Ethnicity And Citizenship in Urban Nigeria; The Jos Case 1960-2000


The construction of citizenship on the basis of ethnic identity necessarily breeds tension between the universal imperatives of citizenship and rights on the one hand, and the restrictive/exclusive nature of ethnic claims on the other. It is this dilemma set forth by ethnicity-citizenship nexus that is at the root of the numerous cases of communal conflicts in both urban and rural Nigeria. The research investigates into the way in which urbanism in Jos provides the framework for the playing out of the dynamics of ethnicity and conflicting citizens’ claims fueled by the legal distinction between ‘national’ citizens as members of the Nigerian political community and ‘state’ or ‘local’ citizens defined on the basis of membership of an indigenous ethnic group. The research seeks to show the way in which contestations based on contradictory notions of citizenship by the various socio-ethnic and cultural aggregates in Jos explain the recurrent conflicts and violence which have characterized inter-group relations in recent times, despite the reality of multiplicity of identities of individuals and groups and the co-existence of co-operation and collaboration. The investigation shows that the tension and conflicts in inter-group relations are a consequence, not of ‘natural’ division between ethnic and cultural groups in the city. Rather, they are direct results of competition for power and resources in which the elites of the various ethnic groups engage in deliberate mobilization and politicization of ethnic and related primordial identities. It is in this context that the indigenous ethnic communities who feel historically disadvantanged invoke ‘indigeneity’ as a strategy to reposition themselves for advantage. The investigation further shows the tendency for class and ethnic boundaries to coincide, thus reinforcing the latter as the basis for competition, animosity and conflict. In the cause of the competition, ethnic associational life provides the organizational framework for assertion of group position reinforced by the spatial framework which ethnic segmentation in residence provides. Groups at conflict also tend to resort to history to construct their identities and accordingly frame their notions of citizenship and rights. On the basis of the history of the development of ethnic identity formation in Jos beginning with the colonialism and the colonial state in particular, as well as the role of the post-colonial state in the context of economic decline and the increasing salience of ethnic identity, the research concludes that the citizenship conundrum needs to be frontally confronted. It calls for negotiation, consensus-building and strategic alliance at the level of the elites of the different ethnic groups in Jos, and the need to address the problem at the national level by linking access to citizenship rights to residence, the reform of the constitution through the entrenchment of group/minority rights and the need for the Nigerian state to promote social citizenship. 

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EGWU, S (2021). Ethnicity And Citizenship in Urban Nigeria; The Jos Case 1960-2000. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

EGWU, SAMUEL "Ethnicity And Citizenship in Urban Nigeria; The Jos Case 1960-2000" Afribary. Afribary, 08 Apr. 2021, Accessed 24 May. 2024.


EGWU, SAMUEL . "Ethnicity And Citizenship in Urban Nigeria; The Jos Case 1960-2000". Afribary, Afribary, 08 Apr. 2021. Web. 24 May. 2024. < >.


EGWU, SAMUEL . "Ethnicity And Citizenship in Urban Nigeria; The Jos Case 1960-2000" Afribary (2021). Accessed May 24, 2024.