Book: ‘The Nationality Question In Nigeria’ – By Arthur Nwankwo

The Nationality Question - By Arthur Nwankwo

Arthur Nwankwo, (LinkMoment).

Do you know that since the inception of Nigeria as a political system in 1914, the affairs of state have been conducted as if the primary unit of political action was ethnic formation?

One centrifugal consequence of this is that primordial loyalties have been used as the casual root of political behavior and as the major foundation for political parties; Nigerians have emphasized their cultural differences to the extent of assigning a place to the reality of their dissimilarities in the National Anthem.

In “THE NATIONALITY QUESTION” Arthur Nwankwo has shown that inter-ethnic animosities are not ordained. They are a social product; the handiwork of those that nurture us and not of nature, and it derives its existence and strength from the same economic circumstances which breed affluence for a few and poverty for many.


It has often been argued by right-wing academics that the primary source of political instability in developing countries is the forced co-existence of mutually exclusive ethnic formations; and that ethnicity which arises from this forced co-existence is an autonomous political force or a major contradiction.

By these they mean that a developing country could-become fully developed and coherently integrated only by harmonizing transactions in inter-ethnic relations. But their recommended therapy, such as the creation of states, the adoption of a federal structural framework, quota politics and federal character, often shoot very wide off the real problem.

The result is that since the therapy does not address the primary causes of instability, anomie remains a major feature of all dependent systems. In The Nationality Question In Nigeria, Arthur Nwankwo shows that ethnicity is neither a primary contradiction or a major obstacle to nationhood in developing societies. He submits that although the ethnic phenomenon cannot be ignored, it is necessary to show how it is a simple offshoot of underlying material dynamics, especially in the spheres of economic activity and class formation.

Believing that it is necessary to resolve the nationality question as a precondition for the authentic development of dependent societies, Dr Nwankwo nevertheless insists that the nationality question is organically woven with the class logic of society and cannot, therefore, be resolved without abolishing the oppressive class structure which breeds ethnicity.

Using the Nigerian experience as a reference, he outlines the class obstacles to nationhood and recommends the socialist option as the only logical therapy for anomie and hostility in inter-ethnic relations. Nwankwo is an historian and political scientist, and has written fifteen books all of which address the diverse aspects of the Nigerian condition.