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

:7:6 Data Presentation and Analysis

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1:7:6 Data Presentation and Analysis

The study employed the descriptive statistical technique to analyze the data sourced from the administration of questionnaire, key informant interviews and documentary sources. The data were presented in simple percentages using tables and charts as illustration comparing the two organizations. Categorization of social events and content analysis of the recorded responses and diary of events as they occur within the study period were also undertaken. The results of the study were therefore presented in descriptive, narrative form which implied descriptive account of selected trends and developments derived from the data. Information was synthesised on key themes and issues as our units of analysis which were derived from the objectives of the study. This was imperative because comparison can lead to fresh, exciting insights and a deeper understanding of issues.

1:7:7 Units of Analysis

To realize the objectives of this study, our unit of analysis was anchored on the following variables;

  • Objectives and goal of the organizations, where we looked at how those ideological orientations that informed the formation of MASSOB and OPC conform to sub-nationalism tendencies.

  • Traits of militia organization; enabled us address one of the objectives of the study that attempted to look at the nature, character and modus operandi of MASSOB and OPC. This was accomplished by analysing information that examines the features of militia organizations so as to establish the degree by which either of the groups comforms with the characterization.

  • Predictors of enlistment; this is another important variable considered as our unit of analysis for this study. The purpose was to make an outlay on what drives individuals to joining the two groups under consideration. Was it ideology that is propelling folks to join or was it the prevailing economic condition that those individuals were facing that is responsible?

  • Mobilization strategy of membership; this variable was also employed to compare the two organizations from the perspective of grievance, xenophobia or greed as the elements that attract and sustain membership mobilization. This was derived from the objective that seeks to examine the modus operandi of the two organizations.

  • The profile of recruits; this variable probes the characteristics of members who were recruited into the two organizations. This centred on their age, educational attainment, and occupational status. The aim was to establish whether there were differences in our study between the two organizations in terms of the kind of people who constitute them and derived from the objectives that seek to examine the relationship between socio-economic conditions and motivation of membership.

  • Derivatives of membership; here our attention was focused on the perception of individual members of the two groups as it relates to gains and benefits derivable from membership, whether it is economic, psychological or otherwise.

  • Determinants of cooperation; this variable was used to compare the two organizations in terms of the factor that binds the members or factors that ensures cohesion in the organizations. We considered whether it relates to coercion, or is it interest, values, personal bonds or even social capital that is of vital importance in either of the organizations. This was derived from the objective that seeks to examine the nature and character of the two organizations.

  • Micro-Group Response; this is another vital variable that was employed as a unit of analysis in the study to determine the relationship of MASSOB and OPC with their publics (the Igbo and Yoruba respectively). To further this, our concern was focused on the marital status of individual members of the groups, family ties, and their place of abode among other factors that revealed the level of attachment the group has established with the micro-group and the support base the organizations command with their publics in terms of acceptance of their activities and the corresponding response from their publics.

1:8 Scope of Study and Delimitation

The study covered socio-political developments in Nigeria dating back to the formative period to the point sub-nationalism manifestation became appropriated by militant ethnic organization. The focus of the comparative study was that of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra and The Oodua People’s Congress. Access to information was naturally difficult, given the nature of the subject of study. For instance, the process of spotting a militia or members of the groups or penetrating the two groups was not easy and so obtaining accurate and confidential information was indeed very difficult.

1:9 Operational Definitions of Terms
1:9:1 Sub-nationalism; is the movement of people to exit or pursue independent statehood or regional autonomy within a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state. We also refer to sub-nationalism as a movement or revolt of peoples against the unitary nature of state, reinforced by indigenous rights and contention of power. Sub-nationalism leans to mobilization and ethnocentrism for political and economic advantage of one ethnic group against another.
1:9:2 Ethnic Militia; are organised violence-oriented groups populated by diverse elements, cutting across different age strata, but drawing membership exclusively from an ethnic group and established to promote and protect the interests of an ethnic group. Ethnic militias is an extreme form of ethnic agitation for self-determination and occurs when the ethnic group assumes militant posture. They serve as a social pressure group designed to influence the structure of power to the advantage of and call attention to the deteriorating material condition or political deprivation and perceived marginalization of their group or social environment.
1:9:3 National Question; refers to the tensions and contradictions of the Nigerian federalism and inter-group relations pivoting around issues of marginalization, domination, inequality and injustice in the distribution of resources, citizenship rights, representation and access to power and political offices.


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2:1 The Concept of Militia

The literature on civil conflict does present varying conceptions of the term militia. But the differing perspectives taken by different scholars converge on the notion that militias are citizen army constituted of men who freely enlist to perform occasional mandatory military service so as to protect their country or state (Duveger 1967, Bristow 1998, Francis 2005, Laitin 2007). As a public force, it is also seen broadly as military force consisting of citizens available for service in emergencies or citizen force kept in reserve to combat any threat to the state and its people (Bristow 1998). They are also armed and trained bands of locals who could be mobilized on short notice for the defence of a cause (Francis 2005). This is different from the concept of military which is taken to mean standing armed forces established to defend a given territorial sovereignty. The military is an organization that is much more structured in form and under legal and permanent regulatory measures as a security organ of the state. The militia is, however, seen either as a state subsidiary force or a private organization (Francis 2005).

However, many writers, present militias as a kind of private army whose members are enrolled on military line, and are subjected to the same discipline and same training as soldiers. Like regular soldiers, they wear uniforms and badges; also like soldiers they are ready to meet the enemy bearing weapons in physical combat. But the similarities notwithstanding, militia members remain civilians in general; they are not permanently mobilized like regular soldiers, nor maintained by the state or an organization. They are simply obliged to meet and are drilled frequently in readiness for emergency uses. But the militia groups which are sometimes referred to as irredentist or separatist, must always be ready to put themselves at the disposal of their leaders with the intention to use violence to draw attention to their plight (Duverger 1967:36-37). This tendency occurs when their agitations are not met by the internal logic of the state in which case they transform into a revolutionary force that uses guerrilla fighting tactics to advance their interests (Laitin 2007). But in spite of this, it is noteworthy that the overall purpose of militia organization is to draw attention to the plight faced by a marginalized group and so their activities are only aimed at changing the unacceptable status quo. It is on this plank that we can appreciate the various types of militia movements that have emerged from different socio-political environments in the world.

In the light of this, it becomes imperative to contextualize the concept of militia within some specific theoretical perspectives. In this stead, we have three theoretical constructs that explain what constitutes, a militia organization. They are; state-centric theory of militia, non-state actor theory and fluid theory of militia. The unsatisfactory conceptualization of the state-centric militia perspective led to the emergence of the other two which attempted to capture aspects of the concept that were left out.

2:1:1 State-Centric Theory of Militia

According to Francis (2005), there are two levels of understanding the state-centric theory of militia; the ‘First Generation’ and ‘Second Generation’ conceptions. The first generation interpretation presents the view that militias are an organised groups of citizens mobilized to provide military service. It also holds the view that they are trained as soldiers, but not part of a regular army, and so are regarded as a supplementary force or reserve army of the state or government (Duverger 1967). Even though they are organised by the state, the militias are composed of non-professional soldiers who are called upon in cases of emergency or crisis to protect their government or communities. As irregular or reserve force, their role is to undertake an emergency support task that is of military nature (Francis 2005).

This first generation interpretation of militia is based on several assumptions viz. that enlistment is voluntary, though some state constitutions or legislation provides for a mandatory military service. For instance, the United States constitution provides for the power to constitute a militia comprising physically able civilians eligible by law for military service. This same provision is present in the Swiss constitution which authorizes the cantons to raise militias in time of war. Furthermore the interpretation also assumes that since militias are established by the state, they are therefore, regulated and accountable to the state, implying that the state has monopoly over the threat or the use of force within its territory (Duverger 1967, Francis 2005). It also assumes that since the militias are established by the state for a specific purpose, they are based on a state-centric interpretation of security which sees the state as primary security provider. Lastly, it also assumes that the militia is not intended to usurp the role of a regular force or contest for the dominance of the state.

The first generation understanding of civil militias has several limitations when applied to the context of complex political environment and conflict-prone areas or weak states in developing regions of the world. This interpretation is also limited by the multiple security challenges of contemporary world politics, especially in the post-cold war era. This limitation led to the development of a new conceptual interpretation that is built on some of the elements of the first-generation understanding of civil militias. This new interpretation which is referred to as second generation understanding of civil militia is mainly differentiated from the first because it is context specific and applies to conflict-prone, war torn, post-conflict or transition societies and in general, weak and failed states.

The second generation interpretation of militia sees militias as comprising citizens including young people and unemployed youths, marginalized and dissatisfied with the prebendal state (Francis 2005). Civil militias according to this interpretation are organised by a diverse group of interests and stakeholders including governments or regimes in power with no constitutional provision or legislation legalising their existence. Whereas those specifically established as pro-government reserve forces have some form of military training, those organised by other interests groups often do not have any military training or when they do, it is limited to the use of small arms and light weapons (Francis 2005). This type of militia emerges in weak, failed and collapsed states where the authority and legitimacy of the government or the state is contested and where the state does not have control or monopoly of the threat or the use of force. Situations of complex political emergencies were what provided for the environment conducive for the emergence and proliferation of those types of civil militia, which have been the kinds that pervade the African landscape causing intractable security menace as is the case with Janjaweed in Sudan (Francis 2005).

Furthermore, the second generation understanding of civil militias also share the normative underpinning and ethos for the establishment of first generation interpretation of civil militia. In this instance, it is seen as a force for good, to provide public goods by defending and protecting the state and its people. But in a situation of weak states under ridden by prebendal governance, the normative ethos for the establishment of civil militias is often subverted and privatised to serve particular vested interests. The demonstrable efficacy of some of these civil militias in crime fighting has led to situation whereby they usurp the security provision of the state and even undermine the effectiveness of the security functions of the state. This view does not say that the first generation civil militia was not susceptible to politicisation and manipulation but the second generation conceptualization of militias conveys the notion of pluralist conception of the state and security. That is why Buzan (1991:100) posits that we have to look to individuals and sub-state units for the most meaningful security referents.

2:1:2 Non-State Theory

The non-state militia actor theory can be categorised into two. The first category are those socially guaranteed by the state to perform specific function. These include community militias and other volunteer groups. Apart from community militia which has relationship with the state in maintaining security, there also exist political party militias and private security militias.

Party militias are the armed wings of political parties usually set up as militant propaganda machine to act as protective organ of the party in its various meetings. They are distinct because of their role as armed wing of political parties which are power seeking organizations. Political parties raise militias to strengthen and defend their struggle for political power. They do have regular exercises like training and political education. Party militias help to maintain orderliness within the party. They play fundamental, sometime secondary and unobtrusive roles. Party militias may not be socially guaranteed by the state but are in some countries tolerated for some obvious reasons that they sometimes covertly defend (Francis 2005).

Party militias could be differentiated from community or ethnic militias because they cut across boundaries and barriers in terms of membership. Unlike party militias, ethnic or community militias are territorially defined. The other type under this categorization is civil society militias which recruit their members on the basis of interest, multiple identities and ideologies. They could be private security outfits or a group recruited and trained to defend the interest of their sponsors or the course of the group if the group’s interest is threathened or undermined (Francis 2005).

The non-state actor perspective of militia is defined by the fact that it is a private force. Applying the theory of social contract makes them an illegitimate force. Most often, these types of militias are established by groups to withstand the legitimate exercise of the use of coercion by the state. The militias in this category are organised into armed men for the purpose of challenging the status quo, or with the purpose of achieving goal and objectives that are difficult within the legal environment which otherwise marginalises, alienates and denies them of their rights (Francis 2005). This kind of militia establishment sees violence as a means of demonopolising the instrument of power. The belief is that the oppressor understands only the language of violence than non violence. This point was stressed by Davidson (1981) who noted that the aim of militia organizations is not only to defeat an aggressive enemy whether external or internal but also to overthrow tyrannical, arbitrary or oppressive leadership. The militias engage mostly in irregular or non-conventional fight with the state as their fighting strength cannot withstand the firing power and the assault of the regular force. As such, militia organizations are not just groups of the armed bandits having political intention to defend their interests, but in most cases also seek to deconstruct the state (Davidson 1981). Accordingly, it is a social organization which relies to a greater extent on force to advance its goals. This will affect not only the psychic state of those subjected to the exercise of power but also the pattern of the relevant social structure and most social relations within it (Etzioni 1967). Similarly, Davidson (1981) further added that nothing is more remarkable than the portrayal of the awakening consciousness of ordinary men and women of their understanding of the need to accept any and every personal sacrifice in order to change not only their own lives but the lives of their whole people. The consciousness, which triggers social mobilization, could also provide constant measure for raising ethnic soldiers or ethnic militias for the purpose of defending a collective cause. They may hardly have any idea of how to handle weapons and are often ignorant of rudimentary rules of warfare. However, consciousness is the first basis for mobilization and training (Etzioni 1967). From political education, they gravitate into military training for the actualization of their objectives and goals. To accomplish this, non-state actor militias start with establishing cells for political education so as to indoctrinate members about the objectives of the struggle and certain policies of the state that are disadvantageous to them. The rationale for this is premised on the belief that it shall turn their disaffection and frustrations into threats that will make the country ungovernable. Through this means, attention is drawn to their collective plight. In the course of doing this, the group may become a guerrilla force when government decides to react by confronting them with her regular military force (Davidson 1981). This action can drive them underground and change their strategy to those of fighting invincible war against government forces. In the process, they may draw strength from locals and/or international sympathy that will strengthen the organization and expand their enlistment base. The militia organization at this stage is tolerated because of the fundamental course they pursue. But the fundamental attributes common to this type of militia is that they are much more organised and operate outside the state purview or its legal confines. They maintain consistency in their attack of government policies and are prepared to retaliate once the state security organs physically assault them. They are however, known by their actions, territorial staging posts, demands and symbolic identities.

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