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Two Nigerian Ethnonationalist Movements: A Comparison of the OPC and MASSOB


  • Moses Metumara Duruji

    1. Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria
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    • Moses Metumara Duruji received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Covenant University, Ota, Nigeria. He is a fellow and grant holder of the Association of African Political Science/Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation programme for Young African Scholars on research in social and political transition. He won the African Institute of South Africa (AISA) Best Innovative Researcher and Best Young Scholar awards in 2008. Email:


The proliferation of ethnic militia organisations in Nigeria raises questions about the factors responsible for the development. Although reasons adduced from the rhetoric of these organisations point to the politics of exclusion and marginalisation in Nigeria, this form of ethnicity is a new phenomenon. The growth of these militant formations pervading the length and breadth of the country is attributable to the nature and character of the Nigerian state. Perceptions of marginalisation in the distribution of power and resources, and the repressive tactics of the state to sub-national dissent, have encouraged their growth. The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) are prominent ethnic militia groups that draw membership from major ethnic groups in southern Nigeria. Rivalry and hegemonic competition for the control of the state among the major ethnic groups led to a civil war in the late 1960s, but wartime experiences were not harnessed for a nation-building project. The result was the systematic perversion of the state, which has resulted in throwing up new forms of ethnicity in Nigeria as reflected in the emergence of these organisations.

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