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Nigeria: Ethnic Conflict Essay

1259 words - 6 pages

Ethnicity is how individuals perceive themselves, and unlike race it can be changed. There are countries in which there are several different types of ethnic groups, and in some cases that could lead to conflict within a country, but as research will show it is not the only cause, and in some cases the conflict was purposely organized. In such cases it is usually in a developing country, which is “defined according to their Gross National Income (GNI) per capita per year. Countries with GNI of US$ 11,905 and less and less are defined as developing (specified by the World Bank, 2012).” (CITATION) Developing countries that have established themselves as democracies tend to have weak institutions, where elections are more about connections and winning, rather than trying to establish and follow formal rules. Nigeria is both, a developing country and one with a weak democracy, there are many causes to this, such as problems with natural resources, and unable to maintain a strong formal government, but mainly it all could be traced back to the fact that it has a divided society where there is no sense of nationality. Divergence in a country does not mean violence, in the contrary in most cases places with a lot of different ethnicities tend to be peaceful, but Nigeria is exempt from this because it was, in a sense, programmed for all the different ethnicities and religions to have conflict amongst each other by the British.
Nigeria became an area of slave trade for the British Empire in about 1807, but they did not officially make it a colony until the 20th century. The British created Nigeria for the sole purpose of revenue; it is an “artificial country…the colonial borders enclosed more than 250 ethnic groups that has never been ruled by the same state,” and the various ethnic groups had no agreement about the rules that were implemented. (Good Soc, 269) The British also never tried to have them become untied because it benefitted them more for the Nigerians to be separated, it was a cheaper way to get their means using local leaders to “maintain order and collect taxes,” and made a small amount of effort to “recruit and train a professional Nigerian civil service.” As a result, The Good Society states that colonialism created four bad lasting causes for Nigeria. The first was the weak sense of nationalism caused by all the ethnic groups where religion played a major part of the division. The main three ethnicities in Nigeria are Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo; the former is Muslim while the two latter are Christians. The second cause mentioned was the “divide and rule” which was a British tactic to employ ethnic groups against one another, and thus “helped ensure that ethnicity would be the main line of political cleavage after Nigeria became an independent country.” The third cause is the personal rule system based on “big men” and what this means is that Nigerian’s who worked for the British used their personal relationships to gain power and...

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