THE IMPACT OF ETHNIC MILITIAS ON DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA

THE IMPACT OF ETHNIC MILITIAS ON
DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN NIGERIA
The background of
the society show case that Nigerians were optimistic about the future as their
country entered the fourth republic in 1999, but it was said that ethnic
tensions arose and thousands were killed in communal violence. It was noted
that the common understanding that the ethnics ulities arose as a wealthy
Yoruba Businessman M. K. O Abiola’s apparent victory for the presidency in
1993, with the Yoruba establishing the Ooduwa people’s Congress (OPC) and that
this again guarred up the Hausa and the Igbo to respond to this mobilization.        The statement of the problem entails
that in Nigerian history a time where over two in Nigerian thirds of the
populations were poor and authoritarism was the norms. Therefore, it can be
argued that the problem of ethnicity arose for a particular reason.  In order to be able to understand the causes
of their occurrence, by looking only into single fields of study, be it
anthropology economic, conflict studies.
          The purpose of the study indicate that
more light is to be shed on why the ethnic militias came into being by showing
how they arose. Also the effects of their coming into being on democratic
consolidation will be fully looked into.In justification to the future work on
resolving Nigeria conflict by putting forth a new perspective. This project
work will be highly useful.
          The significant of the study justify
the outcome of this project work. It add more to the understanding of the
Nigeria political conflict situation, making other scholars better suited to
focus on the important root causes by offering a different angle on the
Nigerian situation. Also it will bring more attention which I believe to be
biggest obstacle to democratic consolidation.
          The
research questions encompass two folds:
Firstly, we ask
how did the ethnic militias emerge before asking how they have influence the
consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. Nonetheless,as democracy appears to
strengthen in Nigeria, the next research question we ask is. Have the ethnic
militias outplayed their roles in Nigerian society?
The methodology
been used to illuminate and explore the concept of ethnics militias and to look
into how they influence the consolidation of Nigerian democracy.It is opined
that secondary source of data will serve as the majority means of deriving
information, which include journals,magazines, and articles.Others includes
conferences papers , seminars papers as well as websites information.
Scope and
limitation of the study:- The study is limited in time and space as it is a
circumscribe Degree project , hence having approximately about a year to put
further constraints on the study.
Operational
definition of concepts:- This section discuss the most prominent
concepts of this study in order to arrive at normal definition  most suitable to the  Nigerian context, which will help us better
understand the setting in which we are going to discuss Nigerian political
Life.
Ethnicity: – The
term ethnicity refers to people thought to have common ancestry who share a
distinctive culture.
Circumstantial: –
This simply means suggesting but not proving.
Situational: – it
means that the actual identity deployed or made relevant changes according to
the social situation of the individual; the situation changes the relevant
identity changes.
Ethnic politics:-
this is seen as using ethnicity as a political tool to gain benefits, which is
done by playing people against each other in order to take advantage of the
tension that often arise from this situation.
Outline of the
study: – this research work is derived into five chapters, the first chapter
forms the introductory aspect, purpose of the study, significance of the study,
Research questions, methodology, scope and limitation of the study and
operational definition of concepts. Chapter two discusses common assumption
made about the political situation in Nigeria and how the ethnic militias fit
into this picture. The literature review tries to show the limitations in the
area of the study and what needs to be done to correct these limitations.After,
the review, chapter three shows how the ethnic militias came into being before
we discuss what they are and what they are not. This chapter look at how they
were founded who founded them, who followed them, how they evolved and what
their special characteristics are and further we take a look at what happened
in Colonial times in order to understand why the different groups at the way
they do today.
          Chapter four build on the third
chapter examining the ethnic militias effect on democratic consolidation.The
last chapter which is the conclusion sums up the findings from the previous
chapter explaining why the ethnic militias came into being and how they have
affected the consolidation of democracy. It start by stating the problem before
we revisit the research question and conclude what has been found.
The latest
militia group that is threatening democratic consolidation in Nigeria is Boko
Haram. Meaning Western Education is forbidden. (Mike Boni, 2013:4), Since its
inception, the group has killed over 10,000 people.
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Background to the study
Nigerians were
optimistic about the future as their country entered the fourth republic in
1999, but as ethnic tensions arose and thousands were killed in communal
violence, this optimism has faded away to some degree. Alhaji Umaru Musa
Yar’Adua, elected as the president in 2007 has promised to tackle the problems
facing Nigeria, but the question remains whether or not he has the power to
oppose the various ethnic militias, which have increased in power since the
early 1990s. There is a common understanding that the ethnics militias arose as
a direct consequence of the annulment of the wealthy Yoruba businessman M.K.O
Abiola’s apparent victory for the presidency in 1993, with the Yoruba
establishing the Oodua people’s congress (OPC) and that this again triggered
the Hausa and the Igbo to respond to this mobilization. It is feared that this
militarization of civil society could jeopardize the fragile Nigerian democracy
and that because of this; the federal response of attempting to eradicate the
ethnic militias in legitimate by the international society.
Problem Statement
The problems when
analysing the ethnic militias is that they arose at a particular time in
Nigerian history, a time where over two thirds of the population were poor and
authoritarianism was the norm. Therefore, it can be argued that they arose for
a particular reason. In the 1980s, when the Nigerian economy hit the strain of
having many military rulers, president Babangida chose to adopt the World Banks
Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which came into effect in July, 1986.
Even if the SAP cannot be blamed for all the problems, like unemployment and
poverty and that the SAP sent Nigeria into a situation where the state was no
longer able to take care of its citizens. In order to survive, Nigerians needed
to realign and find something to rely on, whereupon ethnicity increased in
salience. In this way ethnicity in Nigeria could be used in order to benefit
from the state. With this shift from feeling Nigerian to relying more on ethnic
identity. The consequence was that the strong sense of nationalism that united
Nigerians to gain their independence, faded away.
In order to be
able to understand the problems we have to understand the causes of their
occurrence, by looking only into single fields of study, be it anthropology,
economic, conflict studies. It is hard to get the full overviews of the
Nigerian situation. The consequence of not fully knowing the whole situation
can lead to distorted outcomes and improper remedies. Failure to understand why
the militias came into being may result in the state continuing to fuel
grievances, by being aggressive towards the people who they are supposed to
take care of, the state will continue to encourage resentment and a weakening
of democracy.
Purpose of the Study
          This project work hopes to shed light
on why the ethnic militias came into being by showing how they arose. Further,
this project will look at the effects of their coming into being on democratic
consolidation. It is hoped that this project will contribute to the future work
on resolving Nigerian conflict by putting forth a new perspective based on
using a holistic perspective. This perspective holds a positive impact on
consolidation of democracy after 1999 rather than a negative impact as often
assumed.
Significant of the Study
          This study is significant in
justification to the outcome of this project work. It is to increase the
understanding of the Nigerian political/conflict situation, making other
scholars better suited to focus on the important root causes by offering a
different angle on the Nigerian situation. Further, it will bring more
attention to the negative aspects of ethno nationalism, which its believed to
be the biggest obstacle to democratic consolidation.       
Research Questions
By explaining how
the militias came into being and by showing that they are a result of the
state’s inability to be responsible towards its citizens. The research question
is twofolds; firstly, we ask how did the ethnic militias emerge before asking
how they have influenced the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria?
The argument will
then be raised that ethnic militias had a role to play in the emergence of
democracy by bringing attention to Nigeria’s deep rooted problems. As
transitions towards democracy began, the military repression eased up, making
the ethnic militias’ society’s mouth piece against collective problems. 
          Nonetheless, as democracy appears to
strengthen in Nigeria, the next research questions asked we ask is have the
ethnic militias outplayed their roles in Nigerian society?
Objective of the study
(1)            
The study is designed to to accurately find out more about
the origin and nature of the ethnic militias.
(2)            
To see if the findings we get from the first objective change
the way the ethnic militias have been viewed in the past, concerning how they
have influenced the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
(3)            
The last objective is to see how important ethnic militias are
in Nigeria today are in order better to understand how the state should act
against them. Hence, a general objective will be to illuminate and explore the
concept of ethnic militias and to look into how they influence the
consolidation of Nigerian democracy.
Methodology
As the main task
of this project is to illuminate and explore the concept of ethnic militias and
to look into how they influence the consolidation of Nigerian democracy. It is
opined that secondary source of data will serve as the majority means of
deriving information, which includes journals, magazine and articles. Others
include conference papers, seminar papers as well as website information.
Scope and Limitation of the study
The study is
limited in time and space as it is a circumscribe degree project, hence having
approximately about a year to put further constraints on the depth of the
study. Because there is limited time the study will focus on showing how things
are, leaving out, the more resource demanding questions. As the research
question is what effect the ethnic militias have on democracy. The project will
incorporate several major subjects; ethnicity, nationalism, democracy and
conflict being the most prominent.
Operation Definition of Concepts
This section
discusses the most important concepts of this study in order to arrive at
normal definitions most suitable to the Nigerian context, which will help us
better understand the setting in which we are going to discuss Nigerian
political life.
Ethnicity: The
terms ethnicity and ethnic group are derived from the Greek word ethnos
normally translated as nation.(Eriksen 2002:4). The concept of ethnicity itself
distinguishes between an “us” and a “then”, and if there was no distinction
there would not be any ethnicity. Also the term ethnicity refer to people
thought to have common ancestry who share a distinctive culture.
Circumstical:
This simply means suggesting but not proving that ethnic identity is important
in some contexts and not in others, the identity is constant but circumstances
determine whether it matters.
Situational: That
the actual identity deployed or made relevant changes according to the social
situation of the individual, the situation changes the relevant identity
changes.
Ethnic Politics:
This is seen as using ethnicity as a political tool to gain benefits which is
done by playing people against each other in order to take advantage of the
tension that often arise from this situation.
Nationalism:
According to Gellner one of the prominent scholars of nationalism, he defines
it as follows;  Nationalism is primarily a
political principle which holds that the political and national unit should be
congruent.
Also in view of
William, he defines it as a belief system, creed or political ideology that
involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a nation.
Democracy:
Democracy as an idea is an essentially contested concepts and it is hard to
agree on a core meaning.Robert A Dahls defines democracy as a political system
characterized by responsibility towards the citizen by the people elected, by
the citizens.
Also democracy is
said to be a system of government in which all qualified adult of a country
shares the supreme power directly or through their elected representative.In
other words, democracy can also be referred to as a system of government by
which the minority rule with the majority interest.
Democratic
Consolidation: Originally democratic consolidation meant how to make fragile
democracies immune against the threat of authoritarian rule and building dams
against “reverse waves” of democratization (Sclevedler 1998:91). A standard
definition of democratic consolidation is from prseworski who claims that
democracy is consolidated when under some given political and economic
conditions so (democratic) institutions become “the only game in town and when
no one can imagine circumventing these institutions (1992). In this definition,
it is implicit that civil society has control over the state. Haynes (2001)
introduces three points, which are necessary in order to recognize a
consolidated democracy:
1.    
There has to be a general acceptance of democratic oriented
political rules of the game.
2.    
Stable and lasting democratic institutions.
3.    
A broad scope of governmental guaranteed civilian and
political rights, supported by the law.
Only when these
conditions are in place are we able to speak about a consolidated democracy
which is accepted by the elites and by the society.
Decentralization:
this is the diffusion of autonomy/authority from a higher to a level of government.
According to Olowu and Wunsdi, decentralization is the legal acts and
administrative measures taken to reassign responsibilities, resources,
accountability and rules from central government to local entities (2004:5).
Corruption:
According to Jordan Smith, corruption has become an organizing lens; meaning we
tend to blame many society’s failures especially concerning democracy,
development and other expectations of modernity on corruption (2007). Oliver de
Sardan 1999, defines corruption “as the abuse of public office for private
gain”.
Organisation of Chapters
This research
work is divided into five chapters, the first chapter forms the introductory
aspect, purpose of the study, significance of the study, research questions,
methodology, scope and limitation of study and operational definitions of
concepts. Chapter two discusses common assumptions made about the political
situation in Nigeria and how the ethnic militias fit into this picture. The
literature review tries to show the limitations in the area of study and what
needs to be done to correct these limitations. The chapter starts with an
historical overview in order to give the reader a deeper understanding of the
short but complex history of Nigeria, which is helpful in order to maximize the
benefit of the literature review.
After the review,
chapter three shows how the ethnic militias came into being, before we discuss
what they are and what they are not. This research work look at how they were
founded then, who followed them, how they evolved and what their special
characteristics are and further we take a look at what happened in colonial
times in order to understand why the different groups act the way they do
today. Further, we look whether there are any common denominators between the ethnic
militias.
Chapter four
builds on the third chapter examining the ethnic militias, effect on democratic
consolidation. First we look at the state of Nigerian democracy before we
assess how the ethnic militias fit into the framework. Lastly we look at the
consequences of the ethnic militias and what these have meant for democracy.
The last chapter,
which is the conclusion, sums up the findings from the previous chapters
explaining why the ethnic militias came into being and how they have affected
the consolidation of democracy. It start by stating the problem before we
revisit the research question and conclude what has been found.
REFERENCES
Abubakar, D, 2001, Ethnic Identity, Democratization, and the Future of
the African State: Lesson from Nigeria. African issues, Vol 29, No 1, 31-36
Adejumobi, S. 2003. Civil society, Ethnic Militias and Sovereign National
Conference in T. Babawale ed. Urban Violence, Ethnic Militias and the Challenge
of Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria. Lagos Matthouse.
Adekunle. J. 2002 Nationalism, Ethnicity and National Integration; an
Analysis of Political History in A. Oyebade ed. The Transformation of Nigeria,
Essay in Honours of Toyin Falola. Africa WORLD press Inc.
Agbu, O.2004 Ethnic Militias and the Threat to Democracy in
Post-Transition Nigeria.
Akinyele RT 2001
Ethnic Military and National Stability in Nigeria:
Atorounyomi D. 2003. The Media and the Challenge of Ethno National
Differences in Nigeria Democratic Consolidation.
Agbu O, 1998
Political Opposition and Democratic Transitions in Nigeria.
Diamond L&M Platteur eds. 1996. The Global Resurgence of Democracy.
Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Diamond L, J. Liuz  & S.M.
Lipset. 1995. Politics in Developing Countries: Comparing Experiences with
Democracy. Hopkins University Press.
Olurode L. (1999)
(ed) Nigeria: People and Culture. Lagos, Rebonik Publications.
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