Nigeria should be divided into two nations to avoid further bloodshed between Muslims and Christians, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said yesterday. He proposed that the partitioning should follow the model of Pakistan, which was born in 1947 after the Muslim minority of predominantly Hindu India founded their own homeland, led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
“The only thing that could put an end to the bloodshed … is the appearance of another Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who established a state for the Muslims and another for the Christians,” Gaddafi said in a speech in Libya to African student leaders, some of them from Nigeria, Libyan news agency, Jana reported.
“The painful situation that Nigeria is enduring resembles the situation of the Indian subcontinent before 1947, at the time of the massacres between Hindus and Muslims,” Gaddafi said.
Gaddafi suggested that former President Olusegun Obasanjo should lead efforts for a Christian homeland in the south with Lagos as its capital, and that a Muslim homeland in the North should have Abuja as its principal city.
Gaddafi, until recently the head of the African Union, said the two communities should peacefully agree to share Nigeria’s oil and other natural wealth.
Splitting Nigeria “would stop the bloodshed and burning of places of worship,” Jana quoted Gaddafi as saying.
A senior Nigerian diplomat said he was not taking the Libyan leader’s suggestion seriously.
Hundreds of people have died in communal violence in villages around the central Nigerian city of Jos this year.
Gaddafi’s suggestion is unsurprising given his past form. Last year, he called for Switzerland to be abolished and for its land to be divided between Italy, Germany and France. Although the violence in Nigeria generally takes place between Muslim and Christian communities, the underlying causes are a complex mix of political, social and economic grievances.
The country is roughly split between its largely Muslim north, and a Christian-dominated south.
Col Gaddafi characterised the Jos violence as a “deep conflict of religious nature” caused by the federal state, “which was made and imposed by the British in spite of the people’s resistance to it.”
He described the partition of India as a “historic, radical solution” which saved the lives of “millions of Hindus and Muslims”. Splitting India in 1947 caused a breakdown of law and order in which at least 200,000 people died.
Some estimates say one million people were killed. About 12 million people were left homeless and thousands were raped. An attempt by the Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria to secede in 1967 sparked a war which left more than one million people dead.
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