Ethnic Militias and Sub-Nationalism in Nigeria: a comparative Study of massob and opc

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4:1 Data Presentation and Interpretation

The instrument used in the empirical study was the questionnaire in addition to key informant interviews. Two hundred copies of the questionaire were administered in Lagos, Ibadan, Onitsha and Owerri using the purposive sampling method. Before that, the instrument was pre-tested with cluster of OPC members in Okota, Lagos and MASSOB members in Ijeshatedo, Lagos. The purpose is to pre-empt possible errors which might occur in the course of the main study. Most of the item questions were validated through repeated application method. The instrument contained 42 item questions that are structured and close ended but with two open-ended item questions. This was complemented by key informant interviews conducted with key figures in both MASSOB and OPC movements which we shall use to cast more light on our analysis and discussion of findings.

Out of two hundred copies of the questionnaire 188 were returned. This represents 94 percent response. Out of the 188 respondents 100 were MASSOB members whereas 88 were OPC members. This high response rate can be attributed to the cooperation of the leadership of the two organizations who helped in the distribution and retrieval of the set of questionnaire and that tells a lot about the discipline within the two organizations. Out of this number 88.46 percent were male and 9.34 percent were female. The gender and age range is presented in the table below;

Table 4:1 Gender


















Figure 4:1a Gender Distribution of OPC Membership

Figure 4:1b Gender Distribution of MASSOB Membership

From the table 4:1 we observed that MASSOB and OPC are dominated by the male gender. However, female members are part and parcel of the two organizations. Female folks who enlist into these organizations play as much active role as the men. For instance in MASSOB, a wing is created for female members to look into women and children issues (Onuegbu 2008). However, the number of female members is proportionally insignificant when compared to the male membership of the two organizations. The explanation for the disproportionate ratio between male and female members of the two groups naturally is found in the fact that the two organizations expose members to untold risks which the female gender may not be able to bear. The militant posture of the two organizations is not suited for the female folks and this substantially accounts for the dominance of male in terms of membership. The few female members of these organizations may not necessarily be deep-rooted in their subscription of the goals or objective of the organizations. For instance a 32 year old woman who joined the OPC explained her reason for joining in the following words:

“I wanted protection for myself and my children. Since there was no father to come to their aid, the best option for me is to join the movement to get protection and security from hoodlums in my neighbourhood. It was the zonal coordinator that helped on this issue” (Guichaoua 2006:21).
The explanation above is not particular to this woman. Many female folks have joined these organizations particularly the OPC either because the organization has extended security covering to them or they feel that the only way of overcoming their insecurity is by joining the organization. From the foregoing, membership is seen as an obligation to the organizations. For MASSOB the situation is not exactly the same compared with the OPC. Majority of female members of MASSOB are not as young as the female members in the OPC, most are married women who either joined en mass through their town unions or were influenced by their active male spouses in the organization. The MASSOB, unlike the OPC, has a functional women’s wing that is led at the national level by the wife of MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike who founded the organization.
Table 4:2 Age Distribution of MASSOB and OPC Members

Value Label




38 43.18%

25 25.00%


36 40.90%

40 40.00%


11 12.5%

22 22.00%


3 3.40%

13 13.00%

Figure 4:2 Comparison of Age Distribution of MASSOB and OPC Members

The age distribution as indicated above revealed that the two organizations are constituted by individuals of all ages including a significant youth membership who are within the age range of 15-30 years. For the OPC the largest membership is under this category unlike MASSOB where young adults of 31-45 age brackets constitute the largest from our sample population. However, from the sample population, MASSOB, compared to the OPC has more elderly people of 60 years and above with about 13 percent of MASSOB respondents claiming to be in this age range. This is a significant number for individuals at this age bracket. What indeed are the attractions for such significant number of active elderly people into an organization considered deviant and whose objectives are to submerge national integrity and why are we not having the same number on the side of the OPC? The explanation for this disparity between MASSOB and OPC goes back naturally to the peculiar circumstances that surrounded the two ethnic groups of Igbo and Yoruba where these organizations draw their support. For instance, the Igbo were the direct victims of the civil war that followed attempt at seceding from Nigeria. That attempt at secession, which was unsuccessful, left a bitter trail which included hordes of war veterans that were not rehabilitated by the victorious federal government (Ikpeze 2000). That itself is a bitter experience to those people and so they constitute an easy mine of membership for an organization in the mould of MASSOB. Some of these individuals were commissioned members of the Nigerian army but defected to the Biafran side during the rebellion which was crushed; leaving them battered and embittered all these years. This experience was not shared on the side of the Yoruba and so explains the preponderance of this category of people on the side of MASSOB.

Table 4:3 Indicators of human capital and Economic Integration

Level of education (percent)



No School



Some primary



Primary completed



Some secondary



Secondary completed



Above secondary






Occupation (percent)







Unpaid employee



Unprotected paid employee



Self employed- trader



Self employed- artisan









Figure 4:3a MASSOB Members Level of Education Distribution

Figure 4:3b OPC Members Level of Education Distribution

Figure 4:3c Breakdown of MASSOB Members Occupation

Figure 4:3d Breakdown of OPC Members Occupation

The results from table 4:3 above show that members of OPC and MASSOB are not illiterate but are preponderantly dominated by folks with some level of educational attainment. Yet, there are variations that exist between the two organizations in terms of level of educational accomplishment as indicated in our sample population. Members of MASSOB have a slight edge according to our sample group respondents. For instance members who attained educational level of above secondary are twice that of OPC, 10 percent, and 23 percent of members respectively. MASSOB also has less illiterate members, those who attended no school or did not complete primary school. For the OPC about 15 percent of its members fall under this category whereas for the MASSOB it is about 9 percent. In addition, we can say that the two organizations almost attract the same kind of people in terms of occupation, though we have slight variation here and there. The OPC has proportionally more students in its fold than MASSOB. MASSOB has a greater proportion of self-employed persons than the OPC-34 percent as against 24 percent respectively. Another important point of difference is on the number of retirees which is 11 percent in the case of the MASSOB. This high number may be due to the preponderance of elderly persons and war veterans in the fold of MASSOB which is not the case with OPC where just a little above one percent identify themselves as retirees. None in the two groups identified themselves as civil servants even though such was included in the questionnaire. What this tells us is that folks who are employed in the government or as well as professionals are not attracted into these organizations especially at the level of the rank and file membership because of the rule of the civil service and fear of reprisal from the government.

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