Nigeria, a Multi Ethnic Nation Essay
Nigeria is a multi-ethnic nation with various cultural groups that are about three hundred in number. In 1947, Nigeria was not yet a nation. Nigeria now has been a multi-national society, one of the sociological problems of building Nigeria as a nation is multi-ethnicity with its concomitants such as multilingualism and completive ethnicity. There were varieties of lines which existed between the various states and people which were the predecessors of modern Nigeria.
But on the other side, Ethnographers estimates that, there are over 250 ethnic groups make up Nigeria. Each of these ethnic groups consists of smaller social groups for example Yoruba consists of the Ekiti, Ijesha, Oyo etc. The Housa have their various indigenous states but none of these groups however was large before the colonial government that now decided to join them together in the year 1914 and later Balkanized Nigeria into three regions in 1914 along ethnic lines.
There have been cases of multi-ethnic vices such as allegiance to ethnic group, intra-cultural and inter-ethnc agonism, hostility, aggression, bitterness, hatred, mistrust in the country which have not agued well for the building of a virile Nigeria nation . Instead of harnessing our diversities toward viable nation building, we have become slaves to our ethnic origin to which our allegiance is largely focused at the detriment of nation building. Interfaced with religion, statist and class, ethnicity is a potent reality in the Nigeria federal equation. The drop down of the economy, Nigeria is from the result from nigged ethnic particularisms of given constituents units of the Nigerian nation. But before we tell about how multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria has affected its socio-political development, we will mention some few important words.
This concept has many definitions from various people. In United States, Gardon in 1964 says “that an ethnic group is any group which is set off by race, religion, or defined origin or some combination of these categories. Seibel (1964) and Clingnets (1967) used the same terms ethnic group and tribe synonymous by Rose (1965) defined ethnic group as those members share a unique social and cultural heritage, passed from one generation to the other. According to Rose, ethnic group are frequently identified by distinctive patterns of family life, language, recreation, religion and others.
Sandra (1976) now combined the definition and said that ethnic group can be a consisting of interacting members who defined themselves as belonging to a named or labelled social group with whose interest they identify, and which manifest certain aspects of a unique culture while consisting a part of a wider society.
According to Advanced leaners dictionary, politics is said to be an action that is begin taken based on a good judgement. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia says politics is a process by which group of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the act or science of running governmental or staff affair.
Competitive ethnicity started in Africa since the colonial days. In search for the crumbs from colonial production, competition among Africans created or reinforced common consciousness among the various competing ethnic groups. At times the historical and competitive aspect of this consciousness were contemporary competition which may create a common warring section among previously and historically hostile and warning and sections of the same ethnic group.
Exclusiveness is as a result of ethnicity. Acceptance and rejections on linguistic-cultural grounds characterized social relations. These are expressed inevitably through inter-ethnic discrimination in jobs, housing, and admission into education of social services. These factors of exclusiveness are usually accompanied by nepotism and corruption.
Conflicts according to Okwudigbo (1978) are an important aspect of ethnicity. This is inevitable under conditions of inter-ethnic competitions for scarce valuable resources particularly in societies where inequality is accepted as natural and wealth is greatly esteemed. Demonstrations, rioting and various forms of violent agitations become instruments in inter-ethnic relations.
A major problem facing the developing nations of the world, especially those which are multi-ethnic and multi-lingual in their composition is how to integrate their diverse ethnic linguistics group (Lawal 1989). This has generated a lot of controversies and crisis in Nigeria. Attempt to replace English with an indigenous language as a national official language in Nigeria started in 1960 after the attainment of independence. In the educational system, as it is a very good instrument of building a nation, but regrettably the education system in Nigeria has collapsed to the extent that nothing in the name of functional education goes on in the education system. For example, in the universities for administration, people get it mostly due to their ethnic group e.g you staying in Maiduguri as an origin will give more opportunities to get admission than the person from another ethnic group.
In the political aspect, the multi-ethnic nature has brought about instability leading to ethnic crisis. This is because Nigeria has been characterized by perpetuating social political instability right from the first three years of her independence; this is consequent upon Nigeria’s ethnic multiplicity and its associated political oddities. There are crisis here and there incidences of communal clashes between ethnic groups have been on the increase ever in recent years. Now that election is about to hold everyone wants the winner should come from his group and even have it down to his locality.
In real times, Nigeria has never been really been an integrated nation. Most of the time what is described as harmonious coexistence between groups is often very fragile and this snaps as soon as there is any slight provocation. What now usually follow afterwards are violent clashes in which lives are lost, school activities paralyzed and valuable properties were destroyed.
The warri ethnic war which started in the month of march 1997 went on for over six months. The crisis broke out between the Ijaws and the Itsekins, two of the three major ethnic groups in warri. For some time now, the two groups have regarded each other with mutual suspicions. The crisis of 1997 came after the location of the headquarters of one of the newly created local government in the area. For this reasons many school children became emergency warriors and classrooms activities were paralysed for many months. Same thing happen between the two communities in Ije-modakeke which lead to houses and property destruction, loss of lives delay of educational and social activities. Many offer inter inter-ethnic crisis occur almost every day in the country and these rather than helping in the building of the nation, it is destabilizing the process of building the nation.
Nigeria is yet to meaningfully address multi-ethnic education in a multicultural nation and world social studies educators are therefore urged to redirect some of their teachings to multi-ethnic studies as it was heighted by Armstrong (1980), Mezieobi (1994) some, of the useful tips for teaching multi-ethnic education should be looked into by teachers using these points; i. Teach their common experience or commonalities