Social Rationality and Class Analysis of National Conflict in Nigeria: A Historiographical Critique

Political instability in Nigeria cannot be attributed to mass poverty or the failure of growth, even though the Nigerian economy is largely based on a single export product, crude oil. The breakdown of Nigeria’s civil regimes has resulted in national conflicts which have nearly undermined the integrity of the State. These conflicts, ranging from the 1953 crisis over the ‘self-government in 1956’ motion to the 1993-1994 crisis following the annulment of the 1993 elections, have often been explained in terms of the sectional configuration of Nigeria. The present article examines the validity of these explanations. It criticizes theoretical class analysis as it is applied to the Nigerian situation, arguing that class crystallization is dysfunctional in a nonrational and culturally plural system. In other words, social class distinctions do not effectively transcend ethnic barriers. National conflict in Nigeria can be better explained in terms of the ethno-regional struggle for the control of the State. Bibliogr., notes, sum. in French.

Title: Social Rationality and Class Analysis of National Conflict in Nigeria: A Historiographical Critique
Author: Ifidon, Ehimika A.
Year: 1999
Periodical: Africa Development: A Quarterly Journal of CODESRIA (ISSN 0850-3907)
Volume: 24
Issue: 1-2
Pages: 145-164
Language: English
Notes: biblio. refs.
Geographic terms: Nigeria
West Africa
External link: https://www.jstor.org/stable/24484541
Abstract: Political instability in Nigeria cannot be attributed to mass poverty or the failure of growth, even though the Nigerian economy is largely based on a single export product, crude oil. The breakdown of Nigeria’s civil regimes has resulted in national conflicts which have nearly undermined the integrity of the State. These conflicts, ranging from the 1953 crisis over the ‘self-government in 1956’ motion to the 1993-1994 crisis following the annulment of the 1993 elections, have often been explained in terms of the sectional configuration of Nigeria. The present article examines the validity of these explanations. It criticizes theoretical class analysis as it is applied to the Nigerian situation, arguing that class crystallization is dysfunctional in a nonrational and culturally plural system. In other words, social class distinctions do not effectively transcend ethnic barriers. National conflict in Nigeria can be better explained in terms of the ethno-regional struggle for the control of the State. Bibliogr., notes, sum. in French.