The Rhetoric of Unity and the Quest for Political Power in Nigeria

in African and Asian Studies
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Abstract

Post colonial African countries, like Nigeria, have been contending, in one form or another, with the problems of nation building. One of these problems in the post independent era is that of forging one nation from a plethora of peoples and cultures brought together under one flag by the erstwhile colonialists. The author argues that even though the various Nigerian political elite usually give the impression that National unity is a sine qua non for the existence of Nigeria as a state and a country, and that every one who must be considered a patriot must be seen to be rooting for it, the real thing, however, is that they emphasize national unity as a leverage for political power. In other words, they see in Unity of the country a topic for generating arguments to support their drive for political power, or to justify their retention of it in spite of the means used to achieve these ends.A careful consideration of the policies of these elite while in government show that they use Unity of Nigeria expediently like the rhetoricians of ancient Greece would do, not out of principles but to serve a contingent purpose. The unity of Nigeria became a source of arguments for power ever before independence because the Northern region feared domination by the Southern region given its many advantages.

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