Ethnic Nationalism and the Nigerian Democratic Experience in the Fourth Republic

  • MAO Aluko
  • OA Ajani


This paper is an inquiry into the impact of ethnic nationalism on the Nigerian nascent democracy. Data for the paper were collected from (i) primary and (ii) secondary sources. The former from interviews and Focus Group Discussions, while the latter is from documents comprising of (i)
Newspapers and (ii) Magazines. The paper started by identifying the factors responsible for the predominance of ethnic nationalism and these include: (i) the legacy of colonialism; (ii) the pluralistic nature and the heterogeneity of the polity; (iii) problem of a universally acceptable revenue allocation formular; (iv) lack of patriotism and loyalty of the people to their ethnic nationalities; (v) the recent on-shore/off-shore dichotomy; (vi) party formation along ethnic lines; (vii) monopoly of power by the major ethnic groups and the consequent marginalization of the minority groups. The paper posited that the impact has been very devastating as it meant a threat to political stability, thwarted efforts aimed at national integration, increased the level of political violence and fragmented and divided the civil society. In order to get out of the problems the paper suggested that Nigeria should embrace power rotation, secularism, federalism, Two-party system, reduce power in the Presidency, curtail corruption, empower the civil society, reorientate the populace and convocate a national conference. Using the functionalist framework, the paper hypothesized and concluded that the convocation of a national conference becomes a categorical imperative if Nigeria is to overcome many of the problems associated with the predominance of ethnic nationalism and thus become a strong, virile, united and vibrant democracy.
Key Words: Ethnic Militias, On-Shore/Off-Shore dichotomy

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