Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Mass atrocities in Jos, Nigeria

Delivered in Plenary - 6th May 2010

Mr President

As a boy I remember vividly seeing on television the pictures of the horrific civil war in the Nigerian region of Biafra. Forty years on, sadly, little seems to have changed. The sickening images from Jos, where hundreds of innocent people were hacked to death in an act of savagery, remind us that Nigeria is a chronically unstable country.

Ethnic, religious, particularly Christian versus Muslim, tribal, cultural and economic tensions appear to be endemic in Nigeria. The current uncertainty following the death yesterday of the President I send my condolences to the Nigerian people will inevitably result in a power struggle and this will follow on to compound the instability in that large Africa country. I am therefore worried about the long-term sustainability of Nigeria as a unitary state. Some, including the maverick President Gaddafi of Libya, have controversially suggested that Nigeria should be split into two. Certainly Sudan, another country divided between a Muslim north and a Christian South, looks probably set to separate into two parts next year. That likely division will set a precedent that colonial boundaries in Africa are no longer sacrosanct, which raises many interesting questions for the future of Africa.