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THE PROBLEM OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA

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Unfortunately, the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians has always been confronted by a lot of challenges since the inception of the country and most of these challenges are products of ethnic politics and sentiments. This study will therefore examine the problem of integration in Nigeria

Classification of Terms

Problem; is something that is difficult to explain, understand, deal with etc. it can also be likened to the word mystery. According to Merriam-Webster, the origin of the word problem can be traced to the 14th century when it was first used. However, in the context of this study, the word problem stands for challenges or confrontations leading to or affecting national integration in Nigeria.

Integration; was first used in 1620. It is the act or process of incorporating as equals into society or an organization of individuals of different groups.

National integration; is a concept that describes a situation in which citizens of a country increasingly see themselves as one people, bound by shared historical experiences and common values, and imbued by the spirit of patriotism and unity, which transcends traditional, primordial diverse tendencies[1].

Nigeria; is located at the extreme inner corner of the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa, Nigeria occupies an area of 923,768 sq. km (356,669 sqmi), extending 1,127 km (700 mi) E – W and 1,046 km (650 mi) N – S. The population of Nigeria in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 131,530,000, which placed it at number 9 in population among the 193 nations of the world. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–2010 was expected to be2.4%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 190,287,000.There are more than 250 different ethnic groups within the country, none of which holds a majority. The four largest ethnic groups are the Hausa and Fulani, which together account for about 28% of the population; the Yoruba, accounting for 21% of the population; and theIbos with 18% of the population. The Ijaw of the South Delta make up10% of the people, followed by Kanuri (4%), the Ibibio (3.5%), and the Tiv (2.5%).





INTRODUCTION

Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914; bringing together different languages, ethnicity and cultural standards from across the important economic and political areas of influence in the Niger area.  This is a country where diverse ethnic groups exists side-by-side, with a continuous struggle for survival, identification and recognition in the country. Feelings of suspicion of one ethnic group’s domination over another become inevitable. The nonstop agitation and struggle to have control of the nation’s resources remain the bone of contention and sources of threat to peaceful co-existence, national unity and national integration in the country.

Unfortunately, the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians has always been confronted by a lot of challenges since the inception of the country and most of these challenges are products of ethnic politics and sentiments. This study will therefore examine the problem of integration in Nigeria

THE PROBLEM OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA

One of the major challenges confronting Nigeria as a young democracy relates to the issues of achieving a greater measure of peace, unity, national integration and stability amongst the various national groups that constitutes her society.[2] As a geopolitical entity, Nigeria has brought together divergently and culturally different nations. These nations, whether major or minor, in their varying degrees of success or failure, have constituted one centrifugal force or another within this single polity. This political unhealthiness constitutes a major divisive force of great extent in terms of the peaceful and corporate existence of Nigeria. Indeed, these negative forces constitute massive problems and predicaments which are seriously opposing to the achievement of sustainable social security and national integration in the country.

Therefore, the main problem of Nigeria’s national integration is centered on the amalgamation of 1914, which has resulted into two major problems; ethnic conflict (cultural diversity) and religion crisis.

ETHNICITY

Ethnicity is a sense of people hood that has its foundation in the combined remembrance of past experience and common aspiration. This definition explains the recent ceaseless protest emanating from the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) in the Eastern and Southern Nigeria respectively. These two groups have posed great challenge to national unity and integration in Nigeria.[3] There are several other ethnic movement not mentioned, such as Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), The Arewa People’s Congress (APC), The Egbesu Society of the Niger Delta, The Igbo People’s Congress (IPC), The Ijaw National Congress, The Urhobo National Union,[4] The Jukun Youth movement, The Kano-based Atjdid Movement, The Movement for the survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), The Bakassi Boys, The Plateau Youth, etc.

Historically, ethnic and cultural conflicts in Nigeria are rooted in the 1914 merger of the Northern and Southern Protectorates by the colonial administration of Lord Frederick Luggard. The amalgamation brought about the involuntary unification of culturally and historically diverse ethnic groups, some of which had been rivals and overlapping imperialists in the pre-colonial times.[5]

The 1914 amalgamation was a marriage of convenience.[6] The union of the over 250 ethnic nationalities was therefore “unity by a rope of sand”.[7],[8] Nigeria was not meant to work because it was not unification by natural evolution. The “Nigeria” project was a distant comparison to Italy, Germany and Spain whose unification from the Middle Ages to the 19th century was by the freewill or choice of the people under dynamic leadership. The act of merger by the European colonial powers merely forced the diverse ethnic groups of Northern and Southern Protectorates into a single entity without consultation with the various ethnic groups or their leaders. This autocratic and undemocratic British colonial policy, therefore, marked the origin of ethnic conflicts in the country.

Conflict as an aspect of ethnicity is more pronounced in societies where inter-ethnic competition for scarce resources is the rule, particularly when inequality is accepted as the known and wealth is greatly valued. In this type of set-up, no group wants to be concerned about the bottom of the ladder. Hence, groups exploit every means to remain at the top. In a democratic society where the flight to choose is the guiding principle, ethnic groups may show undue interest in who gets what, how and when. In another word, democratic traditions in ethnically plural societies may be influenced by a strong competition, ethnic rivalry and shoving for power and resources. These societies therefore, may witness social protest which often takes the form of ethnic conflicts.[9]

Since the enthronement of democracy in 1999, there have been incidents of ethnic violence usually carried out by ethnic militias. For instance, in Ibadan (June 1999, January 2000), Sagamu (July 1999), Kano (July 1999), Lagos (October – November 1999), Ilaje, Ondo (1999), Kaiama and Odi in Bayelsa (1999 – 2000)[10]





RELIGION

Aside, ethnicity, religion has also been a problem of attainment national integration in Nigeria. However, the cause of religious violence according to author differs from one environment to another. In Nigeria, certain constant factors breed and nurture violent religious conflicts. For instance, religious fanaticism; a situation whereby violence and unreasoning religious enthusiasm or inability of religious adherent to harmonize between the theories and the practical aspects of religion.[11] It often shows excessive and irrational zeal to defend ones’ religion and consequently become destructive agents of harmony in the country.

Other factors include; aggressive evangelism, jealousy, incitement, roles of the mass media, poverty, religious disagreement, government denial of fundamental human rights, injustice and failure, the role of elites among others.

Since the re-commencement of democratic rule on 29 May, 1999, religious violence has come to occupy the center stage. For instance, in July 1999, many people were killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed during a violent conflict between Yoruba traditional worshippers and minority Hausa groups in Sagamu, Ogun State.[12] Likewise, from 21 to 22 February, 2001, an estimated 3,000 people lost their lives in clashes between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna metropolis over the proposed introduction of Islamic criminal law. There was a reprisal attack in Aba, Abia State and about 450 persons were killed.[13]

The emergence of militant and extremist groups like the Taliban movement, Boko Haram, etc. has further heightened religious tension and continue to be a problem in the aspect of national integration of Nigerians.

ECONOMIC

There is a perception that some Northerners see the economic power of the country as being in the hands of the Southerners. Hence, they would want to keep the political power at all cost. This is the case of the ‘tyranny of population versus the tyranny of economic power. The situation is because the South embraced western education earlier than the North and therefore, was able to occupy the economic structures. In any case, western education has become the most relevant skill required in the modern state. The problematic is that the northern governments would prefer foreign worker to employees from the southern part of Nigeria in their employment. Empirical experiences exist of Southerners who were employed on renewable contract terms in the North. The current state of affairs has made it problematic for Southerners to desire to settle down in the north. This, certainly, is an anti-integration phenomenon.

POLITICAL

Politically in Nigeria, the 1963 population census which until recently was regarded as the authentic headcount, hence major determinant of fiscal federalism, asserted that the North has 79.0 per cent of Nigeria’s land area, a population figure of 53.5 per cent. The East was 8.3 per cent in area and a population of 22.3 per cent. The West was 8.5 land areas, 18.4 of population. The Midwest was 4.2 in land area and 4.6 in populations with Lagos area with 1.2 per cent of the population. The above statistics foisted on Nigeria is the ‘tyranny of Population’ over the Southern part of Nigeria. However, the South by reason of an early head start in the acquisition of Western education, control the governmental bureaucracy. The Southern states by reason of the present of crude oil resources have been agitating for reversal of the revenue sharing structure to the colonially induced revenue allocation formula which was, Derivation 50%, Federal Government 20%, Equity 30% to the Distributable Pool Account. This was included in the 1960-63 constitution. In order to enhance integration, equity and justice, it is imperative to eliminate ill-feelings by any group in the nation building processes.[14]

It is instructive to note that, Tell – Magazine (2005, March 7) edition featured one of the last colonial officers in Nigeria by name Harold Smith, who confessed that they inflated the 1963 population census in favor of the North. This conspiracy, has contributed immensely to the crisis of nation building in Nigeria. The 2006 population census figures were based on projection on the 1963 figures because it did not start from zero-base given the revelation of Harold Smith as contained in the above referred ‘Tell-Magazine’. According to Sklar and Whitaker (1966), the 1963 census figure indicated that the Northern region had a population of 29 million, East 12 million, West 10 million, and the Midwest 2million generating a total population of 55, 653, 821. It would be recall that population projection according to the United Nations Standard has an annual growth of 2.5 per cent, every ten (10) years. The 2006 population had stated that Nigeria is inhabited by an estimated 140 million persons. It gave the highest number to the North. This has called to question the fact that in Nigeria, the states with fast growing municipal economies, such as Cross River (Calabar), Rivers(Port Harcourt), Lagos State, Delta State (Asaba), has lesser population figures than states with less-developed municipal economies of the north. But judging from the population spread in the states as indicated; the theory of population growth appears to be faulted in Nigeria. There are therefore, other non-economic factors that stimulate population growth. This is because when States such as Jigawa, Bauchi, Benue etc. that have less-developed municipal economies outstripping states such as Cross River, Delta, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Anambra, that have fast-growing municipal economies, one would only ponder the factors responsible for such growth (Mofi-News, 2007). It would be recalled that many years ago, Neo-Malthusians had postulated that population growth can also stimulate economic growth because large numbers of persons would increase the labor supply, spur up institutional innovations, enhance technological development and increase the supply of human ingenuity Mofi-News (2007). The question therefore is why has these social developments not taken place in these states which lay claims to high population growth rate?





FISCAL (Financial)

The problem of fiscal federalism has been the strongest centrifugal force that threatens integration in Nigeria. It has become a tool for political bargaining. Dating back to the colonial protectorate period, Lagos and later the southern protectorate have been lending funds to the northern regions to enable them to balance their annual budget. This had generated some resentment and has continued to do so among the southern political elites till this day. It has been asserted that the urge to meet the financial need of the northern protectorate of Nigeria, was the most compelling reason for the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914. The above assertion is further consolidated in the myriads of debates in the Federal House of Representatives during 1960-63 that ended up in the total liquid assets taken over by the new central government on January 1, 1914, in which 93.5 per cent (about 1.7 million) pounds came from the South. Nevertheless, during the first year of its existence, the country was able to balance its budget. Thus, the solvency of Nigeria during this period was made possible by the favorable revenue position of the colony and southern province. The overt display of these resentments were in 1950s when the northern region had made minimum demand that to continue to be part of the protectorate of Nigeria, there must be equal representation between the North and South in the proposed legislature. It then threatened a break-away if the demand was not met, while in 1959, before the election of that year, it again requested and got the abrogation of the representational equality between the North and the South on the same threat. Consequent upon this, the federal legislature was increased from 181 to 312 and a constituency size delimited on a seat/population ratio of 1: 100,000, this gave a constituency distribution of 174 to the north, 73 to the east, 62 to the west and 3 to Lagos.[15] This distribution gave amajority of 36 to the North over the combine total of the East, West and Lagos. In 1953 it was the turn ofthe West to do same while the Eastern region took its turn in 1956 and later tried to actualize it through the civil war1967-70.

Conclusion

The above discussions have given us an insight into the problem of national integration in Nigeria. With a brief emphasize on the amalgamation of Nigeria in order to justify the topic. As a reflection of the pathetic situation of national integration in Nigeria, this paper has brought into consideration ethnic crisis and politics as noticeable in problems faced by the nation.

In postcolonial societies, such as Nigeria, in particular, it embodies a strategy of forging unity in diversity, and connotes a striving to be a unified people in a modern, colonially created, nation-state. National integration has become a major post-independence project, which was perceived to be necessary and critical to national progress and development. It sought to create patriotic citizens out of disparate, often antagonistic groups.

This problem has lingered because national integration in Nigeria has not been a voluntary process. However, given a purposeful leadership and a ‘just administration’, national integration would produce an organic Nigerian state. However, it should be acknowledging that the journey towards that destination is still a long distance away. Nigeria is still on that part, but a purposeful leadership which is inclining to inputs, would make national integration attainable.





REFERENCES

  1. Abdulrahman A. and Danladi Ocheni “Ethnic politics and the challenges of national integration in Nigeria” In International Journal of Politics and Good Governance Volume VII, No. 7.2 Quarter II 2016
  2. Ajayi, J.F.A. and Alagoa, E.J. “Nigeria Before 1800: Aspects of Economic Development and Inter-Group Relations” in Ikime, O. (ed.) Groundwork of Nigerian History, Ibadan: Heinemann 1980
  3. Akinyele, R.T. “Ethnic Militancy and National Stability in Nigeria: A case study of the Oodua People’s Congress.” In Killingray, D. and S. Ellis, (eds.) African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society. Vol. 100 2001. P.401
  4. Ayinla, S.A. “Managing religious intolerance and violence in Nigeria: Problems and solutions.” A paper presented at the National Conference on Social Problems, Development and the Challenges of Globalization, Organized by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. 16th-17th of June, 2004.
  5. Balogun, K.A. “Religious fanaticism in Nigeria: problems and solutions.” In Balogun, I. A.B. (ed.) The place of religions in the development of Nigeria. Ilorin: Department of Religions, University of Ilorin. 1988
  6. Chogugudza, C. (2008), ethnicity main causes of instability, civil conflicts and poverty in Africa. Retrieved 12th October, 2015 from http://www.africaresources.com/essays-a-reviews/politics/478- ethnicity-main-cause-of-instability-civil-conflict-and-poverty-in-africa
  7. Cohen, A. The lesson of Ethnicity. In Mayor A. (ed), Urban ethnicity as a monographs 12. London; Tavistock Publication 1974
  8. Folarin, S.“Ethnicity and power politics: From June 12 to Boko Haram”, National Mirror, August 15, 2012, p.18
  9. Folarin S. “United By a Rope of Sand”, National Mirror, January 15, 2012 p.18
  10. Ikelegbe, A. “The perverse manifestation of civil society: Evidence from Nigeria.” In Journal of modern African studies: Vol 39, No 1 2001.
  11. Jega, A. M. “Education, democracy and national integration in Nigeria in the 21st century” in The African Research Journal, 2 No 4. December. 2002 Symposium: An Online Educational Journal, Vol. 2 No 4. December. 2002
  12. Lawal, T. and Oluwatoyin, A. (2011). “National Development in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Prospects”. Journal of Public Administration and Policy Research Vol. 3 (9), pp 237 – 241
  13. Lysias D. G. andNewman E. U. “Democracy and National Development in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects” International Journal of African and Asian Studies ISSN 2409-6938 An International Peer-reviewed Journal Vol.13, 2015
  14. Okam, C.C. “Using social studies as an instrument for citizenship education: An educology for the mobilization of students for national awareness and understanding on the Nigerian Education Scene” In International Journal of Educology, 5(2) 1991. pp.180-202.
  15. Olukorede, Y. “2003: A do or die affair?” The Source. June 3, 2002.
  16. Osaghae, E. “Ethnic minorities and federalism in Nigeria” In African Affairs, 90, 1991. Pp. 237-258.
  17. Sklar RL and Whitaker CS. Nigeria in Political Parties and National Integration in Tropical Africa Ed. J S Coleman and CGRoseberg, Berkeley: University of California.1966
  18. Tell-Magazine 2005. ‘How Britain Rigged Elections, Census for the North-Former Colonial Officer-Nigeria’s Independent Weekly No. 10March 7, 2005 p 33-39

 

Footnotes

  1. Jega, A. M. “Education, democracy and national integration in Nigeria in the 21st century” in The African

Symposium: An Online Educational Research Journal, Vol. 2 No 4. December. 2002

  1. Okam, C.C. “Using social studies as an instrument for citizenship education: An educology for the mobilization of students for national awareness and understanding on the Nigerian Education Scene” In International Journal of Educology, 5(2) 1991. pp.180-202.
  2. Abdulrahman A. and Danladi Ocheni “Ethnic politics and the challenges of national integration in Nigeria” In International Journal of Politics and Good Governance Volume VII, No. 7.2 Quarter II 2016
  3. Akinyele, R.T. “Ethnic Militancy and National Stability in Nigeria: A case study of the Oodua People’s Congress.” In Killingray, D. and S. Ellis, (eds.) African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society. Vol. 100 2001. P.401
  4. Ajayi, J.F.A. and Alagoa, E.J. “Nigeria Before 1800: Aspects of Economic Development and Inter-Group Relations” in Ikime, O. (ed.) Groundwork of Nigerian History, Ibadan: Heinemann 1980
  5. Osaghae, E. ‘Ethnic minorities and federalism in Nigeria’ in African Affairs, Vol. 90, 1991. Pp. 237-258.

7.Folarin S. “United By a Rope of Sand”, National Mirror, January 15, 2012 p.18




  1. Folarin, S.“Ethnicity and power politics: From June 12 to Boko Haram”, National Mirror, August 15, 2012, p.18
  2. Chogugudza, C. (2008), ethnicity main causes of instability, civil conflicts and poverty in Africa. Retrieved 12th October, 2015 from http://www.africaresources.com/essays-a-reviews/politics/478- ethnicity-main-cause-of-instability-civil-conflict-and-poverty-in-africa
  3. Ikelegbe, A. “The perverse manifestation of civil society: Evidence from Nigeria.” In Journal of modern African studies: Vol 39, No 1 2001.
  4. Balogun, K.A. “Religious fanaticism in Nigeria: problems and solutions.” In Balogun, I. A.B. (ed.) The place of religions in the development of Nigeria. Ilorin: Department of Religions, University of Ilorin. 1988
  5. Ayinla, S.A. “Managing religious intolerance and violence in Nigeria: Problems and solutions.” A paper presented at the National Conference on Social Problems, Development and the Challenges of Globalization, Organized by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. 16th-17th of June, 2004.
  6. Olukorede, Y. “2003: A do or die affair?” The Source. June 3, 2002.

[14]Elaigwu J I 1982.‘The Military and Political Engineering in Nigeria, 1966-79’ An Overview in B Ikara and Ade Ajayi (ed.) Evolution of Political Culture in Nigeria. Ibadan: University Press

[15]Adedeji A. 1966. ‘Nigerian Federal Finance, the Developments Problems and Prospects’. London: Hutchison Educational Ltd.

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