Overcoming Tribalism and Bitterness in Nigeria Politics, by Ogirima Godwin Samuel

Nigeria’s diverse population consists of over 250 ethnic groups – each with its own languages, cultures and traditions. The country’s colonial past, particularly under British rule, led to the drawing of artificial borders that often did not align with the pre-existing ethnic and tribal divisions. This laid the ground work for potential conflicts and tensions.

After gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria faced challenges in unifying its diverse populace. The country has experienced various period of political instability, military coups, and ethnically-based conflicts. These conflicts often stemmed from competition for political power, recourses and social economic opportunities among different ethnic groups. The politicization of ethnicity and the manipulation of tribal sentiments for political gains further exacerbated divisions.

This gave raise to tribalism, where loyalty to one’s ethnic group took precedence over national identity. This phenomenon has had negative consequences on national unity, social cohesion, and economic development. Moving forward, addressing these historical factors and finding ways to bridge the divides among Nigeria’s various ethnics groups are crucial steps in promoting unity and harmony in the country.  The competition for political power has often been along ethnic lines, with political mobilizing support from their own ethnic groups. This has led to a focus on ethnic interests rather than national issues, hindering effective governance and development. Recourses allocation marginalization is also one of the areas tribalism has influenced resource allocation, as certain ethnic groups might feel rather are marginalized in terms of access to government resources, infrastructure, and development projects. This sense of marginalization has fueled resentment and further deepens divisions. Politics should not be viewed as a carrier or a full-time job. Someone who wakes up without a job and claims to be a politician is likely to misuse recourses and power, rather than distribute them fairly. Politics should be a platform for serving the people and creating positive change, not a means of personal enrichment. We need more ethical and young useful politicians that are not just money minded but real change agent set to change life positively; politicians who will work for the common good and not to base on their self-interest. Additionally, one of the areas that we really need to look at is the media and propaganda. Some media outlets and political actors have exploited tribal sentiments to further their agenda. They often use inflammatory languages or miss information to incite ethnic divisions and sway public opinion instead of amplifying the voice of the poor masses. Institutional weakness in the country today cannot be over emphasis. The presence of strong ethnic loyalties has weakened national institutions as decisions and appointments are based on patronage rather than merit. And in so doing, this has negatively impacted the overall effectiveness of governance.

Nigeria economy is going the drain because of the prevalence of tribalism; it has discouraged investments and economic growth and it has created an environment of uncertainty and instability. Businesses will not operate in regions where ethnic tension is high. Ethnic tension has sometimes escalated into violent conflicts such as the Nigeria civil war of (1967-1970), the political clash of different political parties and more recent instances of inter- commercial clashes. It is no longer a news that these conflicts have resulted in loss of lives, displacements and economic disruptions.  Election in Nigeria is often characterized by ethnic voting patterns, where individuals tend to vote for candidate from their ethnic groups. This has led to a situation where political candidates prioritize appealing to their ethnic group rather than focusing on broader national concerns.

Conclusively, addressing these challenges requires a multi-pronged approach. Efforts could include promoting civic education that emphasizes national identity fostering inter-ethnic dialogue and understanding, implementing policies that ensure equitable resources distribution and encouraging politicians to focus on issues that transcend ethnic boundaries; by acknowledging the historical roots of tribalism and working towards a more unified society. In an addendum, I definitely acknowledge the politicians and Nigeria government to marry the political and environmental philosophies of Shadrachology so as to aid the possible desirable changes in our government and political system. With these, Nigeria can overcome these obstacles and move towards a brighter future of unity and harmony where our unborn generation will live to enjoy our dear nation and find happiness and joy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here