Interactions amongst the various ethnic groups making up the Nigerian polity, pre and immediate post-independence, were seldom adversarial. They dwelt on respect, mutual understanding and accommodation of differences. Religious festivals were celebrated communally; inter-creed and inter-ethnic marriages were not so frowned against; residing outside ones ethnic locality was not packed with apprehensions. Also, such factors as religious and ethnic affiliations were not given utmost primacy in such issues as the choice of friendships, neighbourliness, selection of who to employ or who to work with. There were fewer frictions in the interactions. However, from the late 70s, there have been gradual changes in this pattern. The spirit of accommodation and understanding that underlined the initial interaction is gradually changing to discrimination and exclusion. Discriminations and exclusions on the basis of religious affiliation, denomination and or ethnic background are now rife and social interactions often dictated by religious and ethnic sentiments. The thrust of this paper is to interrogate the contributing factors for this changing pattern and the possible solution. Specifically, it identifies such variables as religious revivalism, which breeds religious chauvinism, intemperate religious preaching, often anchored on re or misinterpretation of history and religious creeds, elite manipulation, state failure, poverty, frustration and globalization as responsible for such transformation. As a way out, the study suggests recourse to African values of brotherliness, elite responsibilities, state action and proper interpretation and observance of religious injunctions.
Key words: Ethnicity, discrimination, exclusion, changing pattern and conflict.
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