The Challenges of Nationhood and State-building in Nigeria’s “Fourth” Republic

Nigeria’s eighteen years of civilian rule has been dotted with incessant ethno-nationalist agitations which have often threatened the peace and tranquillity of the Nigerian state and the orderly conduct of public and private businesses. The Nigerian state has in turn often responded to these agitations through an admixture of appeasements and the application of force in what is commonly referred to as the carrot and stick approach. While the state has largely been successful in containing such agitations, and ultimately bringing them within the bounds of order, two of such on-going agitations – the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast and the Biafra separatist agitations in the Southeast – appear to have so far defied the military prowess and the strategic ingenuity of the Nigerian state. Both also standout, whereas earlier agitations were merely targeted at redressing certain identified grievances. These lay claim to the very soul of the Nigerian state; that is, the inviolability of Nigeria’s unity and corporate existence. Whereas several explanations have been offered for the persistence of these conflicts, this paper seeks to further evaluate their rising intractability within the wider context of the overall tension between nationhood and state-building. The paper relies on primary and secondary data derived from documents and through interviews. They will be analysed using logical inferences.