An Assessment of Institutional Decay and Conflict in Nasarawa State: An Overview of Democratic Institutions

This article is published by the Zamfara International Journal of Humanities.


Isiaka Hassan Aliyu (PhD)
Department of Humanity and Social Sciences
School of General Studies
Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa
Nasarawa - Nigeria.

Uba Nkonsha Audi

Department of Humanity and Social Sciences
School of General Studies
Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa
 Nasarawa - Nigeria.


Isyaku Adamu Ibrahim

Department of Humanity and Social Sciences
School of General Studies
Federal Polytechnic Nasarawa
Nasarawa - Nigeria.


The livewire of a democratic society is anchored on how the institution works. Institutional functionality engendered an all-inclusive government that accelerates good governance and enhances development for the overall citizens at all levels. While dysfunctional institutions endanger the elements of democracy such as the justice system, liberty, constitutional government, freedom of the press and equality before the law amongst many others. This dysfunctional democratic institution goes beyond being a threat to the elements of democracy only, but also threatens economic and educational development thereby entrenching chaos and anarchy in Nasarawa State and Nigeria inclusively. This sense of anarchism was seen in the various crises that affected Nasarawa state over the years. The institutional decay provided an enabling ground for the ruling class to perpetuate conflicts along ethnic and religious inclination to enrich their selfish desires. The research adopts an explanatory approach for analysis in this work. The design exposes the researcher to mainly secondary data. In this light, the chapter suggests that a nexus exists between institutional decay and conflicts in Nasarawa state and these factors undermine Nigeria’s fledgling democracy. Consequently, if democracy must thrive and peaceful coexistence assured, the pepper sees the need to reevaluate the functionality of democratic institutions in Nigeria with a view to understanding the intrigues of the institutions in Nasarawa state.   

Key Words: Institutional Decay, Conflict, and Democratic Institution


It is therefore not a coincidence to state that, there are factors and peculiarities responsible for the structuring of governmental institutions in every nation state. The mannerism associated with institutional functions is the outcome of its internal mechanism and structure.  The structural balance of the institution is the direct function of the government in bridging the gap of conflicting interest to sustain the viable democratic governance. This however shows that the fundamentality of democracy is the stability and welfare of the citizen’s such as  socio–economic, educational and political wellbeing and security of lives and properties which are determined by how institutions function. To a certain extent, institutions are geared towards propelling development and fostering peaceful coexistence and prosperity of a nation. In unfolding the issues behind institutionalism, we must take into cognizance the democratic scenario and political will to propel its effectiveness which has direct correlation to the economic success of the state.  

This chapter focuses on democratic or political institutional arrangement that shapes the end product of our contemporary society through the input and output processes of our political system. According to Sabine and Thorson (1973) institutional arrangement represents an arrangement of power and authority.  Institutions in the society are regarded as legitimate exercisers of the authority to make decisions for the community as a whole. The state is governed through institutional decisions, and also the constructive and purpose centred government decisions are taken through institutional dialogues that foster growth and development. Likewise in a situation where lack of rational in building out constructive decisions as a result of political sentiments, self–interest, greed and personal aggrandizement affect the stability and peaceful coexistence of the people. Chaos, violence and anarchy will be the direct consequences and thereby hindered the progress and development of the society. Hence, sustainable internal democratic institutions and good governance allays conflicts. This is because where there is justice, equity, fairness, development and well-being of the people will surely sustain.

The concept of democracy revolves around connectivity of people and governmental institutions such as executive, legislature and judiciary where decisions are made and implemented. Government exists for the people and without the people, there can never be a government. Therefore, the government's responsibility is to facilitate development and peaceful coexistence amongst its citizens. But, what upholds conflict and peace is institutional decay dictated by the rate at which government institutions malfunction and are enveloped with injustices, corruption and inequitable distribution of values. Institutional decay and conflict recurrence in Nasarawa state were designed because of the fragile status quo of Nigeria’s nascent democratic institutions controlled by a narrow ruling class and how they have permitted conflicts to occur at different stages (Human Rights Watch, 2007). In fact, Nigeria’s young democracy can be described as the theatre of violence and conflagrations due to the absence of good governance overwhelmed by weak democratic institutions experiencing zero level of institutional and interagency cooperation (Human Rights Watch, 2007). The factors that tend to entrench institutional decay and conflicts in Nigeria and particularly Nasarawa state are deep–seated misappropriation of public resources, corruption and bureaucratic bottlenecks. To buttress this view Raby and Teorell (2010) emphasize that the hash policies, corruption and bureaucracy chosen by political leaders also affect the government's inability to prevent domestic violent conflicts. It is therefore, behooving to x-ray democratic institutions, the how and why have they led to conflicts in Nasarawa State. The paper also suggests possible remedies to the incessant conflicting maladies burdening the good people of the state.   

Conceptual Clarifications

Democratic Institutions: Peace Building and Conflicts

Democratic institutions, peace building and conflicts are keys to understanding the elements of democracy and specifically how they advocate peace building and conflicts in the 21st century with specific reference to Nasarawa State, Nigeria. Within this context, Nigeria’s democracy was modeled after the United States of America to suit the centrifugal forces that make up the country. It is pertinent to state that democracy involves constitutionalism and rule of law to defeat excessive abuse of power. Democracy is a tool to checkmate despotism, anarchy and limit the power and influence of the narrow ruling elites to abrogate state resources for themselves and their kin. Hence, the American’s turned down parliamentary system and opted for democratic and presidential system of government. To concur with this Schotten and Magstadt (1988) opines that the American colonists revolted and rejected the British parliamentary system, partly because it was British and partly because they believed it did not provide adequate safeguards against tyrannical rule.


Ideally, democracy is widely practiced and acceptable as a system of government because its sanctity aims to combat anarchy and despotism through its well-grounded institutions. Democratic institutions according to Luckham et’ al (2016) is a set of arrangements for organizing political competitions, legitimating rulers and implementing rule. In the modern world, they generally involve some form of popular participation, typically through free elections to determine the composition of the legislature and of the government (i.e. representative rather than direct democracy). In fact, democratic tenets advocate equality, sovereignty of the people, respect for human life, the rule of law and liberty of the individual. Schotten and Magstadt (1988) buttress this position as, the essence of democracy and government is to recognize the political implications of humanity’s moral imperfection and to pursue limited goals such as security, liberty and prosperity which are attainable.

Thus, it suffices to say that democracy and its institutions tend toward safeguarding individual’s liberty, rule of law and respect for human life which implies democracy is hinged on peace building. Democracy transcends being a system of government and the cardinal objective of any government is the protection of the core values of society by providing on a sustainable basis, adequate security against external and internal aggression (Mbachu, 2009). The rational by its functions is to protect lives and property and to sustain adequate security against external and internal threats. This explains the fact that, government lean on democratic institutions in its arts of governance to warrant peace, security and economic prosperity of a state.

Democratic institutions as noted enhance peace building in every society and are a mechanism for economic growth and development. This democratic institutional interaction results in the enactment of laws, policies formulation, implementation and adjudication of justices for good governance and economic prosperity of a nation state. Having an understanding of how institutionalism works for the overall good of a nation, we can learn from the United States of America that modeled our democratic practice as well as the system of government. Acemoglu and Robinson (2013) maintained that the United States is far richer today than either Mexico or Peru (and other parts of the world – our emphasis) because of the way its institutions, both economic and political. These are achieved through their collective socio-political and economic rules that make them save and invest, to innovate and adopt new technologies etc.


The viability of a nation's democratic institutions, its economic boom and most importantly security of lives and property depends on the leader's political will. It is worthwhile to say that, the flourishing economy and security of lives and property are intertwined but political chats determine their course which affects the level of development. More openly Acemoglu and Robinson (2013) buttressed that, it is the political process that determines what economic institutions people live under, and it is the political institutions that determine how this process works. It is the political institutions of a nation that determine the ability of citizens to control politicians and influence how they behave. This in turn determines whether politicians are agents of the citizens, albeit imperfect, or are able to abuse the power entrusted to them, or that they have usurped to amass their own fortunes and to pursue their own agendas, ones detrimental to those of the citizens.

 A fair grasp of democratic institutions, is to the extent they determine the course of governance especially social indices of development such as economic success and security. Acemoglu and Robinson (2013) also asserted that political institutions include but are not limited to written constitutions and to whether the society is a democracy. They include the power and capacity of the state to regulate and govern society. It is also necessary to consider more broadly the factors that determine how political power is distributed in society, particularly the ability of different groups to act collectively to pursue their objective or to stop other people from pursuing theirs. Also individual talent matters at every level of society because it is an ingredient for an effective institutional framework that transforms democratic workability, industrialization, and economic growth and development.

 The determinants of political will are wielders of political power through voting rights in a democratic setting. It also means that, the bases for effective democratic institutions rest on wielders of political power who have the wherewithal to restructure institutional frameworks to a high level of functionality. Political will is therefore significant in the acts to restructure, overhaul and revamped Nigeria's institutions especially the economic and political institutions such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Political Parties, Mass Media and security institutions.

Functional economic systems and political institutions do not only translate into economic wellbeing of the people but propelled the forces and tenets of democratic ethics such as the rule of law and equality before the law and these create meaningful progress, peace and prosperity. A thorough understanding of ideal democratic institutions has established a nexus between functional and decayed democratic institutions with each resultant effect either propelling peace or conflicts. It is on this note that Miller (2011) says peace is a political condition that makes justice possible. Therefore, government determination on a political basis will translate into peace/conflicts because the drivers of the democratic/political institutions decide what should be done, when and how it should be done. The discourse thus far, raises a critical leadership question on borders democratic institutions and how it affects development.

 Understanding the linkage between democratic institutions, peace building and conflicts forms an important component in unfolding issues associated with institutional decay and a caution shift to analyzing the democratic institutions has been brought to the fore. Democratic institutions in an ideal state function as a systemic whole. The idea of systemic function of democratic institutions borne–out of system theory that David Easton espoused in 1973, the notion of political system and its interactions in society through which binding and authoritative decisions are made and implemented. Enemuo (2005) opines that there is a simultaneous relationship between political system and other environment components such as physical, biological, social, psychological etc. the relationship systematically exist through continuous transactions and exchanges. Also, Easton (1973) pointed out that the political system functions by getting inputs from its environment. Inputs are events in the environment which evoke response from it. The inputs could be demands that values be allocated in a particular way or they could be support that is expression of approval for a particular decision. The model further states that, the inputs from the environment undergo a conversion process within the political system and come out as outputs, which are usually authoritative decisions such as government policies, judicial decisions and acts of parliaments etc., promulgated by the authorities. These authoritative outputs usually affect the environment as outcomes and in turn excite some forms of feedback that are changes in the intensity and volume of demands and support from the environment.

The fundamental bases for any democratic institutions are to build an environment for citizens’ interaction that will translate to achieve meaningful objectives and common goals of the society. Nevertheless, the functional contribution of the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and political parties as a mechanism for advocating for peace and stability cannot be relegated for its impact on democratic development. However, these democratic institutions and their functions are recognized in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but yet, their inefficiency threatens Nigeria’s fledgling democracy through frequent abuse of human rights, rule of law where the law only catches the small flies, while the big flies walk scot free in the eyes of the law. To gouge on this as a factor for ineffectiveness of political institutions, Abubakar (2011) argues that weakened moral threshold and poor ethical values affect political institutions to perform well. Nevertheless, Democratic institutions precariously create conflicting conditions when their capacity underperforms due to ineffectiveness in the institutional interaction process. The major factor impeding institutional efficacy and culminating into the idea of institutional decay in Nigeria and the conglomerate of African nations is corruption, perverted by the privileged few. Also, at the heart of decaying democratic institutions is the issue of ethnic, religious chauvinism and politics of clientele and patronage which has a firmer grip in Nigeria’s body–politics. Consequently, these factors affected the growth and development of democratic practice in Nigeria.                                  


The Ways of Democratic Institutions Function in Nigeria

The Preceding discourse shows great significance of democratic institutions considering their interactive processes and functions within the society. In the light of this, democratic institutional settings are instructive in determining the extent to a nation's development and its stagnations. Mimiko (2007) opines that promoting development is the most important element democratic institutions. Democratic institutions facilitate good governance and also the bases to obtain advance development through the basic tenets of democracy. However, in a viable democratic institution the executive, legislature and judiciary are solely responsible for good governance, development and peace building process in Nigeria particularly when separation of power is adequately observed. It can be clearly said that power to implement policies falls within the jurisdiction of the Executive while the legislature formulates and enact laws in their domain and the judiciary interprets the laws as formulated and enacted by the acts of legislature. The jurisdiction of power by these democratic institutions has been in controversy on how power can be manipulated to the advantage of each sector.      

In justifying this view, Akinsaya and Davies (2002) strongly opined that the crisis of relationship is that the executive has expansive power leverage over the legislature and (judiciary my emphasis). This is because successive governments since the colonial periods through the post–independence civilian and military regimes have demonstrated the importance of executive power thereby revealing the potentials and capabilities of this structure to operate as a super–ordinates branch of government. In fact, the vast tentacles of its operation as the engine room of governmental activities at all levels of government embolden the tendency to stultify other branches. Therefore, Fagbadebo and Francis (2016) stated that in Nigeria, the executive has an edge over the legislature and (judiciary–my emphasis) because the structure of the executive branch has been stabilized since 1960 and that limits the functional bureaucracy of both legislative and judiciary in Nigeria by way of manipulation.

The executive might and their expansive power widens its level of clientele patronage which the legislature and the judiciary do not have. The retinues of appointees, in reality are loyalists of the heads of the executive and their survival depends largely on their continuous loyalty to the president or the governor who appoints them. These imbalances in loyalty and sharing of responsibility as a result of incompatible interests based on the competition for resources, which in most cases are assumed to be scarce, are responsible for social conflict.   

Unjust structure and institutional malfunctions are significantly the remote cause of conflicts in Nigeria (Fagbadebo and Francis, 2016). For instance, the expansive power of the President (Executive) to appoint members of the executive council such as Ministers, Head of parastatals and Agencies, Security Heads, judges, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the executive influence in law making process has shown the complete the executive power in the affairs of governance in Nigeria. No doubt, this is applicable to the component unit or state level where the governor wheels the executive power and that has restricted the principles of separation of powers.


Institutional Decay and Conflicts in Nigeria

Institutional decay and conflicts are intertwined more specifically, falling to the conception of structural violence theory particularly on how conflict tends to evolve. Conflicts generally are associated with unjust structure, competition for scarce resources and incompatible interest according to the theory. As Ujo (2012) rightly observed also that the current political and institutional decay and behaviour can only be understood in relation to the history of the state.

Nevertheless, these unjust structures are determined by how they were evolved and function in accordance to the ethics of the society that they are situated in. Thus, reflecting on the science of Nigerian society and how it develops from the pre-colonial era operating on the basics of kingdoms and regions, then, the subsequent advent of colonialism that brought these kingdoms and regions together when Lord Lugard was the Governor General in a fashion known as 1914 amalgamation and that singular gesture sealed the birth of Nigeria as sovereign entity. Nonetheless, the struggle for Nigeria’s independence by the founding fathers raises serious questions under the aegis of regional lines. This manifested in the 1956 Lagos conference, that Chief. Anthony Enahoro and the southern regions called for self – rule in 1957 and the Northern leaders objected on the ground that they were unprepared for independence at that time. These incidents clearly resulted in the manifestation of ethnic and diverse politics in Nigeria that today become a serious burden that endangers Nigeria’s democratic institutions. Mbachu (2009) aptly captured more on this, Nigeria democratic institutions has given rise to heightened agitation for ethnic space, resource control and identity and that, an increasing wave of civil disturbances for ethnic identity has become a major challenge to the survival of our cherished nascent democracy and unity.

However, the structure and emergence of the Nigerian state and how conflagrations emanate therein are divergence but worth noticing is the increasing spate of conflicts that, the advent of democracy in 1999 has continued to witness. The noticeable conflicts in Nigeria are tied to the role of democratic institutional decay. These decaying institutions are being perverted by those in governing authority to siphoned public funds, crush opposition, marginalized the downtrodden with harsh economic policies (Ujo, 2008).

This view however, borne out because the institutions are mounted and controlled by people and these individuals at the helm of these institutions capitalize on ethnic, religion and regional chauvinism to get there. To the extent that ethnicity, religion and regional divides are instrumental for appointments into and promotions within these institutions. To further unfold the course of ethnicity, religion and regionalism, a profound scholar on ethnic politics in Nigeria presented a vivid analysis into the cons that ethnicity has perverted and how it has wrecked concerted efforts geared towards development and democracy in Nigeria. (Nnoli 1978) states that, ethnic consciousness in Africa was the offspring of colonial racism whose objective basis was the alienation of the African for easy foreign exploitation. It was in the colonial enclaves that the colonized African made contact with the colonial environment, the colonizer, and the Africans from different communal groups. But in contemporary Nigerian society today, ethnicity was implanted by the colonialists and was later inherited by the emerging ruling class to manipulate in order to control democratic institutions and to grasp power. Ethnicity, religion and regionalism contributes significantly in shaping political and economic behavioral patterns of Nigerians and this manifests itself through the holes coined by political patronage, making ethnic descent a loop to lobby for job and favours in the civil services and other non-governmental organizations.        

The exacerbated institutional decay and conflicts in Nigeria is also a fall–out of corruption and political prependalism hat are first located in the praxis of democratic institutions that is executive, legislature and judiciary. This traditional corruption within the realm of democratic institutions extended to other institutions like the INEC and the Mass Media that are supposed to promote good governance. The legislatures corrupt influxes deserves consideration based on its strategic position and functions in Nigeria systemic democratic institutions. It is predicative that the principle of separation of powers amongst the arms of government, and check and balances, through what are tagged legislative oversight functions, connotes their point of differentiation and reintegration of functions. Focusing on the acts of legislatures and the attendant crisis and scandals that have rocked the legislative arm, it is easier to decipher that they are self–serving as shown by historical pedigree of legislatures in Nigeria. Eze (2011) categorically pointed out that, the history of the National Assembly is replete with diverse forms of corruption. It is obvious to Nigerians that the level of budgetary indiscipline exhibited by the National Assembly in the past years is alarming. Constituencies have become instruments of official corruption; fraud and lubricant of primitive accumulation for lawmakers, as constituencies across the country have never had the impact of constituency project funds that had been given to lawmakers yearly. The two chambers are fast transforming into discredited institutions of the Nigeria state where lawmakers desecrate every known element of democratic principles. The responsibility of lawmaking is no longer the remit of prudent, intelligent and honourable men, but of those who engage in profligacy and depravity. Members of the National Assembly have created the impression that the country does not have people who have credibility in public offices. They have become a negative influence on state legislatures, infecting them with the inspiration to loot funds with impunity. 


More also, he opines that the lawmakers have refused to comply with remuneration packaging stipulated for them and that members of the National Assembly have taken delight in violating the laws that set out remuneration because of their selfish interests. Such violations include arbitrary appointment of a high number of personal assistants, which is adding more cost to the running of government. It is difficult to determine what value they add to service delivery or to governance. It is painstakingly to state that, since 1999, both chambers of the National Assembly have never hid their urge to see that their selfish interest is founded through various budgetary allocations. They take advantage of their statutory responsibility as approving authority for Annual Appropriation Acts the lawmakers have over the years become expert in increasing the various subheads in the national budget as passed by them. It is unarguable to add that, since 1999 one consistent stigma that has continued to dog the National Assembly is the scandal of different proportions. And the more the leadership of the two chambers tried to cover up, the more the crisis degenerate (Ezea, 2011). By virtue of the strategic position of the legislatures as a democratic institution and its corrupt receipts, apparently the legislature’s dogmatism leans towards concerted energy that is submerged into private property accumulation thereby truncating democratic tenets that revolve and centres on the freedom of the masses. Pertinently, the masses cannot be free if their economic conditions are bartered and tattered by poverty and illiteracy. These two economic conditions that enveloped the masses are poverty and illiteracy which is the main trigger responsible for conflicts in Nasarawa State and Nigeria.

Institutional decay and conflicts is a manifest product to accumulate private property or better still capital fuel by rampaging corruptions in civil services, and other facets of socio–economic environments that reflect prominently in Nigerians social life. Ostensibly, Onuigbo postulated that Transparency International (TI) reported that, Nigeria’s ranking and score are so abysmally low because the country has been unable to build the strong institutions and legal framework that would ensure that corrupt practices are so difficult to get away with; or that they will be reduced to the barest minimum. Deriving from this, indispensable democratic institutions that are supposed to spearhead good governance by bringing to bear good projects to enhance development and prosperity of the nation state are raided by corruption. Sadly enough, (Onouigbo 2015) emphatically emphasized that vital agencies of law enforcement, such as the police, continue to underperform; indeed, the Nigeria police force has regularly comes on top in polls of the country’s most corrupt institutions (Onuigbo, 2015). The dismaying corrupt indices within the purview of the Nigeria democratic institutions are essential for meaningful progress towards understanding conflict resurgences in Nasarawa state. 


Table 1.1 Corruption Rating in Nigeria’s Democratic Institutions

            Source: Ememyeonu (2007:7)






Table 1.2 Assessments of Levels of Corruption in Nigeria Institutions

                   Sources: Business Day, Monday 02 November 2009:1


Table 1.1 and Table 1.2 revealed the deep seated cancer of corruption and how it has eaten deeply into the fabrics of the Nigerian state and which have resulted in institutional decay and conflicts in Nigeria. Emenyonu (2007) stresses that; corruption today is still a deadly disease in Nigeria. Corruption has been responsible for the collapse of our economy, the infrastructure and the collapse of educational and health sectors and other areas of life. Many Nigerians are yet to be free from it. Where is corruption not present in Nigeria society? Is it in the Executive Arm of our government, the Legislature–the Senate, House of Representatives, the State Assemblies, Local Government, the Judiciary–Courts, the uniform establishment-Military, Police, Immigration services, customs, the Prison, the Civil and Administrative Services, the Education (schools, colleges) and Health Sectors and Private Sectors and Mercantile House, where? Unless we want to deceive ourselves, the whole nation is sick. Our roads are bad because of it, armed robbers, smugglers and kidnapping are everywhere by the grace of corruption (and so political conflicts in disguise of ethnic, religion and regional all happen because of corruption


arising from the inherent unjust structure heightening structural violence and consequently institutional decay–my emphasis)

Institutional Decay and Conflicts in Nasarawa State            

The element of institutional decay leapfrog conflicts as shown through various conflagrations in Nasarawa state. This is because the fragile democratic institutions are at the mercy of the few ruling classes who deploy them to instigate conflicts on the basics of their economic and political might. Also, the expansive economic and political power of the elites backed by political will is instructive to engendered conflicts through the various forms of governmental institutions that are partly decayed because of high levels of corruption and partly because of the need for few individuals to accumulate private property. Therefore, proactive and functional institutions are mechanisms to thwart conflicts before they even occur but dysfunctional institutions breathe conflicts and consequently blood birth resulting in loss of lives and properties worth millions. It is therefore notable that, the adverse effect of institutional decay in Nasarawa state billets Ebira and Bassa conflicts in Toto Local Governments over chiefdoms and chieftaincy, in the month of February 2001, there was clashes between Tiv and Fulani on one hand and Tiv and Migili on the other as well as Alago. These clashes occurred at Gidan Towan, Akeleku, Railway Camp, Akabule Chegume, Gidan Yale, Ome Village, Gidan Kunde, Jangargari, Akiri, Gidan Waya, Bushe and Agon in Awe, Keana and Obi Local Government of the state respectively, and The Azara incident of 2001 where the killing of the community’s paramount ruler (HRH. Alh. Musa Ibrahim) by suspected Tiv assassins led to violent backlashes (Aboki 2004)

The epidemic of institutional decay became strategic for conflicts to soar at different levels of the state. In Tudu Adaby for instance, mercenaries were hired to raid and subsequently kill a Tiv man on the 24th June, 2001. This act subsequently led to reprisal attack on the same Tudu Adabu on 26th June, 2001. This reprisal attack was launched on the Eggon people because of political delineation of wards. The attack was on two grounds, the first was that the hired mercenaries that kill Tiv man were believed to have been assisted by the residence of Tudu Adabu that is the Eggon community and secondly, the political delineation was perceived by Tiv as aiming to spite them, in order to scheme them out from holding any political position (Aboki 2004). However, he further narrated that, people identified as Tiv used sophisticated arms to attack the community and this conflict was worst and devastating as 53 persons were slayed 109 wounded while 182 houses and properties worth millions of naira destroyed. Hence, conflicts have continued to metamorphose into different scales and phase in the state as such curtailing development strides. Obviously in 2011-2012 the rise of organized ethnic militancy and arms bearing, the Ombatse onslaught on various communities; increased externalized herdsmen (Fulani) violence against settled native communities increased intercommunal tension and animosity.


Alozieuwa (2016) posited that:

                  The implication of the above is that the political elites have often provoked communal conflict by their desperate opportunistic penchant for political power. This was the case with respect to the Ombatse crisis in Nasarawa State (Alozieuwa, 2016: 21).


According to Enna (2014) Nasarawa state became a notorious global conflict spot, when news broke that about 74 officers and men of the Nigerian Police as well as other security agents were killed during an operation in Alakyo village in 2012. This condemnable tragedy was however, only the climax of unreported killings, invasion, murders, arsons and intense bloody ethnic conflicts between and involving the Eggon, Alago, Tiv, Migili, Mada, Gwadara, Bassa and Fulani. These crises have not only brought about instability in the affected areas; they have equally engendered dire social outcomes that threaten harmonious intergroup relations as well as sustainable national unity in Nigeria.

Probing the cause of conflict in Nasarawa state, institutional decay foist by corruption and self-interest of the ruling elites resulted in lack of government will and its institutional capability to mitigate the inherent conflicts bedeviling the state. These structural violence perpetrated by the ruling elites and systemic corrupt practices led to the malfunction of government institutions particularly the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) state security service (SSS) the military and other security outfits abysmal failure to surmount  conflicts in Nasarawa state.       

Conclusion and Recommendations

Institutional decay and conflicts are inseparable because conflict is the by- product of decaying governmental institutions in Nasarawa state. Given this, it is important to showcase how conflict is used as an instrument by the ruling elites to hijack and siphon public funds, witch-hunt oppositions and marginalize the masses just to advance their political and economic interests. Within the confines of effective institutionalism, proactive measures are taken to nib conflicts but Nigerian democratic institutions and particularly, Nasarawa state could not curtail conflict paradigms and that calls for serious concern.

1.       Institutional reactiveness entails a design and certain method that democratic institutions put together to prevent the occurrence of conflicts. To decipher proactive measures that could best prevent conflicts there is the need for undocumented community, institutional and organizational based trust and confidence building measures, good communication, good governance on the side of the government and inter party collaboration.

2.       The second measure to checkmate conflicting apparatus is reactive, which deals with response to situations that have already turned conflictive, or are potentially so. These include third party interventions like mediation, brokerage, conciliation, arbitration and litigation.                         

3.       Thus, overhauling Nigerian democratic institutions to discard systemic corruption for effective service delivery and good governance cannot be overstated. In spite of this, enhancing human development and capacity building is paramount to nib institutional decay and conflict in our contemporary society.

4.       Also, evolving and equipping proactive and reactive security apparatus to identify conflicts at the formative stage so as to find lasting and amicable medium to douse it is also vital. It is also more important that reactive security parameters should be equipped sophisticatedly to combat threats to peace through traditional methods of securitization.

5.       Added to that, mature political culture should be the watchword to select leaders after cross-examining integrity and ideological leaning of those aspiring to pilot the affairs of the Nigerian democratic institutions rather than the myopic political gimmicks of selection based on ethnicity, religion and regional divides bringing to the fore the politics of patronage and clientelism.

6.       Adherence to the tenets of democracy provoked peace and security but the governed should open windows of opportunities ranging from socio economic and political milieu thereby resulting in development at multifaceted level through good governance



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