Cheta Nwanze: The Igbo Versus Yoruba Politics In Nigeria

Cheta Nwanze: The Igbo Versus Yoruba Politics In Nigeria [MUST READ]

By Cheta Nwanze on March 13, 2018
politics unification brothers clash Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo (right) Southern
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo (right)

First, we must dispense with the notion that politics is “for the greater good”. Politics is about self-interest pure and simple. One of the things we have done wrong in Nigeria is to pretend otherwise.

Recently I was privy to an unscientific survey in which more than 80% of Igbo and Yoruba respondents identified ‘the North’ as the problem with Nigeria. However, asked if they’d be willing to work together to ‘overcome the North,’ respondents demurred.

Since 1951, the Igbo have chosen to ally with ‘the North’ against the Yoruba, and the Yoruba, have chosen to ally with ‘the North’ against the Igbo. The question is why have both groups decided to distrust each other since that time? I wrote about it in today’s Guardian.

Given that Nigeria is not quite working, does it not make sense for the Igbo and the Yoruba to ally with each other politically against ‘the North,’ just once and see if Nigeria will have a different political outcome?

Consider this — what is considered ‘the core North’ has a total of roughly 30 seats in the Senate. Any other votes they get to move their agenda has to be arrived at by making deals with one another. The Igbo have 16 guaranteed seats (15 from the South-East, 1 from Anioma in Delta), while the Yoruba have 20 guaranteed seats (18 from the South-West, 2 guaranteed from Kwara). Note that I did not include the Ndoni area of Rivers for the Igbo, nor did I include Kogi West for the Yoruba.

The bottom line is that if the Igbo and Yoruba come together, they’ll have a total of 36 seats minimum in the Senate, and be able to push their common interest. With the ability to make other deals, getting a total of 73 votes in order to push their agenda is entirely possible. But no, because of a brouhaha 67 years ago between two men long dead, both groups carry on in an atmosphere of mutual distrust, and end up sacrificing their own self-interest.

Anyway, both groups clearly enjoy playing second fiddle.

Cheta Nwanze is journalist and information technology professional. He is a political activist and social affairs commentator. He tweets from @Chxta.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


  1. You have said it all, I have been wondering about this situation with southerners for some times now and I don’t why we cannot just be united for just once against the northerners.

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