clays, Feldspars and Granites.

The main economic activity of the people of the area is agriculture which for now is solely on subsistence scale asides business activities. Major crops grown include: Maize, Rice, Cotton, Guinea Corn, Millet, Cassava, Pepper etc. Taroh people also engage in livestock and poultry farming.

There are a lots of planned annual festivities in the area, prominent among them are: Ilum Otaroh (Taroh day), Ilum oga Gbak(Gbak day), Ibyari, Imalkan, Nche Orim etc. there is also one major mystery rock which is a tourist attraction that is worth mentioning called Dung Laka hill, named after a famous hunter whose footmarks, and that of his dog, horse and grave remain indelible on the rock. In terms of resorts and social activities, Langtang North has Tim Tali Motel, Zanzat Motel, Gaya Hotel, Club 7, Havilla Garden, Tim Tali Club etc. Langtang North is often referred to as the “Home of Generals” as the likes of General Nanven Joe Garba, Nimmyel Joshua

Dogonyaro, Domkat Bali, Jeremiah Timbut Useni, John Nanzip Shagaya etc hail from there. Despite the caliber of these prominent Army Generals being sons of the soil, it is not immune from ethno-religious conflict.


Religious or ethno-religious conflicts have occurred in many parts of Nigeria, with consequent destruction of lives and property. Phrases such as “un-Islamic” or un-Christian” have been used to describe the violent and criminal acts committed in the name of religion. A civilized religion should be concerned about peace, spiritual and social security and how to inspire adherents to relate to the Supreme Being as well as to fellow human being in love despite historical, cultural, ethnic or social differences. Whether the Supreme Being is referred to as “Allah’ or “God\ both Islam and Christianity are referring to a ‘Being’ that is Almighty, the creator and the ultimate judge of all human being. Unfortunately, some religious extremists or fundamentalists or fanatics as variously described go about their propagation in such a militant manner that one would think that God or Allah as variably called is incapable of helping to advance His own cause or He is so weak that He needs someone to defend Him and His teachings. For Muslim, Allah is transcendent. Quran 6:103 states that, “No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension, yet, is acquainted with all things” Christian theology assert too that God is incomprehensible because He is the creator of all that is and outside the order of all being. While both Muslims and Christians confess inability to comprehend God, some from both camps sometimes think they know exactly what God wants. Hence, interpreting the holy books in such manners that create tension in relationship.

This tension lead to crisis and crisis led to massive lost of shops, business premises, lives and other property. The consequences of these crises have led to low economic development of

Langtang North Local Government Area. In another word, how can remarkable development take place in an atmosphere of conflicts, chaos and disturbances? Can investors invest where ethno­religious conflicts have become the order of the day? Are those killed in the crises not relevant in the scheme of development of the nation?

A cursory look at the situation above shows that there is need for tolerance and respect for all religion and ethnic groups in order to avoid misunderstanding and crisis among the people of both ethnic and religion in the society.

One therefore is worry by the rate at which ethno-religious conflicts wreck our economic development; the researcher therefore attempts to state the following problems:

  1. Conflicts arise from the pursuit of divergent interests, goals and aspirations by individuals or groups to gain political and economic power in the society.
  2. Government apparent inability in resolving the thorny issues of ethno-religious conflict.
  3. Fruitless efforts of the government at all levels in resolving the issues of the ethno­religious conflict.



Hypothesis is a mere intelligent quest by the researcher which may or may not be confirmed at the end of the research work. Thus, the hypotheses of this work are:

H0, Ethno-religious conflicts do not significantly affect economic development of Nigeria.

Hi, Ethno-religious conflicts do significantly affects economic development of Nigeria.


  1. What are the causes of ethno-religious conflicts?
  2. How do ethno-religious conflicts affect the economic development of Nigeria?
  3. What are the natures of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria?
  4. What are the possible solutions to ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria?


Considering the background to the study of this work, there is need to bear in mind that ethno­religious conflict is a social threat which has almost ruined the society through its various wicked agents such as: Boko Haram, OPC, IYC, APC, MASSOB etc. Hence, there is need to cope this ugly situation so as to ensure economic progress and development in the locality. This study seeks to:

  1. Examine the causes of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria
  2. Find out how ethno-religious conflicts affects the economic development of the country
  3. Proffer possible solutions to the ethno-religious conflicts in the country


The findings of this research work shall not only be useful to the people and government of Langtang North but also to the religious leaders, traditional rulers and government at both state and federal levels.

To the people of Langtang North LGA, the result of the findings will enable them to identify the possible causes and effects of ethno-religious conflicts in the area with a view to finding lasting solutions for economic development.

To the religious leaders, it will help them to realize that they are role models to their adherents and congregations hence, the need for upright living and proper interpretation of the holy books. To the traditional rulers, it will enable them to lead and advice their people aright, knowing very well that they are the custodian of their rich cultural heritage.

To the government at all levels, it serves as source of information to them. It will inform them for the need to inculcate peace education in our post primary schools and Peace and conflict resolution at all higher institutions of learning as one of the GSTs course as been currently done by the researcher’s university. The result will also enable the government to implement the result of any inquiry on previous crisis, if any that has not been implement to avoid re-occurrence.

The findings of this research will also add to available literature in the area of conflict. Besides, it will also provide recent information on conflict and crisis management in Nigeria.


The study attempt to look into the effects of ethno-religious conflicts on the economic development of Nigeria: A case study of Langtang North LGA of Plateau State.


The researcher do not used one method of data collection, but sourced or gathered information through various avenues that ensure reliability and validity such as textbooks, questionnaire, oral interview, internet, journals magazine, paper presentation etc.

However, for the purpose of data analysis, only data collected through questionnaires were used. 147 questionnaires were printed and administered to respondents drawn randomly from the four districts of Langtang North Local Government Area, comprising of 80 Christians, 33 Muslims and 34 Traditionalists as the study area is dominated by Christians. The researcher involved both genders in the sample population for both religions.

Out of 147 questionnaires printed and administered only 142 were returned out of which 2 were wrongly filled and therefore rejected. At the end, 140 questionnaires were analyzed.


Effects: – Something that inevitably follows an action. A change or changed state as a direct result of an action.

Ethnicity:- According to (Otite, 1990) in (Uhunmwuangho, 2011), defined ethnicity as categories of people characterized by cultural criteria of symbols including language, value systems and normative behavious and whose members are anchored in a particular part of a state.

Religion: – People’s beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life (Microsoft Encarta, 2009). Conflict: – Is a state of dispute, disagreement or physical fighting among individuals and groups resulting in massive destructions of lives and property.

Economic: – It is the business activities of a country.

Development: – This entails the enthronement of positive change, economic growth, full employment, liberation, progress and social justice in a given society.

Crisis: – Crisis is referred to tension, fear and insecurity within a state, group or organization. Fanatic: – According to Archbishop Kaigama (2006), a fanatic is said to be someone who has forgotten his goal or mission yet redouble his efforts.

Boko Haram: – Western education is forbidden. It is said to be an Islamic sect fighting for the cause of Islamic religion, looking at it origin.

Ibyari: – This is a Taroh festival that holds at the end of every year in memory of some prominent family members whose skulls are exhume from the grave and are worshipped.

Imalkan: – This is a period in Taroh land when males’ traditional worshippers, particularly those initiated go to the hills to invites masquerades to a given “holy forest”, which is found in every community in Taroh land.

Holy Forest: – Is a shrine dedicated or reserved for the masquerades (juju) and only males who are initiated are allowed to enter the forest. Younger children and women are not allowed to enter the forest. The holy forest is known as “ashe OrimT

Nche Orim: – it is a period in Taroh land where local beer is brewed or prepared for the masquerades. They (masquerades) come out of their forest to sing and dance from house to house of traditionalists and village to village for a specific days, but must not been seen by minors and women.


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