Home Governance PLURAL LOYALTIES & MULTIPLE IDENTITIES IN POST-INDEPENDENCE NIGERIA

PLURAL LOYALTIES & MULTIPLE IDENTITIES IN POST-INDEPENDENCE NIGERIA

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Part 1 Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, FNAL Siyan Oyeweso, a professor of History and Executive Director of the Centre for Black Culture & International Understanding, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria,  goes on a historical excursion to situate the problems of Nigeria.  The lecture is being  serialized in three parts to enable readers enjoy the compilation without getting bored. INTRODUCTION: The historical experiences of a society determine to a large extent the orientations of that society and the nature of its politics, economy and other aspects of its existence. It is an established historical fact that the Nigerian state as currently constituted is a by-product of the British colonial enterprise in West Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries.[i] The state was a deliberate creation of the British colonial government to suit its imperial and colonial designs. To achieve this, the various peoples and states around the area currently called Nigeria were forcefully brought together as one state and administered as a political entity for several decades. As a result of the waves of nationalist movement which pervaded West Africa in the post-Second World War period in 1945, Nigeria was granted political independence within the Commonwealth in 1960 amidst serious and unresolved questions of national unity and integration among the constituent states and peoples. Today, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, one of the largest countries on the African continent and the ninth most populous country in the world.[ii] It is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state with hundreds of ethno-religious groups with utmost suspicion, mistrust, rivalry, unhealthy competition and incessant armed conflicts.[iii] The history of Nigeria since the decolonisation period in the last years of colonial rule and since independence has been characterised by violence and crises which have political, ethnic, religious, cultural, social and even economic dimensions. As a result of these incessant ethno-religious and political crises, building a virile and united nation in Nigeria has been very difficult and unattainable in spite of the efforts of successive governments.[iv] Quite unfortunately, the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of Nigeria has been a major factor in the unhealthy rivalry and dangerous competition to control the national government and resources. The political class has always encouraged the emergence and potency of plural identities and sub-national loyalties which have been in contestation with the idea of a national identity, loyalty and citizenship just for its selfish political gains and advantages.  As a matter of fact, the…

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