Managing Nigeria’s Diversity Amidst Rising Ethno-religious Tensions: A Conversation with H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria | Wilson Center
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Managing Nigeria’s Diversity Amidst Rising Ethno-religious Tensions: A Conversation with H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Nigeria ranks among the top ten most populated countries in the world with a population of approximately 200 million. The populace is characterized by more than 300 ethnic groups who are split almost evenly among Muslims and Christians. Since independence on 1 October 1960, the country’s nation-building exercise has been challenged by the management of its ethnic and religious diversity, particularly as this diversity intersects with other socio-economic and political factors.

In this conversation, President Obasanjo, who served as Nigeria’s President from 1999-2007, shared his reflections on the drivers, scope and trajectories, and implications of the persistent ethno-religious tensions in Nigeria, and then offered some suggestions on measures that can be taken to address and manage these tensions toward a more inclusive Nigeria. 

Selected Quotes

 

Congressman Frank Wolf, Former Representative, Virginia's 10th Congressional District, United States House of Representatives

“America should always speak out and take action against genocide, against crimes against crimes against humanity. We must not forget history, when the world and the United States ignored the genocide in Rwanda, hundreds of thousands of people died. I can still remember. The cables were coming into the State Department, cables were coming into the UN, and the world ignored what was taking place.”

“It said, ‘So goes Nigeria, so goes all of Africa.’ It is clear that the crisis plaguing Nigeria is multifaceted, but one that must be addressed by the Nigerian government and the U.S. government and the international community. Because this is a problem that affects the countries surrounding Nigeria, as well. I believe that we need a special envoy for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region who can coordinate the response to the crisis by various agencies of our government, and who can work with allies in France and England and other countries on terrorism, hunger, sexual trafficking, corruption, religious freedom, human rights violations education—all of the different aspects.”

H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, Former President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

“When people ask me, ‘What are your worst fears about Africa,’ I never hesitate to mention two issues: management or mismanagement of diversity and management or mismanagement of population, particularly the youth bulge. The third one that is rearing its ugly head is credibility of elections and the effect of that on democracy and governance.”

“If we are able to manage diversity successfully through good governance and good leadership, we will, by extension, manage population and electoral process is also likely to be well-managed to give free, fair, credible, and generally acceptable election results. Diversity by itself is no problem."

“The question now is, ‘Who will save Nigeria; make it secure with well-managed diversity, fast-growing economy for some social order, satisfactory development, and improved living standard for all citizens?’ The answer to me is simple and straightforward: it’s the Nigerians. And here, I want to commend the Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.” 

Speakers

Introduction

  • Congressman Frank Wolf 

    Former Representative, Virginia's 10th Congressional District, United States House of Representatives

Moderator

Speakers