The dynamism of this study generally sought to understand why the Nigerian state has remained deeply divided and prone to structural violence especially in the North Central zone despite all governmental and nongovernmental efforts at ensuring stability, and fostering unity in diversity and peaceful coexistence among its regionally, ethnically and religiously diverse population. The study was an attempt to understand and shed some light on a phenomenon that has had debilitating consequences on the Nigerian state and its people, and left some gaps in our knowledge of the circumstances that harness or hinder the integrative and peace-generating function of federalism in Nigeria.

The adoption of the conflict transformation approach in dealing with structural violence in the North central zone was also explored and examined in order to understand how the approach can work in the Nigerian federation, and in enhancing political stability in Nigeria. In understanding the phenomenon, the study specifically examined structural violence and the various challenges posed by structural violence in the Nigerian political space. It also explored the concept of violence in the Nigerian federal structure from 2011-2015 in relations to the North central Zone. In an attempt to investigate the phenomenon, the study employed a qualitative research method for gathering and analyzing data.

In achieving the objectives of the study, the thesis assessed the context of federalism all over the world, and narrowing it down to the Nigerian example, its origins and other contextual issues connected to it, structural violence was also examined extensively, and its key concepts, including incidences of structural violence in the north central zone and the overlying and underlying causes. The conflict transformation theory and the structural conflict/violence theory were adopted for the theoretical discourse.

The summary of findings of the research suggests that the values, attitudes, actions and perception of the people with regard to issues that were ethno-religiously contentious reinforced the centrifugal forces that tend to cause structural violence in the North Central zone. This finding emanates from the expressed descriptions and indicated perspectives of various authors as well as the data obtained from other sources. It thus recommended that Nigeria should aim at fashioning out a political culture that will downplay, if not totally eliminate feelings of mistrust, deep-seated animosity that exists among the various ethnic groups in the country.

Keywords: Structural violence, Conflict transformation, Violence, Peace, Conflict.


Content                                                                                                  Page

Title page                                                                                      i

Certification                                                                                           ii

Dedication                                                                                          iii


Abstract                                                                                         xi

Table of Contents                                                                            vi

List of Tables                                                                                    x

List of Figures                                                                              x


1.1       Background to the Study                                          1

1.2       Statement of the Problem                                                 3

1.3       Objective of the Study                                           4

1.4       Research Questions                                                      4

1.5       Significance of the Study                                                                    4

1.6       Scope of the Study                                               5

1.7       Methodology                                                     5

1.8       Research Design                                                           6

1.9  Area of Study                                                             7

1.10  Operational Definition of Terms                                      8


2.0   Introduction                                                                    9

2.1   The Concept of Structural Violence                                   10

2.2       Structural Violence in Nigeria                                            13

2.3       Factors responsible for Structural Violence in North Central Nigeria  14

2.3.1    System of Government                                              14

2.3.2    Ethnic Diversity                                                         18

2.3.3    The Case of the Minorities                                               19

Content                                                                                                                 Page

2.3.4    Political Factor                                                                   20

2.3.5    Social Factor                                21

2.3.6    Economic Factor                                                                            22

2.3.7    Colonial Legacy                                                       22

2.4       Impacts/Consequences of Structural Violence               23

2.4.1    Political Impact                                                       23

2.4.2    Economic Impact                                                                           24

2.4.3    Social Impact                                                                         24

2.4.4  Impact on National Security                                       25

2.5       Structural Violence and Armed Conflict in Nigeria             25

2.6       Theoretical Discourse                                                                    27

2.6.1    Conflict Transformation Theory                                               28

2.6.2    Structural conflict/Violence Theory                                                   32

2.7       Gaps in the Literature                                                        34



3.0       Introduction                                                                       37

3.1       History of the North Central Zone                                             37

3.2       Overview of the Nature of Conflicts in the North Central Zone: 2011-2015                        43

3.2.1    Resource Conflicts                                                43

3.2.2    Ethnic Violent Conflicts                                        47

3.2.3    Religious Conflicts                                                      48

3.2.4    Political Crises                                                         50

3.2.5    Socio-Economic Crises                                              51

3.2.6   Indigene versus Settlers Conflict                                         53

3.2.7   Urban and Semi-Urban Conflicts                                     55

3.3       Selected Incidences of Non Boko Haram Conflicts in the North Central Zone        56

3.3.1   Violent Conflicts in Southern Kaduna           56

3.3.2   Violent Conflicts in Benue State                               57

Content                                                                                              Page

3.3.3   Violent Conflicts in Plateau State                                     58

3.3.4    Violent Conflicts in Nassarawa State                                60

3.3.5    Violent Conflicts in Taraba State                                    62

3.3.6    Violent Conflicts in Kogi State                              62

3.4       Effects of the Conflicts and Mitigation Strategies     63

3.4.1    Humanitarian Crises                                  63

3.4.2    Socioeconomic Effects of the Crises                         63

3.5       Efforts Made Towards Dispute Resolution                     65

3.5.1    Traditional Authorities:                                                 65

3.5.2    Community Intervention                                               67

3.5.3    The Police, Courts and Army                                            69

3.5.4    Local and State Governments                                                             69

3.6   Restructuring Nigerian Federalism to Prevent Structural Violence 70

3.7       Conflict Management                                                    71

3.8       Conflict Management Strategies                          72

3.8.1    Conflict Resolution                                                                 73

3.8.2    Conflict Transformation                                                  74

3.9       Federalism/ Structural Violence and Conflict Transformation 78

3.9.1    Indigene-Settler Divide                                                         79

3.9.2    Issues of Insurgency                                                        80

3.9.3    Create Greater Employment Opportunities                         81

3.9.4    Political Reforms                                                        81

3.10  Ethical Considerations                                                        82


4.0       Introduction                                                                       84

4.1       Research Question One: Nature of structural violence in North Central Nigeria       84

4.2.1    Political-Based Structural Violence                                                    84

4.2.2    Conflict Caused by Direct influence of Structural Violence          87

Content                                                                                                 Page

4.3       Research Question 3: Prevalence of Conflict resulting from structural violence in central Nigeria from 2011-2015           88

4.4       Research Question Four: Use of Conflict Transformation in Management of Structural Violence Prevalent in the Region  88

4.5       Discussion of Findings                       90


5.0       Introduction                                         94

5.1       Summary                                                                                         94

5.2       Conclusion                                                                                              95

5.3       Recommendations                                                          97

5.4       Limitation of the Study                                                                99

REFERENCES                                                                                 100


Table                                                                                                                           Page

3.1       Incidents of Conflict in North-Central Nigeria, Jan-May, 2014  44


Figure                                                                                                                          Page

3.1:      Map of the North Central Zone                                        41

3.2:      Map of Nigeria showing the North Central Zone           42

3.3       Snapshots of Conflict Data in North-Central Nigeria                      47



1.1 Background to the Study

Africa, especially the Sub-Saharan region has been plagued by conflict for many decades now (Clempson, 2012). There has been a great deal of war and bloodshed since the colonial masters left the continent. According to De Ree and Nillesn (2009), the last six decades has experienced up to 47 civil wars in sub –Saharan Africa which in turn has resulted in over 1.37 million deaths on the battlefield and an even larger number of civilian deaths.  In Nigeria, over the past two decades, especially in the middle belt, the country has also experienced an increased level of violence” (Action Aid Nigeria, 2014). Experts have in several studies identified economic disparities and more importantly structural violence, as key factors in the rise of violence in the region (Olojo, 2013; Walker, 2012; and Adesoji, 2010).

According to Olojo (2012), structural violence has predicated thousands of impoverished and unemployed youths in northern Nigeria to take part in armed violence. This state of events according to the report has resulted in the said youths becoming willing recruits for the terrorist organisationBoko Haram’s who has being the main cause of a series of conflicts and armed violence predominant in the Northern part of Nigeria. Olojo (2012) attributed the main cause of the Boko Haram crisis to poverty, lack of education and social marginalisation. This makes a clear case for the premise that structural violence is one of the more responsible factors leading to armed violence and conflict in the region under review.

Another serious case of conflict that has plagued the North-central region of Nigeria in recent years is the crisis that has persisted between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in various states in the region. The problem here can be traced to a belief of land and ‘overlord-ship’ entitlement held by one or both parties and the resulting violence is caused by the feeling that the other party is trespassing or encroaching on land that does not belong to them. Other cases reported include Fulani herdsmen taking up arms against farmers who accuse them of despoiling their crops with cattle during grazing and farmers taking up arms against Fulani herdsmen upon hearing that ‘so and so’ farmer was attacked in ‘so and so’ town. Again the development of these cases of conflict can can be explained using the concept of structural violence. Galtung (1969)’s structural violence paradigm underscores how socio-cultural systems, political structures and state institutions create structural violence among people and indirectly act as instigators of armed violence and conflict. By implication, it is the many factors of political, social and ethnic machinations (e.g implementation of land tenure and the concept of communal land, lack of proper litigation and inter-ethnic conflict mediation in rural areas etc) that has created the aforementioned beliefs of entitlement as well as a system that can continually breed violence and conflict. Accordingly, the theory suggests how seeds of hostility are sown and ultimately degenerate into large scale uprisings, revolutions and conflicts within societies.

Structural conflict is therefore inherently built into a society through its structure and organization as it is seen in the forceful foundation of the Nigerian state’s adoption of federalism as was propagated by the British. Structural violence in this context examines the social problems that have manifested itself in the North central zone as a result of certain federal principles such as federal character/quota system, fiscal federalism amongst others that do not suit the system or are not properly balanced in practice, this principles have brought about; political and economic exclusion, poverty, injustice, exploitation, religious conflicts which are the major sources of conflict peculiar to this zone. Structuralism maintains that conflicts occur because of the exploitative and unjust nature of human society, domination of one class by another (Faleti, 2006).

Conflict is inherent in society; so are mechanisms for dealing with it. The decline of traditional authority and its role in conflict mediation has contributed to the development of large-scale conflict in countries such as Liberia, Somalia, Sudan and our case study, north central zone of Nigeria. Characteristic of many conflicts in the northern zone of Nigeria have degenerated to a critical level. It has so far defied possible explanations where life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. The state at present is in a dire situation of unrest, continual suspicion, perpetual fear of violence and death. In this condition, there is little place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain and worse of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death.

Conflict transformation is an emerging field or theoretical framework in the study of conflict resolution and management. The idea behind conflict transformation is to go beyond just resolving conflict and try to ensure that one attains a long-term goal of ‘transforming’ or addressing the reasons for the conflict in order to ensure that it never arises again (Miall, 2004).

Conflict transformation appears to be able to provide a lasting solution to the issues addressed above. This is because, unlike most other conflict management techniques, conflict transformation actually tries to tackle a problem of conflict from the cause through to its effects. Thus, this research aims at investigating the relationship between structural violence and conflict in North-central Nigeria as well as the suitability of conflict transformation for tackling the underlying problems.

1.2                   Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria today, the adoption of Western civilization and system of government can be argued to have actually increased imbalances in the Nigerian federation as exemplified in continued centralization and concentration of power at the centre with its attendant consequences; conflicts of varying degrees. This has led to a great deal of marginlization of minority ethnic groups (e.g. Niger-Deltans and North-Central tribes); causing poverty, poor education and structural violence (Agang 2013). The resulting effect of this state of things has been conflict and armed violence which has troubled the region for the last two decades or so (Action Aid, 2014). Even though there is a consensus that the federal idea is the most suitable mechanism for fostering unity and diversity in the context of ethnic, religious and regional pluralities of Nigeria, there is still the feeling that the federal system; which was adopted by Nigeria as a way of managing her diversity and heterogeneity; has not yielded much peaceful output, but rather, has created problems and violence amongst the various groups in the country. In the North central zone, the idea of federalism in the Nigerian political space has so far not been able to tamed the recurrence of ethnic clashes and violence, there still exists imbalances amongst the people which is the major source of conflict.

It is based on the contending issues that this study is relevant for theoretical and practical reasons. A study of the nature and prevalence of structural violence and the role it plays in premeditating armed conflict and violence will be important for addressing the Nigerian Structural Violence problem whose solution has eluded both policy and experts till date.