The Ethnic Primordialist-Constructivist/Instrumentalist Debate, and the Politics of Disjunction in Nigeria: Exploring Trust as a Moral Resource for the Process of National Integration

  • RO Badru
  • OGF Nwaorgu


This study claims that the traditionally different understandings of ethnicity by the primordialists and the constructivists/instrumentalists foster the politics of disjunction, the divisionist bent that undermines the common cultivation of the ethos of national integration in Nigeria. The primordialists take the so-called ethnic groups in Nigeria as ontologically divided, leading invariably to the idea of irresolvable differences in their political aspirations and objectives. Conversely, the constructivists/instrumentalists take ethnicity as a social construct, with only an instrumental value. Thus, they argue that the so-called peoples of ethnic divide are not ontologically different and, therefore, should have the same political aspirations and objectives. However, this thinking usually foregrounds claims of marginalization of the minority by the majority, when the latter foists itself on the former under the guise of forging a common political identity. Usually, the result is inter-ethnic conflicts. However, the study finally submits that the cultivation of the moral resource of trust in inter-ethnic relations in Nigeria largely addresses the problem. Trust ontologically closes the social gap between the X group and the Y group in a plural society, and if the environment is made more conducive for the common and conscientious cultivation of moral trust, social cooperation is maximally enhanced, and national integration is promoted in Nigeria. The methods of conceptual clarification, critical analysis, and reflective argumentation have been adopted to achieve the goal of the research.


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