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 &
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
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
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
THE ROLES OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION
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).
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.
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
INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION
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).
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:
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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