Ethnicity And Democratic Principles In Nigerian Politics (An Overview Of 1999 – 2011 Democratic Dispensation)

Project and Seminar material for Public Administration

Project and Seminar material for Public Administration


This work is motivated by the apparent intractability of the ethnic problems in Nigeria. A cursory glace at the history of ethnicity reveals that as far back as early 1990s, some Nigerians had warns about the negative patriotic, progressive and other have inveighed against it and suggested solutions to it. Some of these solution have been tried in the past dispensation of democracy but to no avail. Further examination of the relevant literature indicates that a great deal of intellectual endeavour has been devoted to the ethnic phenomenon.

The work identify among others that ethnicity have stand to militate against the democratic principles in Nigeria politics and governance. However, certain criticism suggested that the study could be strengthened of the theoretical perspective were anchored in some concrete situation in response to this I decided to male a concrete overview of the 1999 – 2011 democratic dispensation.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Approval page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content

Chapter One

1.0. Introduction

  • 1.1. Background of study
  • 1.2. Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 objective of the study
  • 1.4 research questions
  • 1.5. Statement of hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the study
  • 1.7 Scope of the study
  • 1.8 limitation of the study
  • 1.9 Definitions of terms

Chapter Two

2.0. Literature Review

  • 2.1. Introduction – the cradle of ethnicity
  • 2.2 Nigerian ethnicity varied
  • 2.3 The ethnic minority groups
  • 2.4 Democratic principles
  • 2.5 Some unique principles and elements of democracy
  • 2.6 Inter ethnic struggle for political power
  • 2.7 Elections in the fourth republic
  • 2.8 Conceptual issues on ethnicity and democratic principles.
  • 2.9 Theoretical issues
  • Reference

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Design and Methodology

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2. Research design
  • 3.3. Sources/method of data collection
  • 3.4. Population and sample size
  • 3.5. Sample technique
  • 3.6. Validity / reliability of measuring instrument
  • 3.7. Method of data analysis

Chapter Four

4.0. Presentation and Analysis of Data

  • 4.1. Introduction
  • 4.2. Presentation of data
  • 4.3. Analysis of data
  • 4.4 Test of Hypothesis
  • 4.5 Interpretation of result (s)

Chapter Five

5.0. Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1. Introduction
  • 5.2. Summary of findings
  • 5.3. Conclusion
  • 5.4. Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendix I
  • Appendix II

Chapter One

1.0. Introduction

1.1. Background Of The Study

This research can simply be viewed within the Nigerian context; ethnicity is very closely associated with a strong belief in a perceived cultural and linguistic diversity of the country. It is often regarded as the inevitable consequence of socio-cultural differences. With reference to Nigeria within 1999 – 2011 democratic dispensation, Nigeria can be seen as a “mere geographical expression” a “heterogeneous” society or as having a federal character Okwudiba (1980)

Indeed many Nigerians regard ethnicity as bio-cultural phenomenon arising from the more existence of various cultural groups within the same polity. However, it is common to interpret the other administrative discrimination observed in Nigerian politics in tribal terms. According to Akin, tribalism “is perceived to be the central unifying concept for the analysis of African not only Nigerian life”.

Much have been viewed, observed, gathered and put down in the trace of the effect of ethnicity in democratic principle in Nigeria towards ethnic politics of Nigeria. This dispensation 1999-2011 at which ethnic factor have been based, each ethnic group irrespective of size, wants to be autonomous in regards to its internal affairs.

The chapter suggested among other things, the creation of more autonomous communities and guest for more states in the country as a means of allaying fear of ethnic minority and enhances development in the country. However, this ethnic ideology in itself needs to be explained. It cannot, therefore be made a decisive independent variable several factors therefore attempt to explain the ethnic phenomenon in Nigeria.

First, may be ethnic sentiments aflamed by bringing it to the fore front of the consciousness of the reading population. Second it may generate decisive inter ethnic controversy. Ethnicity is a very sensitive issue in the nation politics in its interpretation. It may be regarded by some ethnic ideologies as casting aspirations on their ethnic groups. In other case, the net effect is an unintended growth in ethnic tension.

A focus on ethnicity tends to make a very significant variable in considering the nature of democratic principles in Nigerian government and politics. Thus, knowing clearly well that it is the loss of confidence, by the ethnic group in the democratic principles over the years that have paved way for the politics and governance which many have site as ethnic dilemma.

However, no wonder Tony said “I feel it sounds so ridiculous and of course a murder to our hard earned democracy that people tribalism which stand to militate against our stability in democratic government”. Donaba, a resident of Lagos state could write affirming that Igbos are brewing crisis in Lagos state – THIS DAY February 20, 2001 simply because the voice of Ndigbo feels that it is high time they take a shot at the highest office in Logos state.

Finally, one should not conclude that the act of ethnic crisis is just from a particular tribe but out of ethnic fight for survival in the recent democracy. In as much as there is no way geographical extractions cannot afford to do without bloc politics.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

The statement of the problem includes the following points mentioned below.

Fear of marginalization among the ethnic groups based on the rotation of power. This have constituted a lot of problems in the democracy and time understanding of democratic principles which stand to be a major focus on the side of political appointment, employments and awarding of contracts by the government undertaken within 1999-2011.

Ethnicity in the point of resource control, revenue allocation and unethical privatization and personalization of power public political class.

Injustice and unfair play on the part of the Nigerian political leaders who have on one way or the other allowed the sprint of ethnic consciousness to overrule them in the performance of their appointed duties.

1.3 Objective Of The Study

The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of the democratic principles that have been applied within 1999-2011 democratic dispensation (fourth republic) and attempt to stand against or for the performance of true democratic principles.

1.4 Research Question

In the course of this research question a few of questions emerged. The following have to be asked.

  1. Will this study solved the problems of ethnicity in Nigeria?
  2. Of what extent can this study help in improving the performance of democratic government and stampede the rate of ethnic crises?
  3. Does this democratic rules and regulations, principles, policies and programme bring effectiveness and speedy democracy in Nigeria?
  4. To what extent can the ethnic politics of this nation be controlled?

1.5 Statement Of Hypothesis

The hypothesis stated below are formed for detailed elicitation of the study and these hypothesis when tested will either confirm or refuse the extent to which ethnicity and democratic principles have been witnessed or affected the democratic government within 1999-2011

  1. Ho: Poor performance of democratic principles in Nigeria is not due to ethnicity.
    Hi: Poor performance of democratic principles is due to ethnicity
  2. Ho: Inadequate practice of democratic principle is not the cause of ethnic crisis/violence during this dispensation 1999-2011
    Hi: Inadequate practice of democratic principle is the cause of ethnic crisis/violence during this dispensation
  3. Ho: Ethnicity does not promote democratic principles
    Hi: Ethnicity do promote democratic principles

1.5 Significance Of The Study

Since democratic principles serve directly towards touching lives, this lead to great development (Rural or Urban) among the different ethnic groups a constructive and objectives of democratic principles will no doubt promote efficiency and thus beneficial to all.

It is hoped that the findings of this study to a great extent will help in improving the performance of democratic government and stampede the rate of ethnic crisis. Above all, it is hoped that the adoption of the recommendation will go a long way in the general improvement of the performance and development of the continuous democracy.

1.7 Scope Of The Study

In scrutinizing the scope of the study, it pin-point on the structure nature of ethnicity in Nigeria between 1999-2011. it looks on the various democratic rules and regulation, principles, policies and programme which were geared towards setting of ethnic crisis against effectiveness and speedy democracy in Nigeria.
The scope also deals with how far the ethnic politics of the nation can be controlled in future.

1.8 Limitation Of The Study

This research work is limited to 1999-2011 democratic dispensation in Nigeria (Obasanjo and Yar’adua Regime respectively) which started from 29th May 1999.

The research encountered problems in the course of the study. The problems ranged from financial constraints following the downward surage of the economic and the fact that the researcher come from one of the ethnic group which might leaf him into being bias in drawing up the vital information.

The major limitation is paucity of relevant data on the subject since the research instruments were questionnaire, textbooks and interviews. Those that collected the questionnaire delayed unnecessary to fill in the information, some filled the questionnaire with inaccurate information.

1.9 Definition Of Terms

The concepts which intended to define for use in this work are as follows;

  1. Democracy
  2. Ethnic
  3. Politics
  4. Principles
  5. Ethnicity
  6. Democratic principles

The term democracy simply means government of the people, usually through elected representatives.


A group sharing a common origin, culture or language


as used in this work means science and art of government political affairs of life.


Basic truth, general law of cause and effect; guiding rule for behaviours. General law shows in the working of a purpose.


Stands according to ethnic grouping deriving from belonging to such racial, background, customs, norms, society, civilization, tradition.

Democratic Principles

as used in this work imply supporting democracy. Paying no or little attention to class division based on birth or wealth as a guiding rule for behaviour and thus, general cause of action.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

The analysis and calculation of the percentage sampling confirm clearly that the poor performance of democratic principles in Nigeria is as a result of high ethnic consciousness and favouritism. From the total data collected, the level of applied democratic principles indicated it to be within 40% and 60%. The research shows a significant level of ethnicity in the politics of Nigeria within 1999-2011.

The data analysis also review that the use of ethnic homeland as a political base may be discouraged by the sponsorship of a political process based on the role of individual participation and productivity/ workability. Representatives will be drawn from occupational/mass – mandate rather than geographical constituencies. Furthermore, democratic principles will be truly effective if politicians will have their bases in the poor peasants, petty traders or similar interest groups. Similarly the use of government instrument for ethnic competition can be avoided by such a political process as well as by a such a political process as well as by a pedagogy of the constitutional rights of the ethnic groups and administration.

5.2 Summary Of Findings

From the research findings so far, it was clearly observed that ethnicity and democratic principles in Nigeria politics is very serious issue that have given consciousness on the mind of every one irrespective of one’s tribe or ethnic region.

It was also discovered that there have been cases of ethnic violence during this dispensation. About 80% of the respondents were of the supporting side for zoning of the office of the president while the other offices be completed for; base on the federal character commission.

Finally, 80% of the population and data consulted strongly appraise the role of ethnicity to be very effective both in politics and democratic principles application in Nigeria within 1999-2011 democratic dispensation.

5.3 Conclusion

Domestic principles of any nation stands as those true instrument that makes everyone in a democratic nation to believe as put forward or use in this study are problems that face the practicing principles.

This make it imperative for the researcher or this research work to go a long way on the 1999-2011 democratic principles in Nigerian policies. The structure of ethnic sense among the administrators and their administration. Moreso, this research put down some suggested solution to the handling of the two scenario; Ethnicity and democratic principles in Nigeria politics.

5.4 Recommendation

In the course of this research work, the researcher therefore recommends the following;

  1. There should be a zoning system in the country that will allow for all the ethnics to participate in the running of the affairs of the country.
  2. There should be total knowledge of democratic principles among the leaders.
  3. The roles of ethnicity should be very effective both in politics and democratic principle.
  4. Democratic principle should stand as a true instrument that will make the citizens to believe on the government of the days.
  5. There should be justice and fair play on the part of the Nigerian political leaders who have in one way or the other allowed the spirit of ethnic consciousness to overrule them in the performance of their appointed duties.

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