Nigeria is confronted today with the challenges of political and constitutional crises in a manner as never before. After 50 years of independence, the country still faces frequent sectarian turmoil that raises some very fundamental questions about the nature of Nigerian identity and its implications for integrity. A cursory look at the events that have occurred in the polity since 1960, one finds out that ethnic irredentism of groups attempting to overcome existing divisions had caused internal conflicts and created friction and occasional intra and inter-group crises. Despite the remedial policies meant to assuage tensions, ethnic and religious conflicts still persist. One of the problems is that these policies were applied in negative ways. Indeed, some basic policies embedded in the political restructuring by the successive governments were not directed to the root causes of the crises. Put differently, the politicization of government policies have led to ethnic, regional and religious tensions that featured frequently in the minds of the people. Undoubtedly, this has affected the growth of a national identity in spite of the ideology of nationalism. In the context of nation building therefore, a state-nation rather than a nation-state emerged. The question is, why is this so and can this process be stopped under the entity called Nigeria? The thrust of this paper is the recognition of the reality that Nigeria exhibits diverse identities difficult to co-exist. The paper therefore concludes that the unity of Nigerian nationhood depends on dynamic and powerful institutions capable of democratizing the relationship between the distinct nationalities and the nation – state.
Key words: Policy, ethnicity, democratization, Nigeria.
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