chapter  5
Managing Ethnic Relations in a Heterogeneous Society: The Case of Nigeria
ByPita Ogaba Agbese
Pages 24

Identities have historically been significant in the Nigerian political process, under colonial rule as well as in the post-colonial dispen­ sation. Under colonialism, administrative exigencies warranted ‘the invention of traditions,’ and the nurturing and exacerbation of an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ syndrome: Muslim versus Christian; Northerner versus Southerner; Hausa-Fulani versus Yourba vers us Igbo, and so on. Religious, regional and ethnic differences were given promi­ nence in conceiving and implementing social, educational and economic development projects under the indirect system of colo­ nial administration favored by the British. Thus, the differential impact of colonialism set the context of the regional educational, economic and political imbalances which later became significant in the mobilization or manipulation of identity consciousness in order to effectively divide and rule, as well as in the politics of de­ colonization and in the arena of competitive politics in the post­ colonial era (Jega, 2000, pp. 15-16).