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IMPACT OF CONFLICT ON NATIONAL INTEGRATION
Most African countries are said to be un-integrated and that their main problem to stable
democratic governance, and economic development is the intergration of their peoples and good governance. They are un-integrated because of the internal colonization of some ethnic nationalities by some others during the indigenous state formation process; and their external colonization by the Arabs and Europeans. As the colonization processes did not respect ethnic differences in Africa but super-imposing some ethnic nationalities over others, most African countries became multi-ethnic on independence. The need for the dividends of democracy (good governance, political stability and economic development) within the various ethnic nationalities in the same country has further complicated the problems posed by the multiplicity of ethnic groups, absence of intergration and super-imposition of some ethnic nationalities over others, thereby giving rise to a search for local and natural identity (“national identity” and “autonomy”) by the various ethnic nationalities that feel dominated, humiliated and marginalised by the colonization processes. The search for “national identity” and “autonomy” now challenges the legitimacies of the governments and the very existence of the states as these searches are in the forms of armed struggles, formation of ethnic armies or militias, religious and ethnic conflicts, and terrorism. These contradictions can only be resolved through a discussion of the “national question” in the various countries. This paper therefore examines the issues of national intergration, national identity; and the national question in Nigeria and the problems they posed to national security and stable democratic governance in the country. Key Words: National Identity; National Intergration; National Question; Colonization; National Security, Democratic Governance.
The Nigerian state like many other states in Africa has experienced many disturbances, like colonial rule, military rule, political conflicts, civil war etc. the Nigeria situation is peculiar because the military held sway in governance up to 1999. Civil rule only provided rude interludes. The long stay of the military in power is claimed to be responsible for majority of Nigeria‟s problem, including her inability to operate true federalism.
On return to democratic rule in 1999, expectations of Nigerians were very high. This was particularly so in the area of true federalism. At this point, the Niger Delta question appears the most critical component of the National Question in Nigeria. This was so because the people in this region strongly believed that democratic rule will give them the golden opportunity to air their views and demand for their rights.
This was a mere wishful thinking. The people of the Niger Delta region never witness any positive changes rather they viewed the Nigerian democracy at that point in time as a military type of democracy because the dividends of democracy were farfetched. At this point, the disenchanted, abandoned, exploited and marginalized people of the Niger Delta began to engage the state through environmental activism.
The people of the region are exposed to a number of health perils and socio economic constrains which for long has made the people more impulsive resulting in youth‟s agitation: conflicts between youths and community leaders, youths and government agencies, youths and multinational companies and so on. Efforts by government and multinational companies (operating in the area) to address this ugly scenario of reckless destruction of lives and property as well as interference on the exploration process of crude oil, refining and distribution of petroleum products has not yielded the desired results. (http://www.oppapers.com/essays/The-Conflict-In-Niger-Delta/575614)
The challenges evoked by the age long neglect of the Niger Delta Region became a snag to the Nigerian body polity. The dusts and thorny issues it raised have been a bone in the neck of the Nigerian government for several decades. The Niger Delta crisis (in the recent past) made negative headlines in both local and international media, portraying Nigeria in a bad light. The Nigerian government later realized that normal oil exploration activities – the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, could no longer continue in the face of militant uprising and warfare in the Niger Delta. The government thus saw the need to take proactive measures in addressing the problems of the area.
The paper undertakes to examine the development challenges of the Niger Delta people. The paper owes a duty to bring to lime light the causes of the struggles, efforts made by the Nigerian government in addressing them, the effectiveness or otherwise of such efforts, and the way forward.
Almost every African state has witnessed one form of political, religious or ethnic crisis
or the other. In East and Central Africa, these problems manifest as ethnic violence and
civil wars and terrorism as in Uganda, Kenya, Central African Republic, Democratic
Republic of Congo and Tanzania. In the West African sub-region, they are in the forms
of civil wars; ethnic conflicts and religious conflicts and terrorism as in Nigeria, Liberia,
Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast. In North Africa, they have manifested in the Arab revolts
aimed at the over throw of insensitive and non-Islamic regimes, and regimes tending
towards monarchies as the cases with Sudan, Egypt, Algeria and Libya.
Youth restiveness in Nigeria has been a prominent issue in recent times. There has been an increase in the occurrence of acts of violence and lawlessness, including things like hostage-taking of prominent citizens and expatriate oil workers, as well as oil bunkering, arms insurgence, cultism, etc., especially in the Niger Delta region. Nevertheless, youth restiveness is not a recent phenomenon. Various forms of youth restiveness that are economically, politically, or religiously motivated have existed for a long time. Elegbeleye (2005) vividly captures the landmark cases of youth restiveness in Nigeria.
Young people all over the world are a vital and important segment of the society in which they live. A disciplined, focused, and law-abiding youth can create a bright future for any nation. Conversely, a lawless, indulgent, and violent youth is a great threat to a nation’s peace and security.
Libraries play a crucial role in inculcating positive values, attitudes, and behaviours that promote harmonious relationships. Libraries help ensure that people have access to information that will help them make informed judgments and decisions.
The internal and external colonization of Nigeria created the absence of national identity
and integration in the country. These problems still linger as the various ethnic nationalities that constitute the country never met to discuss the basis upon which the ethnic nationalities would continue to exist as a united and indivisible country before or
after her independence from the British. This paper examines the consequences of the colonization processes (problems of national identity and integration, and the clamour for
a discussion of the national question) on the unity, security and democratic governance in the Nigerian state.
The National Youth Development Policy (2001) defines youth as people aged 18-35. They constitute about 40 percent of the more than 140 million people of Nigeria. The total population of youth between 10 and 24 in Nigeria was 45.4 million in 2006, which is 34 percent of the total population.
Elegbeleye (2005) defined youth restiveness as “a sustained protestation embarked upon to enforce desired outcome from a constituted authority by an organized body of youths.” It is marked by violence and disruption of lawful activities.
Information is new ideas or knowledge extracted from the environment for human use with the aim of modifying behaviour, effecting changes, and enhancing efficiency in all human endeavours (Ajegbomogun, 2008). Information helps create enlightened and responsible citizens. The library is the gateway to information. It is a place where information is acquired, processed, repackaged, preserved, and disseminated.
Youth occupy a prominent place in any society. Apart from being the owners and leaders of tomorrow, they outnumber the middle-aged and the aged (Onyekpe, 2007). Besides numerical superiority, youth have energy and ideas that are society’s great potentials (Onyekpe, 2007). The National Youth Development Policy (2001, p.1) asserts that:
Youth are the foundation of a society. Their energies, inventiveness, character and orientation define the pace of development and security of a nation. Through their creative talents and labour power, a nation makes giant strides in economic development and socio-political attainments. In their dreams and hopes, a nation founds her motivation; on their energies, she builds her vitality and purpose. And because of their dreams and aspirations, the future of a nation is assured.
The statement above acknowledges the role of the youth in the peace and security of a nation. As the most active segment of any society, youth are the major determiners of peace and stability of a nation (Ozohu-Sulaiman, 2006). Conversely, the degree of disorderliness and instability in society is also determined in part by youth.
Peace is a precursor of development. The absence of peace means that no meaningful development can take place. The National Youth Policy (2001) affirms that the extent of the youth’s “responsible conduct and roles in society is positively correlated with the development of their country”.
A number of studies have identified factors responsible for youth restiveness. Elegbeleye (2005) identifies three major factors: the peer motivated excitement of being a student, the jingoistic pursuit of patriotic ideas, and perceived victimization arising from economic exploitation.
Another study carried out in Niger Delta region by Ofem and Ajayi (2008) identified lack of humanitarian and social welfare, lack of good governance, corrupt practices of government officials, inadequate training programmes, unemployment, inadequate recreational facilities, lack of quality education, and so on, as the reasons for incessant youth restiveness. This implies that a catalogue of closely-related factors are responsible for youth restiveness.
Good governance is required for the growth and development of any nation. Unfortunately, in Nigeria bad governance is more common than good, resulting in disjointed development. The World Bank (1992) identifies the main characteristics of bad governance to include:
failure to properly distinguish between what is public and what is private, leading to private appropriation of otherwise public resources; inability to establish a predictable frame work for law and government behaviour in a manner conducive to development, or arbitrariness in the application of laws and rules; excessive rules, regulations, licensing requirement and so forth which impede the functioning of markets and encourage rent-seeking; priorities that are inconsistent with development, thereby resulting in misallocation of national resources; and exceedingly narrow base for, or non-transparent, decision making.
These and more are the features of most administration in Nigeria. For instance, Onyekpe (2007) observes that successive administrations in Nigeria have not allocated much to the needs of the youth, and, worse still, the meager allocation are often diverted by government officials to their private accounts and projects. Thus, youth are restive and agitated when they perceive that resources meant for them are being wasted by those in authority.
Unemployment is a hydra-headed monster which exists among the youth in all developing countries. Experts believe that the number of jobless youth is twice as high as official estimate. Ozohu-Suleiman (2006) notes Nigerian youth are trapped by unemployment. Zakaria (2006) believes that “the rising tide of unemployment and the fear of a bleak future among the youth in African countries have made them vulnerable to the manipulations of agents’ provocateurs”. These include aggrieved politicians, religious demagogues, and greedy multinationals that employ these youths to achieve their selfish ambitions. Zakaria (2006) strongly believes that the absence of job opportunities in developing countries is responsible for youth restiveness with disastrous consequences.
Poverty connotes inequality and social injustice and this traumatizes the poor. More than 70 percent of people in Nigeria are in abject poverty, living below the poverty line, and one- third survive on less than US $1 dollar a day (Zakaria, 2006). This figure includes an army of youth in urban centres in Nigeria who struggle to eke out a living by hawking chewing sticks, bottled water, handkerchiefs, belts, etc. The sales-per-day and the profit margin on such goods are so small that they can hardly live above the poverty line. Disillusioned, frustrated, and dejected, they seek an opportunity to express their anger against the state. Aworawo (2000) and Zakaria (2006) agreed that there is a link among poverty, loss of livelihood, inequality, and youth restiveness as evidenced by the numerous violent protests against the wielders of power in Nigeria.
Quality education has a direct bearing on national prestige, greatness, and cohesion. The knowledge and skill that young people acquire help determine their degree of patriotism and contribution to national integration and progress. Between 2000 and 2004, about 30 percent of Nigerian youth between 10 and 24 were not enrolled in secondary school (Population Reference Bureau, 2006). Perhaps the prohibitive cost of acquiring education is responsible.
The aftereffect of this situation is that thousands of young people roam the streets in cities in Nigeria. Those who manage to complete secondary school have no opportunities for tertiary education. Having being denied the chance to reach their potential, they are disorientated and readily available for antisocial actions (Onyekpe, 2007).
Worse still, some who struggle to enroll in various educational institutions drop out due to lack of basic learning facilities. This situation is attributable to the dwindling resources of government at both federal and state levels as a result of an economic meltdown.
Most rural communities and urban slums in Nigeria have no access to potable water, health facilities, electricity, communication facilities, industries and commercial facilities, etc. Behind social unrest and youth restiveness in the country is the agitation for equitable distribution of resources.
Communication creates room for sharing information. It helps people express their thoughts and feelings, clarify problems, and consider alternative ways of coping or adapting to their situation. Such sharing promotes social cohesion.
People must have access to communication facilities, to communicate with the people making the decisions that affect them. Sadly, rarely do people in Nigeria participate in decision-making processes on issues that affect their lives. Ifidon and Ahiauzu (2005), in their study of Niger Delta, revealed that inadequate communication and information flow is one factor responsible for youth restiveness in the area.
Information is a critical resource for individual and collective emancipation and advancement. Sokari (2006) agrees that information is necessary for people to be liberated from the shackles of ignorance, misconceptions, economic stagnation, social unrest, and political instability. Social cohesion cannot be achieved without timely, accurate, and relevant information.
Information has been likened to a stimulus that can condition a person to a certain behaviour (Curras, 1987). According to Ifidon and Ahiauzu (2006) information is “structured data that causes a human mind to change its opinion about the current state of real world and contribute to a reduction in the uncertainty of the state of the system”. Information is a change agent, a reinforcer of ideas and opinions. It is the responsibility of leaders to ensure that youth have access to information that will guide their actions. Clearly, most Nigerian youth who participate in protests across the country are uninformed.
Information plays a vital role in wealth generation. Information is the critical economic resource in today’s world (Sabaratnam, 1997). Youth must be economically empowered through access to business and economic information. They need information on employment opportunities in all nations and communities. Access to entrepreneurial information will make youth inaccessible to those who want to recruit them for anti-social actions.
The vast majority of Nigerians have always reduced the national question to
contradictions and antagonism between the various ethnic nationalities in the country. In
order words, they see the national question in terms of inter-ethnic hostilities only. But
the national question is far bigger and more comlex than this. The national question is a
big complex of political, economic, ideological, cultural, historical, religious, legal and
other problems that arise during a people’s struggle for liberation and for favourable
internal and external conditions for further development; and also in the course of
establishing equal, friendly relations between them and others.
The national question according to Odion-Akhaine (2000) involves the unresolved contradictions in the society that have continued to entrench Nigeria in a vicious circle of crises. The national question posed politically refers to the right to self determination
including the right to secession. This meaning is necessitated due to the oppression of some ethnic nationalities by others in a multi-ethnic setting as Nigeria (Odion-Akhaine, 2000).
The national question is always subordinate to the main problem of the socioeconomic
development of the society, and has a different content and significance at various stages of a nation’s development. As Ismagilova (1978) pointed out, the national question includes the abolitition of all forms of ethnic oppression and ethnic inequality. It involves the establishment of real equality, friendship, and fraternnal cooperation between peoples. It amis at the abolition of the exploitation of a region by the other. This must be discussed to bring about equity and justice in the allocation of the nation’s resources to creat a sense of belonging on the peoples of the country and to forster national identity and intergration.
It is only when the various groups and peoples in the country are involved in the
formulation of governmental policies and their implementation, get a fair share of the
nation’s resources and are not considered as peoples whose values, opinions and feelings
do not matter in the country that they can cultivate the necessary sense of belonging and
Nigerian youth as leaders of the future need access to a wide range of information which will help reposition them to take their rightful place in the comity of nations. Such information, according to Onyekpe (2007), should be geared towards:
creating the awareness that the future belongs to them and that it must not be destroyed by them;
sensitizing them to the fact the future and its nature depend on the decisions and choices they make;
creating in them a sense of history, especially of the noble and heroic contributions of the youth in the past to the development of Nigeria, in comparison with the ignoble role of many youth today;
sensitizing them to embrace the rule of law and democratic ideals;
liberating them psychologically and mentally from the control of self-seeking business and political elites. encouraging them to raise issues relating to unresolved problems of nation0building and the problem of neglect of the youth in the development process at every fora; mobilizing them against abuse of the system through sanctions;
sensitizing them to seek greater employment and educational opportunities as a means of redirecting their energy and ideas from anti-social activities to creative efforts.
Role of Libraries in Curbing Youth Restiveness
There is a body of evidence demonstrating the importance of the library in the promotion of peace and social cohesion. Recent articles by Omotayo (2005) and Echezona (2007) demonstrate the place of the library in curbing youth restiveness, in Nigeria in particular, and in Africa as a whole.
The primary role of the library is to acquire, process, preserve, and disseminate recorded information. It is therefore the responsibility of the library to enlighten the youth and other members of the community it serves by presenting them with factual information that will guide their actions and help make good conclusion that will promote peace. This will reduce the amount of youth violence, acrimony, and confrontation. Omotayo (2005) observed that:
In war situations in enlightened societies, use of libraries increases as users flock to libraries to find information to guide them. Information that can promote peace, unity, progress, peaceful co-existence, and harmonious relationship among all the communities must therefore be available in libraries. Librarians, therefore, in promoting access to this information, act as agents of the promotion of communal peace and reconciliation.
Libraries are positioned as hubs for formal and informal learning. School libraries, academic libraries, and public libraries support the education of the youth. Information obtained from libraries can change the behaviour, attitudes, and mindset of youth. Such libraries should not only be stocked with educational materials, they should have recreational facilities where pent-up energies and emotions can be dissipated. Elegbeleye (2005) strongly believes that:
Recreational facilities provide leeway for students to let off steam and become less stressed. Being stressed … has always precipitated a feeling of frustration in this category of youths, a development that more likely than not is capable of predisposing them to take recourse to violence.
Libraries create opportunities for youth employment. For instance, in Nigeria, the University of Lagos Library and Federal University of Technology, Yola, Library employ students under a work study scheme to perform routine jobs such as packing and sorting books, shelving books, pasting book pockets, and cleaning the libraries. Once engaged, these students perform their duties with zeal and enthusiasm and without prompting. This initiative helps to understand the dignity of labour as well as alleviate the suffering of indigent students who could have dropped out of school (Ndagana and Ogunrombi, 2006). Youths who are gainfully employed rarely participate in antisocial activities.
In addition to providing job opportunities, many libraries create an environment for acquiring skills and for career development. Libraries may go beyond collecting books on various professions to organizing seminars and workshops on career development. These programmes provide career guidance and counseling and will help reduce the number of idle, frustrated youth who roam the streets aimlessly, and who might at the least provocation take recourse to violence.
The following null hypotheses were formulated to serve as guide for the study:
Social scientists have always devised theories in their attempts to understand and explain
the nature, causes, and effects of events, issues and episodes in their societies. Each of the
theories takes a specific perspective that differentiates it from the other, depending on the
school of thought the theorist belongs. Thus, conflicts in societies have had their liberal
and Marxist explanations. The search for identity by an ethnic nationality in a polity signifies the presence of a conflict between the group and some other groups in the society, so also is the lack of integration in a polity, and the quest for a discussion of the
“national question” in a polity by some ethnic nationalities within the polity. The theoretical orientation of this study will therefore take the psycho-cultural perspective (Agara and Adekunle, 2012). From this theoretical perspective, whenever a polity is inhabited by many ethnic nationalities, there is bound to be conflicts which arise from the domination and exploitation of one ethnic nationality by another or the fear of exploitation and domination. The domination and exploitation or their fear is located in
ethnic and cultural differences among the groups; and ethnic and cultural differences
provide the basis for group identity, solidarity and interaction within and amongst the
It is significant at this juncture, to try a clarification of the important concepts which are relevant to the understanding and illumination of our topic. These are Democracy, Development, and Niger-Delta
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