Nigeria at 61 and the bane of identity politics, By Majeed Dahiru


On October 1, Nigeria marked its 61st just anniversary as a notoriously detrimental nation that is the most disturbed poverty capital of the sphere. This doesn’t reach as a surprise to many on story of Nigeria’s crawl to nationhood has been stuttered, halted and in a roundabout plan positioned on a reverse mode by its political leadership over the years.  The dearth of national cohesion, which is a classic condition earlier any fashion of socio-economic building  has been a predominant element militating against the conclusion of the Nigerian dream of a cohesive, solid, aloof and prosperous nation 61 years after independence.

 Convinced that the constituent peoples of Nigeria own been irreconcilably various to such an extent that a united, cohesive and solid Nigerian nation would possibly possibly well no longer evolve from the 1914 British created nation of Nigeria, Nigeria’s founding fathers will lag on to barter an just nation with a federation that’s structured alongside ethno-geographic fault traces. While, the principle republic Nigerian federation of three and later four areas substantially tickled the necessities of fiscal federalism, its structural rigidity alongside ethno-geographic fault traces, which become and not utilizing a mechanism for the assimilation and integration of Nigerians wherever they selected to reside exterior their keep of foundation with elephantine political and economic rights extended to them successfully made Nigeria a nation of indigenous tribesmen of the over 500 constituent ethnic nationalities and no longer a nation of citizens.

 As a manual constitutional democracy, the principle republic federation, which become structured alongside ethno-geographic fault traces inevitably, gave rise to a political culture of ethnic, regional and non secular identity. And with identity politics turning into entrenched within the polity supposed that the democratic leadership recruitment job of Nigeria’s political leaders will be basically walk by primordial sentiments of ethnicity, keep of foundation and faith. For that reason, the put up just political leadership class of Nigeria of their repeat to shield their privileged positions devised sundry plan to deepen the dividing ethno-geographic fault traces by influencing their respective peoples to constantly align their democratic choices with their ethnicity, keep or faith. This become how a solid foundation for a Nigerian assert that will be an increasing form of weakened by the ravages of identity politics up till 2021 become laid and concretised 61 years earlier at its independence in 1960.

Unfortunately, Nigeria will as soon as more contain identity politics following the transition from protection power to civil democratic rule in 1999. Retrogressive in nature, identity politics is divisive, parochial and bigoted and negates every norm of accepted nation building. And if identity politics is allowed to prefer root within the political machine of any nation, as has been the case of Nigeria within the 21 years of democracy, it would possibly well possibly possibly well unfold cherish a cancerous cell and sap life out of that nation. Sadly, after 21 years of civil democratic rule in Nigeria the promise of dividends of democracy within the fashion of improved welfare and security of lives and properties remain largely elusive no thanks to the collective depraved choices of Nigerians aligning their democratic choices with their ethnicity, keep and faith.

The purveyance of identity politics has made Nigerians each accomplices and victims of corruption induced economic dislocation and heightened insecurity. In identity politics the seeds of corruption own been sown. This is so since the one reward machine for identity politics is patronage at the expense of the final public treasury. As a result of this truth, such detrimental practices as nepotism, cronyism, tribalism, favouritism and all different kinds of sectionalism are legitimate cultural instruments by the  elected and appointed representatives of the over 500 ethno-geographic groupings in govt to extract from the current wealth [national cake] to their respective sections of the nation. In Nigeria, corruption is normalized by culture, sanctified by faith, rationalized by intellectuals and affirmed by politicians hence intractable.  If the precept of zoning and rotation of elected and appointive places of work among the many competing ethno-geographic groupings in Nigeria that become adopted by the fourth republic political leaders become intended to make certain the equitable distribution of sources, then it no longer only didn’t raise out the aim nevertheless truly resulted into the equitable distribution of loot by conniving political leaders from all divides. For that reason, Nigeria’s identity driven political job has degenerated staunch into a legal franchise of vitality snatch by the political elite for self provider at the expense of the final public treasury to the detriment of public provider.

While Nigeria would possibly possibly well no longer be a failed assert but, the nation is rarely any doubt exhibiting mild indicators of assert failure, which contains nevertheless no longer restricted to [a] the lack of alter of its territories and the monopoly of the use of legitimacy of power within those territories, [b] rising erosion of legitimate authority to manufacture collective choices and [c] incapacity to adequately provide public companies. It is serious to show that the causative pathogen for the afore talked about indicators of assert failure, is constantly and almost the incapacity of failed states to resolve their query of national identity as a mode of reaching a united, factual, gorgeous, egalitarian and solid nation assert. From British India, Somalia, Sudan to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, the absence of a political leadership that’s able to rise above primordial sentiments of ethnicity, keep and faith to invent a nation the keep equity, equity, justice and peace reigns is basically accountable for assert failure. Nigeria and nervous worldwide locations such as Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq own one thing strikingly in accepted; their leadership recruitment processes are firmly hinged on the politics of ethno-geographic and non secular identity, which has given rise to sectional, parochial, clannish, bigoted and divisive leadership. 

Many Historians and political commentators own attributed Nigeria’s affirm of identity dissonance to the British colonial misadventure of lumping together various peoples without powerful in accepted staunch into a single geographic entity by the amalgamation act of 1914. Variously described as a ‘’mere geographic expression’’ that become a ‘’mistake’’ Nigeria it would possibly well possibly possibly well seem become programed to fail even forward of its starting. On the other hand, contrary to the entrenched story that says Nigeria is a nation of of us with too powerful irreconcilable distinction to be a united nation, historic, cultural, linguistic, anthropological and sociological evidences suggests otherwise.

The peoples of Nigeria prolonged forward of the British amalgamation of 1914 shared deep and conclude cultural, linguistic and primitive ties within a accepted geographic self-discipline extending past the borders of accepted Nigeria into Benin, Niger, Cameroun and Chad republics. A largely mono racial [Black] of us, the diversified ethnic teams, tribes and kingdoms of pre-colonial Nigeria own interacted by diplomacy, alternate and war fare; interactions that served as a mode of assimilation and integration of  the peoples of Nigeria prolonged forward of British colonial incursion into continental Africa. There become a pre-existing primitive citizenship machine in pre-colonial Nigeria, which allowed for the seamless assimilation and integration of folks, families and communities wherever they selected to reside within Nigeria of broken-down. If diversity is to be measured in interval of time of the racial composition of a geographic entity, then a mono racial Nigeria hardly qualifies to described as a various nation. Nigeria is supreme described as plural nation since the diversified ethnic groupings such as Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Nupe, Igala, Tiv, Kanuri and heaps others., are merely a plurality of the same one astronomical Black African linguist and cultural family.

Big Britain, Nigeria’s colonial grasp become as soon as a Roman colony between 43 and 410 AD. And cherish the Black mono racial peoples of Nigeria, mono racial White Britain become a plurality of ethnicities. Sir George Goldie who done the supreme role within the formation of accepted Nigeria become Scottish factual as Vegetation Shaw, the British essayist whose suggestion become the title ‘’Nigeria’’ become of Irish ancestry. On the time of amalgamation of the protectorates of the North and South of Nigeria into one entity in 1914, the British crown become seating on the high of King George V an ethnic German who become the grandson of Queen Victoria by her consort, Prince Albert of Germany by their son King Edward VII. Simply as Nigeria’s founding fathers variously identified as Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa so own been their colonial masters personally identifiable by their ethno-geographic ancestry. The adaptation become within the flexibility of their colonial masters to rise above primitively rigid territorial identification by adopting the current national identity of their shared geographical entity of the UK of Big Britain and Northern Ireland [British].  As no nation is really blessed by abundance of human and natural sources, the British own been united of their concerted effort to shore up the wealth of their nation by the acquisition of international territories to magnify alternate and funding for the industrial ultimate thing about their self-discipline of foundation. The easy economics of colonialism remains a very well-known lesson unlearnt by the Nigerian of us 61 years after independence.   

Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and have to even be reached by   

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