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The Rise of Nationalism in Nigeria

THE RISE OF NATIONALISM IN NIGERIA “Nationalism is frequently regarded by liberal theorists as a universal kind of ideology emphasizing equality and human rights within its polity , but it can just as plausibly be seen as a kind of particularism denying non-citizens full human rights (Eriksen 1991 265 )Introduction The legacy of colonialism helps to differentiate post-colonial African states from other states . Present borders in Africa are not the result of centuries of warfare , ethnic migration , and state-building , but rather they are the result of the weeks that the major powers of Europe spent at the Berlin West African Conference in 1884 . It was there that they carved up the continent for their own financial gain . For good or bad , these borders remain virtually unchanged to this day . As a result ,state boundaries in Africa often intersect the boundaries of ethnic groups , or homelands . Ethnic groups may be split among two or more states , either by accident or design on the part of the Europeans . In many states , the result is several large (but not always majority )ethnic groups . States may have dozens of competing ethno-political groups in addition to groups with competing ideological political aims .When many ethnic groups are split by state boundaries , this means that the ethnic group cannot rely on all of its members to make political policy gains , especially in functioning democracies . Ethnic groups must find other ways to maintain their identity in the state , by being able to hold onto their own ethnic identity while still being able to become the national identity simultaneously . This means the nationalism must be inclusive , able to embrace many different identities . What kind and pattern of nationalism is present in states is a problem that will be important in this study . The resulting lack of a cohesive political majority can be an obstacle to development . This study examines how Nationalism in Nigeria evolved and developed through the prism of ethnicity and national identity .Nationalism plays an important role when it comes to multi-ethnic states . National identity is important in that it determines who gains access to the state ‘s benefits and rents . Nationalism becomes a way of identifying who is a member of the state and who is not it becomes synonymous with “citizenship ” In primordial states it is usually only one pre-colonization group that decides the national identity . This leads to friction in multiethnic states . Citizens must give up their own ethnic identity (if they are even able ) in order to assume the national identity . When ethnic groups do not want to become assimilated into the new nationalism based on another group ‘s identity , they seek to differentiate themselves , causing ethnic friction .Historical Background of Nigeria In Nigeria the story told by the state ‘s history is not one of an accommodating state nationalism , but rather of a continuing struggle for control of the central state by different individual groups at the expense of the other groups . Perhaps the most telling aspect of Nigeria ‘s history is…

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