While people have raised these fears with me in private, reports here and here of the politicization of religious identity and its relationship to electoral violence have made it into the press. These reports come in the wake of a series of attacks and heightened tension between religious groups in the Middle Belt city of Jos and in the northern city of Maiduguri.
The mobilization of religious and ethnic identity for political and violent purposes is something I have long feared and warned about in a number of places, including a contingency planning memo I wrote for the CFR’s Center for Preventative Action that raised the ire of a number of Nigerian politicians and bureaucrats. However, earlier I had argued that this kind of violence would manifest in a contested post-electoral environment. There is now potential for escalating violence prior to the elections as well.