By Simon Kolawole
At the centre of separatist campaigns in Nigeria, and possibly around the world, is the desire to have “homogenous” nations, or nations where an ethnic group is overwhelmingly in the majority, thereby leaving little room for rivalry, conflict and instability. When an ethnic group is overwhelmingly dominant in a country, the tendency for ethnic conflicts — which are often deadly and destabilising as we have seen in Rwanda and Ethiopia — is expected to be minimal. With a sense of cultural harmony, therefore, a nation is expected to enjoy peace and progress, and such conditions are considered necessary for development. This is a key belief and driving ideology in separatist circles.
Political scientists define “nation” as a people with a shared sense of history and identity. The aspiration is to turn a state into a nation-state. Some will instinctively argue that Nigeria is not a nation but a country, basically a geographical expression or a political entity. In the well-quoted words of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Yoruba nationalist, as contained in his book, ‘Path to Nigerian Freedom’ (1947), “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English’, ‘Welsh,’ or ‘French’.” However, increasingly, ‘nation’ and ‘country’ are now used interchangeably, perhaps as a reflection of a changing world.
Simon-Kolawole, Email: [email protected], sms: 0805 500 1961