THE IMPACT OF ETHNIC MILITIAS ON DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA

THE IMPACT OF ETHNIC MILITIAS ON DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA

abstract

The background of the society show case that Nigerians were optimistic about the future as their country entered the fourth republic in 1999, but it was said that ethnic tensions arose and thousands were killed in communal violence. It was noted that the common understanding that the ethnics ulities arose as a wealthy Yoruba Businessman M. K. O Abiola’s apparent victory for the presidency in 1993, with the Yoruba establishing the Ooduwa people’s Congress (OPC) and that this again guarred up the Hausa and the Igbo to respond to this mobilization.        The statement of the problem entails that in Nigerian history a time where over two in Nigerian thirds of the populations were poor and authoritarism was the norms. Therefore, it can be argued that the problem of ethnicity arose for a particular reason.  In order to be able to understand the causes of their occurrence, by looking only into single fields of study, be it anthropology economic, conflict studies.

The purpose of the study indicate that more light is to be shed on why the ethnic militias came into being by showing how they arose. Also the effects of their coming into being on democratic consolidation will be fully looked into.In justification to the future work on resolving Nigeria conflict by putting forth a new perspective. This project work will be highly useful.

The significant of the study justify the outcome of this project work. It add more to the understanding of the Nigeria political conflict situation, making other scholars better suited to focus on the important root causes by offering a different angle on the Nigerian situation. Also it will bring more attention which I believe to be biggest obstacle to democratic consolidation.

The research questions encompass two folds:

Firstly, we ask how did the ethnic militias emerge before asking how they have influence the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. Nonetheless,as democracy appears to strengthen in Nigeria, the next research question we ask is. Have the ethnic militias outplayed their roles in Nigerian society?

The methodology been used to illuminate and explore the concept of ethnics militias and to look into how they influence the consolidation of Nigerian democracy.It is opined that secondary source of data will serve as the majority means of deriving information, which include journals,magazines, and articles.Others includes conferences papers , seminars papers as well as websites information.

Scope and limitation of the study:- The study is limited in time and space as it is a circumscribe Degree project , hence having approximately about a year to put further constraints on the study.

Operational definition of concepts:- This section discuss the most prominent concepts of this study in order to arrive at normal definition  most suitable to the  Nigerian context, which will help us better understand the setting in which we are going to discuss Nigerian political Life.

Ethnicity: – The term ethnicity refers to people thought to have common ancestry who share a distinctive culture.

Circumstantial: – This simply means suggesting but not proving.

Situational: – it means that the actual identity deployed or made relevant changes according to the social situation of the individual; the situation changes the relevant identity changes.

Ethnic politics:- this is seen as using ethnicity as a political tool to gain benefits, which is done by playing people against each other in order to take advantage of the tension that often arise from this situation.

Outline of the study: – this research work is derived into five chapters, the first chapter forms the introductory aspect, purpose of the study, significance of the study, Research questions, methodology, scope and limitation of the study and operational definition of concepts. Chapter two discusses common assumption made about the political situation in Nigeria and how the ethnic militias fit into this picture. The literature review tries to show the limitations in the area of the study and what needs to be done to correct these limitations.After, the review, chapter three shows how the ethnic militias came into being before we discuss what they are and what they are not. This chapter look at how they were founded who founded them, who followed them, how they evolved and what their special characteristics are and further we take a look at what happened in Colonial times in order to understand why the different groups at the way they do today.

Chapter four build on the third chapter examining the ethnic militias effect on democratic consolidation.The last chapter which is the conclusion sums up the findings from the previous chapter explaining why the ethnic militias came into being and how they have affected the consolidation of democracy. It start by stating the problem before we revisit the research question and conclude what has been found.

The latest militia group that is threatening democratic consolidation in Nigeria is Boko Haram. Meaning Western Education is forbidden. (Mike Boni, 2013:4), Since its inception, the group has killed over 10,000 people.

 

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Background to the study

Nigerians were optimistic about the future as their country entered the fourth republic in 1999, but as ethnic tensions arose and thousands were killed in communal violence, this optimism has faded away to some degree. Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, elected as the president in 2007 has promised to tackle the problems facing Nigeria, but the question remains whether or not he has the power to oppose the various ethnic militias, which have increased in power since the early 1990s. There is a common understanding that the ethnics militias arose as a direct consequence of the annulment of the wealthy Yoruba businessman M.K.O Abiola’s apparent victory for the presidency in 1993, with the Yoruba establishing the Oodua people’s congress (OPC) and that this again triggered the Hausa and the Igbo to respond to this mobilization. It is feared that this militarization of civil society could jeopardize the fragile Nigerian democracy and that because of this; the federal response of attempting to eradicate the ethnic militias in legitimate by the international society.

Problem Statement

The problems when analysing the ethnic militias is that they arose at a particular time in Nigerian history, a time where over two thirds of the population were poor and authoritarianism was the norm. Therefore, it can be argued that they arose for a particular reason. In the 1980s, when the Nigerian economy hit the strain of having many military rulers, president Babangida chose to adopt the World Banks Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which came into effect in July, 1986. Even if the SAP cannot be blamed for all the problems, like unemployment and poverty and that the SAP sent Nigeria into a situation where the state was no longer able to take care of its citizens. In order to survive, Nigerians needed to realign and find something to rely on, whereupon ethnicity increased in salience. In this way ethnicity in Nigeria could be used in order to benefit from the state. With this shift from feeling Nigerian to relying more on ethnic identity. The consequence was that the strong sense of nationalism that united Nigerians to gain their independence, faded away.

In order to be able to understand the problems we have to understand the causes of their occurrence, by looking only into single fields of study, be it anthropology, economic, conflict studies. It is hard to get the full overviews of the Nigerian situation. The consequence of not fully knowing the whole situation can lead to distorted outcomes and improper remedies. Failure to understand why the militias came into being may result in the state continuing to fuel grievances, by being aggressive towards the people who they are supposed to take care of, the state will continue to encourage resentment and a weakening of democracy.

Purpose of the Study

This project work hopes to shed light on why the ethnic militias came into being by showing how they arose. Further, this project will look at the effects of their coming into being on democratic consolidation. It is hoped that this project will contribute to the future work on resolving Nigerian conflict by putting forth a new perspective based on using a holistic perspective. This perspective holds a positive impact on consolidation of democracy after 1999 rather than a negative impact as often assumed.

Significant of the Study

This study is significant in justification to the outcome of this project work. It is to increase the understanding of the Nigerian political/conflict situation, making other scholars better suited to focus on the important root causes by offering a different angle on the Nigerian situation. Further, it will bring more attention to the negative aspects of ethno nationalism, which its believed to be the biggest obstacle to democratic consolidation.

Research Questions

By explaining how the militias came into being and by showing that they are a result of the state’s inability to be responsible towards its citizens. The research question is twofolds; firstly, we ask how did the ethnic militias emerge before asking how they have influenced the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria?

The argument will then be raised that ethnic militias had a role to play in the emergence of democracy by bringing attention to Nigeria’s deep rooted problems. As transitions towards democracy began, the military repression eased up, making the ethnic militias’ society’s mouth piece against collective problems.

Nonetheless, as democracy appears to strengthen in Nigeria, the next research questions asked we ask is have the ethnic militias outplayed their roles in Nigerian society?

Objective of the study

  • The study is designed to to accurately find out more about the origin and nature of the ethnic militias.
  • To see if the findings we get from the first objective change the way the ethnic militias have been viewed in the past, concerning how they have influenced the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
  • The last objective is to see how important ethnic militias are in Nigeria today are in order better to understand how the state should act against them. Hence, a general objective will be to illuminate and explore the concept of ethnic militias and to look into how they influence the consolidation of Nigerian democracy.

Methodology

As the main task of this project is to illuminate and explore the concept of ethnic militias and to look into how they influence the consolidation of Nigerian democracy. It is opined that secondary source of data will serve as the majority means of deriving information, which includes journals, magazine and articles. Others include conference papers, seminar papers as well as website information.

Scope and Limitation of the study

The study is limited in time and space as it is a circumscribe degree project, hence having approximately about a year to put further constraints on the depth of the study. Because there is limited time the study will focus on showing how things are, leaving out, the more resource demanding questions. As the research question is what effect the ethnic militias have on democracy. The project will incorporate several major subjects; ethnicity, nationalism, democracy and conflict being the most prominent.

Operation Definition of Concepts

This section discusses the most important concepts of this study in order to arrive at normal definitions most suitable to the Nigerian context, which will help us better understand the setting in which we are going to discuss Nigerian political life.

Ethnicity: The terms ethnicity and ethnic group are derived from the Greek word ethnos normally translated as nation.(Eriksen 2002:4). The concept of ethnicity itself distinguishes between an “us” and a “then”, and if there was no distinction there would not be any ethnicity. Also the term ethnicity refer to people thought to have common ancestry who share a distinctive culture.

Circumstical: This simply means suggesting but not proving that ethnic identity is important in some contexts and not in others, the identity is constant but circumstances determine whether it matters.

Situational: That the actual identity deployed or made relevant changes according to the social situation of the individual, the situation changes the relevant identity changes.

Ethnic Politics: This is seen as using ethnicity as a political tool to gain benefits which is done by playing people against each other in order to take advantage of the tension that often arise from this situation.

Nationalism: According to Gellner one of the prominent scholars of nationalism, he defines it as follows;  Nationalism is primarily a political principle which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.

Also in view of William, he defines it as a belief system, creed or political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a nation.

Democracy: Democracy as an idea is an essentially contested concepts and it is hard to agree on a core meaning.Robert A Dahls defines democracy as a political system characterized by responsibility towards the citizen by the people elected, by the citizens.

Also democracy is said to be a system of government in which all qualified adult of a country shares the supreme power directly or through their elected representative.In other words, democracy can also be referred to as a system of government by which the minority rule with the majority interest.

Democratic Consolidation: Originally democratic consolidation meant how to make fragile democracies immune against the threat of authoritarian rule and building dams against “reverse waves” of democratization (Sclevedler 1998:91). A standard definition of democratic consolidation is from prseworski who claims that democracy is consolidated when under some given political and economic conditions so (democratic) institutions become “the only game in town and when no one can imagine circumventing these institutions (1992). In this definition, it is implicit that civil society has control over the state. Haynes (2001) introduces three points, which are necessary in order to recognize a consolidated democracy:

  1. There has to be a general acceptance of democratic oriented political rules of the game.
  2. Stable and lasting democratic institutions.
  3. A broad scope of governmental guaranteed civilian and political rights, supported by the law.

Only when these conditions are in place are we able to speak about a consolidated democracy which is accepted by the elites and by the society.

Decentralization: this is the diffusion of autonomy/authority from a higher to a level of government. According to Olowu and Wunsdi, decentralization is the legal acts and administrative measures taken to reassign responsibilities, resources, accountability and rules from central government to local entities (2004:5).

Corruption: According to Jordan Smith, corruption has become an organizing lens; meaning we tend to blame many society’s failures especially concerning democracy, development and other expectations of modernity on corruption (2007). Oliver de Sardan 1999, defines corruption “as the abuse of public office for private gain”.

Organisation of Chapters

This research work is divided into five chapters, the first chapter forms the introductory aspect, purpose of the study, significance of the study, research questions, methodology, scope and limitation of study and operational definitions of concepts. Chapter two discusses common assumptions made about the political situation in Nigeria and how the ethnic militias fit into this picture. The literature review tries to show the limitations in the area of study and what needs to be done to correct these limitations. The chapter starts with an historical overview in order to give the reader a deeper understanding of the short but complex history of Nigeria, which is helpful in order to maximize the benefit of the literature review.

After the review, chapter three shows how the ethnic militias came into being, before we discuss what they are and what they are not. This research work look at how they were founded then, who followed them, how they evolved and what their special characteristics are and further we take a look at what happened in colonial times in order to understand why the different groups act the way they do today. Further, we look whether there are any common denominators between the ethnic militias.

Chapter four builds on the third chapter examining the ethnic militias, effect on democratic consolidation. First we look at the state of Nigerian democracy before we assess how the ethnic militias fit into the framework. Lastly we look at the consequences of the ethnic militias and what these have meant for democracy.

The last chapter, which is the conclusion, sums up the findings from the previous chapters explaining why the ethnic militias came into being and how they have affected the consolidation of democracy. It start by stating the problem before we revisit the research question and conclude what has been found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Abubakar, D, 2001, Ethnic Identity, Democratization, and the Future of the African State: Lesson from Nigeria. African issues, Vol 29, No 1, 31-36

Adejumobi, S. 2003. Civil society, Ethnic Militias and Sovereign National Conference in T. Babawale ed. Urban Violence, Ethnic Militias and the Challenge of Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria. Lagos Matthouse.

Adekunle. J. 2002 Nationalism, Ethnicity and National Integration; an Analysis of Political History in A. Oyebade ed. The Transformation of Nigeria, Essay in Honours of Toyin Falola. Africa WORLD press Inc.

Agbu, O.2004 Ethnic Militias and the Threat to Democracy in Post-Transition Nigeria.

Akinyele RT 2001 Ethnic Military and National Stability in Nigeria:

Atorounyomi D. 2003. The Media and the Challenge of Ethno National Differences in Nigeria Democratic Consolidation.

Agbu O, 1998 Political Opposition and Democratic Transitions in Nigeria.

Diamond L&M Platteur eds. 1996. The Global Resurgence of Democracy. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Diamond L, J. Liuz  & S.M. Lipset. 1995. Politics in Developing Countries: Comparing Experiences with Democracy. Hopkins University Press.

Olurode L. (1999) (ed) Nigeria: People and Culture. Lagos, Rebonik Publications.

 

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Updated: July 29, 2019 — 6:46 am

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