IMPLICATION OF IPOB’S SECESSIONIST AGENDA ON NATIONAL INTEGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The attacks on the state by various insurgents and terrorist groups have raised doubts about the Nigerian federation’s ability to survive, whether as a single entity or as a collection of states, similar to the failed Biafra uprising of 1967–1970. The massive killing of Ibos in Northern Nigeria in the 1960s, as well as the exodus of Ibos back home, revealed the mindset of the Igbo ethnic group that chose secession through their leader Lt Col O. Ojukwu. Currently, each ethnic group claims ownership of most national issues; this is the root of Nigeria’s problem, as there is no cooperation to move the country forward in achieving national consciousness and identity.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a separatist group that advocates for their people’s self-determination. Studies have shown that protests by various groups in various countries have an impact on the political stability of the countries involved (Shehu, Othman & Osman 2017).
National integration is the process of instilling a sense of national consciousness, identity, and loyalty among a country’s citizens, despite the fact that they come from various races or castes, ethnic groups, religions, regions, and languages. The definitions provided above show how the concepts of peacebuilding and national integration are linked to the goal of nation-building.
Despite efforts and resources devoted to peace and integration projects, Nigeria has struggled to achieve peace and national integration since independence due to a variety of factors. The 30-month fratricidal Biafra-Nigeria civil war between 1967 and 1970 exemplified the importance and dominance of centrifugal forces (tearing the country apart) over centripetal elements (working towards homogeneity or unity). Nigeria has continued to drift towards increased social, regional, and ethno-religious cleavages despite General Gowon’s post-conflict policy, which emphasized reconciliation, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
Beyond communal tensions and conflicts, which have persisted across the country, Nigeria faces a slew of serious challenges that could jeopardize the country’s corporate existence; these include the still-burning issues in the Niger-Delta region, as well as a slew of other issues, the growing disaffection by Oduduwa activists, the unfinished and percolating tensions and contestations between Christians and Muslims and the growing radicalization of Shia Moslems to the hugely damaging agitations over marginalization and demands for a secessionist Biafra, and the Boko Haram insurgency that has already resulted in thousands of deaths and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons. The resurgent agitation for independence from the Nigerian federation by a section of citizens from the old Eastern region of the country (reputedly, mainly Igbo speaking) and the rebellion organized by the Islamist Boko Haram in the Northeastern part of the country (primarily) currently constitute two of the gravest threats to the Nigerian state’s territorial integrity.
On Biafra, a chain of events had culminated in the initial pogrom in the North, the first coup, the Igbo massacre after the counter-coup of July 1966, failed international efforts to broker peace (especially in Aburi, Ghana), and the declaration of Biafra as a sovereign state on May 29, 1967, by the Military Governor of the Eastern Region, Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Thus began a 30-month fratricidal war between the separatist Biafra and the Federal Government of Nigeria with variegated international partnerships on both sides. The war ended in January 1970 after the surrender of Biafra and the forced return of the East as an integral part of Nigeria.
However, 47years after the war, perceived feelings of injustice, marginalization and persecution (for which the Igbos went to war in the first place) still persist. Consequently, agitations for self-determination have resurfaced in the region particularly in the Igbo-speaking areas of the Southeast further driving a wedge into decades-old peace building and integration efforts of the country. Presently, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has not only been the most vociferous, resilient and determined advocate of Biafra secession, but also has been undeterred by threats and clampdown efforts by state security organizations. It also enjoys wide and vocal solidarity, especially among the youths, in the region. Although the group espouses a non-violent approach notionally, it has been known to be very violent and destructive in the very recent past, which has served to ensure high levels of compliance to its recent public orders “suggestions” in the Southeast. As such, IPOB’s activities may constitute an imminent threat and present danger to peace building and national integration efforts in Nigeria.
The Biafra agitation and the Boko Haram insurgency are currently the two main challenges to Nigeria’s stability, unity, and cohesion. Despite the Nigerian government’s efforts to find long-term solutions, effective solutions have remained elusive. The state has repressed and destroyed members of the IPOB, but they have remained steadfast. Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader, has been detained and imprisoned. He has been even more determined to restore Biafra since his release almost two years ago, and he has gained more supporters. As a result, the unrest has divided the Southeast as well as the region.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Unifying the diverse ethnic, religious, political and economic groupings in Nigeria for development remains the greatest challenge facing Nigeria as a nation. According to Aluko and Usman (2016), unity is still a scarce resource among Nigerian peoples due to the manner the country was created by the British colonial authorities and the failure of Nigerian elites to create a true and viable nation out of these diversities. Omokri (2017) argues that diversity in and of itself is not a problem; it is what is done with it that matters. According to him, whether or not socio-cultural variety results in strife or collective success entirely depends on how a society chooses to manage it. However, disagreements and controversies over the best political structure to be adopted, size and responsibility of government, the nature of relationship between and among component units, the type and system of government, as well as how resources are acquired and shared have become a recurring feature of the Nigerian state. This lack of unity has been part and parcel of Nigeria’s chequered history, threatening the existence and stability of the nation.
- AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THW STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the implication of IPOB’s secessionist agenda on National integration and development. Other specific objectives of the study are;
- To examine the Nigerian state and the Resurgence of Biafran Agitation
- To examine the challenges that has continued to threaten the corporate existence of the Nigerian
- To examine the implications of Agitation for Biafra on National Integration and development
- To examine the relationship between IPOB’s secessionist agenda on National Integration and development
- To examine the programs and policies to promote national unity in Nigeria
- RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- How is the Nigerian state and the Resurgence of Biafran Agitation?
- What are the challenges that have continued to threaten the corporate existence of the Nigerian?
- What are the implications of Agitation for Biafra on National Integration and development?
- What is the relationship between IPOB’s secessionist agenda on National Integration and development?
- What are the programs and policies to promote national unity in Nigeria?
- RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
- IPOB’s secessionist agenda has no impact on National Integration and development in Nigeria
- IPOB’s secessionist agenda has no impact on National Integration and development in Nigeria
- There is no significant relationship between IPOB’s secessionist agenda on National Integration and development
- There is a significant relationship between IPOB’s secessionist agenda on National Integration and development
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense benefit to Nigerian government as it would highlight the prospects and challenges to national integration and development in Noigeria. The study contributes to scholarly pursuit of knowledge in the field of national integration and enhances the current debate on the integration of Nigeria. Findings from the study will serve as a useful reference of the difficulties that need to be overcome with regards to the National integration of Nigeria. The study would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on regional integration in Africa.
- SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the implication of IPOB’s secessionist agenda on National integration and development.
- LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
- OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Integration: Is the tendency of sovereign states to shift their loyalties, expectations and political activities to new centre of power through persuasion.
Aluko, O. and Usman, S. (2016). visiting the hippopotamus: National integration issues in Nigeria. Romanian Journal of Regional Science Association, 10(1)
Omokri, R. (2017). „President Buhari‟s Double Standard Syndrome‟, This Day, July 7
Shehu, M. I, Othman, M. F., & Osman, N. B. (2017). Resource control and allocation in Nigerian federalism: The oil dilemma. International Journal of Management Research and Review, 7, 237–251.
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