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CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONBackground to the StudySince independence, call for national integration has been a top priority in Nigerian communities. Spiritual leaders, government, concerned individuals as well as groups have raised their voices in the face of threats of national disintegration caused by religious, ethnic and communal crisis. National integration describes the togetherness or unity felt by the citizens of the country with regard to citizenship, (Barnett, 2000). When individuals are nationally integrated, they may feel a sense of pride or patriotism.It is pertinent to understand that national integration is not only about national spirit, but also a feeling that brings people from all areas, dialects and beliefs together in a common endeavour. When national integration occurs, individuals are likely to work together to build a system that enhances prosperity of a nation and its people (Abiodun, 2003). The question of what religion is, is one about which no consensus of opinion exists because of its complexity. It is complex because human beings who deal with it are complex and the study involves other varied disciplines as history, ethnology, literature, linguistics, sociology, psychology, philosophy and the actual religion (Marshall, 1990).Religion is an inescapable fact of human life because there is an inherent urge in the nature of every human person which makes religion a matter of ultimate concern. Among the social institutions in the structure of any society, religion finds a central place because man as a social being on earth has very many unanswered questions such as: what is the meaning of life? What is thereafter death? What is the purpose of life? And what is life all about?Moreover, the word religion may be social to be derived from any of these Latin words: Religere, Re-eligere and Religare, means ‘read again and again’, that has to do with much study. Religion then signifies an attentive and deep study of and concern for matters pertaining to the transcendent being. Re-eligere means to ‘choose once more or again’. This has to do with when one chooses once more God whom one has lost through sin. And Religare means ‘write oneself again’. This means to bind or write oneself again fast to God in worship after being separate from him. Therefore, religion has to do with man’s relationship with the transcendental or ultimate being, (Anyanwu, 1999).In Nigeria, there are three basic types of religion that exist, these are: Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. Among these three, Christianity and Islam is said to be revealed religions. This means that their founders are known. African Traditional Religion is not a revealed religion because, its founder cannot be traced but it is a religion that is rooted in the culture of the people. Christianity and Islam are otherwise known as Abrahamic religions because these two religions claimed that Abraham is their progenitor. Islam has been well established in the northern Nigeria around 16th century before the advent of colonialism. And also, Christianity gained its ground in the middle of 19th century through the activities of the British missionaries (Odetola, 2006). Since then, these two religions have gained ground in Nigeria with thousands of followers in all the states.For many decades now, Muslims and Christians have been continuously engaged in religious conflicts. There is no doubt that religious conflict is one of the factors militating against national integration in Nigeria. Bombing, kidnapping, killings and destruction of properties have become a very regular and frequent occurrence in Nigeria nowadays. Boko Haram, which has voraciously terrorizing the country, attacking and destroying churches, mosques, markets, schools and barracks, killing innocent Nigerians has been attributed to Islamic religion. Also, Niger Delta militants which is currently in operation, vandalizing pipeline and kidnapping oil company’s workers is attributed to ethnicity. The concept of religion has been turned into a rivalry and means of destruction and threats to lives, (Udobata, 2003).Marriage is one of the most ancient, important universal and indispensable social institution which has been in existence since the inception of the human civilization. As an institution, marriage is designed to satisfy the biological needs especially the sexual needs, emotional companionship, and procreations. As a stable social institution, it bends two opposite sexes and allows them to live as husband and wife. It also confers on them social and legitimation to have sexual relation and have children (Udo, 2002).Marriage can be classified according to the numbers of person that are involved in the relationship. For instance where one man and a woman are involved, the marriage union is referred to as ‘monogamy’. Where more than two persons are involved, it is referred to as ‘polygamy’. Polyandry is when a woman has two or more than one man as husband and polygyny is where one man marries more than one wife. Polygamy is common among the tradition of Muslims communities, while monogamy is common among the Christian communities.However inter-religious marriage which is an institution socially recognized and approved as union between two individuals of opposite sex from different religions and culture, has played a positive role in influencing the national integration and development. And also, it has provided an avenue in which Muslims and Christians can collectively dwell together. Therefore, it is on this background that this research is conducted in order to discuss the influence of inter-religious marriage among Muslim and Christian on national integration in Nigeria with special focus on Efik Community.

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