Working Paper

Agitations for Separation and Non-Negotiability of Nigeria’s Unity: Bottling the Bomb?

The Nigerian state came into being through conquest and forceful imposition of foreign rule, which
denied the indigenous peoples the opportunity to negotiate and choose what they wanted. Successive regimes have continued to hold the state together in a seeming forceful manner, creating the impression that the country must remain as crafted by the colonialists and that her unity is non-negotiable. However, the state has continued to experience swirling lava of agitations for self-determination. Relying on documentary evidence, observations, and descriptive analysis, this paper explores the nature of Nigeria’s unity; pattern of coexistence among the different groups within the Nigerian state vis-a-vis the extent they exhibit the proclivity for, as well as the factors that militate against, national integration; the manner the government promotes national unity; and the factors that ignite the separatist tendencies. The finding of this paper is that the inability to foster sense of common identity and national consciousness among the different groups, the continuing promotion of inter-ethnic hatred and unhealthy rivalry, as well as the bad governance rooted in corruption and divisiveness are the main factors that fuel the agitation for separation. The basic recommendation is that the government should reverse her non-negotiable stance about Nigeria’s unity and realize that any sincere move aimed at enthroning lasting peace and unity must begin with good governance and a general understanding and agreement reached by the constituent groups on how to proceed with the Nigerian project.