Amos Ojo Adedeji, PhD
Peace and Development Studies,
Centre for Peace and Strategic Studies,
University of Ilorin, Ilorin.

Nigeria is made up of a heterogeneous multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies forcibly merged together. The country practices federal system of government imposed on her by her colonial master. The relationship has been more of conflict and less of cooperation due to divergent objectives and missions of the different ethnic groups. Ethnicity also plays vital role in power sharing and distribution of national resources. The paper qualitatively examines the politics of ethnicity and power sharing and its implication on the political development of the federation of Nigeria. The study revealed the attendant effects of ethnic politics to include but not limited to marginalisation, emergency of incompetent leader(s), soft-landing of the corrupt leaders, promotion of mediocrity and breeding of civil unrest. The study recommended decentralization of authority by making power reside in States and Regions, enthronement of nationalistic consciousness, fairness and equity in national appointment and allocation of resources, and principle of proportional representation in the national election among others. Merit and excellence in implementing the principle of federal character is also apt.
Keywords: Ethnicity, Federalism, Multi-cultural, Multi-ethnic, Political Development, Power Sharing

Historically, the formation of Nigeria can be linked to the imperialist strategy of Britain. Long before to British colonialist’s arrival, the region that is now known as Nigeria, was inhabited by people from different empires, kingdoms, and cultures that were customarily ruled. Culture and politics were integrated in most parts of the kingdoms. The relationships among the various ethnic groups were characterised by both harmony and hostility.1 Under Britain earlier rule, she organized various African areas into colonies, protectorates, or dominions to identify the most effective administrative structure for the regions, which included federal systems 2, which was generally thought to be more appropriate for federations like Nigeria with complex diversity in racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and other cleavages that are territorially defined. The 1914 amalgamation popularized by Lord Frederick Lugard, marked a landmark in the journey of federalism in Nigeria. This was invariably achieved in 1954 as the north, the east and the west became the participating regions. Not minding the issue of suitability, the British willfully forced the federal system upon Nigeria in an effort to retain neocolonial control over the nation. Since federalism is more or less evidence of some form of disunity, political weakness, and uneven economic development, the British wanted to keep the federating units as separate as possible in order to interfere in the internal affairs of Nigeria to their own economic and political advantage, even after independence. With minor modifications, the federal system created by the colonialist was still in place under the present Nigerian constitution. The objective of the paper is to evaluate the politics of ethnicity and power sharing and its negative impact on the sustainable development of the country.

8 MB

Leave a Comment