Tuesday, 10 July 2012

STRATEGIES FOR NATIONAL UNITY AND INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA (EAGLESISLAND TECHNOLOGIES- NIGERIA)


INTRODUCTION
Possibly, the greatest challenge facing Nigeria today is the threat to national unity, as centrifugal tensions, resource control and self-determination, ethnicity based identity politics and religious cleavages have enveloped national consciousness.  Since independence in 1960, national integration has been a top priority of governments in Nigeria.  The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme, the Unity Schools, the Federal Character Principle, and State Creation are examples of state policies intended to achieve this goal. (Enegwea &Umoden, 1993; Alapiki, 2005; Ekeh & Osaghae, 1989). 
It is clear that the outcome of integration policies and programmes in Nigeria have fallen far below expectation, as primordial ethnic loyalties are still deep seated.  Ethnic particularism is seen as the major cause of this failure (Naanen, 1995), and consequently, suggestions on policy options are targeted to deal with this issue.

DEFINITION OF TERMS
National integration
National integration is the awareness of a common identity amongst the citizens of a country. It means that though we belong to different castes, religions and regions and speak different languages we recognize the fact that we are all one. This kind of integration is very important in the building of a strong and prosperous nation.

Unity
Unity is a positive, practical, progressive approach to Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus and the power of prayer. Unity honors the universal truths in all religions and respects each individual's right to choose a spiritual path.

THE ROLES OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION
The nation is a cultural entity that binds people together on the basis of culturally homogenous ties common or related blood, a common language, a common historical tradition, common customs and habits (Rodee et al, 1976).  A nation is thus an exclusive group, and its essential features include: a homogenous cultural unit; specific and shared identity among members; deep attachment to a specific territory – the earthly home; membership is limited by ties of blood, intermarriage, kinship and common descent; members have a shared understanding of who they are, how they originated and have developed over time, as well as collective belonging (Parekin, cited by Nna, 2005).
It is clear that individuals are the units of integration, and members of a nation are integrated as they share a common identity. Thus, the term national integration is not applicable to a single nation, but involves two or more nations.  A state is a political entity that is in many cases made of more than one nationality group.  Thus, for example Nigeria is made of about 250 ethnic groups (Enegwea & Umoden, 1993, Coleman, 1986).
The plurality of groups many times throw up centrifugal forces that tend to tear countries apart.  This reality imposes the need to integrate the distinct ethnic groups to become a monolithic whole that shares a common identity and destiny.  Essentially therefore, national integration is a process that attempts to erode the presence of micro-nationalities in place of a spirit of nationhood (Alapiki, 2000).  This is achieved through the breakdown of ethnic barriers, the elimination of primordial ethnic loyalties, and the development of a sense of common identity.
Integration can be categorized as a three-phased activity – as a project, process and product.   Integration as a project is the desire for unity and the efforts directed towards it.  The processes of integration are the practical actions that are taken to transform distinct nationality groups into a single nation.  The product of integration deals with the outcome of integration process (Morgan, 2002).  Enegwea and Umoden (1993) have noted two integration processes that can tackle the centrifugal forces associated with inter-ethnic diversity. First, is the use of state policy to prevent the dominance of one group at the expense of other groups.  Examples are federal character and quota system.  The second is the use of policies and programmes to de-emphasize differences among nationality groups, and the promotion of harmony and understanding among the ethnic groups.  An example is the National Youth Service Corps Scheme in Nigeria. The success of such policies in enhancing national integration is largely predicated on education, in terms of its content and access.

STRATEGIES FOR NATIONAL UNITY AND INTEGRATION IN NIGERIA

1.    INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION
The development of man to enable him create and recreate himself (Okorosaye – orubite, 2008); the pursuit of a wide-range of activities, planned and managed for the benefit of society and its members (Audu, 2004); the systematic influencing of peoples knowledge, skills and attitudes (Nduka, 2006); the transmission from one generation to another, the accumulated wisdom, knowledge, skills, values and attitudes of the society (Nyerere, 1967).
It is clear that education makes man moral and ethical; inducts the individual into the shared values of society; develops commitment to societal goals in the individual; prepares the young members of society for the future; defines behavioural patterns of individuals and society; and also enhances the productive capabilities of individuals and by extension the society.  Education is the gateway to development, and the literature has adequately highlighted this.  One of such studies has noted that:
Formal education has a vital role to play in the development and social change of human communities.  For development and change to take place, education is a must.  It creates the environment and conditions conducive for change to take place… education is the builder and molder of attitude and behaviour of members of the society which lend support to the process of development and change (Ekin-Okut, 1985:54).
Whereas the above reference emphasize formal education, it is imperative to note that informal education also enhances the goals of development.  Although the dominant expectation of education is development, it is also expected that it will enhance the integration of sub-populations that are divided by language, religion or ethnicity (Peshkin, 1967). Education is noted for three political roles– agent of political socialization into a nation’s political culture; the training and selection of political elite; and the enhancement of political integration and national political consciousness (Fagerlind and Saha,1989) 
Indeed, education is a product and process that reforms society and induces desirable change in behaviour patterns of individuals (Okorosaye-Orubite, 2008).  This provides the basis that education can be a vehicle for national integration in Nigeria. 
2.   IMPLEMENTATION OF FOOD SECURITY POLICIES
Food security is one of the monsters that target many developing countries of the world. With the majority of people in this part of the world as farmers, there is an urgent need to save the rural communities through the provision of an adequate infrastructure. Such a system would support food and cash crop production for domestic consumption and export (brings foreign funds for development of the country).
It is pertinent to note that most of the rural communities are border towns. Rural people should be enlightened on the importance of the country's sovereignty and (they should be on alert) on the damaging effects of intolerance of neighboring brothers. If the rural communities are at peace, the rest of the country will also enjoy peace because they are the majority. The library must wake up from its traditional role by imbibing ideas and services that will have direct and relevant bearing on the citizenry.

3.   RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Rural areas in Nigeria constitute 70% of the country's population while the urban area makes up the other 30% (Dosunmu, 1986). The development of the rural area falls within the precinct of the third tier of government called the local government. The local government is also known as the "grassroots government" because of its closeness to the people at the rural level. The developmental needs of rural people and provisions of social and economic amenities rest with the local government which oversees the human and natural resources requirements of the area.
There cannot be national development without including the rural areas.
According to Aboyade (1990), the well being of the greater percentage of the population depends on the benefits of rural development, which in turn, radiate national development.
In spite of the importance of rural development to national development, studies have clearly shown that there is no meaningful development in the rural area which can be used to jump start national growth. Therefore, local government area councils are to blame for the abandonment of tools needed for rapid social, economic, and political development. However, not only the government is at fault, but also the people and corporate bodies who are to compliment these efforts in the provision of amenities required to propel rapid rural development.
Adebowale (1998) affirms that students, researchers, scholars, teachers, retired persons, farmers, and artisans are the different groups that make up the communiry in every local government. If this submission is right, then rural development deserves urgent attention before it reaches a comatose state. For rural development to have a strong impact on national development infrastructures such as motor available roads, health services, schools, portable water supplies, and improved economic activities, adequate attention is a necessity. Above all, the rural populace must be well informed through adequate structured and unstructured information services; it is more important to prevent chaos, than to start looking for ways of quelling it.
The true colour of the rural community in Nigeria shines with its abundance of human and natural resources. Through well designed information services that use indigenous and modem resources (within the environment), lasting unity and peace can emerge in multi-ethnic and diverse Nigeria.

4.   INTEGRATING CITIES AND TOWNS AND MANAGING URBAN GROWTH

The Urban Strategy seeks, foremost, the physical, social and economic integration of our cities and towns. This means that:
  • Jobs, housing, and urban amenities of all kinds must be furnished in more efficient and integrated urban and metropolitan settlements. Co-locating urban functions will make cities and towns more efficient in a number of ways. Physically more integrated cities and towns would also mean shorter commuting distances and times. Such interventions will not only make individual cities and towns more efficient, but they could also have a significant effect on the national economy.
  • Intensified development should focus public investment around both developed and emergent nodal points in the urban system. This selective intensification should also occur along already existing transportation corridors. In this way "reorganization areas" and "activity corridors" will be created. Such intensified development must aim at establishing better conditions of access to an expanded range of nearby facilities.
  • The rebuilding of the townships is an essential part of urban reconstruction and integration. The dormitory, role of low-income areas must finally be terminated. Specific attention will be focused on these low-income areas: townships, informal settlements, and low-income inner city, residential zones. These areas represent an under-utilized resource for the future. They have to be transformed into productive, habitable, environmentally healthy and safe urban environments, free from crime and violence. Rebuilding the townships is unquestionably the single most important urban development challenge facing the country. It cannot occur in isolation from integrating strategies. The intention is certainly not to reinforce the segregation between different parts of the dry. What needs to be done, however, is to ensure equity across the urban landscape and thus offer all urban residents proper opportunities and facilities. This transformation will include augmenting and diversifying urban functions, upgrading existing and constructing new housing, restoring and extending infrastructure services, promoting investment and economic activities and alleviating environmental health hazards.
  • Public passenger transportation routes and systems should be improved and made more flexible. Better urban transportation will increase household mobility and thus access to wider labour markets and opportunities. Links between central city areas and outlying areas and between nodal points in the urban system will have to be strengthened.
  • Physical integration and social integration should go hand in hand. An understanding of the "interwoven destinies" of urban stakeholders is a precondition for improved economic performance. Seen through the prism of the global economy, our urban areas are single economic units that either rise, or stagnate and fall together.

5.   YOUTH EMPOWERMENT
Nigerian youths constitute the most active segment of the entire population of over 140 million people. They are the social engineers and a veritable channel or catalyst for positive changes in the rural community, in school or urban setting. These youths need love and a fair share of the national wealth. They are people with high hopes, great expectations from parents and elders in the society. At this point, it is necessary to examine the concept of youth as a prelude to an appraisal of this social group. It should be noted that differences exist in perception of the term “youth” by governments, international organizations, and the public. However, the term “youth” generally implies a period of life between childhood and adulthood.
In most countries of the world, adult status is officially attained at the age of 21 years. Non-the-less, in many African countries, the ability of a person to enter into or sustain a marriage signifies to the public that one has attained adulthood. Hence, chronological age alone does not determine an adult status. It is noteworthy that with increasing modernization, there is a tendency for most African countries, at least in their official transactions, to follow the United Nations or the British Commonwealth definitions of youths as people within the age of 15 – 24 and 15 - 29 years respectively (Egbue, 2006). Quite appreciably, susceptibility of youth to parental and societal influences, which shape their lives and determine their well-being, constitutes a major characteristic of youth. This issue has been examined by Gelles (1987), Wallerstein and Kelly (1992).
Accordingly, a large part of the problem of youths in all societies hinge on this factor: There is the tendency to associate youth sub-culture with deviance. Igbo (2000) describes this situation as one in which they are socialized into and committed to a set of values, standards, expectations and behaviour pattern, distinguishable from those of adult society.
Youths are the back –bone of a nation. They can make or destroy a nation. Nation –integration is a concept of national – utility. Integration or unity means co-ordination in any organization. Society has three parts. They are worked jointly with each and other. These parts are children, youths, and olds . Children and old person cannot build a nation because they have not any power in their blood. If youths can easily develops our nation.  Igbo (2000) observed that areas of youth’s rejection include values of community ownership, assistance to others as demonstrated in extended family relationships, sanctity of human life and female chastity before marriage.
According to Egbue (2006) while seeking independence from adult expectations and demands, the youth enter into what may be regarded as a form of almost compulsive conformity and loyalty to the peer group. This is often marked by intolerance of deviance to the sub culture; a situation which helps to increase the cultural gap between youths and the older generation, thus further distancing the former from involvement in mainstream societal goal. Surely, youth violence is quite often viewed by social scientists as an expression of frustration. The militia activities in the Niger Delta of Nigeria speak volumes on the level of frustration of Nigerian youths in that region.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
Unity occurs when all of the elements of a piece combine to make a balanced, harmonious, complete whole. Unity is another of those hard-to-describe art terms but, when it's present, your eye and brain are pleased to see it. In the process of researching to build up this work, the following recommendations have been suggested, that:
1.                   Education has a central role to play as far as empowering our youth for national development is concerned. Entrepreneurial education has become necessary in all our manpower development efforts in Nigeria principally because few new employments are being created by government departments and private organizations for the employable graduates from our secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
2.                   More Nigerian youths should be trained as craftsmen, technicians to make for self-reliance. Anya (2005) laments that lack of the technical and vocational orientation and content in Nigerian education had limited ultimately the achievement of the growth potential of the economy. The outcome constrained the opportunities for employment leading to the high unemployment rate seen among products at all levels of the educational system but much more so among university graduates.
3.                   Excessive reliance on the public sector for the provision of socio-economic resources and the creation of jobs has been the bane of development efforts in Nigeria. It has now been fully realized that the public sector alone cannot provide these facilities because of the limited resources at its disposal. Government must realize its limitations and create an enabling environment for the private sector participation in this regard.
4.                   There is a growing need for creativity in the modern day society. The society is characterized by complexity and interdependence, technological and communications advances. Rising expectations certainly call for increased levels of creativity.














REFERENCES
Ake, C. (1996), Is Africa democratizing?, Lagos: Malthouse Press
Limited.
Alapiki, H.E. (2000), Politics and governance in Nigeria, Owerri:
Corporate Impressions
Alapiki, H.E. (2005), ‘State creation in Nigeria’, failed approaches to
national integration and local autonomy,  African Studies Review, Vol.48, No.3, pp.49-65.
Alapiki, H. (1998), Political parties and political integration in Nigeria,
Owerri: Springfield Publishers.
Alapiki, H. and Barikor, I. B. (2002), ‘The politics of ethnicity and
political  integration in Africa, in Efemini, A.O. (eds), Ake and African development: selected issues, Port Harcourt: Paragraphics, PP.127-140.
Gotep, M. G. (2000). The contribution of social studies education
towards nation-building. Social Studies Quarterly 3(1): 116-119.

Igbo, E. U. M. (2000). Nigerian youth rejection of traditional values in
the name of development. UNIZIK. Journal of Sociology 1(1): 10 - 14.

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