-By Stephen Ubimagbo
But what is quite uncanny about Nigeria’s demographic distribution is that faith, ethnicity and geography mix as identity markers. In other words, a mere identification with an ethnicity would easily betray a Nigerian’s religion and geographical origin within the country.
According to the Pew Research Center, 50 percent of Nigeria’s population are Muslims. Specifically, the country has a Muslim population that’s estimated at 90 million. Christians, on the other hand, account for 48 percent of Nigeria’s population, otherwise 86 million.
The point is, while Northern Nigeria is overwhelmingly Muslim, Southern Nigeria is largely Christian.
A Fulani or Hausa, for example, is easily identifiable as Muslim and of Northern origin. An Igbo or Ijaw is easily a Christian and of Southern origin.
But because the South also has a huge Muslim population among the Yoruba, it is said that they have continued to constitute the biggest setback to Southern political solidarity. It is in fact said that Southern political solidarity is at best tentative because of the Yoruba unique tendency or position.
The explanation for this is not farfetched. Because Islam and Christianity don’t share the same values or worldview, although some have oddly lumped both faiths as Abrahamic, Yoruba Muslims (who constitute not less than 50 percent of Yoruba population) feel a closer affinity or indeed kinship with the North, as they share the same values owing to religion, than with other Southern groups that are largely Christians.
Hence, when other groups from the South complain of Northern (Muslim) hegemony and its debilitating impact on their political and economic freedoms, or when they generally rue their condition within Nigeria’s political equation, the Yoruba are often the quickest in the South to hush them, asking them to suck it in or die frustrated.