National integration is widely used to refer to a specific problem of creating a sense of territorial nationality which may affect loyalties.
One of the major challenges of Nigeria from the onset till date is the issue of national integration. since the amalgamation Nigeria has been charged with conflicts in different ways. Many Nigerians now live in fear with no assurance of security of properties and lives.
Thus, aggressive and violent acts like ethno-religious crises, kidnapping and bonding have become a norm in Nigeria and this has constantly blocked national unity and integration in the state.
Nigeria as a country was never in existence prior to 1914, it was in 1914 that the different regions that make up Nigeria were brought together as one entity.
Even after the colonial rule our founding fathers (Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, Professor Eyo Ita, e.t.c.) still made sure that Nigeria stood as one country.
They were not of the same ethnicity, religion and so on, but they had it in mind that the country should continue in development as one.
Over the years, Nigerian national integration started suffering some threats leading to divisions along the lines of social status, ethnicity and religion; ethnicity and religion being the most prominent.
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Problems of Nigeria National Integration
Some of the major problems of integration are as follows:
- Ethnic diversity
There are different ethnic groups in Nigeria, and members of a particular ethnic group tend to be loyal to their own people in government, power or other exalted positions. They tend to be favoured over members of other ethnic groups. This poses a serious threat to national integration.
- Language multiplicity
This is related to ethnic diversity. Nigeria has some many languages and this leads to a problem in communication among the citizens, as people tend to flow better with those who speak the same language as them. Our lingua franca, English language, is spoken only by about 15% of the population (most times the educated elite).
- Structural imbalance
There is a structural imbalance between the southern and northern Nigeria. The northern part of Nigeria holds more political power than the other parts of the country.
- Revenue allocation
The different parts of the country are not treated equally when it comes to revenue allocation. Money given to the northern part of Nigeria is more in proportion than that given to other parts of the country, probably because there are more local governments in the north than in the other parts of the country. This does not help national integration, as bad feelings will arise among its citizens.
- Religious Fanaticism:
The togetherness of Nigeria has been threatened seriously by the activities of some religious fanatics who are loyal to members of their religion, and favour such over members of other religions.Members of the other religions may feel cheated, creating hatred between members of the different religions. This is a serious threat to the national unity of Nigeria.
- Youth restiveness
This is caused by angry, hungry youths who are unemployed. It is often said that an hungry man is an angry man. They are used by greedy and selfish politicians to create tension among citizens of the country for their political interests. National unity is hard to come by in this situation.
This happens when people favour their relatives above others in terms of employment, awards of contracts, e.t.c. It is similar to tribalism. It makes those who are not prioritized feel they are not part of the system, thereby being a threat to national integration.
The giving and receiving of bribes for services makes it impossible for those who are in need of that service to have a level playing ground, thus, robbing them of their rights to equal treatment.
The effects of corruption in Nigeria economic development cannot be overemphasized. Those who do not have the means to offer bribes become frustrated and develop hatred for those who can afford the bribes. This does not help Nigeria national integration.
- Political wrangles
Nigeria has been polarized along party lines, and it so happens that Nigeria is a multi-party nation. Members of a political party, both ruling and opposition, no longer have the interest of the nation at heart but their own party interests.
A large majority of the country’s wealth are in the hands of very few people and they circulate it among themselves, leaving poverty to the masses. This creates a big gap between the rich and the poor, the poor developing suspicion and hatred towards the rich and this is not healthy for national unity.
Nigeria National Integration Possible Solutions
- Campaigns: Relevant bodies should carry out campaigns to favour national unity. Humanities course in General Studies in higher institutions that teach ways of improving national unity can be taken to the rural areas as cinema by drama groups.
- Equal opportunity for employment: employment should be given to youths based on merit regardless of status, tribe, religion or other factors. This will make the people believe that they are one.
3. Youth empowerment: not all youths are privileged to have formal education, and thus, may not obtain gainful employment. In this instance the government should find ways of empowering, they can be taught to be craftsmen or technicians to create employment for themselves.
4. True federalism: federalism is the system of government whereby power is constitutionally shared between the federal, state, and local governments. If true federalism is adopted no part of the country will feel trampled upon, thus strengthening the unity of the country.
5. Resource control: every state in Nigeria should be allowed to control its resources, when revenue is centrally allocated some states receive less than their counterparts.