This paper concerns itself with establishing the nexus between identity conflict and its impacts on socio-economic and political relations in the West African context. The effort is motivated by the observable incidences of incessant violent conflicts and wars, all fought on the basis of ethnic and religious fault lines that threaten the stability and cohesion of the sub region in its evolution towards becoming developed regional economic community. Because of the broad nature of the study area, the paper has carefully selected Nigeria and Cote d’ Ivoire as case studies. The choice is informed by the realization that these countries share a lot of similarities especially in the area of their diversities and poor management of this otherwise important agent of social mobilization and national development. The paper has argued that while identity is a major cause of violent conflicts and civil wars often leading to state failure, the same identity, if properly managed-through equitable distribution of welfare resources through the institution of democratic practices, states within the region can overcome their economic and political challenges as they advance in the 21st Century and beyond. The data used in the study were collected from diverse sources, including documentary sources (desk review) and government reports. Data collection from documentary sources involved the evaluation of relevant literature on themes bordering on West African political and socio-cultural systems (identity question) - ethnicity, regionalism and religion. In addition, secession literature was also relied on to furnish the paper with relevant details on the subject which is a major theme of our discourse.
Key words: Ethnicity, religion, secession, democracy, political conflict.