Ethnic Politics in Nigeria: An Ethical Perspective

  • William Ikre, CSsR, PhD
Keywords: Nigeria, Democracy, Politics, Violence, Ethnicity


Nigeria is inevitably a volatile mix of cultures and ethnic groups. This has arguably given rise to the phenomenon of ethnic politics which is a challenge that requires serious attention, debate and interrogation with the ethics of our society as a people of diverse ethnic groups. This paper highlights how ethnicity shapes and influences politics in Nigeria. The observed chronic ethnic fractionalisation within the country is believed to be associated with high levels of deadly political violence, as well as other challenges, which in turn severely strain the democratic ethos of the society. To a large extent, ethnicity in Nigeria came about because of the extended period of colonialism, a time when the dominance of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria - within the socio-political space - became visible over the other ethnic groups. During this time, the colonialist used the three major ethnic groups as a platform for the distribution of socio-political and economic goods. The conflicts and issues that often result in an atmosphere of ethnic politics have necessitated this work, which attempts an ethical analysis of ethnic politics within the country and the role ethics ought to play in our politics today.