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Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, FNAL

Two inferences can be drawn from the above. One, the British colonial administrators used divide and rule tactics to deliberately divide Nigeria on regional lines, creating multiple identities without national cohesion for the people of Nigeria as was the case with British India. Secondly and more importantly is that the division transcends beyond politics and cut across all spheres of life of the people. This perhaps was why Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who became the first and only Prime Minister of Nigeria had said, in 1947, that “since the amalgamation of Southern and Northern provinces in 1914 Nigeria has existed as one country only on paper … It is still far from being united. Nigeria’s unity is only a British intention for the country.”[i] This diversity and lack of unity between the North and South was evident to the colonial masters and was highly exploited.

Equally, all of these differences were obvious to Nigerian leaders who, in spite of them, decided to fight as one for Nigeria’s independence and form a nation. This was succinctly captured by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, in his address to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) at its 50th anniversary celebration at the Polo Grounds, New York City, on July 19, 1959:

My parents are natives of Eastern Nigeria, the arsenal of republicanism in Nigeria. Although I am Ibo, yet I speak Yoruba and I have a smattering of Hausa. I am now Premier of Eastern Nigeria, the land of my fathers, which lies five hundred miles from Lagos and almost a thousand miles from the place of my birth in Zungeru, in Northern Nigeria. Each of our three Regions is vastly different in many respects, but each has this in common: that, despite variety of languages and custom or difference in climate, all form part of one country which has existed as a political and social entity for fifty years. That is why we believe that the political union of Nigeria is destined to be perpetual and indestructible.[ii]

One cannot but give the founding fathers of our nation such as Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others the credit for trying to deal with this challenge created by our colonial masters by adopting federalism and advocating a policy of unity in diversity through a number of means such as our national anthem. The opening lines of the national anthem we had at independence in 1960 drove home this diversity and our fraternal resolve to build ‘one nation’. As Bola Tinubu posits, we can straightaway deduce that the words were scripted to turn our diversity into prosperity. Starting with:

Nigeria, we hail thee’ – this translates into a call to patriotism;

Our own dear native land’ – espouses nationalism and pride of being a native Nigerian;

‘Though tribe and tongue may differ’– this strikes at the heart of our pluralism;

‘In brotherhood we stand’ – commitment to a spirit of peaceful co-existence, religious and political tolerance and respect for one another;

‘Nigerians all, are proud to serve’ – a declarative statement of service and to build a nation in diversity for posterity and not adversity;

‘Our sovereign motherland’– recognizes the sovereignty of the people, democratic norms and values with an indivisible commitment to nationhood.[iii]

As meaningful as this song reflects, it was replaced with the current “Arise O’ Compatriots. Unfortunately, the lack of consolidation of Nigerian federalism around commonly shared values and positions means that this challenge of divisive historical legacy continues to undermine the efforts of nation-building. Our lack of historical consciousness may also account for the current call for secession by dissident groups in contemporary Nigeria such as the recently silenced and proscribed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB). Tendering the surrender of the Biafran secessionists in 1970, Lt. Col. Effiong, among other things, affirmed “that any future constitutional arrangement will be worked out by representatives of Nigeria and that the Republic of Biafra ceases to exist”.[iv] Therefore, while people have the right to call for restructuring, renegotiation and reappraisal of the Nigerian project, secession and balkanisation of Nigeria through another war is not a historically viable option for discerning Nigerians.

Lack of National Loyalty and Identity:
Loyalty to the nation is sine-qua-none to national unity and integration. Indeed, the question of loyalty to the nation was the premise upon which the inaugural address of the first president of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was anchored in 1963. In his words:

You are living witnesses of the fact that two oaths have just been administered to me. The first is the Oath of Allegiance enjoining me to be loyal to the country of my birth by preserving, protecting and defending its constitution. The second is the Oath of office bidding me to serve my country as a faithful functionary according to law. Loyalty to one’s country is the most precious tribute a patriot can pay to his native land. Faithfulness to duty is the most acceptable service expected from a conscientious servant. Loyalty implies submissiveness, devotion, and amenability. Faithfulness involves trustworthiness, truthfulness and honesty. Thus loyalty and faithfulness express the idea of steadfastness to a common purpose”.[v]

These words by Nnamdi Azikiwe set the premise for loyalty to the nation and the first national anthem summarized these principles in simple poetic language, thus: “though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand”. This places an important emphasis on our unity and loyalty to the oneness of the country. However, in less than six years, the principles expressed in the national anthem were jettison and successive governments in Nigeria have struggled to maintain the image that the country is a nation of different people with one national identity.[vi] Nigeria has not been able to evolve a common and collective national identity and loyalty when Nigerians will proudly identify themselves as Nigerians rather than Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo and have unalloyed loyalty to the nation and not their ethnic nationalities. Parochial identity and loyalty are rife in modern Nigeria not only among the major ethnic groups but even within them. For instance, within the Yoruba ethnic nationality, the subscription to parochial identity and loyalty in their daily life has resulted to moves by every sub-group of the Yoruba to identify with their sub-group rather than the pan-Yoruba or pan-Nigerian identity. It has become so bad that within the Yoruba states in the South-western part of Nigeria for people to see themselves first as Egba or Ijebu or Ijesa before seeing themselves as Yoruba or Nigerians. This applies to every other Nigerian nationality across all the states of the Federation. This is the unfortunate level of the negative impact of ethnic loyalty identity on national identity and loyalty in modern Nigeria.

Absence of Nigerian Citizens: While Nigeria exists as a recognised and sovereign political entity, there are actually no Nigerian citizens in the true sense of the word citizen. So many Nigerians citizens still suffer discriminations of various kinds in different parts of Nigeria where they reside or work other than their places of origin or birth. This is why Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has said, “so many Nigerians are second rate citizens in their country”.[vii] There have been continuous citizen/settler dichotomies in Nigeria due to the vicious politicization of ethnicity and religion by the dubious political class in Nigeria.[viii] For their selfish political ends, the Nigerian political class has been at the forefront of subscribing to, and influencing the masses to fall prey of their politicization of ethnic and regional issues in the determination and implementation of national socio-economic and political programmes and policies. Indeed, the political class has succeeded in playing effective pranks on the psyches of millions of Nigerians by subscribing to religious and ethnic jingoism for selfish political advantages. More often than not, the political elites in Nigeria are behind the invocation of ethnic and religious differences during the electioneering campaigns and the democratization process. To this end, residents who have resided in places outside their states of origin for several years and have contributed immensely to their places of residence are denied political appointive or elective positions just because they are not indigenes of such places. Sadly enough, beyond informal maltreatment of non-indigenes in different parts of Nigeria, we have even witnessed internal deportation of Nigerians from one part of Nigeria to their home states such as the deportation of some Igbo people from Lagos to Anambra and some Hausa/Fulani destitute from Lagos to Kano in recent times in Nigeria.[ix] The impact of this on nation-building efforts cannot be over-emphasized.

Ethnic and Religious Politics: Ethnic and religious politics date back to the last years of colonial rule in Nigeria and have remained a permanent features of Nigerian political history ever since. Politics and elections in Nigeria have perennially taken ethnic and religious dimensions and every election year witnesses inter-ethnic and inter-religious rivalries and conflicts. These can be gleaned from the First Republic political rivalries among the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) which dominated and controlled the Northern Region, the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) which held sway in the Eastern Region and the Action Group (AG) whose stronghold was the Western Region. Similarly, the outcomes of the 1979 presidential elections of the Second Republic also reflected ethnic and religious sentiments with the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), People’s Redemption Party (PRP) and Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP) winning in the North and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) winning in the West and Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) winning in the East.[x] Other general elections in Nigeria, apart from the June 12 1993 elections, had reflected ethnic and religious colourations even up to the last general elections in Nigeria in 2015. The June 12 1993 elections in which Late MKO Abiola of Yoruba origin was able to have massive votes that cut across ethnic and religious borders has remained historic and unique in the Nigerian electoral history.[xi] The voting pattern and dimension in this June 1993 election shows that Nigerians are capable of coming together whenever there is a common goal or problem, such as collective will to break from the shackles of oppression, hunger, poverty and retrogression, such as witnessed in the prevalent socio-economic problem sequel to the June 1993. However, the political class have continued to play on ethnic and religious sentiments of Nigerians to garner support and electoral victories. Some of the areas where these are manifested include government sponsorship of people to annual Hajj and Jerusalem pilgrimages with public fund meant for infrastructural facilities, promotion of one religious tenet over the other such as the Hijab use for school pupil in Osun State and the old question of Sharia law in a secular country. All these have hindered nation building and national integration efforts. 

Ethno-Religious Crises: One of the most important factors militating against nation building in Nigeria is the recurrent and incessant ethnic and religious crises in Nigeria. Indeed, some of the major crises in Nigeria since independence have had ethnic and religious undertones. Some of these include the Kano riots of 1953, the Tiv riots of 1960 and 1964, the electoral crises of 1959, 1964 and 1965, the various military coups, the religious crises in the various parts of the country such as the Maitatsine crisis of the 1980s, the Zango Kataf crisis, the Sharia crisis in Kaduna in 1999, the Shagamu crisis of 1999, the incessant Shia revolts in Northern Nigeria, the Modakeke-Ife crisis, the Aguleri-Umuleri crisis and the current Boko Haram insurgency, the destructive and disruptive activities of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the Niger Delta Avengers and the recent herdsmen menace in central Nigeria. All these crises are ethno-religious in dimensions and they have caused serious loss of lives and destruction of property worth billions of Naira while constituting a major bane to nation building and national development.

Government Discriminatory Policies: Closely related to the politicisation of ethnicity in Nigeria are some government policies and programmes which have tendencies of promoting citizen/resident dichotomy. These policies and programmes include the popular federal character or zoning principle in government appointments, job employments, admission into federal government-owned institutions, scholarships, political contests and other related opportunities. More often than not, suitably qualified Nigerian citizens are denied opportunities of government appointments, employments, admissions and electoral candidacy just because their places of birth are different from where these opportunities have been zoned to. While it is good for the national cake to be widely spread across the country, the fact is that zoning or the principle of federal character in a way strengthens the citizen/resident dichotomy and therefore constitutes a major hindrance to nation building. In fact, the establishment of the Federal Character Commission and the adoption of the principle of federal character in appointment, employment and admissions among others negate the idea of a united Nigeria and the sacrosanctity of the Nigerian citizenship.

Lack of Good Governance: The failure of the government to bring about good governance and meet the desires of the governed has also contributed to people’s subscription to issues of citizenship and residency in laying claim to opportunities and privileges. For instance, lack of job opportunities for the teeming youths of Nigeria, poor standard of education, high-level of poverty, insecurity of lives and property and so on has made the people of the various constituent states of Nigeria to make recourse to such issues as resource control and discrimination between the indigenes and the residents of various communities in Nigeria. In fact, this is the root of militancy in the Niger Delta of Nigeria where the youths not only clamour for resource control but also advocate reservation of certain percentage of the jobs in the oil companies for indigenes of the oil-producing areas of the country.[xii] The high-level of official and personal corruption, poverty, underdevelopment and hopelessness in Nigeria aid and abet ethnicity, discrimination and exclusion which are antithetical to nation building and national development.

Ignorant Citizenry: More importantly, so many citizens of Nigeria lack the basic knowledge of their constitutional human rights and privileges as citizens of Nigeria. This is why the political class can manipulate and capitalize on ethnic and religious affiliations to secure the support of the people for indigenes during the electoral process against settlers and residents. For instance, how many Nigerians are aware of the fact that Sections 41, 42 and 43 of the Constitution guarantee the fundamental rights of every Nigerian citizen to move freely throughout Nigeria, reside, own and acquire property in any part thereof and not to be subjected to disabilities or restrictions on account of their ethnic group or place of birth.[xiii] Even if they are aware, the concrete reality of the Nigerian society shows that that this is a mere paper position because many Nigerians still suffer discrimination in many parts of the country just because they do not hail from those places.[xiv]

Expensive and Monetised Politics: The forced introduction of the presidential system by the military government through the 1979 Constitution in Nigeria made the cost of governance to be very high and juicy for the political jobbers. The upper houses at the federal and state levels gulp a huge chunk of the national income and resources without meaningful role in bringing about good governance. Today the national and state executive councils as well national and state assemblies across the country are composed of politicians who are only milking the nation dry. Also, politics in Nigeria since the Second Republic has become one of the most lucrative businesses and have been described as the most potent way to becoming rich and affluent. Indeed, Nigeria has the highest cost of governance in the world.      

External Influences and Porosity of National Borders: The influence of external marauders and enemies of Nigeria from the neighbouring countries in the insecurity of lives and property cannot be over-emphasised. Our borders are very porous and not being properly policed at all angles – Cameroon to the East, Benin to the West, Chad to the Northeast, Niger to the Northwest, etc. From these porous borders, armed bandits, smugglers, human traffickers, criminals, terrorists, fundamentalists as well as light and small weapons find their ways into Nigeria with far-reaching consequences. The menace of the Niger Delta militants, the Boko Haram insurgency and the current banditry of the armed herdsmen facing the country today could not be divorced from the porosity of Nigerian borders, free entry and exit of foreigners and the sabotage of disgruntled political class in Nigeria.              

Oil Contentions: The availability of crude oil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region is a natural blessing for Nigeria. It has made Nigeria one of the leading oil exporters of the world and constitutes the highest foreign exchange earner for the country. However, oil has had a mixed impact on the Nigerian state since its discovery in large quantity in Nigeria in the late 1960s. Apart from the fact that oil exploration, exploitation and exportation have led to a neglect of agriculture and other productive sectors of the economy, it has been central to the major political conflict and unrest conflict has resulted. In fact, the Nigerian civil war from 1967 to 1970 and the abortive Biafran secessionist move were primarily motivated by the need to take control of the oil region of Nigeria which was located within the then Eastern Region. Also, the Biafran Government explored, produced and sold crude oil in large quantities throughout the civil war period and this was why some countries identified with its cause and aspirations.[xv] Equally, most of the contemporary disturbances in the Niger Delta region today also have strong connections and links with grievances around the crude exploration in the region and the perceived injustice in the revenue allocation, fiscal control and environmental issues in the oil-bearing areas of Nigeria.       

Beyond Tribe and Tongue: Corruption as a General Cankerworm in Nigeria: If there is anything in Nigeria that has defied ethnic, religious, sectional and tribal discriminations, it is corruption. It is a language understood by many Nigerians across the 36 states and the over 350 ethnic groups. Mr Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain, was actually right when he declared that Nigerians are fantastically corrupt. In Nigeria today, there is pervasive corruption at all levels and in all sectors of the Nigerian system be it personal, group, governmental and non-governmental. Corruption has taken many forms and dimensions in Nigeria such as bribery, nepotism, favouritism, embezzlement, forgery, frauds and all other acts of dishonesty, depravity or immorality. In spite of the efforts of successive administrations in Nigeria and the establishment of some anti-corruption agencies like the ICPC and the EFCC, corruption and corrupt practices have eaten deep into the Nigerian system and have remained clogs on the wheels of nation building and national development in Nigeria since independence.[xvi] Indeed, the elite struggles, ethnic and religious politics and other divisive tendencies among Nigerians which are militating against national unity and cohesion in the country are manifestations of corruption and corrupt practices.           

In sum, the consequences of multiple identities and plural identities for a country are myriad. The feeling of otherness makes it difficult to pull in the same direction nationally. Energies, both intellectual and physical are dissipated on internecine rivalries. The great challenge for Nigeria has not been so much the question of contested citizenship but the issue of the underlying multiplicity of identities, linguistic diversities and the plural loyalties which often conflict with broader national objectives. Thus beginning from the 1950s in the wake of disagreement between Northern and Southern delegates from 1951-1953 and the eventual Kano Riots of 1953, political disagreement and crises have occurred regularly on the basis of national political control, elections, censuses, revenue and resource allocations, location of industries, educational institutions and infrastructure, and other allied federal benefits across the country, and constitutional arrangement and the rights of states within the federation.[xvii] As indicated earlier, the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970 was the height of the crisis of multiple ethnic identities and plural loyalties in Nigeria. Since the end of the Civil War in 1970 and the oil boom of the era, Nigeria has been faced with other questions of national unity which border on economic and political issues such as power rotation and sharing, fiscal federalism, resource control, revenue allocations and the current issue of restructuring.


Different Forms of Nationalism and Manifestations of the Challenges of Nation Building 

In the contemporary Nigeria, plural loyalties and multiple identities are manifested in a variety of ways and are reflecting the reactions of Nigerians to all issues of national importance. For instance, the various ethnic groupings in Nigeria today react differently to the hard economic situations in contemporary Nigeria. For example, while the Hausa/Fulani people of the North may be satisfied with the performances of the present administration in the area of the economies, the various peoples of Southern Nigeria are more critical of the ruling party and may be of the opinion that it performance is below expectation. Today, the economic situation of the country is so bad that gainfully employed people are committing suicide let alone talk of the jobless. So many Nigerian youths are taking the risks of going to Europe through the Sahara Desert while many end up being enslaved and killed in Libya and other North African countries just because of the extreme difficulty to make end meet in Nigeria. Many are also into prostitution, illicit drug business, child trafficking in Europe and are being stranded, executed and deported in large number on a daily basis from Europe and America. Today, the issues of youth unemployment, poverty and the general economic downturns in Nigeria are exploited by the various ethnic groups to score political points rather than seen as a general concerns to all Nigerians.

The security situation in contemporary Nigeria has been highly politicised and being exploited to gain cheap political points. For example, during the last years of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the country was faced with the menace of the Boko Haram terrorist sect which ravaged the North-eastern parts of Nigeria climaxing in the abduction of over 200 school girls at Chibok in Borno State. All the efforts of the administration were frustrated by the enemies of the country and the opposition parties exploited this and other weaknesses of the administration to unseat the government in 2015. The argument here is that security of lives and property is now being seen as a sole business of the government alone and which can be exploited by some ethnic groups to blackmail a president who is not of their ethnic stock or who is perceived to be against their interest. This was exactly the situation suffered by former President Jonathan from 2011-2015.

The land question has also become a grave issue of national concern in contemporary Nigeria. Even though the land question is an age-long controversial issue in Nigeria, the influence of the contemporary issue of plural loyalties and multiple identities on its dynamics cannot be over-emphasised. The most dangerous dimension of the mad question in the contemporary period is the request for reservation of certain portion of land for the establishment of grazing reserves across the 36 states of the Federation by the Federal Government. While the Federal Government advanced this move as a permanent solution to the incessant farmers/herdsmen clashes and was welcomed by most states in the core North, most peoples in the central and southern parts of Nigeria saw this move as a ploy by the Federal Government to appropriate their land for cattle colonies and future annexation of their communities by the Hausa/Fulani people. The implication of this is that every move by the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani Muslim, is now seen as a move for Hausa/Fulani hegemony.

More worrisome in contemporary Nigeria is the ongoing menace of herdsmen killing and rampage in different parts of the country particularly in central Nigerian states of Benue and Plateau. The Federal Government has been largely blamed for the murderous excesses of the Fulani herdsmen and its inability or readiness to curb the menace. The government has also been accused of aiding and abetting the killer squad of the Fulani herdsmen by its inability to bring the perpetrators to book and its inactions to prevent reoccurrences. In fact, the Fulani herdsmen killings in Nigeria today has been seen by the affected people as a form of ethnic cleansing and they call for self-defence.[xviii] On the other hand, the government is pointing accusing fingers at the opposition party and other disgruntled politicians of being the sponsors and masterminds of the alleged Fulani killing spree across the country.[xix] Whatever is the case, the government has failed woefully in providing security of lives and property across the country which is its primary responsibility.

It is important to emphasise that today, there are no real Nigerians who are committed to the essence of the country; there is no loyalty to Nigeria from Nigerians; there is no pan-Nigerian identity; and most Nigerian nationals suffer from ethnic, religious, regional, sectional, or provincial parochialism. Nigerians are not faithful to the National Anthem and Pledge; almost everyone is corrupt and both the leader and the led are not doing the needful to unite the country. Every Nigerian is not happy with the country and everyone feels alienated. That is why people and groups are hiding under one movement or the other to express their dissatisfactions with the state – OPC, Afenifere, IPOB, MOSOB, Avengers, Arewa, Bakassi, Egbesu, Shiites, the armed Miyetti Allah Herdsmen and other ethnic militias across Nigeria are all movements of aggrieved Nigerians who are not happy with the socio-economic and political situations of the country. Olutayo Adesina captures this situation aptly:

Nigeria is a country with so much structural defects.  Three phrases have summarized the discourses woven around these defects: imbalance; inequality, and; injustice. Since its amalgamation in 1914, the country has continued to manifest the centrifugal tendencies of pluralism. The development of the Nigerian state since that period had been conditioned by ethnicity, ethnic mistrust, antagonism and primordialism. These were later compounded by the problems of religion and regionalism. Nigerians have therefore not developed a national consciousness. This is because the bewildering diversity that has come to define the country has created a wide sense of antagonism and suspicion. Years of living together has not only continued to entrench the mistrust but unfortunately created a high sense of ethnic and or regional entitlement. As a result of this acute division, the Nigerian flag has remained a mere piece of cloth and the Nigerian national anthem, just another kind of music. Every attempt to heal the breach has continued to fail due to our inability to come to terms with our Nigerianness.[xx]

But we can ask ourselves: who is to be blamed for Nigerian woes and failure? Certainly I don’t think we can continue to blame every Nigerian problem on the mistake of 1914. I agree that the problem of Nigeria is a problem of history but I also hold that solution to the problem of Nigeria is also contained in its history. Available history of Nigeria from the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial eras shows that the people of Nigeria are not backward, docile, inept or lazy but are hardworking, progressive, resourceful and strong. Therefore, what we have learnt from Nigerian history is that leadership failure is the bane of Nigerian unity, integration and development since independence.[xxi] Let us take a peep into Henry Barlow’s “Building the Nation” for a better understanding of this argument:


Today I did my share in building the nation.

I drove a Permanent Secretary to an important, urgent function

In fact, to a luncheon at the Vic.


The menu reflected its importance

Cold bell beer with small talk,

Then fried chicken with niceties

Wine to fill the hollowness of the laughs

Ice-cream to cover the stereotype jokes

Coffee to keep the PS awake on the return journey.


I drove the Permanent Secretary back.

He yawned many times in back of the car

Then to keep awake, he suddenly asked,

Did you have any lunch friend?

I replied looking straight ahead

And secretly smiling at his belated concern

That I had not, but was slimming!


Upon which he said with a seriousness

That amused more than annoyed me,

Mwananchi, I too had none!

I attended to matters of state.

Highly delicate diplomatic duties you know,

And friend, it goes against my grain,

Causes me stomach ulcers and wind.


Ah, he continued, yawning again,

The pains we suffer in building the nation! So the PS had ulcers too!

My ulcers I think are equally painful

Only they are caused by hunger,

Not sumptuous lunches!


So two nation builders

Arrived home this evening

With terrible stomach pains

The result of building the nation-in different ways![xxii]


The above-rendered poem principally explores the lifestyles of the African bourgeoisies who come into power after colonialism and, ideally, simply replace the coloniser. There is need for African leaders to create hope for those they lead, but they are caught up in the same evil lifestyles of their predecessors. What they promised at the end of colonialism is nowhere in sight, and aspects of nation building which were supposed to dominate public and political policies have been thrust to the periphery of human thought. The kind of disillusionment that is portrayed in the poem is that which Africans have towards their leaders who have adopted the very tenets of the colonisers from whom they got power. Thus, African states are faced with challenges of visionary leadership which can harness the human and material resources to transform the new states into prosperous and united countries. This invariably is a major setback to nation building in Africa especially in Nigeria.

Post-independence Nigeria has also revealed different shades of nationalism and patriotism among Nigerians. There is no doubt that Nigerians love their country and this is why people have always been optimistic about the future of Nigeria in spite of the obvious political and economic challenges facing the country. Nigerians have always raised their voices against maladministration and bad governance without resorting to divisive tendencies. Professor Wole Soyinka demonstrated this in his 1983 poem titled ‘Etike Revo Wetin’ as follows:

I love my country I no go lie

Na inside am I go live and die

I know my country I no go lie

Na im and me go yap till I die


I love my country I no go lie

Na inside am I go live and die

When e turn me so, I twist am so

E push me, I push am, I no go go.[xxiii]

The above-cited poem became one of the unofficial anthems of the people who were opposed to the re-election of President Shehu Shagari in 1983 because of the state failure and economic hardship of the Second Republic. The import of this is that it is part of nationalism and patriotism to speak out against the leaders and ruling parties without abusing the president, wishing him dead or sponsoring malicious propaganda against their personalities.


In contemporary Nigeria, scholars, professional, artistes and other well-meaning Nigerians have lent their voices to pointing out the ills in Nigerian political and economic systems at different fora and through several mediums. There are several academic papers and articles on problems and strategies of nation building and national development in Nigeria from Nigerian and non-Nigerian scholars.  Also, the music and film industry has also, over the years, been in the forefront of releasing albums and movies towards imploring the political class on good governance and promoting national unity and integration. The famous tracks by King Sunny Ade and other Nigerian musicians is a  good example in this regard:


Nigeria yii ti gbogbo wa ni    –             Nigeria belongs to us all

Ko maa gbodo baje  –                                        It must not be destroyed

Tori kosi ibi miran ti a le lo –                We have no other nation to migrate to

Ajo o lee dabi ile –                                              No place compares to our home

E je ka sowopo –                                 Let us cooperate and unite

Kaa fi’mo sokan –                                Let us have a common goal and focus

Gbee kemi gbee  –                                             Let us all lift Nigeria up[xxiv]


In the same vein, musicians have also used their musical lyrics to point out the failures of the government at different times. The popular song by Idrees Abdulkareem on “Nigeria jagajaga, everything scatter scatter, poor man dey suffer suffer, gbosa gbosa, gunshots in the air…” captured everything about the country beginning from poverty, state of infrastructure, insecurity, unemployment, etc before and during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007. Even though the musician got the wrath of the government at that time, the song captured the mood of Nigerians at that time which such challenges as urban congestions at places like Oshodi market, Apapa Gridlock, Niger Bridge at Onitsha, Mokwa bridge, Lagos-Badagry expressway, etc as well as infrastructure decay across the country. The song is still relevant up till today as a manifestation of speaking the truth to the face of the political rulers by artistes and musicians of Nigeria. This is a huge patriotic and nationalistic disposition among Nigerians.



Towards Mitigating the Menace of Multiple Identities and Plural Loyalties for Successful Nation-Building in Nigeria

The contention in this paper is that the menace of multiple identities and plural loyalties is the most serious obstacle to nation-building in Nigeria. It has taken a very serious and dangerous dimension in modern times and has eaten deep into our national life to the extent that if not seriously and sincerely addressed, it is capable of constituting a permanent bottleneck to nation-building efforts. Therefore, this issue must be tackled headlong and urgently too. Here are some of my personal views on nation building in Nigeria today:

Inclusive Governance: Since leadership ineptitude is at the heart of Nigeria’s problem, the first thing to get right in Nigeria is how to bring about an inclusive governance structure that will have strong institutions and be truly Nigerian. An all-inclusive government will ensure security of lives and property, justice and fairness, national identity and loyalty, individual and collective disciplines, rule of law, accountability, human and group rights, free and fair periodic elections, serious minded and organised opposition party, independence of the Judiciary, citizen/mass participation, ethnic/religious tolerance, cooperation and compromises, clear separation of powers/checks and balances, free, objective, nonpartisan independent media/press and so on. Until we achieve a pan-Nigerian government of this stature, national unity, integration and development will continue to be an elusive mirage for Nigeria

True Leadership and Followership Commitment: There is a need for a renewed commitment and orientation in leadership and citizenship that will refocus our concentration on national rebirth and unity of Nigeria. In this effort, the indivisibility, indissolubility and the perpetuity of Nigeria as one united sovereign nation should be the mantra and desideratum of all Nigerians rather than citizenship/residency claim, ethnic bigotry and secession threats. In other words, our unity in diversity philosophy must be pursued with a renewed vigour rather than lip-service attention. Nigeria needs truly patriotic and national leaders who would live beyond their ethnic, religious and sectional identity and loyalty and identify with the national project. Most people who have had opportunities of leading Nigeria at different times have been more ethnic, sectional and regional leaders. We should have leaders who would not see themselves as first Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo or Ijaw and who would not need to go to Daura, Otuoke, Abeokuta, or Sokoto before they can cast their vote or celebrate Christmas or Sallah. Our leaders and followers alike should be free and comfortable in any part of the country where they work or live rather than people being alienated in some parts of the country other than their home towns and states.      

Abolition of the Citizen/Indigene//Settler/Resident Dichotomy: Though very complex and controversial, this can be done by formally and constitutionally recognising as citizens any Nigerian in any part of the country as Nigerians are not expected to be treated like foreigners in their own country. Instead of reducing some Nigerians to second rate citizens the State should respect the fundamental right of every citizen to reside in any part of the country and carry out their legitimate business without let or hindrance in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution. For Nigeria to successfully confront multiple identities and plural loyalties, we must downplay or eradicate the indigene-settler dichotomy. Akinwumi’s position on this issue is instructive: “Nigeria will continue to drift apart until the issue of indigeneship is resolved in favour of residency instead of parental birth place. Why will a Nigerian reside in a place for years fulfilling all constitutional obligations and still be referred to as a non-indigene? Why will a Nigerian be referred to as a settler in his country?”[xxv] The crux of this identity crisis is drawn from the fact that the states and federal governments lay more emphasis on indigeneship in allocating values to individuals than on citizenship. The value of citizenship in Nigeria is seen as one without rights, while “indigeneship” guarantees certain privileges due to the nature of the federal character and quota systems. The solution to this, as Akinwumi has averred, is to simply base citizenship on residency and not on any of the identity categories of ‘indigene’, ‘settler’ or ‘non-indigene’.[xxvi]

Appropriating and Emphasising our National History: We must go back to our history to see what went wrong and retrace our steps because history has answers to all questions. The position here is that the panaceas to the problems of nation building in Nigeria are embedded in the appropriation of our national history. This is because the greatest importance of history to a society, state or country is in the area of nation building. The study of history inculcates the spirit of nationalism and patriotism in the minds of both the ruling class and the citizens. Also, a good knowledge of the history that produced the Nigeria’s socio-economic, cultural and political values such as language, economic systems, currencies, political institutions, educational institutions and so on is absolutely indispensable in order to appreciate and nurture such values by the contemporary Nigerians. In other words, a clear knowledge, understanding and appreciation of how the Nigerian nation came into existence and the roles of our past heroes in the building and sustenance of the country from the colonial period through the independence era up to the present will go a long way in encouraging our preservation and continuity of the country rather than singing discordant tunes of disintegration and secession. Akinjogbin captures this fact when he writes in his Inaugural Lecture that: “A Nation that has no history has no life and ipso facto is not a nation…A nation is composed of people whose collective soul is their shared experiences (history). The soul of a nation is its history”.[xxvii] Essentially, the unity of Nigeria is sustainable if only we can learn from our shared experiences from the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods and understand, appreciate and respect our areas of differences, strengths and weaknesses and address them sincerely, objectively and holistically as it is done in the developed countries of the world. To this end, topics in Nigerian history must be taught and made mandatory in Nigerian schools at all levels and the imperative of the unity of Nigeria should be emphasized.

Drawing Lessons from the Missed Opportunities: From our national history, Nigeria has a number of missed opportunities of national unity, integration and development. One of such was the Aburi Accord reached at Ghana between the teams of General Gowon and Lt. Colonel O. Ojukwu. If the provisions of The Aburi Accord had been faithfully honoured, they were capable of putting Nigeria on the path of national understanding, cohesion and development. The rejection of the terms of the Accord was a great disaster for Nigeria not only because it could not avert the brothers’ wars with its attendant police actions and loss of lives and property, but also because it marked the rejection of restructuring, fiscal federalism and resource control. Also, the post-war programmes tagged Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (3Rs) and other programmes such as the introduction of new currency (the Naira); establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC); de-regionalisation of University education where all previously regional universities at Ife, Nsukka and Zaria were taken over by the Federal Government; the introduction of Unity Colleges and inauguration of National Sports Festival; the introduction of the Federal Character Principle; the introduction of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) were all immediate (political) responses to the question of nation building after the war.[xxviii] The June 12 1993 presidential election was another missed opportunity of national unity and integration in Nigeria where Nigerians jettisoned ethnic and religious sentiments to vote two Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani Muslims – Late Chief MKO Abiola and Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as the President and Vice-President of Nigeria respectively. However, the June 12 opportunity of Nigerian unity was truncated by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida which annulled the election and stepped aside handing over to the Interim National Government (ING) headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan in August 1993. The ING was short-lived as General Abacha toppled it in November 1993 and Nigeria entered its darkest age under him from 1993-1998 when General Abacha died. It is quite unfortunate that each time that Nigeria was blessed with leaders with positive dispositions to national question, they are always short-lived. Good examples in this regard are Late Gen. Murtala Muhammed and Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The point here is that Nigeria has had several missed golden opportunities on its path to a united country.

Addressing Certain Fundamental Issues of National Conflicts: Beyond the primacy of the importance of history in nation building, we must also address certain issues which are fundamentally wrong with our country and which have continuously worked against nation building efforts. It is visibly clear that Nigeria is in desperate need of unity in its continuous march to nationhood. Therefore, there is a need for strategic repositioning of our dear country through political renaissance, social integration, religious tolerance, economic reforms, cultural rebirth, ethical renascence, patriotism, leadership zeitgeist and a total love of country.[xxix]

Consciousness of the Desirability of Nigerian Unity and Oneness: Every Nigerian must be conscious of the unity of Nigeria and the oneness of Nigerians. We must imbibe and uphold the spirit of patriotism and create a political, socio-economic, religious and cultural ambience of justice, egalitarianism and fairness among ourselves. There can be no peace and unity without justice and ethnic groups must have a sense of belonging and shared values. There is a critical need for the amendments of our constitutions and rewriting areas that tend to encourage disunity and parochialism such as the provisions and clauses on federal character, indigeneship/citizenship and quota system among others to propel unity among Nigerians. We must collectively address the issues of boundary delineations and adjustment, state creation, delimitation of constituencies, regional representations and other aspects.

Formal Renewal of National Loyalty: One of the most important things to introduce in Nigeria today is the setting aside of a day for the renewal and celebration of our national loyalty. This is the practice in the United States since 1955 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated May 1 of every year as Loyalty Day. In the US, Loyalty Day is a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American Freedom. This was a continuation of the practice that was started in 1921 as Americanisation Day. In Nigeria, while the oath of office is administered on office holders, there was no loyalty pledge on the general citizenry. It was in recognition of this lapse that the General Olusegun Obasanjo introduced the National Pledge in 1978 to complement the National Anthem and ensure that the citizens are also made to make verbal loyalty pledge to Nigeria at official gatherings and programmes. Now, it is necessary for Nigeria to have a Loyalty Day reserved for the celebration of Nigeria and renewal of loyalty to the Nigerian state.            

National Reconciliation: Other issues of critical importance in our nation building drive include fashioning out a proper and generally acknowledged system of according due recognitions to all Nigerian ethnic and religious groups, both major and minor, to give a sense of belonging. All the aggrieved sections of the nation must be appeased through a genuine national reconciliation programme. For instance, the Niger Delta must be accorded due recognition through the addressing of the issue of fiscal federalism, derivation formula, revenue allocation and other matters. Also, while the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has done well by conferring the GCFR title on Late MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the Southwest region deserves further appreciations and reconciliation for the June 12 annulment saga. Also, the Report of the National Conference convened by the Jonathan Administration in 2014 must not be completely jettisoned by the Buhari administration but should be properly scrutinized and some of its relevant recommendations be implemented. This is to achieve two critical objectives. First, it is to ensure that all the resources, human and material, that went into the organisation of the conference are not wasted; to ensure continuity in governance and to debunk the insinuations that the ruling party is not interested in the Report because it did not participate in the conference.

National Re-Orientation: In essence, what is needed at this critical period of our nation is more of positive orientation change on the part of the leadership and the citizenship classes. The nation is blessed with a lot of human, natural and material resources which, if well-managed, can transform the country into a haven of economic and political prosperity. Our inability to build a virile and united nation over the years has been a question of declining leadership and citizenship qualities. Therefore, the governments at all levels and their agencies such as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and Ministries of Information and Culture must step up actions towards a national reorientation that will lead to a national identity and loyalty replacing the current multiple identities and plural loyalties among Nigerians. This is why notes that the feeling of citizenship should transcend a situation whereby: “Holding a Nigerian passport, for a number of people, may be no more than paperwork to travel, rather than a “feeling” of Nigerianness”.[xxx]

National Allegiance: The challenge for the Nigerian state since independence has been that of integrating the different groups to generate national consciousness and consequently national integration instead of the “apparent ‘cold war’ among the various competing ethnic groups which have largely sown, and continue to nurture, the seed of discord among Nigerians”.[xxxi] Thus, confronting the challenge of multiple identities requires implementing nation-building processes with ultimate allegiance to the nation as the highest goal. According to S. Ademola Ajayi, the ultimate quest and goal of national integration and nation-building “is to change the existing ‘traditional’ inward-looking attitudes of ethnic and tribal groupings and inculcate in the citizenry a sense of loyalty, belonging and patriotism to the new and larger geo-political entity…”.[xxxii]

True Federalism: Nigeria’s federal arrangement is also often rightly criticized for giving too much authority to the federal/central government over and above the rights of the federating units. The concentration of authority and resources in the federal government makes it overly mighty to the extent that its power can be regarded as unwieldy and unhealthy for national development. Its control of the commanding heights of all levels of national life tend to stifle rather than promote the creative energies of the over 180 million Nigerians of diverse and hybrid identities, who even in their plurality of loyalties still recognize the centrality of their Nigerian identity and citizenship, and acknowledge that being a Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Igala, Tiv, Ijaw, Ibibio or Edo first, is no preclusion to being a good Nigerian. Consequently, multiple identities can exist within the Nigerian federation, what cannot thrive within the federal boundaries is citizenship contestation. It is to be clearly noted that in developing the nation’s multiple identities within the specific sub-national geographical settings of ethnic and state territories under a philosophy of self-determination under the Nigerian federation, the various peoples of the country collectively advance a healthy awareness of Nigerian citizenship with its rights available to one and all irrespective of ethnic or state or regional affiliation.

Demonetisation of Politics and Electoral Process: One of the best ways to moving forward in Nigeria is to make politics less attractive to political jobbers and power mongers through a drastic reduction of salaries and allowances of political office holders as well as the fees for nomination forms for elective offices. This would go a long way in attracting people of genuine interest to serve the nation and scaring away people who have nothing to offer the people. It would also reduce greatly the incident of electoral violence, vote buying and selling as well as electoral fraud in Nigeria. Our traditional and community leaders should also refrain from honouring corrupt politicians and thieves who have embezzled public funds at one time or the other.       

Religious Tolerance: Religion is very volatile phenomenon which is capable of being used to build or destroy. Religion has been largely used in Nigerian by the political elite to cause division and disunity among Nigerians for their selfish motives. For Nigeria to get it right in all aspects of our national life, religion must be taken as a thing of personal relationship with one’s God and creator. Nigerian religious practitioners need to be sincere with themselves and live by what they preach and profess. We must avoid religious fanaticism, fundamentalism and extremism and live by the teachings of all religions on religious tolerance and harmony. The much desired religious tolerance in Nigeria can be achieved by encouraging inter-faith and multi-dimensional religious dialogue especially among the Christians and the Muslims as well as adherents of traditional religions. The platforms of these religions can be used as pedestal to concretize the drive for national understanding, peace and unity. We must shun politicisation of religion and ethnicity and be our brother’s keepers. That Nigerians are religious is not in doubt. It is also undoubted that Nigerians are very good, hospitable and warm. A typical example of Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar, the Chief Imam of Nghar Village at Gashish District in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State who saved the lives of 300 Christians by hiding them in his mosque on June 24 2018 during an attack by armed bandits comes to mind here. We must realise that it is only the unscrupulous political elite that are hiding under religion and ethnicity to cause rancour and hostility among ordinary Nigerians who naturally love one another. The people of Nigeria must not only be religious but must also be godly. We must live by the teachings of our religions on religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence. For instance, both the Holy Qur’an and Holy Bible have emphasised religious tolerance and peaceful relations among people of all faiths. If this is so, why then do we have religious crises and conflagrations in Nigeria?

Mutual Compromises: In confronting multiple identities and plural loyalties in Nigeria, it is important for constituent groups to compromise. In forums where national decisions are to be taken, compromise is important. Because of the multiple and diverse ethnicities with differences in cultures and religion, it should be clear that no single ethnic group can have its way in an undiluted manner on the national stage. Ethno-religious and cultural groups must of necessity learn to co-exist with others and make compromises in the national interest. Political leaders must also speak the language of integration. Whatever their ethnic identities, once elected as president, or entrusted with executive office at the federal level, their constituency must transcend their ethnic origin. In a similar vein, the national elite in various fields of national life must dissuade and wane itself from the insidious effect of an entitlement mentality, by which they often feel and act as if the nation is indebted to them for services rendered in the performance of constitutional responsibilities and duties. We must learn from our past heroes who, in spite of their disagreements and contentions, gave in to national interests through compromises.

Let me end this section with an instructive message from Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda while speaking on the challenges of nation building in post-Genocide Rwanda:

Nation-building is a long and challenging political process, but one that leaders, together with the citizenry, must undertake with seriousness. We must understand that most nations have their unique circumstances and each one, throughout history, has built and developed itself around certain distinguishing core features. The first of these has always been the conscious cultivation of a national identity, the sense of belonging, based on shared values, tradition, history and aspirations. National identity is the foundation of social cohesion. The second is the establishment of institutions and laws of governance which formalise the relationship between the leaders and citizens, and their expectation of service delivery. The third feature is the participation of citizens in the governance process by choosing a system that serves them best, selecting their leaders and playing an active role in decision making. Then there is economic transformation – it is only right for the people to expect a qualitative improvement in their lives. Part of nation-building, therefore, includes establishing the climate and mechanisms for economic development for the whole nation.[xxxiii]

From the foregoing, we can look into ways of ensuring continuity in government policies and programmes rather than an outright abandonment of the policies and programmes of the previous government just because of different political affiliations and interest. Along this line, I wish to humbly suggest that the present government takes a second look at the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan and put some of them into implementations. We should also review the Presidential System of government as well as the Local Government system currently being practised for future amendment and reforms because of their expensiveness and ineffectiveness.



This paper is a modest academic and historical attempt to understand, appreciate and appraise the diversity of Nigeria and the root of multiple identities and plural loyalties. From the foregoing historical exposé, it is crystal clear that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state with the inherent challenges of a plural and divided post-colonial society. Therefore, the challenges of nation building, national unity and integration staring it at face are not strange or accidental because of the nexus between identity, loyalty and nation building. Rather, they are rooted in the history of how the state was created, nurtured, managed and administered from inception till date with several programmes of integration. However, the contestations within the country even with the century long integration process still continue to revolve around the question of the existing structure of the federal arrangement in Nigeria with vital question of who controls what, when and how and who does the status-quo benefits or not benefit.

In the contemporary Nigeria, the country has been a beltway of contestations; some of which

are traceable to colonial amalgamations and divide and rule methods, but which were not absolutely defined by that period. Though consisting of different ethnic groups, the process of co-existing within a defined territory over the course of period in excess of a century has contributed to building up a new national consciousness and spirit of citizenship for the people of Nigeria who have within the past century-plus period shared similar national language, institutions, education, economic systems and political institutions, which have particularly grown highly integrative in nature, as today, the ethno-regional parties of the 1950s and 1960s are largely consigned to the imagination. In the example of the two leading political parties today, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the country truly has national parties as opposed to ethnic parties. In all the states, you find large segments of the same ethnic group as members of both parties.

Clearly, in the Nigeria of the twenty-first century with six decades of post-colonial rule in which the country has undergone fundamental social, economic and political changes it will be in order to note that in this new Nigeria, the old mushroom of overweening ethnocentrism and ethnic bigotry is rotting away and in its steps the new mushroom of national consciousness decade long in the making is gradually rising despite the besetting challenges and reactionary actions of isolated bigots who are always on the look out to derail the national spirit. Whether the institutions in place will safeguard our valued plural identities and common citizenship is one tied to the question of what our national interest is. For greater and faster national unity and development, however, it is proper for greater devolution of power to occur with a loosening of federal control to the states in the areas of security, natural resources and economic development. The current calls for restructuring, resource control, true federalism and even re-negotiation of the Nigerian project are all manifestations of the lack of confidence in the ability of the present system of political representation to satisfactorily address the Nigerian national question in its broad magnitude.

Citizenship in Nigeria for the people of the country is not a contested realm. The context basically has revolved around groups contestations on who controls the state and what benefits these serve certain interests, be they ethnic, regional/geo-political zones or those aligned to the interest of particular classes, political parties or states in the country. At the state level, the struggle revolves around the question of indigenes and settlers and majority versus minority groups; the question of the citizenship of either settlers or indigenes is not a contested one, neither is there any contest as to whether a Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Tiv, Kanuri, Ibibio and the other more than 350 ethnic groups in Nigeria is a Nigerian or not, it is taken for granted that they are Nigerians. What needs to be confronted here is the extent to which these groups pull together their efforts in the achievement of national goals.

Since independence several legal documents, constitutions and reports have moved the country closer to national integration while recognizing the inherent diversity of over 350 people existing together. At the federal and state levels room is created for all stakeholders represented by their states, the federal character principles call for equal representation for all citizens, national resources too are required to be equally distributed in the spirit of fair play. With these developments it is hoped that the country is indeed moving from the divisive concept of “us” versus “them” to one of “we” i.e. “we Nigerians”, where citizens are inclined to the Nigerian identity irrespective of ethnicity, religion, state or geopolitical zone or political/ideological affiliation. Fundamentally, what the nation needs to do is to place Nigerian citizenship over any other identity in the nation and work towards de-emphasizing the validity of concepts such as indigenes, settlers, strangers or otherwise as is currently the norm in several parts of the country. It is also ideal and quite appropriate to continue to recognise the identity of the different Nigerian groups as building blocks of our Federation that is composed of states that relate with one another and with the centre on the basis of true federalism.

Even though the current calls for restructuring, resource control and true federalism have ethnic, sectional and religious undertones, as I have argued elsewhere, there is no doubt that the current political structure and practices in Nigeria have not brought the desired national unity, integration, identity, citizenship and all-round development to the country. Rather, it has created more problems, disunity and underdevelopment for Nigeria and Nigerians.[xxxiv] Therefore, I wish to conclude by lending my voice to the call for restructuring which means constitutional reforms, return to true federalism and a guarantee of a more stable and inclusive Nigeria for all.[xxxv] Furthermore, I call for not only political restructuring but also reformation, rejuvenation and revitalisation of political, economic and social systems in Nigeria at the national, state, local, ward, unit, family, household and personal levels. This is because the essences of existence as Nigerians have been bastardised and destroyed at all levels and this is the primary reason for the national decay and failure in all ramifications. Finally, I believe the way forward for Nigeria is emphasising what unites us over and above what divides us as Nigerians.

In conclusion, I wish to agree with Mohammed bin Zayed that nations are built on citizens’ loyalty. Nations are built on the shoulders of the citizens and thrive on their love, loyalty, determination and sacrifice. There is no greater sacrifice than that of those who offer their own lives for their country. The more the spirit prevails, the stronger the country becomes. Finally, I challenge all Nigerians to always and act in the spirit of the Nigerian national pledge by ensuring that the ‘labour of heroes past shall never be in vain’. The labour in question is the united Nigeria. We have a duty of leaving behind a more united and prosperous Nigeria to the next generation better than the one bequeathed to us by our past heroes. This is a challenge for all Nigerians today

i] Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa made this during his speech at the Nigerian Legislative Council Debate in 1947.  He is quoted in Jide Osuntokun, “The Historical Background of Nigerian Federalism” in A.B. Akinyemi, P.D Cole and W. Ofonagoro, (eds.), Readings on Federalism (Lagos:  N.I.I.A, 1979), pp. 91-108.

ii] Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Address to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) at its 50th Anniversary Celebration held at the Polo Grounds, New York City, July 19, 1959).

iii] See Text of an address by the former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, Plateau State on 18th November 2011.

iv] J. Isawa Eliagwu, Gowon: The Biography of a Soldier Statesman (Ibadan: West Books Publishers Ltd., 1985), pp.136-137

v] James O. Okunoye, Nigeria: From Colonialism to Post-Independence (Ibadan: Adjolad Print, 2007), p.14. Quoted in the New Nigerian Newspaper,  October 2, 2001

vi] See Tokunbo Awosahin, Manuscript on ‘Much Ado About Nigerian Identity and Citizenship’.

vii] Femi Falana, “Again on the Matter of Residency Rights” This Day Newspaper, 22 December  2014 (Accessed on June 29, 2018 at http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/again-on-the-matter-of-residency-rights/197333/ )

viii] A.O. Olukoju, “The National Conference: The Germane Issues” (Keynote Lecture delivered at the 3rd Rufus Okikiola Ositelu Foundation held on Saturday, March 1, 2014), p.15.

ix] This took place during the administration of Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola as the Governor of Lagos State from 2007-2015. See Femi Falana, “The Lagos Deportation and the Law” Premium Times News.  

x] See J.O. Ojiako, Nigeria: Yesterday, Today, and … (Onitsha: Africana Educational Publishers Ltd., 1981).

xi] Toyin Falola and Mathew Heaton, History of Nigeria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p.236

xii] See S. O. Aghalino, “Brief but Revolutionary: Yar’Adua and the Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta, Nigeria” Global Advanced Journal of History, Political Science and International Relations, Vol. 1, No. 6 (2012), 144-151.

xiii] Cited in Falana, “Again on the Matter of Residency Rights”

xiv] Abimbola O. Adesoji and Akin Alao, “Indigeneship and Citizenship in Nigeria: Myth and Reality” The Journal of Pan African Studies Vol. 2, No. 9 (2009), p. 102.

[xv] See for some information, Keith Panter-Brick (ed.), Soldiers and Oil: The Political Transformation of Nigeria (London: Frank Cass, 1978).

xvi] For some perspectives on corruption in Nigeria, see the following: Wraith, R. and E Simpkins, “Corruption in Developing Countries” The Journal of Modern African Affairs (1983); Varda Eccker, “On the Origins of Corruption: Irregular Incentives in Nigeria” The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (1981); Robert L. Tignor, “Political Corruption in Nigeria before Independence” The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2 (1993).

xvii] Sa’ad Abubakar, “The ‘Challenges’ of Nation-Building: Nigeria, Which Way Forward?” in C.B.N. Ogbogbo and O.O. Okpeh, eds. Interrogating Contemporary Africa: Dike Memorial Lectures 1999-2007, Historical Society of Nigeria, Ibadan, 2008), p.34

xviii] See the view of Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, former Minister of Defence, in “Rise up, defend your state against herdsmen attack – TY Danjuma” Vanguard Newspaper, March 24, 2018 available online at www.vanguardngr.com (Accessed on July 18, 2018)

xix] Buhari blames violence on disgruntled politicians” Saturday Punch, July 7, 2018, p.1

xx] Olutayo Adesina, “Provincialism as Nationalism: Nigerian Nationalism and Its Discontents” (A Keynote Address at a 2-Day Expert Workshop on ‘Nation, Nationalism and National Integration in Nigeria” held at the University of Ibadan on June 7-8, 2013)

[xxi] Michael M. Ogbeidi, Hope Betrayed: A Reflection on the Nigerian Nation and the Challenge of Leadership since Independence (UNIOSUN CHC Monograph Series 4 (Ikire: UNIOSUN CHC, 2009)

xxii] Henry Muwanga Barlow is a famous Ugandan Poet.

xxiii] Gramophone Record entitled “Unlimited Liability Company” by Prof. Wole Soyinka. Prof. Soyinka did the same in the First Republic and he had other poems which he used to criticise the government such as “Die Still, Rev. Dr. Godspeak”, “Return of a Prodigal” and “Blues for the Prodigal”.

xxiv] The musical video titled ‘The Way Forward’ was composed and performed by King Sunny Ade and other leading Nigerian musicians and artistes such as Orlando Owoh, Oritz Wiliki, Tony Ukate,  Charles Oputa, Bola Abimbola, Bhola Eberiga, Alhaji Malik Showman, Timi Oshokoya, Segun Arinze, Dele Abiodun, etc.

xxv] Olayemi Akinwumi, “Before We Set the House Ablaze”, p.42.

xxvi] Ibid.

xxvii] I.A. Akinjogbin, History and Nation Building (Inaugural Lecture Series 26, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, 1977), p.18

xxviii] Olalekan Waheed Adigun’s feature article in the Nigerian Voice titled Nation Building in Nigeria, 15may, 2015.

xxix] Bobson Gbinije, “Nigeria’s Disunity and the Albatross of National Integration: A Viewpoint” Vanguard, October 19, 2015, available online at www.vanguardngr.com (Accessed on July 18, 2018).

[xxx] Toyin Falola, p.3

xxxi] S. Ademola Ajayi, “Nigeria and the Search for National Integration: Tapping from the Pre-colonial Inter-group Relations” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, Vol. 16 (2005/2006), p.89.

xxxii] Ibid., p.89

[xxxiii] Paul Kagame, “The Challenges of Nation-building in Africa” (Paper delivered at Oppenheimer Lecture at the Arundel House, London on Thursday 16 September 2010.

[xxxiv] Siyan Oyeweso, “Rethinking the Nexus of Religion, Ethnicity and Citizenship in Nigeria: The Imperative of National Restructuring” in Festus Adesanoye (ed.), Religion, Ethnicity and Citizenship (An Occasional Publication of the Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) Number 15), p.130:

 [xxxv] See Seriake Dickson, My Thoughts on Restructuring Nigeria (Yenagoa: Bayelsa State Government, 2018), p.3


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