This book analyzes the influence of memory on social conflict as well as the role of ethnicity in state formation and governance in Nigeria. It examines the nexus between the Nigerian civil war and the conflict in the oil rich Niger Delta against the background of memory and ethnicization of the state. Ultimately, both social conflicts, though separated by decades, profit from shared memories in a largely ethnicized state structure. Nigeria emerges as a centrifugal state characterized by bias in resource distribution and concentration of power in the center. These forces create the perception of marginalization and sponsor enduring memory of a biased state not helped by failure of the state to ensure closure of the civil war. The book argues that the non-systematic closure of the civil war has generated memory lapse which has given rise to social conflicts and dissension in the socio-geographical region of the erstwhile Biafra republic. These conflicts in the contemporary history of Nigeria include the persistent Niger Delta oil conflict and recurrent struggle for the realization of a sovereign state of Biafra. In effect, these conflicts are products of structural bias and distributional injustice; and both can be related to the social memory lag of the civil war and weak Nigerian state. The book traces how memory is produced and disseminated within social groups in Southeastern Nigeria, which is the theater of both the civil war and youth-driven oil conflict in the Niger Delta. While these conflicts have without doubt benefitted from memory lapse of the past, they have equally drawn momentum from ethnicity which has significantly and negatively affected the role of the state.
About the Author
Edlyne Eze Anugwom is professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Nigeria.