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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Should Nigeria be split up?
165 people have been killed in fighting between Christians and Muslims in Jos, central Nigeria, the latest in a string of ethnic and religious clashes.

At the same time, inter-ethnic violence was reported in the north-eastern state of Taraba with many more lives lost. Nasarawa state had its share a couple of months back.

Last February's inter-religious violence in Kaduna where thousands lost their lives is still fresh in the mind of many residents.

In Lagos, Hausa and Yoruba groups have often clashed with heavy loss of life. And cries of marginalisation echo from almost every region.

With at least 250 ethnic groups and 120 million people, is Nigeria unmanageable? Should the country be split up?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

No, I don't think Nigeria should split. Most problems we have are due to long military rule. If our economy were good, everybody will be engaged in one thing or the other that would make Nigeria great. Youths will not have time to be used by politicians or other influential people. I am of the opinion that we can sit on a round table and discuss our problems with understanding each other's feelings and mutual respect for all.
Dalyop Chollom, Nigeria

I believe that the best thing if for the country to split, and each group should go its own way. For how long should the southern part of the country be kept back from developing and reaching its full God given potential all in the name of quota system and federal character?
Yagazie Nwaigwe, London United Kingdom

A genuine national dialogue and political re-structuring is necessary to preserve the country as one

Ndubisi Obiorah, Nigeria
How can we be sure that if we split Nigeria into so many dozen ethnic/religious republics, that further conflict or civil war would not ensue as a result of tensions and rivalries between the various clans and sects within these ethnic and religious micro-polities. Despite all that has happened, I still think Nigeria is not yet beyond salvage. A genuine national dialogue and political re-structuring is necessary to preserve the country as one.
Ndubisi Obiorah, Nigeria

Russia did it why can't Nigeria try it? I strongly believe that is about time that Nigeria split up. One is quick to argue that Igbos or Yorubas can't make it on their own or form a strong independent nation. One need not look further than the industrialized Nations to see how well Igbos or Yorubas are performing in each economy for proof to support the notion of splitting Nigeria.
Okey Egbuziem, Fresno/USA

It is unfortunate if Nigeria should split now because of a lot of things it shares in common. But if it must happen, let it be in the best amicable way.
Obinali Uwadizu, Nigeria

The time is now, and there is no going back in the division of this country

Anthony Opeoluwa, Nigeria
Based on the current, persistent ethnic and religious crises, the United Nations, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) should as a matter of urgency assist in the division of Nigeria into three nations, namely: North, West and the East, to prevent another international disaster like what happened in Bosnia. The time is now, and there is no going back in the division of this country.
Anthony Opeoluwa, Nigeria

There is no reason for Nigeria to split. Eritrea split form Ethiopia the result was chaos. Northern Somalia split from greater Somalia, there is still chaos. Even though Nigeria is a nation of different tribes, religions and cultures, these differences should be used to strengthen their nation and not to split it. Nigeria and Africa should learn that there can be unity without uniformity.
Cillaty Daboh, USA/Sierra Leone

I think Nigerians home and abroad need to think about themselves as one before any talks about splitting the nation come into play. It has been known throughout history that unity is the key to progress. So as one I think we can move on and succeed, like the ants.
Solomon Aletor, Canada

What Nigeria needs right away is a National conference

Obiora, USA
What Nigeria needs right away is a National conference. There is no way 250 ethnic groups and diverse religious leanings can live together without sitting down to first iron out how they can stay as one. It is only when this is done and we all agree to live with each other that I can vote for Nigeria to stay as one. If this is not done, sooner or later Nigeria will breakup.
Obiora, USA

Yes, and a resounding yes. The country of "Nigeria" is better described as a farce, a nightmare, of gigantic proportions that defies all logic. The Biafrans have, and continue to clamour for independence; the West and Niger delta are also asking for the right to self-determination. I think the great question is, who has a right to impose their own ideas upon us about which country we should be in? What right did Great Britain have to forcibly join the land of my forefathers with these other peoples? What right did Great Britain have to support the genocidal activities of the Nigerian military during the civil war? The question is not should we separate but, sir, what interests of your country does it serve that this boiling cauldron of humanity should be forced to co-exist in one country?
Ijeoma Annuntu, US

Wherever you find people living in so much misery, such tensions cannot be far from the surface

UE, Nigeria/UK
We can split the country into family units if we like (and if we're not sure how, we can ask the various clans that former Somalia has now become), but one thing is certain: Wherever you find people living in so much misery, such tensions cannot be far from the surface. It becomes quite easy for any demented bigot to invent even non-existent differences, to achieve such deadly ends. The regrettable thing is that while so many lives are being lost, those we like to call our leaders are busy scrambling for contracts or looting the treasury, as opposed to seeking ways of making a real difference to people's lives. It's part of the wider African tragedy - one that makes our continent such a disgrace to humanity.
UE, Nigeria/UK

We must remember that the borders of African countries were not drawn for the benefit of African people but the for the motives of Western imperialism. At a stroke of a pen, clans and tribes were divided or forced together. A greater pan-African coalition that can address such problems as inter-ethnic violence should be supported.
Liban, UK

The authorities in power have to take charge

Teshome H, Canada
I am very positive there are a lot of countries in Africa that would like to be divided but this is not a solution to the problem. It will only create more dangerous situations. The authorities in power have to take charge and address the issues of ethnic and religious concerns of every citizen and find a means of coming to some sort of compromise that would make everyone happy. Otherwise we will be seeing more bloodshed of innocent people.
Teshome H, Canada

As long as there is poverty, self-serving leadership and intolerant zealots, there'll be no peace in Nigeria. Divide the country into as many little countries as you might want, the situation would remain the same.
Sheek Mat, USA

Whether Nigeria separates or not, what difference does it make? The main problem is that Africans don't have a focus that draws them together. A focus for developing themselves and their economy, especially in the hi-tech field.
Chioma Duru, USA

An entity that cannot stand on its own

Okwudili, Houston-USA
There is absolutely no doubt that what presently constitutes Nigeria will not last very long. What is being done now is artificially supporting an entity that cannot stand on its own. The only people benefiting from the present-day Nigeria is the few rogues masquerading themselves as politicians. As an Ibo I am first and foremost a Biafran. As per being a Nigerian, I sincerely do not think I am one.
Okwudili, Houston-USA

We're in an age where borders are disappearing. Countries are forming economic unions and globalisation is the watchword of the day. Nigeria needs to catch onto this age of globalisation. If the country was to break up it would be a tragedy for the whole of Africa because it would definitely be violent. And we all know Africa in its present situation cannot handle a displacement of 120 million refugees.
Tokunbo, Canada

All well meaning citizens have asked the President to convene a conference of all nationalities or ethnic groups in Nigeria to agree on some form of political arrangement and he continues to drag his feet. More and more of these religious uprisings will continue to happen as long as Nigerians remain in a forced union that is called a country.
Ike Agbor, Nigeria

What about other African countries with similar problems?

Harish, Kenya/USA
To better understand Nigeria's problems we have to look at its history. When the Europeans came and divided Africa, their motto was to divide and conquer. Two warring African tribes were now of one nation. Suppressed under the Europeans they had to set their differences aside, but now it's back to square one. Maybe they should be divided, but what good will it do to African unity and if it does happen what about other African countries with similar problems?
Harish, Kenya/USA

Splitting the country will not help. Respect for one another is the panacea.
Dr Iriele, USA

The idea of splitting up the country is tempting, considering the frequency of religious and ethnic conflicts. However it will not provide the answer, especially as there are members of all ethnic and religious groups all over the nation, in all states. A more realistic (and cost effective) option would be to bring the perpetrators of ethnic and religious violence to justice. This has never happened! Stiff penalties, including imprisonment would act as deterrents to random violence. These conflicts have gone on for too long.
Tosan Mbogo, USA

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
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