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ISSN: 0331-4111  e-ISSN: 2736-075X
Volume 20, No. 1, June 2022
Pages 18-32

DOI: 10.36108/NJSA/2202.02.0120

The Nigerian Federation and Separatists’ Agitations: A Reconsideration of Contending Issues on Biafra

Olufunlayo Bammeke and Felix Olanrewaju Awosika
University of Lagos, Nigeria


Federalism often arises from the desire of the peoples to form a union without necessarily losing their identities. In Nigeria, an attempt to cultivate a common national identity met with serious obstacles from separatist agitations in Nigerian history. In the light of this, the paper examines the causes of separatist agitations in Nigeria from its formative years as a British Colony and Protectorate and proffers solutions for stemming the drift toward disintegration. It observes that the history of the Federation of Nigeria is one laced with separatist agitations. The paper notes that separatist agitations, have been traced to a plethora of factors which include ethnicity, cultural diversity, vast size, revenue allocation, political instability, and ambiguities in the constitution, among others. The paper argues that these factors remain object of intense politics and generally paved way for separatist agitations in Nigeria. In recent times, separatist movements in the South East geopolitical zone have stepped-up struggles for the actualization of the sovereign state of Biafra through protests and other forms of social mobilization. The protests have triggered tension and heightened insecurity, with the security agencies applying excessive force to quell the protests in some cases. The extant literature is awash with narratives regarding the recent upsurge and persistent centrifugal demands by pro-Biafra separatists, five decades after the Nigerian civil war. Although these analyses are germane to the subject matter, they essentially suffer from disjointed empiricism, and as such unable to adequately illuminate the understanding of the renewed Biafra separatist agitations. The paper concludes that Nigeria’s unity is problematic and that the approach the government has been adopting in handling the problem is actually not working.

Keywords: Separatist agitations, federalism, South East geopolitical zone, Biafra, nation-building, marginalization

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