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Colonialism and National Integration: An Analysis of British Policies in Northern Nigeria
The problem of national integration in Nigeria has continued to occupy centre stage in public discourse and intellectual circles especially now that religious and ethnic rancour appears to be on the increase. Much of the blame has been laid on the multi-religious and ethnic character of the population that was forcibly brought together by colonial adventures as well as the unbalanced political structure, which they left behind. This paper argues that Nigerian ethnic and religious groups were not inherently intolerant of one another, and that although the argument about an unbalanced political structure has some merits, if that was a decisive factor the creation of states and local governments would have brought at least some relief. The paper therefore, seeks to add more emphasis to the more convincing point of view that the so-called religious and ethnic crises are manifestation of oppressive and explorative divide and rule than of ruling elite. Specifically, the paper insists that the genesis of religious/ethnic rancour should be located in British policies of segregation concerning religion, western education and the administration of urban settlements in Northern Nigeria. In pursuing these policies the ultimate objective was to create a neo-colonial state of which ethnic and religious conflicts are manifestations.