CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS AND THE PARADOX OF NATION-BUILDING IN NIGERIA
Keywords:Primordialism, Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, Afenifere and Arewa Consultative Forum, Nigeria’s lopsided federal system
The much-vaunted nation-building for plural societies remains a mirage in Nigeria. Plagued by divisive features like primordialism, existence of ‘dual citizenship’ and prioritization of ethnic indigeneity over national citizenship, the country is torn between clashing centrifugal forces. This study examined how ethnic based civil society organizations (CSOs) act as centrifugal forces that thwart nation-building in Nigeria. Case-study research design was adopted to focus our analysis on three selected CSOs: Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, Afenifere and Arewa Consultative Forum. Content analysis was employed to analyze data collected via documentary approach. We anchored our study on the Marxian theory of postcolonial state. The study found that the selected CSOs thwart nation-building by entrenching primordialism and ‘dual citizenship’ through integration of the people at the subnational level based on ethnic cleavages, primarily for the purpose of accessing power and oil-dominated economic resources concentrated at center of Nigeria’s lopsided federal system. We recommended, among others, that CSOs should focus on mobilizing the people for economic production and contribution rather than distribution. There is also need to address the imbalance in the federal system to enhance autonomy of the federating units and avoid hegemony of any federating unit.