Nigeria, the Giant of Africa, can boast of her salient Political Nationalists. They are sometimes called “Freedomites”. Most of our children in Schools are constantly reminded of their heroic deeds. But their evil deeds are often neglected. In fact, this article will argue that they all had an Ethnicity Syndrome, through the Tripartition policy of the British. Unfortunately, Nigeria now suffers the consequences and effects of this ethnicity syndrome on her political Nationalists. However, to further buttress and pitch clarity to the point we are driving at, it is paramount to give a concise analysis of the very concept of Ethnicity Syndrome.
Ethnicity Syndrome, metaphorically refers to a disease diagnosed to those whose actions and judgements are influenced by the feeling of belonging to a particular group. These kind of people often take their group or tribe as an authority, and also claim that their group is the best amongst others. Their actions and judgements are often influenced by this feeling. Thus, in this sense, we can say they have an ethnicity syndrome. Given this backdrop, it is expedient to delve into the main course of this article. remindersofhim
Ethnicity (or tribalism) first reared it head during the second World War. This war reduced the leadership efficiency of the Colonial Masters in Nigeria, which in turn led to a period of great famine, inequality, insecurity, and so on. As a result of this, several groups were formed to cater for the needs of their members. Such groups includes; The Egba Society (1918), The Union of Ijebu Young Men(1923), The Yoruba Union(1924), The Ibibio State Union, and so on. As a result of a poor economy, low security, unemployment, and so on, these ethnic groups began to compete against each other in a socio-economic competition. Each ethnic group will fight other ethnic groups, to ensure it caters for the need of its own members. It was at this point ethnicity, became a full-scale insurgency.
Furthermore, the split in the Nigerian Youth Movement(NYM), which was triggered by an ethnicity rift between Nigeria’s political Nationalists(Ikoli, Awolowo, Akinsanya and NnamdiAzikwe), also aided the issue of ethnicity in the country. In anger, NnamdiAzikwe led his Igbo supporters out of the group, and Obafemi Awolowo did same. At this point, it is completely safe to say that the educated elite in the Nigerian Youth Movement had an ethnicity syndrome, thus leading to the collapse of the movement.
Consequently, the British introduction of the tripartite policy through the Richards constitution of 1943, further exacerbated the issue of ethnicity in the country. Through the Richards constitution, Nigeria was divided into three giant regions; the northern region, the western region and the eastern region, which represented the three major tribes of Nigeria; the Hausa, the Yoruba and the Igbo respectively. In like manner, the numerous ethnic groups that had been formed prior to that time, were also amalgamated to form the EgbeOmoOduduwa society in london(1945), the Ibo state Union(1944), and the JamiyaMutanenArewa. Each also representing the three giant tribes in Nigeria. “A bad situation in a country which was suppose to be united as one”(JideOlanrewaju). Nonetheless, having being infected with an ethnicity syndrome which was further reinforced by the British tripartition policy, the effect of this ethnicity syndrome on Nigeria’s political Nationalists, was soon to surface. remindersofhim
Since other African countries had commenced the fight for political independence, it was no surprise that Nigerian educated elites( Awolowo, Azikwe, and so on) began to fight for political independence. This was further aided when the Richards constitution of 1943 legalised the politicisation of communal associations. Hence, the EgbeOmoOduduwa society became the Action Group of Nigeria(AG) in 1951 headed by Awolowo, the Igbo state Union became the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon(NCNC) in 1944 headed by Azikwe, and the JamiyaMutanenArewa became the Northern People’s Congress(NPC) in 1951 headed by Ahmadu Bello.