FEDERALISM AND ETHNIC NATIONALISM A STUDY OF IPOB IN ABIA STATE
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The crises of national integration in Nigeria are very severing such that the Nigerian federation is at its collapsing point. The heterogeneous nature of the country combines with the improper mode of the country’s formation gave rise to antagonistic and integrative processes.
Nigeria as a country came into corporate existence in 1914, as a result of the fusion between the northern and southern protectorates by the British. National integration is the ultimate goal to be achieved in a multi ethnic country like Nigeria for there to be any reasonable development.
According to Chime, [1971.50], national integration is a process of cohesion between two or more social units, whereby these units come together to constitute a political whole which include among other things the joining of various parts of society into a functioning whole, the growth of obedience and loyalty to its pars and the emergence of shared national values. It follows, that Nigeria would have received national unity where obedience and loyalties to the Nigerian state, transcend loyalties to its parts. Thus conceptualization implies social equality of citizens.
Federation is a system of government adopted to enhance national integration in Nigeria; it is also a form of government that defines the relationship between component parts assumed to have the potential for integrating diverse cultural societies. The religions rather engage in ethnicity, political struggle by social classes, religious conflict etc, which culminate in the crises of national integration that reached climax during the period of the attempted succession and civil war.
Since November 2015, the South East Nigeria, dominated by the Igbo ethnic group, has witnessed demonstrations by Biafran separatists. On 2 December 2015, the protests degenerated into violence, when two policemen and at least nine protesters, out of the thousands that had blocked the strategic Niger Bridge in the commercial city of Onitsha in Anambra State, were reportedly killed (Nwanosike Onu and Chris Orji, 2015). Several properties including the city’s central mosque and eight trucks belonging to Dangote Group, a conglomerate owned by northern businessman Aliko Dangote, were destroyed during the protests. Since the December 2015 incident, several protesters have been reportedly killed in clashes with security forces in Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Asaba (Sunny Nwankwo, 2016). In June 2016, Amnesty International accused the Nigerian military of killing unarmed Biafra supporters in Onitsha ahead of their planned May 2016 commemoration of Biafra. According to Amnesty, “opening fire on peaceful IPOB supporters and bystanders who clearly posed no threat to anyone is an outrageous use of unnecessary and excessive force and resulted in multiple deaths and injuries” (Amnesty International, 2016). To be sure, there is now a history of extra-judicial killings of supporters of Biafra, which predate the present government. For instance, in January 2013 fifty bodies believed to be Biafra supporters were found afloat in the Ezu River in Anambra State (Emeka Mamah, 2013). Still, none of the past and present killings have been thoroughly investigated by Nigerian governments.
The immediate trigger of the recent protests by Biafran separatists was the 19 October 2015 arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and director of web-based Radio Biafra, on charges of sedition, ethnic incitement and treasonable felony. The IPOB and Radio Biafra represent the most high-profile and radical movement for a separate State of Biafra that currently exists. The IPOB and Radio Biafra stepped-up a struggle championed by the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra on a non-violence pledge, its members, alleging provocation, have clashed repeatedly with police – these clashes have resulted to several deaths (This Day, 13 May 2008).
A combination of state repression and internal dissent weakened MASSOB and introduced deep cracks in its organization. On 30 November 2015, a major faction tried to expel Uwazuruike, alleging that he had compromised the secessionist struggle and deviated into the mainstream of Nigerian politics (Okodili Ndidi, 2015). The attempted expulsion of Uwazuruike was preceded by the formation of another faction in September 2010 calling itself the Biafra Zionist Movement (BZM), later renamed the Biafran Zionist Front (BZF). On 5 November 2012, BZF leader Benjamin Igwe Onwuka and about 100 members were arrested and charged with treason after the group “re-declared the Republic of Biafra” at a rally in Enugu (Chris Oji, 2012). They were later released on bail. But on 8 March 2014, Onwuka and other BZF members were again arrested and placed on trial for attempting to seize an Enugu-state-owned radio station and broadcast of another Biafra declaration (Austin Ogwuda, 2015). The detention of BZF members has led to a decline of the group’s activities. However, the weakening of MASSOB and BZF seems to have opened the way for IPOB to continue the agitation (Tony Adibe, 2015). The protests by IPOB have heightened security fears and tension in the South East and Niger Delta regions of Nigeria, and put pressure on the Nigerian government to deal with the agitation.
The recent upsurge in the demand for a separate Biafran State calls for an inquiry to understand why the agitation has persisted, nearly 50 years after the end of the Nigerian civil war, the consequences of the recurring agitation, and possible remedies. Being the longest active separatist movement in Nigeria, the persistence of Biafra separatism is particularly interesting because it could provide insights into other separatist movements and identity-based conflicts in Nigeria. With other past separatist movements also simmering in the Niger Delta and the Middle Belt, as well as the persistence of the Boko Haram insurgency, it is important to study these centrifugal demands in the context of their implications for peace building and development. This study is designed as a knowledge building effort to analyze the various elements and dynamics driving separatist uprising in South East Nigeria, its potential dangers, and possible interventions. The study begins with a review of the contending explanations for the persistence of Biafra separatism. It argues that perceived collective victimhood by the Igbos, rather than poverty and ethnic identity mobilization, is perhaps the most lasting impetus to the recurrence of agitations for Biafra. This does not mean that poverty and identity differences might not contribute to foster separatist feeling. Experience from elsewhere shows that they could (Paul Collier, 2002). These factors, however, are not sufficient to explain why a sense of marginalization of the Igbo has enthused separatist feelings and why the Nigerian government has been unable to conclusively resolve the agitation for Biafra. This study examines the major ways the Igbo have responded to their perceived collective victimization, namely struggle for greater inclusion in Nigerian politics and efforts to disengage from Nigeria. It also discusses the consequences of the recurring agitation for Biafra, and suggests what the Nigerian government and other actors should do to resolve Biafra separatism.
1.1 Statement of Problem
Nigeria is essentially a plural society, its component groups are separated apart from each other by significant differences of language, ethnicity, and cultures of Nigeria created differences in attitude, outlook and character.
Faced with these problems, Nigeria adopted federalism as a means of achieving its much needed goal of national integration. In essence the federalism so adopted is expected to reduce the immensely aggressive inter ethnic competition and tension, allay the usually alleged fear of domination, bringing government nearer to the people and give the different groups more opportunities, thereby integrating the country.
Federation requires decentralization of power among the component units. It also requires that no component unit should be as large in size as to eliminate others. The case of Nigeria shows that power is concentrated in the central government. On the other parts, there exist structural imbalance between the northern, the east and west of Nigeria. This situation therefore by majority, political power is proportionately in favour of the north above other religions. The issue of revenue allocation in Nigeria is not without its own problems. As if all these problems are not enough for Nigeria federalism, the issue of on shore offshore dichotomy and equally the alarm raised about the marginalization from all religion in Nigeria are by setting the unity of the country.
We can summarily state the under following as our research questions.
- Is the method of revenue allocation the major factor responsible for the crises of national integration in the Nigerian federalism?
- Could the practice of true federalism in Nigeria alleviate the problem of national integration?
- Could religion and ethnic loyalties be a major challenge in national integration in Nigeria?
- Did ethnic nationalism affect the internal security of South east region?
- Has Nigerian government institutions curtailed violent ethnic nationalism in the South east?
1.2 Objectives of the Study
The research is set out to among other things
- To find out the relationship between revenue allocation and national integration in Nigeria.
- To discover if the operation of true federalism in Nigeria could help in tackling the problems.
- To inquire into the impact of religions and ethnic loyalties and national integration in Nigeria.
- To examine whether ethnic nationalism affects internal security of South east region.
- To examine whether Nigerian government institutions has curtailed violent ethnic nationalism in the South east.
1.3 Significance of the Study
It has become obvious that Nigeria cannot make any meaningful progress in the absence of unity. Some founding fathers of Nigeria adopted federalism as a pragmatic instrument for the achievement of the goal of national unity. The rationale was to see if there could be unity in diversity which means that there could be ways of bringing diverse ethnic groups into a modern nation. However, amidst all the efforts, the goals of national integration are not yet possible owing to the numerous problems inherent in Nigeria federalism.
It is therefore the task of this work to contribute in no little measure to the solution of the problem of national integration. Apart from thus, the work will equally add to the volumes of research materials available for further work on federalism and national integration in Nigeria
1.4 Literature review
Much work has been done on the subject matter federalism and its relation to national integration. Most of the scholarly works were unable to give a comprehensive analysis of Nigerian federalism and how it affects national integration. Though some of them made very relevant scholarly contributions to knowledge from which a number of conclusions can be drawn.
Federalism as has been adopted in Nigeria found its way into our political arena during the colonial era. The concept is closely related to the various social based on coordinative, rather than sub coordinative relationship. It emphasises partnership among parties of equal claims to legitimacy who seek a common social order.
Jinadu says that it is usually built as a form of government and constitutional structure deliberately designed by political architects to cope with the different task of maintaining unity, while preserving diversity, Jinadu, [1979:15].
Speaking about Nigeria federalism two schools of thought emerged on its evaluation. The first school comprising of the nationalist believed that British imposed federalism on Nigeria in order to maintain the neo colonial control of the country after the lowering of the mantle. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a convinced federalist described the British imposed federal structure as an abominable destructive and divisive British heritage, Awolowo, [1968:69]. They also believed that the colonial power made sure that there was enough structured imperfection left behind to bedevil inter ethnic relations after independence. However, this view of imposition held by this school is not exactly objective as Nigerians involved gave consent for her to become a federal state.
The second school of thought is of the opinion that historical and geographical factors determine the political evolution of Nigerian federalism. Nigeria being a large and culturally variegated country could not have been governed for a long time from one centre Akinyemi, [1979:91]. This view is not quite correct, as it is time that factors of history and geography more than anything else determines the constitutional evolution of Nigeria.
Ethnicity is one concept that cannot be over looked in the discussion of the structure of Nigerian federalism and national integration as a whole. It has been defined as the social phenomenon associated with interaction among members of different ethnic groups refer to social formation distinguished by the communal character of the boundaries of which their common factors may be language, culture or both, Nnoli, (1973:58). Nigeria is one country that comprised various ethnic groups with physical or different backgrounds, ancestry and tradition. Nnoli goes further to mention some characteristics that distinguish one from ethnocentrism which simply connotes pride in ones group, a hampering that makes the members of the group inward looking.
According to him, ethnicity exists in a political society consisting of diverse ethnic groups. It is also characterized by a common consciousness of being one in relation to the other groups. Impulsiveness can be sighted as an attribute of ethnicity which says, is normally accompanied by nepotism and corruption. Conflict is also seen as important aspect of ethnicity.
As he says, it is inevitable under conditions of inter ethnic competitions for scarce valuable resources particularly in a society where inequality is accepted as natural and wealth is greatly exchanged.
Several efforts have been made to adjust these social abnormalities and as Ibrahim Babangida said from anthropological and sociological viewpoint, Nigeria is a complex country, therefore nation building in Nigeria context must be of necessity because it is a complex and expensive enterprise.
Eleigwa, (1995:5), Nnoli 1978, also believed that the recovery of Nigeria will not be an easy task. He says adequate solution to the ethnic problems of Nigeria must stern logically from rigorous scientific analyses of the causes of the emergence and persistence and growth of ethnicity in the country. Ojukwu in his lecture, towards a greater Nigeria, said that national integration cannot be achieved by giving setaceous speeches; rather appropriate steps will include de emphasising tribe and ethnic origin in all official documents that no Nigeria should offer instability whatsoever.
However Ema Awa,  has noted that federalism involves corporation between the two levels of government and such cooperation increased in scope and quantity as the federation matures. Bargaining also assumes more important as the federation becomes more highly developed. As he further explained, there are always some conflicts in the relation between the regions and federal government and among the regions and themselves.
After going through the available literatures on federalism it was observed that the writers made relevant contributions, they did not give a comprehensive analysis of the problem of Nigeria federalism as they affect national integration. Sequel to this, in exploring the meaning of federalism, the issue of national integration must inevitably arise. In line with this, it became germane to review the contributions made by some scholars on national integration.
Duuelger defines national integration as building up solidarity and breaking down antagonism among the people in a political system. It refers specifically to the creation of a sense of territorial rationality which overshadows parochial loyalties.
Chime sees national integration as a process of cohesion between two or more social units whereby those units come together to constitute a political whole, which can in some cases be described as community.
Ali Mazrui in his book cultural Engineering and nation building in East Africa 1902, sees national integration as the process of merging sub going entities into a shared sense of national consciousness.
In the same vein De Uree also defines integration as the combination and autonomous social and political problems arising among its members, for controlling their behaviour and the processes occurring among them, for keeping peace among them and or mobilizing their power or resources for making collection decision and as a result of all things, acting as a new unit with respect to its social or physical environment. Prior to these definitions, integration will be conceived as the process of increasing a social or political system capacity based on decision making process.
National integration is relation to national development. It usually constitutes a platform for national development. Development can only be achieved in an atmosphere of cooperation and unity.
Where everybody feel a sense of belonging and wants to contribute his own quota to the development of national goal.
According to O. Aboyade in his book, issues in the development of tropical Africa (1976:16), he observed that development is essentially a continuous process of generating and more efficiently allocating resources for achieving greater social satisfying ends. While political development relates to the overall capacity of a people to govern them efficiently, this ability to govern relates to the capacity to extract resources, make and regulate behaviours. It also means the ability to resolve societal problems and manage conflicts.
If the society is able to do all these things mentioned, it will certainly lead to economic development for that nation.
Conclusively, after going through the available literatures on federalism and national integration, it was observed that some of them were able to explain to an extent the feasibility of achieving national integration. However in this study, we shall attempt to explore the suitability and adaptability of federalism to the excruciating task of building a coherent nation out of desperate and antagonistic people in Nigeria.
1.5 Theoretical Frameworks
Theoretical framework is indeed very useful in a research work in the sense that it enhances its internal activity. With this in mind, there are lot of theories used in the field of political science for research analysis; however, we will adopt the system theory by David Easton.
This theory is seen by scholars among who is Ifesinachi as a set of related elements and interrelations among them, which are disintegrated from those elements not in the system by ambiguous analytic boundaries. The theory explains the component of the system made up of groups, persons or areas where the frequency of a particular pattern of interaction falls to an observable degree. Interdependence is the uniting force in the system; this is because stability and subsequently growth can only be achieved when all the components of a system work together.
As a way of using the system theory by David Easton to analyse this work, Easton, , defines a political system as that system of interacting in any society through which binding or authoritative allocations are made and implemented.’[Easton in Okere 2002:98] this implies that an organization interacting with an environment, influencing it and being influenced by it and there also many interacting internal parts which constitutes parts of the arranging that the society employs in formulating and pursuing its collective goods [Almond and Powell 1980:4].
The three vital components of Easton definitions of political system constitute authoritative allocation, values and society.
At this point, it becomes necessary to make a brief application of this theory to the Nigerian political scene, before and after independence. The theory would be employed in this study because in Nigeria, like any other third world federative system, the power to allocate the resources available in the country is essentially concentrated at the central government, [federal level] that is the hierarchy of authority [federal level, state and local government], with the central government sitting on top of other levels in the allocation of revenues. This is basically due to the prolonged military rule in the country, and this has been one of the banes. For the country to experience genuine unity and subsequently development, all the groups and cleavages have to come together since no part of the system can function effectively and maximally without depending on the other components.
It is necessary to formulate some guiding hypotheses. The hypotheses thus raised are.
- The method of revenue allocation tends to constitute the major factor responsible for the crisis of national integration in the Nigerian federalism.
- Federalism in Nigeria could help in talking the problem of national integration.
- Religious and ethnic loyalties are major threats to national disintegration.
- Ethnic nationalism affects internal security of South east region.
- Nigerian government institutions has curtailed violent ethnic nationalism in the South east.
1.7 Methods of Data Collection/ Analysis
In this study we adopted the use of secondary source of data as the main method. This is justified due to its intrinsic values. For any research to be meaningful, reliable and scientific fact and ideas must be supplemented with empiricism.
Secondary materials like textbooks, research papers, government publications, newspapers, magazines etc will be seriously put into use.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
The basic problems which were encountered during this study were the scarcity and inaccessibility of materials. However the study was successfully done because of the extra efforts made to get more resources and procure the materials for analyses.
1.9 Conceptual Definitions
Citizen: Is an individual who has full political and legal rights in a state by birth,
naturalization, marriage, registration, and conferment (Nwankwo, 1992).
Ethnic: Ethnic is derived from the Greek word “Ethnos” meaning tribe or race (Wikipedia).
Ethnicity: As a social phenomenon associated with interaction among different ethnic groups (Aiyede, 2006). It is a social phenomenon associated with the identity of members of the largest possibly competing communal groups (Ethnic groups) seeking to protect and advance their interest in a political system (Nnoli, 1978).
Azeez (2004: 329) succinctly put, Ethnicity is a sense of people hood that has its
foundation in the combined remembrance of past experience and common aspiration.
Shereader (2005: 101) defined ethnicity as a sense of collective identity by which a people perceived itself as sharing a historical past and a variety of social norms and customs. The practice of ethnic ideology or simply tribalism (Igwe, 2007).
Nationalism: The active consciousness of being a different nation, especially in relations with other nations or groups (Igwe, 2007). Nationalism is the sense of belonging to a particular state (Subrat, 2010).
Hauss (2003) succinctly put it that Nationalism is sense of belonging to a nation, the activities involved in developing and maintaining nations political and social activities aimed at realizing the goals and wills of a nation as well as a language and symbolism of a nation.
Nationalism refers to the feeling of solidarity and loyalty by social classes towards the rules and institutions of the social formation in which they live (Ifesinachi, 2011).
Security: Security is considered any mechanism deliberately fashioned to alleviate the most serious and immediate threat that prevent people from pursuing their cherished values (Nwagboso, 2012).
Militia: A group of people who are not professional soldiers but who had military training and can act as an army (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary 8th Edition).
Militant: Using or willing to use force or strong pressure to achieve your aims, especially to achieve social or political change (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary 8th Edition).
Self-Determination: The principle that peoples should control their political destiny, a right recognized in many antique and modern political treatises enshrined in the United Nations (Igwe, 2007).
Aggression: Actual armed attack, or any other form of hostile action, usually against the principles of international law and/or good neighbourly relations by one state or groups thereof, against another (Igwe, 2007).
Sub-nationalism: Is the movement of people to exit or pursue independent statehood or regional autonomy within a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state. We also refer to subnationalism as a movement or revolt of peoples against the unitary nature of state, reinforced by indigenous rights and contention of power. Sub-nationalism leans to mobilization and ethnocentrism for political and economic advantage of one ethnic group against another (Smith, 1991).
Ethnic Militia: are organized violence-oriented groups populated by diverse elements, cutting across different age strata, but drawing membership exclusively from an ethnic group and established to promote and protect the interests of an ethnic group. Ethnic militia is an extreme form of ethnic agitation for self-determination and occurs when the ethnic group assumes militant posture. They serve as a social pressure group designed to influence the structure of power to the advantage of and call attention to the deteriorating material condition or political deprivation and perceived marginalization of their group or social environment (Smith, 1991).
National integration: National integration involves the existence of national consciousness, which is the feeling of individual or group identity within the nation state as the only political unit through which their collective interest can be realized.
National integration therefore involves patriotism which a call for supreme scarifies on the part of the entire citizenry for the whole country if the need arises. Federalism: Federalism means an arrangement whereby powers within a multinational country are shared between a federal or central authority and a number of regionalized governments in such a way that each unit, including this central authority exist as a government separately and independently from the others.
Division of power among the levels of government by the constitution is explicit. The centre and the component unit [regions, states] have defined spheres of authority, powers and shared among the levels of government which are coordinates. Powers shared among the various levels could be categorized as exclusive list, concurrent list and residual list.
- Exclusive list
Subjects on this list are reserved for the centre [federal government] examples here are, defence, internal affairs, national currency, immigration, maritime activities, aviation, etc.
- The Concurrent List
Subjects here are to be exercised both by the federal and the state. Example includes agriculture, health, commerce, education, works etc.
- Residual List
This comprises functions to be exercised by the state/ unit government alone, example includes chieftaincy title etc.