Nigeria Briefing Paper

The opportunities have not been consistent with the

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Unformatted text preview: ontests (since during military rule, party activities were, for the most part, banned), and working with civil society organizations to impact the political process when possible. The opportunities have not been consistent, with the periods of military rule especially hostile to these kinds of activities. Given the prominence of ethnicity, religion, and region, these identities have proven to be the most common avenues of political expression and participation. Given the emotional attachment that people have with these identities, during periods of crisis, groups mobilized along these lines have engaged Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at 26 in intergroup conflict that has occasionally become violent and politically destabilizing. Belief Systems Islam and Christianity are the dominant belief systems in the country, with Islam dominant in the northern, central, and western (to a lesser extent) regions, and Christianity throughout the south. Muslims in Nigeria do not speak with a single voice; the issue of Shar'iah law and relations with other Christians evoke a variety of responses ranging from violence to accommodation. Most Christians in the country belong to four major mainline churches: Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, and Baptist. Similar to other countries across sub-Saharan Africa, the evangelical and Pentecostal churches are rapidly growing in membership and popularity. While most ethnic groups have corresponding religious belief systems that predate the advent of colonialism and Christianity, the Yoruba and Igbo traditions have been extensively studied, with many of their assumptions and rituals practiced alongside both Christianity and Islam. Elites Elites in Nigeria garner their legitimacy from a variety of occupational and identitybased affiliations. In the public sector, there are military, political (both traditional and Western), and bureaucratic elites whose positions of authority provide access to government resources. These elites distribute state resources both legally and illegally, often developing patron-client relations based on ethnic, religious, or regional commonalities. In the private sector, traders and owners of businesses across the country are also elites, using their wealth to influence public policy in many of the same ways as the west. Political leaders cannot rule the country without building coalitions with elites representing a myriad of interests, since the Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at 27 political system in and of itself is not imbued with sufficient legitimacy from which to govern. Gender While women do not have substantial formal political, military, and economic power, they are leaders in the extended family, often remaining at home to manage family matters and, in rural areas, the farm. This power should not be underestimated, since Nigeria...
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