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Date of Award

Spring 1982


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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Master of Public Administration


This paper examines the problem of national integration in Nigeria. The theoretical framework used here hypotehsizes, that the lack of national integration in Nigeria is a result not only of intense tribalization of the masses but also due in most part to lack of elite consensus. This study examines three elite groups--the military, the political and bureaucratic elite. Since Nigeria gained independence in 1960, it has been plagued by political instability. Nigeria has experienced a short lived civilian regime (1960-1966) and thirteen years of military rule (1966-1979). Presently Nigeria is under a new democratic government which came to power in 1979. A successful approach to unite the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria has been the most important problem faced by the ruling elites. The political elite of the First Republic (1960-1966) utilized tribal sentiments to foster and consolidate their political aim. The consequence of this was that the voters were led to consider their regional loyalities over national loyalities. When the political elite gained power from the British, they became entrenched in intra-elite squabbles that in some cases led to violence in the process of trying to protect their respective personal and regional interests. The federal parliament was always at a stalemate in terms of policy making. To make matters worse the political elite did not possess adequate educational qualifications to address policy-making arenas. Given their educational deficiencies coupled with their intense intra-elite struggles that resulted in lack of consensus at the federal center, the political elite deferred most of the decision making to the bureaucracy. With the military came the oil boom and the beginning of central rule in Nigeria. Perceiving the demise of the civilian government as the ills of regionalism the military elite sought to convert Nigeria into an administrative state. The military elite banned all political activities--parties, protest and even politicians from participating in government. The first military coup that instituted the first military government in January 1966, and the second in July 1966, resulted in the loss of many of the high level personnel in the military. Given its limited military training that did not give the military any governing skills, the military elite sought to fill the power vacuum created by the demise of the politician with the bureaucratic elite. Thus, as most aspects of life (education, production, transportation, communication) are nationalized, the federal bureaucracy has had its hands full. As greater responsibilities are developed for the bureaucracy, it increases its influence in the overall administration of the country. Therefore, during the military rule, the bureaucrats became a major force in the decision-making process. An increase in responsibilities and power have not been met with increased manpower and hence effectiveness. Today, there are in service and professional training for members of the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy stands between the governors and the governed. In Nigeria it represents the mystique of government through the provision of government services. Amidst political changes in Nigeria, the bureaucracy has remained aloof, thus, providing continuity in government. The conclusion here is that the future trend in Nigeria tends to be toward increased centralization at the federal level. As long as this trend continues the bureaucracy will have a major influence on decision making. The fact that the bureaucracy is the only institution through which all the competing tribal groupings work together towards a common national goal qualified it as a major instrument for nation integration. And given the deficiencies of the ruling elites (military and political} and the power position the federal bureaucracy has been placed into, the bureaucracy is the best possible institution that could coordinate and create harmony within the elite groupings and between the elites and the masses.