EFFECT OF ETHNICITY ON THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA
Nigeria is by far the most populated of Africa’s countries, with more than one-seventh of the continent’s people. The people belong to many different ethnic groups. These groups give the country a rich culture, but they also pose major challenges to nation building. Ethnic strife has plagued Nigeria since it gained independence in 1960. Officially known as the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’, she has a federal form of government and is divided into 36 states and a federal capital territory. Lagos, (formerly the capital of Nigeria) is the economic and cultural center located along the coast, and inhabited majorly by the Yoruba-speaking tribe. It is also the country’s largest city (in terms of population). The government moved from Lagos to Abuja in 1991 in the hope of creating a national capital where none of the country’s ethnic groups would be dominant. The land size area of Nigeria is approximately 923,768 sq km (356,669 sq mi). It was home to ethnically based kingdoms and tribal communities before it became a European colony. In spite of European contact that began in the 16th century, these kingdoms and communities maintained their autonomy until the 19th century. The colonial era began in earnest in the late 19th century, when Britain consolidated its rule over Nigeria. In 1914 the British merged their northern and southern protectorates into a single state called the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Nigeria became independent of British rule in 1960. After independence Nigeria experienced frequent coups and long periods of autocratic military rule between 1966 and 1999, when a democratic civilian government was established Nigeria is very rich in raw materials like crude oil, tin, iron etc but is almost solely dependent on crude oil which is a major source of income for the country. While oil wealth has financed major investments in the country’s infrastructure, Nigeria remains among the world’s poorest countries in terms of per capita income. Oil revenues led the government to ignore agriculture, resulting in dependence on food importation.
MAP OF NIGERIA SHOWING THE 36 STATES
1.1 The people of Nigeria
Nigeria's diversity, both in "tongue" and "tribe" makes it a very difficult region to subject to precise classification. This has led to the tendency among many scholars to focus on the three major ethnic or geographic zones in the country viz the Hausa-Fulani (Northern Nigeria), the Yoruba (Western Nigeria) and the Igbo (Eastern Nigeria). These geographic zones are not in any way solely occupied by the three ethnic groups. A plethora of smaller socio-ethnic groups may be located in these zones.
The highest population densities are in the Igbo heartland in south-eastern Nigeria, despite poor soils and heavy emigration. The intensively farmed zones around and including several major cities of the Hausa ethnic group especially Kano, Sokoto, and Zaria in the north are also densely populated. Other areas of high density include Yorubaland in the southwest, the central Jos Plateau, and the Tiv homeland in Benue State in the south central region. Densities are relatively low in the dry northeast and in most parts of the middle belt. Ecological factors, including the prevalence of diseases such as sleeping sickness, carried by the tsetse fly, and historical factors, especially the legacy of pre-colonial slave raiding, help explain these low densities (Encarta, 2009).
Table 1.1: Statistics of Nigeria
| 138,283,240 (2008 estimate)
| 152 persons per sq km
393 persons per sq mi (2008 estimate)
Urban population distribution
| 48 percent (2005 estimate)
| Rural population distribution
| 52 percent (2005 estimate)
| Largest cities, with population
| Lagos, 11,100,000 (2005 estimate) Ibadan, 3,570,000 (2007 estimate)
Ogbomosho, 861,300 (2007 estimate)
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