Flag of Nigeria
Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.
Herbert Macaulay, the founder of Nigerian nationalism

Nigerian nationalism asserts that Nigerians are a nation and promotes the cultural unity of Nigerians.[1][2] Nigerian nationalism is a territorial nationalism, emphasizing a cultural connection of the people to the land — in particular the Niger and Benue rivers.[3] It first emerged in the 1920s under the influence of Herbert Macaulay who is considered the founder of Nigerian nationalism.[4] It was founded because of the belief in the necessity for the people living in the British colony of Nigeria of multiple backgrounds to unite as one people in order to be able to resist colonialism.[5][6] The people of Nigeria came together as they recognized the discrepancies of British policy. "The problem of ethnic nationalism in Nigeria came with the advent of colonialism. This happened when disparate, autonomous, heterogeneous and sub- national groups were merged together to form a nation. Again, the colonialists created structural imbalances within the nation in terms of socio-economic projects, social development and establishment of administrative centres. This imbalance deepened the antipathies between the various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria (Nnoli, 1980; Y oung, 1993 and Aluko, 1998)." [7] The Nigerian nationalists' goal of achieving an independent sovereign state of Nigeria was achieved in 1960 when Nigeria declared its independence and British colonial rule ended.[1] Nigeria's government has sought to unify the various peoples and regions of Nigeria since the country's independence in 1960.[1]

Nigerian nationalism has been negatively affected by multiple historical episodes of ethnic violence and repression of certain ethnic groups by the Nigerian government between the various peoples has resulted in multiple secessionist movements demanding independence from Nigeria.[1] However aside from instances of extremism, most Nigerians continue to peacefully coexist with each other, and a common Nigerian identity has been fostered amongst the more-educated and affluent Nigerians as well as amongst the many Nigerians who leave small homogeneous ethnic communities to seek economic opportunities in the cities where the population is ethnically mixed.[8] For instance many southerners migrate to the north to trade or work while a number of northerner seasonal workers and small-scale entrepreneurs go to the south.[9]

History

Herbert Macaulay became a very public figure in Nigeria, and on June 24, 1923, he founded the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), the first Nigerian political party.[10] The NNDP won all the seats in the elections of 1923, 1928 and 1933.[10] In the 1930s, Macaulay took part in organizing Nigerian nationalist militant attacks on the British colonial government in Nigeria.[11] The Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) founded in 1933 by Professor Eyo Ita was joined in 1936 by Nnamdi Azikiwe that sought support from all Nigerians regardless of cultural background, and quickly grew to be a powerful political movement.[12] In 1944, Macaulay and NYM leader Azikiwe agreed to form the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) (a part of Cameroon was incorporated into the British colony of Nigeria).[13] Azikiwe increasingly became the dominant Nigerian nationalist leader, he supported pan-Africanism and a pan-Nigerian based nationalist movement.[14]

Nigerian nationalism radicalized and grew in popularity and power in the post-World War II period when Nigeria faced undesirable political and economic conditions under British rule.[15] The most prominent agitators for nationalism were Nigerian ex-soldiers who were veterans of World War II who had fought alongside British forces in the Middle East, Morocco, and Burma; another important movement that aided nationalism were trade union leaders.[16] In 1945 a national general strike was organized by Michael Imoudu who along with order trade union figures became prominent nationalists.[17]

However Nigerian nationalism by the 1940s was already facing regional and ethnic problems to its goal of promoting a united, pan-Nigerian nationalism.[18] Nigerian nationalism and its movements were geographically significant and important in southern Nigeria while a comparable Nigerian nationalist organization did not arrive in northern Nigeria until the 1940s.[19] This regional division in the development and significance of Nigerian nationalism also had political implications for ethnic divide - southern Nigeria faced strong ethnic divisions between the Igbo and the Yoruba while northern Nigeria did not have strong internal divisions, this meant northern Nigeria that is demographically dominated by the Hausa was politically stronger due to its greater internal unity than that of southern Nigeria that was internally disunified.[20] The south that was ethnically divided between the Igbo and the Yoruba, though the region most in favour of Nigerian nationalism; faced the north that was suspicious of the politics of the south, creating the North-South regional cleavage that has remained an important issue in Nigerian politics.[21]

In 1960, Nigeria became an independent country. Azikiwe became the first President of Nigeria. However ethnic tensions and power struggles soon emerged and became a crisis in 1966 when Nigerian military officers of Igbo descent overthrow the democratically elected government of Tafawa Balewa who along with the Northern Premier Ahmadu Bello and others were subsequently assassinated.[22] The killing of Northern politicians enraged Northerners resulting in violence against the Igbo by northerners.[23] The military government sought to end the ethnic unrest by dismantling the federal system of government and replacing it with a unitary system of government, however this reform was short-lived as the government was overthrown in another coup that saw Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon become the Norths compromise with the south to lead Nigeria.[24]

By 1967, many Igbos had lost faith in Nigerian nationalism and in May of that year, Igbo separatists formed the Republic of Biafra that demanded secession from Nigeria. The Biafran crisis was the most serious threat to the Nigerian unity since Nigeria became independent in 1960, as other ethnic groups threatened that they too would also seek secession should Biafra successfully secede.[25] Nigeria responded to the separatist threat with a military campaign against the Biafran government, resulting in the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970.[26] The war ended with the defeat of the Biafran separatists. Between one and three million Nigerians died in the war.[27]

Emergence of Political Organizations

The 19th century did not witness the emergence of any political organization that could help in airing the grievances and expressing the aspirations of Nigerians on a constant basis. The British presence in the early 20th century led to the formation of political organizations as the measures brought by the British were no longer conducive for Nigerians. The old political methods practiced in Lagos was seen as no longer adequate to meet the new situation. The first of such organizations was the People's Union formed by Orisadipe Obasa and John K. Randle with the main aim of agitating against the water rate but also to champion the interests of the people of Lagos. This body became popular and attracted members of all sections of community including the Chief Imam of Lagos, as well as Alli Balogun, a wealthy muslim. The popularity of the organization reduced after its failure to prevent the imposition of the water rate by 1916. The organization was also handicapped by constant disagreements among the leaders. The emergence of the NCBWA and the NNDP in 1920 and 1923 respectively, led to a major loss of supporters of the People's Union, and by 1926, it had completely ceased to exist. Two years after the formation of the People's Union (Nigeria), another organization called The Lagos Ancillary of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (LAARPS) came into the picture. This society was not a political organization but a humanitarian body. This organization came into existence to fight for the interest of Nigerians generally but its attention was taken up by the struggle over the land issue of 1912. In Northern Nigeria, all lands were taken over by the administration and held in trust for the people. Those in Southern Nigeria feared that this method would be introduced into the South. Educated Africans believed that if they can be successful in preventing the system from being extended to Southern Nigeria, then they can fight to destroy its practice in the North. This movement attracted notable personalities in Lagos amongst whom are Bishop James Johnson, Mojola Agbebi, Candido Da Rocha, Christopher Sapara Williams, Samuel Herbert Pearse, Cardoso, Adeyemo Alakija and John Payne Jackson (Editor, Lagos Weekly Record). Its delegation to London to present its views to the British government was discredited by quarrels which broke out among its members over the delegation fund. Accusations of embezzlement against some members, disagreements and quarrels, as well as the death of some of its leading members led to the untimely death of this organization before 1920. The outbreak of war and a strong political awareness led to the formation of a number of organizations. These are the Lagos Branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA), and the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP).[28][29]

Universal Negro Improvement Association

The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League was founded in 1914 by Marcus Garvey.[30] The initiatives of Rev. William Benjamin Euba and Rev. S.M. Abiodun led to the formation of a branch in Lagos in 1920.[31] The Lagos branch did not survive long because of the hostility of fellow Nigerians, members of the NCBWA as well as the colonial administration (because of the belief that Garvey's movement was a subversive one).

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d Motyl 2001, pp. 372.
  2. ^ Luke Uka Uche. Mass media, people, and politics in Nigeria. Concept Publishing Company, 1989. Pp. 23-24
  3. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1184.
  4. ^ Luke Uka Uche. Mass media, people, and politics in Nigeria. Concept Publishing Company, 1989. Pp. 23
  5. ^ Luke Uka Uche. Mass media, people, and politics in Nigeria. Concept Publishing Company, 1989. Pp. 23-24
  6. ^ Toyin Falola, Saheed Aderinto. Nigeria, nationalism, and writing history. Rochester, New York, USA: Rochester University Press, 2010. Pp. 256.
  7. ^ http://krepublishers.com/02-Journals/T-Anth/Anth-05-0-000-000-2003-Web/Anth-05-4-217-303-2003-Abst-PDF/Anth-05-4-253-259-2003-106-Aluko-M-A-O/Anth-05-4-253-259-2003-106-Aluko-M-A-O-Text.pdf
  8. ^ April A. Gordon. Nigeria's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Pp. 233.
  9. ^ Toyin Falola. Culture and Customs of Nigeria. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press, 2001. Pp. 8.
  10. ^ a b Webster et al. 1980, pp. 267.
  11. ^ Luke Uka Uche. Mass media, people, and politics in Nigeria. Concept Publishing Company, 1989. Pp. 23
  12. ^ Luke Uka Uche. Mass media, people, and politics in Nigeria. Concept Publishing Company, 1989. Pp. 23-24
  13. ^ Luke Uka Uche. Mass media, people, and politics in Nigeria. Concept Publishing Company, 1989. Pp. 24.
  14. ^ Toyin Falola, Saheed Aderinto. Nigeria, nationalism, and writing history. Rochester, New York, USA: Rochester University Press, 2010. Pp. 256.
  15. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1181.
  16. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Snta Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1181.
  17. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1181.
  18. ^ Toyin Falola, Saheed Aderinto. Nigeria, nationalism, and writing history. Rochester, New York, USA: Rochester University Press, 2010. Pp. 256.
  19. ^ Toyin Falola, Saheed Aderinto. Nigeria, nationalism, and writing history. Rochester, New York, USA: Rochester University Press, 2010. Pp. 256.
  20. ^ Toyin Falola, Saheed Aderinto. Nigeria, nationalism, and writing history. Rochester, New York, USA: Rochester University Press, 2010. Pp. 256.
  21. ^ Toyin Falola, Saheed Aderinto. Nigeria, nationalism, and writing history. Rochester, New York, USA: Rochester University Press, 2010. Pp. 256.
  22. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1185.
  23. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1185.
  24. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1185.
  25. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1185.
  26. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1185.
  27. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2008. Pp. 1185.
  28. ^ Olusanya 1980, p. 552.
  29. ^ Nigerian Chronicle. (1910/09/02). The Nigerian Chronicle, 'News of the Week', P.2. Accessed from (NewsBank/Readex, Database: World Newspaper Archive
  30. ^ "Akron's Black History Timeline". http://www.akronohio.gov. City of Akron. Retrieved 22 January 2017. ((cite web)): External link in |website= (help)
  31. ^ Olusanya, Gabriel (1969). "Notes on the Lagos Branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association". Journal of Business & Social Studies. 1 (2): 135. ((cite journal)): |access-date= requires |url= (help)

Bibliography