Don Flays Politicians Over Use Of Ethnicity For Selfish Ambitions

Professor of Political Economy and Development Studies of the department of Political Science, University of Jos, Prof. Samuel Egwu, has cautioned political elites over the use of ethnicity to cause division among groups in Nigeria. The university don made the assertion while delivering the 72nd inaugural lecture series in the university, tagged ‘Technology of Power and Dramaturgy of Politics: Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.’

Prof. Egwu hinges his idea on the Marxist theory that ethnicity in Nigeria has become a tool for galvanising the people towards the realisation of selfish ambition by the ruling and political elite. He argued that being primarily a political phenomenon central to the control of state power and authoritative allocation of values, ethnicity should be recognised as a state – linked category rather than against survival mechanism of African people as erroneously presented.
     
It is Egwu’s contention that in the context of the power game and electoral democracy, “ethnicity is often deployed as a tool or a facilitator in the primitive accumulation of the votes. It is certainly not the only technology available to the political elite, but certainly the cheapest, one with the strongest appeal. But even more importantly, is the definite structure that it confers on the drama that characterizes Nigerian politics.”
    
While stating that people’s ethnic identities also define their religious identities, the Marxist pointed out that the political mobilisation of ethnicity in Nigeria is also intertwined with religious identity.

“The congruence between ethnicity and religion and their mutually re-enforcing relationship in the political process is recognised by the notion of ethno-religious identity. Sometimes religious identity becomes part of an ethnic group’s identity or vice versa and presents a volatile social mixture coupled with the power of the ethnic group’s myth of common decent. Indeed, numerous studies have shown the overlapping boundaries between ethnic and religious identities in Nigeria in the daily struggles of groups and communities for access to power and resources.”
      
On Nigeria’s democracy since 1999, Egwu observed that the country has enjoyed uninterrupted civilian democratic rule since ending decades of military rule in 1999.
 According to him, “the Fourth Republic has been marked by regular elections, with the 2015 general elections marking the fifth successive elections.

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