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Ethnic Minority Conflicts and Governance in Nigeria

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Rotimi T. Suberu

Chapter One

Introduction

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1A key feature of recent Nigerian politics is the strident agitation by ethnic minority communities, and other presumably disadvantaged groups, over what is now widely referred to as the ”national question”. This study seeks to undertake an analysis of two of the most turbulent cases of ethnic minority tensions and protests in contemporary Nigeria, paying particular attention to their implications for federal democratic processes and prospects.

2The study’s two case-studies will involve recent and ongoing ethnic minority agitations among the oil-producing communities of Rivers State and the non-Hausa-Fulani peoples of southern Zaria in Kaduna State. The two instances of ethnic minority tensions will be linked both to an elucidation of the broader structural dimensions of the minorities and nationalities’ question in the Nigerian federation today, and to a discussion of the options and prospects for managing ethnic conflicts in the interest of enhanced federal stability, greater inter-ethnic equity and reciprocity, and constructive and creative governance.

3Recent movements for liberalization and/or democratization in Nigeria and other culturally fragmented societies have been accompanied by an intensification of divisive and destructive centrifugal fissures and pressures. Indeed, according to two observers, ”perhaps the most serious challenge both to the consolidation of new democracies and to the health of well-established ones is posed by the problem of ethnic conflict” (Plattner and Diamond, 1993:17). The culmination of Mikhail Gorbachev’s federal democratic reforms in the disintengration of the Soviet Union in December 1991 and the ethnic and religious conflagrations that are consuming components of the former Yugoslavia, are only two of the more poignant examples of communal polarization and conflict in democratizing societies in the world today (Gleason, 1992; Mihajlov, 1991). Even India, which is one of the few consistently democratic nations in the Third World, is currently threatened by a crisis of ”ungovernability and deinstitutionalization” arising from a growing wave of religious fundamentalism and communal agitation (Varshney, 1992).

4In Nigeria, political developments since the beginning of the aborted programme of transition to the Third Republic in 1986 have highlighted the precarious and contentious state of the country’s multiethnic federal system. In particular, there has been a growing wave of mobilization and opposition by ethnic minority groups against their perceived marginalization, exploitation and subjugation in the Nigerian federation. This ethnic minority ferment has engendered violent conflicts, involving thousands of fatalities, in the oil producing areas of the Delta region in southern Nigeria and the middle-belt region of northern Nigeria. On a more benign note, this communal ferment has provoked intensive associational activity among the country’s ethnic minority groups. Among the more prominent ethnic associations established in the last six years to defend or advance minority rights can be numbered such groups as the Middle Belt Forum, the Southern Minorities Forum, the Association of Minority States, the Committee of Oil Producing Areas, the Nigerian chapter of the Ethnic Minority Rights Organization of Africa, the Ijaw Ethnic National Rights Protection Organization, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) and the Movement for Reparation to Oloibiri (MORETO).

5Quite obviously, any systematic consideration of the problems and prospects of democratic governance in Nigeria today would need to come to terms with the challenges and dilemmas of ethnic-based conflicts and tensions. This study is primarily designed to analyse such sectionally based challenges to federal governance and democracy in Nigeria.

6The study has the following five interrelated objectives:

  • To investigate the major sources and features of ethnic minority problems in the Nigerian federation today.
  • To discuss the strategies by which ethnic minority groups have sought to overcome their position as subordinate and vulnerable groups within the Nigerian federal system.
  • To examine the nature, impact, strengths and inadequacies of current public policies on ethnic minority problems in Nigeria.
  • To explore and suggest alternative strategies for the creative, ordered and peaceful management of ethnic minority problems in Nigeria.
  • To relate the lessons of the Nigerian experience with ethnic conflict management to wider theoretical and comparative issues regarding the processes and prospects of democratic governance in plural societies.

7This study is organised around five main hypotheses which can be summarised as follows:

  • The replacement of the asymmetrical regional system of the pre-1967 era with a relatively more balanced multistate federal system has only ameliorated, but not eliminated, some of the most disturbing dimensions of ethnic minority problems in the Nigerian federation.
  • Federal policies and postures on ethnic minority issues have sometimes operated to intensify or complicate, rather than ameliorate or eliminate ethnic grievances.
  • There are considerable variations and contradictions in the circumstances and needs of ethnic minority groups in Nigeria.
  • The constructive amelioration or resolution of ethnic minority problems in Nigeria can contribute to the consolidation of democratic governance and federalism in the country by promoting equity and reciprocity in intercommunity relations.
  • The existence of deep cultural identities and differences is not necessarily inconsistent with the institutionalization of stable forms and styles of democratic governance.

8An extensive body of literature exists on ethnic conflicts and minority problems (Young, 1976; Amersfoort, 1978; Thornberry, 1980; Horowitz, 1985; Rupesinghe; 1987; Welsh, 1993), on the problems and prospects of democracy in culturally segmented societies (Rabushka and Shepsle, 1972; Lijphart, 1977), and on the Nigerian experience with democracy, ethnic conflicts and minority politics (Tseayo, 1975; Sanda, 1976; Okpu, 1977; Nnoli, 1978; Osaghae, 1986, 1991; Diamond, 1988; Akande, 1988; Olowu, 1991). There is, however, no recent systematic academic treatment of the problems of ethnic minority groups in the context of the recent programmes of democratic transition in Nigeria. The broader theoretical and comparative question as to the feasibility and long-term viability of democracy and related institutional solutions under conditions of deep ethnic conflicts is also yet to be discussed fully or resolved definitively. Indeed, according to one observer, ”the majority of ethnic problems are still unresolved and theory building on ethnic conflict resolution is still in its beginning” (Hettne, 1987:1).

9Ethnic conflicts have long been recognized as one of the more fundamental threats to institutional stability, political order and state cohesion in the multi-ethnic societies of the Third World (Diamond, 1987). However, authors have differed in their interpretations or explanations of the sources and nature of these conflicts. Depending on the analytical inclinations of particular authors, and on the specificities and dynamics of particular conflict situations, ethnic conflicts have been attributed variously to the emotional power of ”primordial givens” or cultural ties, the struggle for relative group worth, mass-based resource competition, electoral mobilization, elite manipulation, false consciousness and/or defective political institutions and inequitable state policies (Diamond, 1987; Doornbos, 1991). There is, however, a general acknowledgement of the inherent complexity, ubiquity, ambiguity, volatility and fluidity of the ethnic phenomenon. At the conceptual level, some analysts have tried to come to terms with this ambiguity by making a distinction among ethnic group, ethnic pluralism and ethnicity.

10An ethnic group is regarded generally as a social collectivity whose members not only share such objective characteristics as language, core-territory, ancestral myths, culture, religion and/or political organization, but also have some subjective consciousness or perception of common descent or identity. This subjective sense of common identity is, however, almost always developed only in contexts involving relationships among two or more ethnic groups. In other words, ethnic identity results from contact rather than isolation. Ethnic pluralism, therefore, refers to the existence of two or more ethnic groups within a territorial society or political community, usually a nation- state.

11Ethnic pluralism is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for ethnicity. What then is ethnicity? Most analysts use this term to refer specifically to the mobilization and politicization of ethnic group identity in situations of competitive or conflictual ethnic pluralism.

12Ethnic minority problems are an example of ethnicity or ethnic conflict. While a lot of conceptual and ideological confusion surrounds the term ”minority”, most writers agree that minorities are culturally distinctive and relatively cohesive groups which occupy a position of numerical inferiority and/or sociopolitical subordination vis-a-vis other cultural sections in the society (Amersfoort, 1978). According to one useful United Nations source, minorities are groups that are:

numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a state, in a non-dominant position, whose members possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population, and show, if only implicitly, a sense of solidarity directed towards preserving their culture, traditions, religion or language (cited in Thornberry, 1980:257).

13According to Hans van Amersfoort (1978: 228-232), minority groups differ according to whether they are geographically concentrated or dispersed, whether they seek participation in, or isolation from, the wider political system, and whether the policies of the majority groups are designed to achieve the emancipation, continued subordination or elimination of such minorities. Whatever may be their specific contexts or dimensions, however, there can be little doubt that minority problems represent the most common, disruptive and explosive examples of ethnic conflict situations.

14The most comprehensive and compelling recent examination of ethnic minority issues is to be found in Ted Robert Gurr’s Minorities at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflict. Gurr (1993:123) identifies several conditions that have contributed to the animation or mobilization of ethnic minority grievances since 1945. These conditions include:

  • unequal treatment of minority communities by dominant or ”mainstream” groups;
  • competition with other groups for access to power in new states;
  • the contagious effect of ethnopolitical activism elsewhere;
  • patterns of state building, political power and economic development that channel communal energies into either protest or rebellion; and
  • the emergence of new ethnic minority elites who are willing to, and are adept at, mobilizing their constituents in response to changing political developments, opportunities and resources.

15Gurr adopts a rather broad definition of ethnic minorities.

16According to him and his collaborators, minorities are communal groups which experience systematic discrimination in a state, and have taken political action in support of their collective interests. Using this general definition, Gurr distinguishes between five types of ethnic minority groups; namely, ethnonationalists, indigenous peoples, ethnoclasses, militant or politicized sects, and communal contenders.

  • Ethnonationalists — These are relatively large, regionally concentrated peoples who historically were autonomous and who have pursued separatist objectives at some time during the last half-century. Examples of ethnonationalists include the Quebecois of Canada, the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey and Iran and the Basques, Bretons and Corsicans of Spain and/or France.
  • Indigenous peoples — These are conquered descendants of the original inhabitants of a region who typically live a pre-industrial existence in peripheral regions, practice subsistence agriculture or herding, and have cultures that are sharply distinct from those of dominant groups. Examples of indigenous peoples include native Americans, Australian Aborigines, the Masai and San of Africa, Nagas and Santals in India, and Dayaks in Northern Borneo. Some other indigenous peoples, such as the Kurds, may also be cross-classified as ethnonationalists because they have developed a sense of nationhood and have supported separatist movements during the past half-century.
  • Ethnoclasses are ethnically or culturally distinct peoples, usually descended from slaves or immigrants, with special economic roles, usually of an inferior status. Ethnoclasses in the advanced industrial societies include the Muslim minority in France, blacks in Britain and the United States, Koreans in Japan, and many Afro-American groups in Latin America. In the Third World, however, ethnoclasses sometimes are economically advantaged but politically restricted merchants and professionals, like the Chinese of Malaysia and the residual European and Asian minorities in Eastern and Southern Africa. Common to most ethnoclasses is the demand for more economic opportunities or public services, and greater political participation.
  • Militant or politicized sects are communal groups whose political status and activities are centred on the defence of their religious beliefs. Militant sects include Islamic minorities in societies dominated by other religious traditions (such as the Turks of Germany, the muslim Albanians of the former Yugoslavia, Arabs in Israel, and Malay muslims in Thailand), the antagonistic Sunni, Shi’i and Druze communities in Lebanon, the Shi’i groups in Sunni-dominated Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Copts in Egypt, Baha’is in Iran, Catholics of Northern Ireland, the Central Asian muslims of the former USSR, and Kashmiris and Sikhs in India. Virtually all of these politicized religious communities can be cross-classified as indigenous peoples, ethnonationalists, ethnoclasses or even communal contenders.
  • Communal contenders — These are culturally distinct groups in heterogeneous societies in which no single group constitutes a demographic majority of the population and virtually all groups hold or seek a share in state power. Communal contenders are of two types:
  • Advantaged communal contenders: These are culturally distinct groups with political or economic advantages over other groups in a heterogeneous society.
  • Disadvantaged communal contenders: These are groups who are subject to political or economic discrimination or both.

17In societies where communal contenders predominate, political power at the centre is often based on shifting inter-group coalitions. These coalitions use a mix of concessions, co-optation and repression to maintain their dominant position. Most African societies, including Nigeria, are dominated by communal contenders.

18Obviously, the key drawback in Gurr’s categories is that they are not mutually exclusive. Any given ethnic group can be cross-classified into two or more of the categories delineated by Gurr, which are defined by an unwieldy combination of the objective conditions and predominant political goals of ethnic groups. The complexity of the conditions and fluidity of the goals invariably lend an element of uncertainty, fluidity and controversy to the classification.

19Moreover, Gurr’s volume gives inadequate recognition to the relational and contextual character of the concept of ethnic minority. Any ethnic group which is at risk of discriminatory treatment or collective adversity is regarded by Gurr and his collaborators as an ethnic minority. This not only makes virtually every ethnic group a minority, but also leads to conclusions which may tend to be patently misplaced in specific contexts or cases. For instance, the only ethnic minority groups listed for Nigeria in the Gurr volume are the Hausa-Fulani and Ibo, which are cross-classified as militant sect/communal contender and ethnonationalist/communal contender respectively.

20While this categorization is analytically consistent with Gurr’s overall conceptual framework, it is patently incongruent with Nigerian usages and realities. Technically speaking, every ethnic group in Nigeria is a minority ”communal contender” since no single group constitutes a demographic majority of the population. Nevertheless, the term ethnic minority groups is now universally used in Nigeria to designate all the 250-odd ethnic groups in the country excepting the three largest ethnic formations of Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo, who collectively comprise about two-thirds of the country’s population. Designating the Hausa-Fulani and Ibo as ”minorities” would, therefore, appear rather strange and preposterous to the student of Nigerian politics. What all this implies is the need to take local usages, realities, perceptions and specificities more seriously in defining an ”ethnic minority”. And this can only be accomplished through detailed analyses or studies of specific countries, rather than through a global survey, although the latter can be an invaluable source of theoretical and comparative insights.

21An arguably more useful framework for the present study is provided by Kumar Rupesinghe (1987:533) who isolates the following features of many ethnic conflicts in the modern world, especially the Third World:

  • They are protracted social conflicts. Protracted social conflicts are long drawn out social processes which combine ethnicity with a demand for economic redistribution. In such conflicts, it is difficult to distinguish between needs, interest and security.
  • They involve a conflict between the periphery and the centre in which a dominant or hegemonic ethnic group or coalition controls the central state apparatus at the expense of peripheral ethnic sections. Some writers use the concept of internal colonialism to describe this process.
  • These ethnic conflicts occur in segmented, deeply divided societies of an open type.
  • They also occur in unranked ethnic stratification systems. According to Joseph Rotschild (1981) and Donald Horowitz (1985), ranked ethnic systems are based upon the coincidence of social class with ethnic groups. Where the two categories do not coincide (i.e., where ethnic groups are cross-class), it is possible to speak of unranked ethnic groups. Horowitz, in particular, suggests that ethnic and class conflict coincide when ethnicity and class coincide in ranked systems. Ethnic conflict, however, impedes or obscures class conflict when ethnic groups crosscut classes, as occurs in unranked systems.
  • Ethnic conflicts epitomize a defective state or a state that is bound by, or enmeshed in, primordial loyalties. Caught in the ”ethnic trap”, such a defective state is unable to act impartially or equitably towards its diverse ethnic constituencies, and its policies invariably serve to exacerbate, rather than moderate, divisive conflicts.

22Both Ted Gurr and Kumar Rupesinghe give considerable attention to institutional mechanisms for managing and resolving ethnic conflicts, or for reforming the ”defective” multi-ethnic state. Both authors seem to agree that the institutions and policies of democracy, devolution and power-sharing are essential for the accommodation, deflection or resolution of ethnic minority grievances. According to Gurr (1993:75):

... democratic states are more likely to protect the civil and political rights of minorities; Marxist-Leninist states, to control their expression; Middle-Eastern and Asian regimes, to deny them; and Latin American regimes to ignore them.

23The point is not that democratic states are insulated against ethnic minority problems and grievances. Rather, it is that the framework of democratic pluralism facilitates the peaceful and ordered expression and accommodation of ethnic minority problems. Thus, while autocracy is ”a political condition distinctly associated with ethnic rebellion” (Harff, 1993:219), ”institutionalized democracy facilitates non-violent communal protest and inhibits communal rebellion” (Gurr, 1993:138).

24In essence, Gurr contends that:

... western democracies have devised strategies of accommodation that have contributed to a substantial decline in most kinds of ethnic conflict. Among the specific reforms are guarantees of full civil and political rights for ethnoclasses, programs designed to alleviate their poverty, recognition and resources for minority cultures and languages, and greater autonomy and state subsidies (Gurr, 1993:290).

25Devolution can be regarded as the territorial twin of democracy. Like democracy, devolution provides institutional opportunities of regional/local self-governance for minority communities, thereby transforming potentially destructive conflicts into positive inter-regional competition. Gurr (1993:299) identifies five types of devolutionary arrangements on the basis of the extent of autonomy or authority devolved to the communal group; confederalism, federalism, regional autonomism, regional administrative decentralization and community autonomism.

26The major aim of power-sharing, also known as consociational democracy, is to mitigate the disadvantageous effects of majoritarian democracy on vulnerable ethnic minority groups. In the words of Rupesinghe (1987:538):

Consociated democracy represents an alternative to what may be called a majority democracy-where the individual citizen is the most important political unit, and political legitimacy is won on the basis of support from the majority of individual citizens. The starting point for a consociated model is groups, for example ethnic or religious ones. A consociated system of government means that political decisions are based on collaboration between representatives from these different groups.

27According to Arend Lijphart (1977, 1990), consociational democracy or the power-sharing approach is characterized by two primary attributes — (i) the participation of the representatives of all significant groups in the government of the country and; (ii) a high degree of autonomy for these groups — and two secondary properties — (iii) proportionality in resource allocation, political representation and bureaucratic appointments and (iv) minority veto.

28According to Lijphart (1990:503), ”power-sharing is not complete unless all four (characteristics) are included, and it cannot work well — and certainly not optimally — if one or more are missing.” Thus, the two secondary attributes of power-sharing are no less important for the protection of minorities than the two primary attributes of inter-segmental participation in government and ethnic autonomy:

... proportionality is especially important as a guarantee for the fair representation of ethnic minorities. But... minority veto — the fourth characteristic of power-sharing — is the ultimate weapon that minorities need to protect their vital interests. Even when a minority participates in a power-sharing executive, it may well be outvoted or overruled by the majority. This may not present a problem when only minor matters are being decided, but when a minority’s vital interests are at stake, the veto provides essential protection. The veto power clearly contains the danger that the entire power-sharing system can be undermined if one or more minorities overuse or abuse their veto power. It works best when it is not used too often and only with regard to issues of fundamental importance (Lijphart, 1990:495).

29The assumed contradiction between majoritarian democracy and consociational democracy echoes a similar tension between individual and civil rights, on the one hand, and minority or group rights, on the other. This tension is, however, often more apparent than real. Indeed, the two sets of rights are basically compatible. Thus, the United Nations’ regime on individual and civil rights includes a provision for non-discrimination against ethnic, religious and linguistic groups, even as it recognises the rights of persons belonging to cultural minorities to ”enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language” (Thornberry, 1980:256). In essence, minority group rights are additional to, and not a substitute for, human rights on a non-discrimination basis. As Thornberry (1980:254) eloquently puts it:

Both kinds of rights are ultimately and equally ’human’ in that a legal regime which guarantees both is capable of doing more complete justice to man in his cultural setting, rather than as being shorn of any cultural peculiarities. They are connected also in that a certain minimum of rights — human rights — are a necessary precondition for the exercise of any further rights... It must be mentioned finally that for many minority groups an effective regime of human rights and non-discrimination is all that is needed, insofar as it helps to eliminate barriers to their integration or assimilation into a wider society.

30Thornberry’s observations are particularly relevant in the Nigerian context where ethnic minority groups have been preoccupied more with obtaining equitable treatment vis-a-vis the majority ethnicities, than with demanding special rights or protection.

31Nigeria’s experiences with ethnic minority problems have, as already noted, received fairly extended treatment in the literature. It is, however, generally recognized that ethnic minority politics and problems have received less scholarly attention than the conflicts between the three major ethnic conglomerations of Hausa/Fulani, Ibo and Yoruba (Okpu, 1977:166). Perhaps, this is because national politics in Nigeria have revolved largely around the competition among the ”big three”, with the ethnic minority groups being used as pawns in this three-player ethnic game.

32Nevertheless, analysts agree that ethnic minority problems have been a decisive factor in the country’s political turbulence and instability. Okpu (1977:169), for instance, contends that ”... the differences between ethnic minority groups and the major political parties, and between the major political parties’ themselves over the creation of ethnic minority states, were the root cause of political instability in the First Republic.” Okpu’s thesis is echoed by Osaghae (1986:155) who contends that ”if the minorities problem had been effectively tackled and separate states created for the minorities, the First Republic could have been saved.” This is because the creation of ethnic minority states could have moderated the destructive competition between the three large majority-dominated regions of the First Republic and ended the structural imbalance in the composition of the federation arising from the disproportionate size and population of the Northern region. The establishment of new states for ethnic minority groups could also have prevented the sporadic, and destabilizing, uprisings by ethnic minority groups protesting their inequitable and oppressive incorporation into the regional system.

33It is generally acknowledged that the collapse of the First Republic in 1966 opened a new phase in majority — minority relations in Nigeria. In particular, the privileged access of several ethnic minority leaders to power under the military regime, the abrogation of the regional system, the creation of new states, the constitutional prohibition of ethnic chauvinist parties, and the introduction of the ”federal character” principle (and related power-sharing arrangements) under the Second Republic (1979-83), have all combined to remove some of the more obnoxious sources and dimensions of the minorities’ problem in Nigerian politics. Nevertheless, ethnic minority agitations and protests against ethnic majority domination and oppression have persisted and even intensified in Nigeria in recent times. Indeed, in the words of Osaghae (1986:165), ”the Nigerian Federation remains the majorities’ paradise... as the numerical minorities continue to be dominated, even oppressed.”

34The Political Bureau, which was set up in 1986 to coordinate a national debate on the aborted transition to a third democratic republic in Nigeria, lamented the manner in which the process of state-building in Nigeria has reduced the nation’s ethnoreligious minorities and other socio-economically vulnerable groups into constant objects of ”neglect, oppression, social exploitation, domination, victimization, nepotism, discrimination and bigotry...” (Nigeria, 1986:201). Acknowledging the incompatibility of these oppressive tendencies with the national commitment to the establishment of a just and egalitarian society, the Political Bureau argued for a more direct and effective role for the Government in ensuring a fairer distribution of national resources and leadership positions, in enforcing the various constitutional provisions on human and socioeconomic rights, and in sustaining the principle of official neutrality or impartiality in religious affairs.

35The Political Bureau also recommended the immediate enactment of a national legal instrument on human, minority and socioeconomic rights, the protection of minority languages through explicit legislations in the states, and the establishment of inter-governmental advisory boards on minority problems (Nigeria, 1987:69). All of these recommendations were accepted or noted by the Federal Government (Nigeria, 1987b;69). Yet, the minorities issue has remained a source of turbulent agitation and violent conflict in the federation. Clearly, a more detailed and painstaking examination of the contemporary problems of ethnic and religious minorities in the Nigerian federation, and of the appropriate policy responses to these problems, is needed. This study hopes to make a preliminary contribution to such an inquiry.

36The study will undertake fairly detailed narrative and interpretative case studies of two of the most widely reported and politically turbulent instances of ethnic minority conflicts in Nigeria today, namely: (i) the spate of protests by oil-producing ethnic minority communities in Rivers State against alleged inhuman expropriation of their resources by the Federal Government and state-backed multinationals in the oil industry and; (ii) the communal uprisings by ethnoreligious minorities in southern Kaduna (Zaria) against Hausa-Fulani politico-religious hegemony in the emirates of Zaria (Zazzau) and Jema’a.

37The choice of the two case-studies was influenced not only by the need to include the most visible and violent instances of ethnic minority conflicts, but also by a desire to give adequate recognition to the divergent regional and sociopolitical circumstances of Nigeria’s minorities.

38Analyses of the two selected cases of ethnic minority conflicts have been guided by the need to illuminate the following set of themes or issues:

  • the specific sources of the conflict;
  • the actors and issues involved in the conflict;
  • the policies and institutional arrangements that have been used to manage the conflict;
  • the impact of such policies and arrangements;
  • the nature and prospects of alternative policies and arrangements for reducing or resolving the conflict; and
  • the general outlook on ethnic minority politics, federalism and democracy in Nigeria.

39Data for the study have come from primary and secondary documentary sources, including newspapers, magazines, official publications and reports, private and public memoranda by the affected communal groups and/or their representatives, and relevant articles and books. Where necessary, these sources have been supplemented with unstructured interviews and discussions with relevant political elites, community leaders, government officials and/or interested observers.

40In the final analysis this study should help to illuminate an important aspect of the crisis of governance in contemporary Nigeria. Specifically, the grievances of the nation’s alienated ethnic minority groups are enunciated, and the implications of this ethnic ferment for the stability and legitimacy of the federal system are highlighted. The findings of the study should be of value in the illumination and formulation of policies for managing ethnic minority conflicts in Nigeria, and for creating a more equitable, viable and stable system of federal democratic governance in the country.

41Finally, it is expected that the study will make up an important empirical and analytical contribution to the literature on the problems and prospects of democratic governance in plural societies.

© IFRA-Nigeria, 1996

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