National Consciousness II

Ethnicity

Meaning of ethnicity

Ethnicity means preferring one’s ethnic group over other ethnic groups. It can also be regarded as tribalism.

Nigeria is a very large country. It is made up of many ethnic groups. There are more than 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria. Each ethnic group speaks its own language and has a different culture. Among these ethnic groups are Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Ijaw, Fulani, Edo, Ibibio, Igbira, Urhobo, Nupe, Kalabari,

Ogoni, Kanuri, Jukun, Igala, Tiv, Bura, Isoko, Afemai and Itsekiri.

 

Causes of ethnicity in Nigeria

There are many causes of ethnicity in Nigeria. Some of these causes are:

  1. Feeling that one’s social group or ethnic group has been cheated in the allocation of resources in the country: The major source of revenue in Nigeria today is crude oil. When the federal government allocates money to the states, some states feel they should get more allocation than they are given.
  2. Colonialism: The colonial masters also encouraged ethnicity through their programmes and policies. For instance, the 1946 Richards Constitution divided the country into three regions, i.e. the North, East and West without laying emphasis on unity in the country. Political parties that were formed were thus based on the different regions created by the colonial masters.
  3. Poverty: Politicians use the high poverty level of the electorate to deceive them to vote for politicians from their ethnic groups. They give the people some small amounts of money to convince them to vote for certain politicians; not because they have good plans for the people, but because they are from the same ethnic group as the electorate.
  4. Illiteracy: Inability to read and write makes people tribalistic. When people cannot read, they are not likely to be informed about the culture of other people. Literacy and education help people to gather more knowledge about other people and their culture, and so become able to appreciate other ethnic groups.
  5. Undue desire to win elections: Politicians deliberately encourage people to be tribalistic to win elections. One politician may tell an uninformed electorate that politicians from those other ethnic groups are bad, and therefore people should not vote for them. However, the politicians from those other ethnic groups may have better qualities than himself.
  6. Nepotism and discrimination: Nepotism means giving unfair advantage of members of one’s family, especially when you give them favours without considering others. Discrimination, on the other hand, means treating some people less fairly than your own people. When, for instance, a Hausa man treats another Hausa man better than an Igbo man, he has discriminated against the Igbo man. This causes ethnicity in the country.

 

Quiz

Answer the following questions:

  1. What is the meaning of ethnicity?
  2. Identify three causes of ethnicity in Nigeria.

 

 

 

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