Nothing can be understood about Nigeria until its pattern of ethnic diversity is delineated. Within the boundaries drawn by the British are a staggering variety of ethnic groups, as revealed by the presence of some 248 distinct languages (Coleman, 1958: 15). Many of these linguistic groups are tiny and politically insignificant. But just three comprise roughly two-thirds of the population: the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba, and the Igbo (Table 2.1). In this respect, Nigeria can be classified as having (in Horowitz’s terms) a relatively ‘centralised’ ethnic structure.
KeywordsPolitical Conflict Colonial Rule Electoral Competition Dominant Class Political Office
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