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IDENTITY POLITICS AND THE JOS CRISIS: EVIDENCE, LESSONS AND CHALLENGES OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
Concerns with identity politics especially those woven around conflict have got an almost outrageous timeliness. The salient global role of ethnic and religious identity as it affects everything from democratic development to risk of disruptive communal conflicts at domestic level has become an important dimension of present-day world societies, looming largely in multiethnic societies. This paper takes a critical look at identity politics and conflict in Jos, a setting once regarded as “the home of peace and tourism in Nigeria”. The point of departure is a critical examination of the 28 November, 2008 crisis in Jos North LGA. Using in-depth interviews and content analysis of opinions, the study situates the conflict within the relationship between the “indigene-settler” syndrome and the state, with its ugly hydra-headed manifestations. It argues that the conflict with a colouration of ethnic and religious garb was also orchestrated under the façade of politics. It is suggested that the commitment of good governance and the institutionalisation of democracy remains the surest means of nipping in the bud the crises in Jos. The findings have important implications for aggregate research on ethnic and religious conflicts in Nigeria.
Key words: Identity politics, ethnic and religious conflicts, indigene-settler, Jos, good governance.