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Breaking Nigeria into six parts. But which six parts?

From the (South African) Mail & Guardian:

"“Nigeria must be Balkanised,” said Ralph Uwazuruike, the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra. “Nigeria is going to break into six republics. All the geo-political zones of the country will soon become separate countries,” he predicted.

I have considerable sympathy for separatist aspirations in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world, as it is not as though the people of Africa chose to be corralled into states that were created for the administrative convenience of the occupying powers. However, in 1964 the OAU "recognized the sovereignty of existing African states within their colonial frontiers...and refused to countenance attempts at secession".

Even before issues of religion are added to the mix, the very approximate score with headline ethnic figures are these:

"Nigeria is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 20%, Igbo (Ibo) 20%, Ijaw 6.5%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%"

Clear maps of ethnic breakdown are thin on the ground, but this gives a reasonable indication:

The Biafran war of 1967-1970 saw the largely Igbo secessionist movement attempt to create a state in the South East of the country, and ended up with circa 1.25 million people dead, although much of this was down to the blockade induced famine that ended the war. As a point of comparison, the population of Nigeria at that time was circa 50m, much the same as the UK in 1939, so the butcher's bill for the Biafran war was three times the losses to the UK in World War II. Note also that most of Nigeria's oil reserves are in and around the Niger delta, an area where the Igbo dominate, so it is just a little unlikely that the Yoruba and Hausa /Fulani peoples would let Igboland - as Igbo sometimes call it - secede in a velvet divorce.

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Anonymous dearieme said... 5:54 pm

One of my University classmates went home to do his bit for Biafra: we heard from him to begin with and then his letters ceased. While this was going on in a former British colony, the noisier students were fussing about Vietnam. Self-indulgent plonkers.  

Blogger CityUnslicker said... 10:25 pm

I wonder how much of the huge increase in fertility are led by a palestinian like desire on behlaf of some tibes in the country to outgrow their rivals over time.

Nigeria will be one of the places on earth to have its population more than treble in the next 100 years. The other country to keep up such a rate is Pakistan.

Re-assuring, eh?  

Blogger Ross said... 8:43 pm

The Igbo and Yoruba diasporas are generally pretty successful around the world, so if they got there own nation states they would probably have a good chance of being successful.

Nigeria's multi ethnic nature is one of the factors which fuels corruption, because it means that the public tends to tolerate corrupt officials from their own ethnic group on the grounds that at least some of the money will end up being spent on them rather than on the other lot.  

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