An Evaluation of Ethnicity and Issue of Political Development in Nigeria



       Development involves the entire social as “the process of allowing and encouraging people to meet their own aspiration”

Development is a tri-dimensional concert. It has a utilitarian or consumatory dimension, which connote increase in the quality of usable items available to man in society. It also has behavioural or rational dimension, which define the nature of the relation among man in society and among societies.

Thirdly, there is an institutional or structural and legal framework circumscribe the behaviors of men and streamlines their relationship which they individual and collectively seek to gain greater access to material things of value in society fundamentally, development is therefore made of three components.

  1. The control and utilization of economic resource for the benefit of all.
  2. The use of cultural values to promote growth pride and dignify.
  3. The liberation of individual and groups from the strong hold of international imperialism.

It is in this regard that Seers (1963) suggests that the b questions, to ask about development are:

  1. What has been happening to poverty?
  2. What has been happening to unemployment?
  3. What has been happening to inequality?

If and when all these questions have been less severe, then beyond doubt, there has been a period of development. If one or two of these have been growing, it will be strange and absorb to call the result development even if per capital income increased. In reviewing the concept of development Seers asserted that other essential elements to be include is self-reliance. To this end the main emphasis in development would no longer be an Overall growth rates or no pattern of distribution but an ownership a well as out put in the leading economic sectors.

In  summary, development  therefore means to improve, to make programme, change for  the better, higher  income or  better  leaving  standard, increase in the  quality  of goods  and services  available  to the people, the quality of  their social loves  and material advancement which enable them to  gain greater control of their environment. It is also a dynamic and continuous process, which appears in all segment of any society. On the whole, development has to do work transformation or changes but the contention that has arisen among some scholars is how these changes come about. At this juncture, we shall discuss the laws of some school though as what development is all about.


Ethnicity is a social construction that indicates  identification  with a  particular  group, which is often descended from a common ancestor. Members of the group share common cultural trait (such are language, religions and dress) and are an identifiable minority within the larger national state. Also it is senses of being differences of other group, because of cultural and traditional ancestry national origin, history or religion


Multi-ethnicity has become a socio-political phenomenon in most civil societies. In the present century, inter-ethnic cleavage, competition and conflict seem to have acquired a higher intensity. Today, ethnization  of politics and politicization  of ethnicity  have  become very  common and have  differences mutual  toleration and  have  thus,  sharpened ethnic consciousness among various  communities. Now looking upon the factor tent condition ethnic’s conflicts. In the event of the state structure being in the hands of a particular ethnics  group, the  dominant  subordinate groups fight  for  power sharing for societal rewards an goods  manifest themselves  in ethnic  terms.

However, inequality in power-haring need not always lead to ethnic conflicts few pre-conditions  exist  for such conflicts.

  1. A socially mobilized population
  2. The existence of a pool of  symbols connoting  it distinctiveness
  3. The selection standardization and transmission of such symbol pool to the community by the leadership.

A reference group in relation to whom a sense of relative deprivation (real or imaginary) is aggregate. Also the spatial and numerical component of an ethnic group condition towards ethnic conflict. The larger the number of the people of a particular groups in an area, the greater the potential for demand articulation and aggregation.

Ethnic conflict also make their emergence  because  of accumulated fear about  the future. It  could also be traced  back to  its  economic  linkage, social  depuration  and political  disadvantages, experienced  by one particular group  against  the other, fear  about the future  could result from a group with the  nation. Also  when  machinery his not  been  able to provide  protection and  safety  to various  ethnic  religion  and  minority, groups, it could  create  a sense of fear in their minds and result in ethnic  conflicts.

As time went  on, the Nigerian politicians  in their  bid to capture  political  power, followed  blindly the  British  policy  of divide and  rule  by relying  on the ethnic  sentiment to win election. This  must have  been the reason  why  Nigeria election  are  of “thurggery” a term used by Nigerian to describe beating  and killing)  and  rigging (another term used to mean illegal  alternation  of administration   procedure to influence  the  election  result which is  been found  in Delta  and Bayelsa even now.

Competition  for scarce  resources is another major cause for conflict between  groups, property  right  jobs, educational  policy, language  rights and other development  allocation  confer certain benefit on individual  and group. When the resources are scarce and or directed favorably towards  certain section  of the society, mores towards  attaining them  begin in organized  groups on the  time of region,  caste, class and  such  other  dives  in of the  society. In societies, where ethnicity is an important basis  for  identity, group competition is often  formed  along  ethnic lines, though this need not  be the case always.


The history of Nigeria political development is on as Nigeria itself. The colonial Master was creator of Nigeria as well as her politics.  Nigeria  came into  being as a country in 1914 by  amalgamation of the  different  British  protectorate  and  colony  of Lagos by Lord  Lugard. Prior to this date, what we had in this part of western Sudan were different communities’ clan kingdoms etc. In 1920 Nigeria were first introduced into polities was not   very active. This may be attributed to the colonial mentality or may  be to  how awareness  of the people political  and economic  right. However,  a collation  of Sudaness  people hat were  assimilated  long ago  into the  population  inhabiting what is now considered Husa  band. They believed in the religion of Islam. The origin is a matter of dispute. Legend race them back to Canada. In these states the Hausa  developed  techniques  of efficient  government, including a carefully, organized  fiscal  system  and a highly  learned  judiciary  that  give them a reputation  of integrity  and  ability  in administrating  Islamic law.

The second   majority ethnic group is the Ibo, who like the Hausa Fulani are synthesis of smaller ethnic groups. In this case the smaller group are the Onitsha Ibo, the western Ibo, the cross river Ibo and the Northern eastern Ibo. Their origin are  completely  unknown  as  they  to be  from  about nineteen different place they dominant an  indigenous home however the belt of forest in the  country to the east  of the  Niger valley. The  Ibo  thus  generally inhabited inaccessible  areas  although the 19th  century  they began to assert ancestral  claim  to Nri  the heart  of Ibo nationality. The largest  societal unit was the  village  were  each  extend  family  managed  it own  affair  root out  being dictated by any higher ethnicity, where chief  existed  they held  very  restricted  political  power  and  only local  jurisdiction. The villages were demonstration in nature, as the government of the country was the concern of all who used in it.


The ethnicity of Nigeria is so varied that there no definition   of a Nigerian beyond that of someone who live within the borders of the country. The boundaries of the formerly English colony were drawn to serve commercial interests largely without regard for the territorial claim of the indigenous people. As a result, about three hundred ethnic groups comprise the population of Nigeria and the country unity has been consistency under siege eight attempts at secession threatened national unity between 1914 and 1977. The Biafra was the last of the secessionist movement within this period. The count   of three hundred ethnic  group  cited above over  whelming  enumerate ethnic  minority  groups, these which do not  comprise a minority  in the region  in which  they live.  The groups usually do not have a political voice nor do they have access to resources or the technology need to develop and modernize economically, they therefore often consider themselves discriminated against neglected or oppressed.

There are  only  three ethnic  groups which have attained  ethnic majority  states  in their  respective  region the Hausa –Fulani  in the North, the Ibo in the southeast  and  the Yoruba in  southeast.

The first, the Hausa- Fulani are an example up of two groups not surprising called Hausas and Fulani. The Hausa are themselves a   fusion

A collection of Sudanese people that were assimilated long ago into the population inhabiting what is now considered Hausa  land. Tyey believe in the religion   of Islam.  Their origin is a matter of dispute. Legends trace them back to Canan. In these states the  Hausa  developed techniques   of efficient government including a carefully  organized  fiscal  system  and a highly  learned  judiciary,  that give them a reputation of  integrity and ability in  administration Islamic law.

The second  majority  ethnic group is the Ibo, who like the  Hausa-Fulani are a  synthesis of smaller  ethnic group in this  case the smaller groups are the  Onitsha Ibo, Northern-eastern  Ibo, their   origin  are completely  unknown, as they claim to be  from about  nineteen different  places. They  dominant on  indigenous  home  however the  belt of the  forest  in the  country  to the east  of the Nigeria  valley. The Ibo thus generally inhabited  inaccible  areas, although   during the  19th century  they began to assert  ancestral  claim  to Nri  town “the heart of the Ibo nationality”. The largest  societies  family managed its  own affairs  without  being  dictated to  by  any  higher  ethnicity  where chiefs existed  they  held very  restricted political  power, and only local jurisdiction. There were democratic in nature, as the government of the was the concern of all who used in it.

The third majority group, the Yoruba is like the other made up   of numerous smaller collections of people. Those who are identified as Yoruba consider, themselves to be members of the Oyo, Egba, Ijebu Ife Ilesha. Ekiti of Owu peoples. The Yoruba are united, however, by their common belief in the  town of Ife as their place of Origin and the Oru of life as their spiritual leader. They belief  that Oduduwa created the earth, present  royal Housa of the  Yoruba kingdom  trace  their  ancestry back to “Oduduwa” while  member  of the Yoruba people  maintain that they are  descended from  his sons.

Ethnicity   and cultural diversity is a fact which can and should   enrich social life in all part of the world. One focus  of  research under this is on the nature of  change  in  multi-culture  and region , identify and human  needs, democratic  governance, conflict and  cohesion  interest in  complex patterns. The issue require inter disciplinary, comparative and culturally sensation research which may  furnish information useful for the peaceful and democratic management of multi-cultural  multi-ethnic  societies.

This research should  help design  politics  that contribute to the  goals of  achieving  of  citizenship  right between ethnic groups and the  avoidance  and solution  of ethnic  conflict


Finding a solution to ethnic problem present itself as a serious question. However, the attempt that can possibly lead towards solution must be examined. It could be  said that most of  today’s violet conflicts are  basically  internal in nature, but their possible solution come from either  international peace keeping bodies or other  dominating, powerful  states, an action by a  special  task  force of a group  of states or the  neghbouring state, thus  giving  it an  international dimension. As  mentioned  early, most of the violent conflict  today  are  cased by the division  that exist in a   pluralist society, hence if conflict are  caused from  such differences, the solution must come from  power sharing among the various ethnic or other  sectarian group  yet another  steps would be  to inculcate region autonomy and  federation  into  the state system  would  enable local  and regional activation  with a  degree of  autonomous power and   authority. Another way to bring our some amicable solution to these conflicts is through external invention. The response of state involve in conflict to external   intervention varies from  state to state.

Lastly another step towards conflict resolution could be to build regional organization which would take  care of these conflict on the regional  basis and solve them

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