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Nigeria is a multi-ethnic nation with cultural differences between its component ethnic groups. From the north to the coast, the range in types of social system, dress, diet and languages far exceeds that to be found elsewhere in the world. This diversity has resulted into two major problems namely: problems arising between the larger ethnic groups and the hostility that derives from competition between peoples for wealth and power. This research examines the political implication of this diversity and the problems created by it for the survival of democracy in Nigeria. Democracy is a game of number, where the most populated region tends to have numerical advantage over the less populated region in terms of political appointments and elections. In such a struggle, the weak ones are elbowed out and the strong ones get hold of power.



1.1      Background of the study

Nigeria has three largest ethnic groups, the Hausa–Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo who altogether represent 71 percent of the entire population (Otite 1990). Other large ethnic groups include the Kanuri, who centered in Borno State; the Tiv, from the Benue Valley near Makurdi; the Ibibio and Efik in the Calabar area; the Edo from the Benin region; and the Nupe, who centered in the Bida area. Although these other ethnic groups are small by Nigerian standards, but each of these lesser groups has more members than almost any of Africa’s other ethnicities. Where ethnicity is all about sticking to one’s tribal group and possibly favoring such against the many existing others within a society, Some scholars have, on the other hand, seen marginalization as a process where a person is pushed to the edge of the society (Okpu 1977). That is, marginalization has potency of discrimination because a person is made to stand out and made to be different from everyone else where such person is marginalized and he/she may therefore feel different from the rest of the society. This is the condition some minority ethnics in Nigeria are pushed to today. Hence, the reality and sincerity regarding the nation lie in the fact that the country Nigeria only exists more now in name and as a geographical expression. This is because the sectional quest for relevance and out-smarting approaches to gain development, positions and self-favoritism advantages at the expense of others by many of these ethnic groups in Nigeria once they seize power-advantage have since given rise to mutual distrust and disharmony within the country. In fact, geo-political labels such as the ‘North East, South South, South East, South West, North Central and so on have added tremendously to the plaque and negative impact of practicing ethnicity. The consequence of which is eroding the sense of unity and gradually tearing the nation apart on the ground of togetherness today. In fact many scholars have spoken against what the nation tag Federal Character which emphasizes geo-political advantage against human resource capacity, qualifications and merit in the distribution of positions. This practice has largely been criticized for being responsible for the most politically influenced positions that are allocated to undeserving leaders within the country. Of course, the effect of this is obvious on the nation’s socio-economic and political awkwardness.

It is a commonplace fact that Nigeria is a multi-ethnic nation state with socio-cultural differences between its component ethnic groups all of which have resulted into cultural dissimilarity. This cultural dissimilarity has been manifested by, for instance, the differences in language, diet, dress and types of social system. Shrewd observers have noticed that the recent event such as globalization have not significantly diminished these differences. This static situation has been due to a number of reasons: The indigenous languages, which help to identify the various ethnic groups, are still spoken by almost the entire population of Nigeria. The style of life has not, for the majority people, changed to such a degree as to produce appreciably greater uniformity. Against this diverse background, many ethnic problems abound in Nigeria, which arise principally from the hostility that derives from competition between ethnically different peoples for wealth and power. About five decades after Nigeria gained independence, the Nigerian diverse social structure in terms of her heterogeneity has not changed significantly. The diversity nature of the society has made identification with the ‘nation’ a difficult task. Today, identification is easier at both family and ethnic levels. A consequence of this is that many of the citizens may never develop a proper concept of nation. This kind of ethnic group relation signifies a negative dimension and which may mean much for the Nigerian political system. Therefore, a discussion of the effects of ethnic politics on the survival of democracy is or seems to be highly desirable. It even becomes necessary given the cry of political marginalization coming from various ethnic groups in the new democracy. In all political activities in Nigeria, the factor of ethnicity is reflected. It is particularly obvious in areas like voting, distribution of political offices, employment and government general patronage of the citizens. It is against this background that this paper discusses the effect of ethnic politics on democratic governance in Nigeria.


Political marginalization, ethnicity and religious politics has constituted a major stumbling block to the development of Nigerian politics. Though many are of the opinion that it is not democratic in nature as such it application in the Nigeria setting has been questionable, as some also posit that it does not give room for the best brains to be elected. It is on this backdrop that the researcher intend to investigate the effect of politics of marginalization, ethnicity and religion in Nigeria.


The main objective of this study is to examine the effect of politics of marginalization, ethnicity and religion in Nigeria. But for the successful completion of the study, the researcher put forward the following sub-objectives to be achieved:

i)             To ascertain the effect of marginalization in Nigeria politics

ii)           To ascertain the relationship between ethnicity and democratic consolidation

iii)          To evaluate the impact of religion politics on national unity

iv)         To ascertain the relationship between ethnicity politics and religious politics


For the successful completion of the study, the following hypotheses were formulated by the researcher

H0: political marginalization has no effect in Nigeria democracy

H1: political marginalization has a significant effect on Nigeria democracy.

H0: there is no significant relationship between ethnicity and democratic consolidation in Nigeria.

H2: there is a significant relationship between ethnicity and democratic consolidation.


It is perceived that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the leaders of political parties in their choice of candidacy or flag bearer during any general elections, the study will also be of great importance to the political office holders in their choice of appointment into their carbinate. The study will also be of great benefit to the researchers who intends to embark on research on similar topics as it will serve as a guide. Finally, the study will be of great importance to academia’s, lecturers, teachers, students and the general public.


The scope of the study covers the effect of zonal politics and democratic consolidation in Nigeria. But the research has some constrain to the expansion of its scope, which are:

a)         AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study   

b)         TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher have to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c)        Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities



A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters' interests. While there is some international commonality in the way political parties are recognized, and in how they operate, there are often many differences, and some are significant


Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock. The notion is contested because it is not clear that there is anything substantive that happens to new democracies that secures their continuation beyond those factors that simply make it 'more likely' that they continue as democracies. Unconsolidated democracies suffer from formalized but intermittent elections and clientelism


Politics is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities


An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities, such as common ancestrallanguagesocialcultural or national experiences


Treatment of a person, group, or concept as insignificant or peripheral. The process whereby something or someone is pushed to the edge of a group and accorded lesser importance. This is predominantly a social phenomenon by which a minority or sub-group is excluded, and their needs or desires ignored.


Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world viewssacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist[who?] has called "an order of existence". Different religions may or may not contain various elements, ranging from the "divine", "sacred things" faith a "supernatural being or supernatural beings"[5] or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life


This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

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