Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi has responded to Nigerians criticisms of his suggestions and insinuations that Nigeria should split on religious and ethnic lines in order to reduce religious clashes, ethnic marginalization and tensions. According to reports, Gaddafi insists that Nigeria’s rival tribes desire independence, an accusation that has reportedly worsened Libya’s diplomatic relations with Nigeria.
In a statement released by state-run news agency, Jana, Gaddafi was quoted as saying: “Nigeria does not consist of two parts; the partition into Christian and Muslim states will not resolve Nigeria’s problems because there are other peoples claiming independence despite the religion issue.”
“The Yoruba people in the west and south demand independence, while the Igbo people live in the east and south. It became clear that the Ijaw people demand independence and the [Hausa] people in the north call for the establishment of the [Hausa] state.”
Earlier this month Nigeria recalled its ambassador from Tripoli, Libya. However the declining diplomatic relations has not hindered Gaddafi from sharing his opinion about the self-acclaimed giant of Africa nation.
In his recent public vocalization, Gaddafi advised that Nigeria should follow the mold of former Yugoslavia which comprised Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia and Slovenia.
Authorities in the Nigerian government have described Gaddafi’s comments as insensitive and irresponsible and that it diminishes his status and credibility.
According to Gaddafi, the bloodiest conflict in the former-Yugoslavia which took place in Bosnia [The Bosnian Genocide of 1995] arose because it was a multi-ethnic state, while the other countries like Slovenia and Montenegro seceded peacefully. He insinuates that Nigeria should do likewise.
“Nigeria … resembles the Yugoslav union which included several peoples, like Nigeria, and then these people gained independence and the Yugoslav union was ended in peace. The model that fits Nigeria is the Yugoslav one,” Gaddafi added.
Earlier, Gaddafi had suggested that the most populous black nation be divided into along religious lines in the model of India and Pakistan.
According to local reports some sections of Nigerians suspect that Gaddafi may have sponsored the recent violent clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs that killed hundreds of people around the central Nigerian city of Jos.
And because Gaddafi has a history of being accused by other states [Sierra Leone, Liberia, DR Congo] of financing rebellions and fomenting instability, often to counter the interests of the United States and its allies, some Nigerians feel their suspicion of Gaddafi’s role in these bouts of religious conflicts and uprisings in northern Nigeria are not far-fetched.
Nonetheless, an attempt by Nigeria’s Igbo people to gain independence in 1967 sparked a secession war [the Biafra war of secession] that claimed over one million lives.