Religion and ethnicity are without a doubt the two most important topics that have polarized and continue to divide Nigerians. They have played and continue to play important roles in ensuring that people and organizations pick sides when victims of various injustices demand socioeconomic and political justice. These concerns have remained vultures eating any serious projects and intentions from the social and political spheres over the years, especially since the country’s return to democratic administration in 1999.
As people and organizations across the country express mixed feelings about the execution of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, who was accused of making disparaging words about Prophet Muhammad (SAW), our expert observes that it is unlikely to be the last. Our analyst’s position was founded on the fact that over the years, concerned stakeholders in the governmental, familial, and religious institutions have ignored the remote causes.
Our analyst has been monitoring conversations on the virtual sphere and in physical settings since Deborah’s death became a national tragedy. According to the analysis, the platforms have well-divided viewpoints. There are various schools of thought on whether or not the killers have the right to take the lives of fellow citizens as a result of her action. Discord has emerged among friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter as a result of the conversations surrounding her death. According to our analysis, a case of a journalist who wrote rhetorically about the occurrence resulted in the unfriending of a Muslim who posted a message (on Facebook) that the journalist deemed bad.
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From a political standpoint, former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s earlier post on Facebook and Twitter drew harsh criticism from northerners and southerners of various stripes. Northerners believed Alhaji Atiku has committed a crime by protesting the killings in his post. As a result, he should disregard their support. People in the south and northern states who are Christians believe that the former Vice President cannot manage the country fairly if given the chance. Alhaji Atiku erased the message, claiming that he did not authorise it, which appears to be in line with the northerners’ position.
Beyond the virtual platform, our observational analysis clearly shows that people in physical settings are similarly hesitant to say anything about the occurrence. Looking at the two platforms as a whole, our analyst concludes that, as with previous religious and ethnicity issues in the country’s history, people and organizations are either speaking up and ready to defend their positions constructively using strong evidence or remaining silent for fear of being labeled hypocrites, preventing true national cohesion or paving the way for a “long overdue separation” from the northern region.
As indicated in one of our previous assessments on injustice in the country, our analyst believes that religious and ethnic concerns require strategic discourse between leaders and followers. Based on previous religious violence across the country, it is apparent that existing political, family, social, security, and educational systems have failed to handle religious and ethnic extremism.
For instance, there are constitutional provisions that make any sort of wrongful killing illegal. However, existing criminal and judicial institutions have made it nearly hard for victims to receive the justice they deserve. Where it matters most, educational and religious institutions have failed to improve critical thinking among learners and followers. Due to personal interests, political leaders are also making fair justice impossible. Followers are taking advantage of existing legal provisions to engage in behaviors that are at odds with the existence of a group or people, without obtaining a proper interpretation of where protection begins and stops.
Overall, our analyst advocates for a holistic approach to resolving the increasing concerns of religious and ethnic crises. For the preparation of a Quantum National Strategic Plan, national participatory action research is required. Our analyst believes that doing the study will assist concerned stakeholders at the meso, micro, and macro levels in identifying important concerns, planning, executing, observing, and reflecting on particular measures that will address the problems in a long-term manner.