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POLITICAL SCIENCE

ETHNIC MILITIA AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA

ETHNIC MILITIA AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION IN

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ETHNIC MILITIA AND NATIONAL INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

This study focuses on the subject of ethnic militia and national integration in Nigeria, using the activities of the movement for the actualization of the independent state of Biafra as a case study. Since Nigeria's return to democratic governance in 1999, the topics of ethnic militancy and national integration have been repeatedly debated.

Prior to this period, succeeding administrations struggled with the implementation of different programmes aimed at resolving the linked difficulties fueling the ethnicity and identity crisis, which has threatened the country's unity and national integration since independence.

On several occasions, the central embarked on programmes and formulated various policies to resolve these contending issues, but these efforts were futile, resulting in the formation of various ethnic militias by contending groups,

whose activities exacerbated identity crisis and ethnic diversity, all of which continue to threaten the needed unity and national integration.

Using both secondary and primary data sources, as well as the relative deprivation theoretical framework, the study discovered, among other things, that conflict can be utilised to represent a sense of marginalisation in society.

Furthermore, there is evidence that the marginalisation of some ethnic groups within the existing state organisation, along with the separation of the nation along ethnic lines, cannot achieve the national cohesion and development required in Nigeria. Based on the foregoing findings, the study advises, among other things,

that the Nigerian government establish a high-level Peace and Reconciliation Commission to interact with pro-Biafra parties in order to devise an effective method to resolving the Biafran struggle.

The commission should also communicate with state governments and other important stakeholders to encourage them to support the peace initiative and determine their unique role in the reconciliation process.

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INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study.

Fredrick Lugard, the Federation's Governor-General at the time, amalgamated Nigeria, a sovereign state with multi-ethnic tribes, in 1914. Prior to this period, each ethnic group was managed by traditional rulers, with provisions for the creation of functional government agencies in the formation and implementation of government programmes that the people voluntarily accepted.

According to Anifoweshe (2000), pre-colonial riles in Nigeria promoted strong government, preventing ethnicity and identity crises among the several ethnic groups that comprised the merged state.

However, the 1914 amalgamation indicated the eventual implementation of an indirect rule type of government, which to some extent encouraged unity and national unification among nationalists from the various ethnic groups of the combined protectorates.

Furthermore, the spirit of brotherhood among pre-independence nationalist leaders eventually led to Nigeria's successful independence in 1960 with the establishment of the first republic, which also promoted the needed unity and national integration in Nigeria until 1966,

when both the military coup and the Igbo massacre resulted in the collapse of national unity and the marginalisation of some ethnic groups in sociopolitical and economic distribution by the ruling elite, despite Gen. The results of noncommittal policy execution in Nigeria include the cause of insecurity,

ethnicity, and a national identity crisis, which has led in the development of several ethnic militias that are now endangering Nigeria's unity and national integration (Anifowoshe 2000).

Since 1999, when the country restored to democratic rule, the situation with ethnic militias and insurgency has been terrible, affecting the North, East, and South.

The development of diverse ethnic groups calling for equity in the distribution of national resources has been attributed to a sense of marginalisation that the communities believe has gone on for years without being addressed.

This is especially true in the Delta region, where the majority of the country's oil resources are located, and the various nationalities within the region believe they have been shortchanged in terms of resource distribution, leading to the formation of various ethnic militias in the Niger Delta area.

According to Okumagba (2009), individuals who support such militia organisations justify their presence by arguing that the region, which contains the majority of the nation's wealth, should demand fairness and equity in the allocation and distribution of national wealth.

Unfortunately, the dysfunctional nature of the Nigerian federal state, which had not recognised the region's contribution to national wealth, had become a source of frustration for the groups, resulting in violent behaviour that undermined national unity and sustainable economic development.

The formation of ethnic militias in south-west Nigeria can be traced back to the annulment of the June 12, election, which was widely believed to have been won by Chief M K O Abiola following numerous unsuccessful attempts by Chief Obafemi Awolowo,

who was also believed to have been denied the assessment to power by the Northern oligarch due to his uncompromising principles on national issues. The latter led in the founding of the Odua People's Congress (OPC) and Renew Agbekoya Parapo, both of which aimed to preserve Yoruba interests in the worldwide committee of nations.

In the North, the Arewa People's Congress (APC), which represents the interests of the North, has not been as vocal as the other factions in advocating for independent existence, for the simple reason that the North has held political power in Nigeria. If anything, the APC strives to undermine other groups' separatist efforts.

The other groups believe that the North has profited the most from the Nigerian project due to its dominance of state authority and the benefits that come with it. Also, the operations of the Boko Haram cult, which has taken millions of lives in the region, cannot be overlooked.

The Obatse Cult activities in Nasarawa state, North Central Nigeria, are highly explosive. Similarly, conflicts with security forces and purposeful vandalism of public facilities by both ethnic militias and insurgents jeopardise the safety of people and property.

This instills anxiety and a sense of insecurity in the population. This has had a negative impact on the much-needed unity and national integration that the country's founding fathers tried so hard to achieve.

In light of these challenges to national unity, this study seeks to unravel the phenomenon of ethnicity and ethnic militias in Nigeria as the primary cause and then propose alternative solutions to what has denied the country the expected unity and integration among its various ethnic nationalities.

The study is organised into five chapters, beginning with chapter one, which provides background information for the study. The second chapter explored certain conceptual concerns linked to the topic under evaluation,

while the third part looked at the research methodologies utilised to collect data. The fourth chapter presents, interprets, and discusses the results, while chapter five summarises our findings, draws conclusions, and makes recommendations for future research.

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