Fears of a coup may have been allayed with the return of President Muhammadu Buhari after a lengthy absence due to ill health but the panic gripping delicate Nigeria has taken a new dimension as an ultimatum issued by the major ethnic group for other tribes to vacate some parts of the country approaches.
Coupled with terrorism by the Islamic militant Boko Haram sect escalating, with over 20 000 civilians killed (unofficial figures suggest the toll is 100 000) and some 2 million displaced, the West African powerhouse has to contend with inter-ethnic relations at their most fractured nation in recent years with the deadline some diehard members of the majority Hausa for the Igbos to leave the northern parts of the country due at the end of this month.
At the centre of the brewing conflict are the Hausa (largely Muslim), are the largest ethnic group with 29 percent of the 190-million population, and the Igbos (predominantly Christians), who are third with 18 percent. The Yoruba are the second largest tribe (21 percent) in Africa’s biggest country by population, and with over 500 tribal groups.
While the government of Buhari (a Hausa), who nonetheless has spent the better part of the tense period in the United Kingdom for health reasons, audios and videos urging the North to attack the Igbos in the region are in circulation on the internet and social media.