Marxist theory and the tribes behind Nigeria’s conflicts




Marxian class theory asserts that an individual’s position within a class hierarchy is determined by their role in the production process. It argues that political and ideological consciousness is determined by class position.

This means a class is those who share common economic interests, are conscious of those interests, and engage in collective action which advances those interests.

Nigeria is ethnically heterogeneous and culturally pluralistic in nature, which has continued to keep the country far away from each other with the artificial notion of division created by bigger tribes (elite) and an idea bought by second tribes (masses).

This opinion is to enlighten the common Nigerians that we are not in war with each other on the grounds of ecthnicity, religion and regions. Mallam Isa from Kano is a brother to Chenedu from Enugu and Bologun from Oyo states, respectively.

The country is no doubt ethnically diverse with over 370 ethnic groups and over 500 languages, according to statistics even though some of the ethnic groups may slip over in the course of research due to their small number.

Many observers are of the opinion that the decision of Sir Frederick Luggard to merge the Northern and Southern Protectorates left behind so many unresolved problems that have today culminated into the current Nigerian challenges.

The emergence of the ethnic and religious division syndrome has continued to widen bitterly since the return of the Fourth Republic in 1999. These factors are currently on the train of crippling all efforts of the leaders of the First Republic that set the standard of building a prosperous nation called Nigeria.

The late Premier of the Northern region Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto, late Nnamdi Azikwe, late Obafemi Awolowo, among others, gave their all for Nigeria till their last breathe.

The Sardaunas and his likes are regarded as the best contents of leadership Nigeria has ever had 55 years after. They were able to keep Nigeria as a single tribe even before the Amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern Protectorates in 1914. These leaders of the First Republic did remarkably well while in charge of  affairs of Nigeria.

We have seen a resurgence of bourgeoisie (elites) and proletarat (masses) as the major dominant tribes in Nigeria that continue to distinguish themselves.

According to Karl Marx, the two tribes will be in conflict with each other because the proletariat will continue to push to advance their class status at the same time facing resistance from the rulling class that owns the means of production and control of labour and power.

In Nigeria, the case is completely different from what Marx portrays in his theory that should have made it easier for us as the masses to achieve our common goals. It is very clear and open to all that the elite tribe in Nigeria is more united in their cause than the tribe of the masses.The masses tribe are in conflict with each other which makes it practically impossible to confront their common challenges.

Nigeria is now a society that is divided and is gradually splitting into two great hostile camps that are directly at each other. These camps are elite and the masses that are responsible for our current predicaments as a nation.

The elite have now cashed and weighed into the masses by creating conflicts, making them to believe in the politics of region, religion and tribal sentiments which has made it possible for “We want our own syndrome” to triumph over competency. 

It is evident that consistent meetings of stakeholders from different regional groups from the North and South of Nigeria are merely to demand for a regional president in 2023.

In a communique issued by Southern Governors in Enugu and read by the Governor of Ondo state Rotimi Akeredolu is that a president must come from the South in 2023. We have seen how some of our pastors and imams have become praise singers and spokesmen of the elite tribes during sermons.

The Nigeria’s constitution is not a paper that can be thrown into a pit but a that is supreme over the entity of Nigeria. It is a document that defines our democracy and economy.

A president must score at least 25% in 24 of 36 states of Nigeria after scoring the highest number of valid votes. It means that what Nigeria needs currently is a Nigerian president because the clamour for regional president is another attempt by the elite tribe to continue their divide and rule system.

Marx establishes conflict as the driving force of history and the main determinant of social trajectories (Kingston). However, in order to understand the nature of “class conflict,” we must first understand that such conflict arises from a unified class interest, also known as class consciousness. We are living witnesses to how our political elite crosscarpet from one party to another just like shopping malls to advance their interest at the detriment of the masses tribe.

The only tribe in Nigera today are the elite. The elite has plunged Nigeria into chaos. From farmers-herders clashes in the North central, Boko Haram in the North-east, secessionist in the South-east and South-west (IPOB and Oduduwa Republic), Niger Delta militancy in South-south to banditry in the North-west. All these and more can be summed up as a by-product of the elite and masses tribes misconceptions in Nigeria.

One of the major factors that continues to hinder the success of fostering peace and unity in Nigeria is elite and masses are the frontline banners that continue to advance these divisions along the lines of sentiments.

The theory is that once you make a lot of money to win an election, then you belong to the elite tribe. When you are suffering in pain, pang and lack, you belong to the tribe of the masses. If you are a member of the elite tribe, and you want power, all you need to do is to introduce ethnic or religious crisis among members of the masses and they will fall for it.

Since the distribution of political power in Nigeria is determined by power over production, or power over capital, it is no surprise that the bourgeois class uses their wealth to legitimatise and protect their property and consequent social relations.

Thus, the ruling class are those who hold the economic power and make the decisions. However, in order to understand the nature of the current conflict in Nigeria, we must first understand that such conflict arises from a unified class interest and consciousness of the state actors.

We have seen how united the elite are in advancing their personal interest politically, economically and socially while the masses tribe are left only with confrontations instead of coming to discuss issues that affect their daily existence as Nigerians.

The reunion of the former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode with those he constantly accused of destroying Nigeria is a history of the century to those who think the elite are divided.

They language an imam understands is the same language Pastor Bayo and Ejike speak in Abuja in the tribe of the elite. It means religion as portrayed by Karl Marx is today used in Nigeria as an opium to oppress the masses.

Unless and until the masses tribe understand that they are the change they need and the change they have been waiting for to move Nigeria forward we shall continue to pay the supreme price of bad leadership in Nigeria.

They must urgently know that Nigeria is not in war because the masterminds and the footsoldiers of the current happenings in Nigeria belong to the elite and masses tribes.

The problem of Nigeria is common to all, irrespective of our identities and unless we do the right thing as citizens who understand our common challenges then we shall continue to be in crises.

Mohammed, National President, Arewa Youths Advocate for Peace and Unity Initiative, writes from Bauchi via [email protected]