Political Science Project Topics

Ethnic Militia: Implication on Insecurity and Democracy




Background of the study

The democratic opening presented by Nigeria’s most recent transition to civil rule (June 1998–May 1999) has unleashed a host of hitherto repressed or dormant political forces. The Nigerian state1 has recently been subjected to a dramatic increase in ethnic militias. According to Vickers (2000), we live today in an “era of militant ethnicity”, with its grave social, economic, political and human costs. Among the most critical and indeed violent of this new brand of unleashed political forces which many have referred to as a ‘resurgence’ is the intractable phenomenon of ethnic nationality/identity movements.

Ethnic militias are organized violence-oriented groups populated by diverse elements, spanning different age strata, but exclusively drawn from an ethnic group and established to promote and protect the interests of an ethnic group.Ethnic militias is an extreme form of ethnic agitation for self-determination and occurs when the ethnic group assumes a militant posture. They serve as a social pressure group designed to influence the structure of power to the advantage of and call attention to the deteriorating material condition or political deprivation and perceived marginalization of their group or social environment.

In Nigeria, this development has taken on the guise of ethnic militia movements purportedly representing and seeking to protect their different ethnic interests in a country in which the state is largely perceived as nonchalant to the demands of the ethnic nationalities in the country. The most prominent among these militias include the plethora of the Niger Delta militias like the Egbesu Boys of Africa (EBA), the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, and the Chikoko Movement. Other recent and more visible militias include, the O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC), the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Afenifere Group (APC) and Miyetti Allah. The number grows daily and, so far, the government appears to be at a loss as to how to deal with this problem in an environment where individual and group rights and security need to be upheld, quite apart from the ethnic and political implications of the mayhem caused by these groups. These groups are now contesting not just the political space and the dividends from democracy as it was orchestrated prior to the transition, but also the social-economic spaces as part of the liberalization of the political environment, which are all symbols of secession. The following characteristics are shared by these militant groups: the uncritical use of violence, a preponderance of youth membership, ethnic identity affiliations, movements of a predominantly popular nature, demanding change over the status quo, deepening the level of insecurity in the country, and incessant agitations that turn bloody in the end, putting the country in a state of chaos.These and other manifestations of ethno-militia are not only harmful to the country’s security, but also to the democratic consolidation of what makes us a nation.As a result, this study is based on the premise Ethnic militia: implications for insecurity and democracy.

Statement of the problem

One of the fundamental challenges that have constrained or hamstrung development in Nigeria is the preponderance of ethnic militias and insurgency which have engulfed the nation for over a decade now. The continued existence of violence expressed between these groups (ethnic militias and insurgents) who feel excluded and marginalized from existing power structures on one hand and central authority on the other hand, has indeed affected not only peace and security, but also undermined the countries’ democratic consolidation. According to Felix (2011), this development appears to be a direct result of the Nigerian state’s internal problems, with the manifestation of frustrated expression through defiance violence of ethnic militias and insurgency; which the state is unable to effectively protect the lives and property of her citizens.A common denominator recorded by these violence is that they have promoted humanitarian crises ranging from kidnapping, arson, banditry wrecks, food insecurity, mainly concerning the stability of the sovereign and thereby inhibiting the democratic consolidation which is hinged on unification of the country, nation building and national development.


The scenario of this ethnic militia and insurgency is tragic, spanning from the North, East, and South of the Nigerian state. In the North, the activities of the Boko Haram sect, which claims millions of lives in the region, can not be left out. The Obatse Cult activities in Nasarawa state in north central Nigeria remain so volatile. In the east, issues of violence and kidnapping by unknown gunmen remain also remain volatile in that region. In the South and North West, the activities of bandits and herdsmen causing mayhem on farmers and residents are still shaky, and insecurity is on the rise, putting the environment at risk on a daily basis.

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Equally, the violent confrontations with security personnel, and the deliberate vandalization of public utilities by both ethnic militias and insurgency seriously undermines the safety of lives and properties, and instils fear and a sense of insecurity in the populace. This has a negative impact on Nigeria’s unification and democratic consolidation of the Nigerian state.Against this backdrop, this study will investigate Ethnic militia: implications for insecurity and democracy.

Objective of the study

The primary goal of this research is to investigate ethnic militias and their implications for security and democracy.Specifically, the study will

1. Examine the emergence of ethnic militias and insurgency in Nigeria.

2. Investigate Possible Factors Responsible for the Emergence of Ethnic Militias and Insurgency in Nigeria.

3. Investigate ethnic militias and their negative impact on democratic consolidation and development.

 Research question

The research is guided by the following research question:

1. What are the manifestations of Ethnic militia?

2. What are the factors responsible for the emergence of Ethnic Militia?

3. What are the negative effect of ethnic militia in the society?

4. What are the prospects to end ethnic militia and the way forward?

Significance of the study

The research will be useful to the government, policymakers, and political elite.The government will shed light on the importance of pursuing industrialization and developing strategies to reduce youth unemployment and address inequalities. to policy makers, it will enlighten them on the need to observe the rule of law, adherence to constitutionalism, and respect for individual and collective rights, which are germane to good governance and democratic practice. This would greatly reduce the crisis that exacerbated the resurgence of ethnic militias and insurgents in Nigeria. It will encourage the government to always adopt dialogue instead of violence in the management and resolution of conflicts and differences between the state and the various ethnic nationalities. The study finally will contribute to the body of literature and serve as reference material for other researchers in this field.

 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is borders on Ethnic militia: implication on insecurity and democracy. The study is therefore limited to south-south region using Bayelsa State as case study.

 Research Methodology

Research methodology is the specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information about a topic.

Data Collection: This research is based on secondary data. The materials for this study is sourced mostly from written works from libraries and archives which will include: text books, articles, journals and publications relevant for the study.

Data analysis: The method of data analysis for this research is basically Qualitative and descriptive in nature.

  Limitation of the study

The following factors poses to be a limitation during the course of this research

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

Definition of terms

Ethnic militia: Ethnic militias is an extreme form of ethnic agitation for self-determination and occurs when the ethnic group assumes militant posture.

Insecurity: insecurity is a state of  not being secure, it represent  lack of defense and fear and confidence.

Democracy: Democracy is a system of government in which power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or through freely elected representatives.



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