<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

Government Discrimination Against Non-Indigenes

Throughout Nigeria, non-indigenes are forced to cope with state and local government policies and practices that exclude them from many of the material benefits of Nigerian citizenship.  Such discrimination reflects a widespread belief among many Nigerians that state and local governments exist not to serve the interests of all their constituents, but only those of their indigene populations.  That understanding was in evidence in many of the interviews Human Rights Watch conducted with government officials in Kano, Kaduna and Plateau States.  The attorney general of Kaduna state, for example, responding to complaints of marginalization voiced by non-indigene residents of the state, told Human Rights Watch:

The problem arises when they [non-indigenes] try to throw away where they come from and want to have the same status as their hosts.  They do not want to be seen as people from another state, so they say “Look, I am an indigene, I want the same privileges and rights as other indigenes…”  They want to enjoy scholarships from Kaduna state… But I don’t think it would be right to give these people all the same rights as indigenes.42

Echoing these sentiments, a spokesperson for the governor of Plateau State stated flatly that his government’s mission was to “meet the needs of the indigene population of the state.”43  Such attitudes are not unique and in fact reflect political realities that are taken for granted by many Nigerians.  As one member of the Nigerian National Assembly put it, “The Constitution says there should be no discrimination but we all know that when you are a non-indigene you do not have all the rights the so-called indigenes have.”44

Discriminatory practices vary considerably in nature and in their impact upon non-indigene communities and are therefore difficult to consider out of context; the specific experiences of non-indigene communities in Kaduna, Plateau and Delta States are discussed in detail in section VII of this report.  Broadly speaking, however, non-indigene communities often claim that they are discriminated against in the provision of vital government infrastructure and services such as schools, health care and even roads.  In some states, non-indigene parents allege that while secondary school fees are technically equal for indigene and non-indigene students, local officials routinely waive school and exam fees for indigene students while non-indigenes are made to pay.45  In other communities non-indigenes find that they are unable to purchase land or even a home. 

The issue of indigeneity is increasingly relevant at the local as well as at the state level.  In some states, people who are indigenes of the state they live in nonetheless find themselves discriminated against because their ethnic “roots” lie in a part of the state different from the place where they now live.  In Kaduna state, for example, people who are Hausa and Muslim find themselves treated as non-indigenes in the overwhelmingly Christian and non-Hausa southern part of the state, while predominantly Christian groups from southern Kaduna receive similar treatment in the north of the state.46

Some indigene officials attempt to justify this sort of behavior by arguing that non-indigenes’ ethnic kinsmen in other parts of Nigeria would mete out similar treatment to them.  As one Kaduna state civil servant, a Hausa and an indigene of the state, admitted, “For an Igboman [non-indigene] it is very difficult here.  You cannot even go to a government office and be received… This is because in the [predominantly Igbo] east, all of the windows are locked to us, let alone the doors.”47

While much of this discrimination contravenes the Nigerian Constitution, non-indigenes report that they have no way to combat the problem because government officials and even federal police officers refuse to take their complaints seriously.  Discriminatory practices have become so widespread that many officials do not think of them as being in any way improper, let alone illegal or unconstitutional.48 

Far from condemning discriminatory practices, state and local governments throughout Nigeria have enshrined the maltreatment of non-indigenes in official government policy.  Many states openly deny non-indigenes the right to compete for civil service employment, and non-indigenes throughout Nigeria are discriminated against in the admissions policies and fee schedules of state universities and are barred from obtaining academic scholarships.  In addition, these discriminatory policies fuel a range of less formal but equally pervasive forms of discrimination that government does nothing to discourage, including discrimination in the provision of government services and often-insurmountable barriers to participation in local politics.

Much of the information that follows is based largely on research that Human Rights Watch conducted in Kaduna, Kano, Plateau and Delta States during November and December 2005.  Those states were chosen in part to reflect Nigeria’s geopolitical diversity and in part because the issue of indigeneity has been a source of contention and controversy across all of them.  They are by no means the only or even the worst examples of indigeneity-related discrimination in Nigeria, which must be regarded as a nationwide phenomenon.

Ambiguous Legal Definitions of Indigeneity   

Nigerian law contains no clear definition of “indigeneity” even though a broad range of policies at every level of government make use of the concept.  The Nigerian Constitution makes use of the term and even requires that the President’s cabinet include at least one indigene of each of the country’s 36 states, but does not explicitly define the word.49  The federal civil service takes great care to allocate positions more or less equitably among indigenes of each Nigerian state but leaves it to the states to decide who their indigenes are.  State governments generally pass that discretion further on down the line, leaving local officials with unfettered discretion to determine who the indigenes of their community are.  Local officials’ power to grant or deny indigene status to their residents in turn gives them a de facto veto power over any individual’s attempt at attaining federal government employment.

To some extent, this lack of clarity is mitigated by the fact that the word “indigene” has a meaning that is widely understood at all levels of Nigerian society.  An indigene of a particular place is a person who can trace his or her ancestry back to a community of people who were among the original inhabitants of that place.  In practice, however, this definition can be extremely difficult to apply and is most often simply used as a way to express tribal and ethnic distinctions.  In some cases, officials are required to break the population down into categories determined by poorly-documented historical patterns of migration that might date back a century or more. 

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the issue’s complexity, state governments generally fail to articulate any objective sets of criteria that should be used by local officials in determining whether a person is an indigene of their community.  A spokesperson for the Governor of Plateau State, when asked what criteria were used in determining who the indigenes of the state are, explained that one had to look “back to history, to primordial times, before civilization even came to black Africa.  We have patterns of migration dating back to this time.  Other people [non-indigenes] came later.”50  Like the federal government and other state governments, the Plateau State government does not provide any sort of guidance as to how these ambitious historical inquiries should be conducted.  One former Plateau State official told Human Rights Watch that such guidance was unnecessary because “the Plateau State people know who is supposed to be an indigene and who is not.”51

Certificates of Indigeneity 

Local governments throughout Nigeria issue “certificates of indigeneity”52 to people who are indigenes of their jurisdictions.  These certificates serve as documentary proof that the bearer is an indigene of the area of the local government that issues them.  Possession of such a certificate is in fact the only way for a Nigerian to prove that he or she is an indigene of his or her community, and a Nigerian who does not have an indigeneity certificate will be treated as a non-indigene in his or her formal interactions with all levels of government.  In addition, a Nigerian who does not have a certificate of indigeneity from a local government somewhere in Nigeria is effectively an indigene of nowhere.  An increasing number of Nigerians find themselves trapped in this category of stateless non-indigenes.  In some cases this is because their families have been living on the land they now occupy for generations and no longer remember precisely where their ancestors migrated from. In other cases non-indigenes may know where their families originated but cannot persuade local officials there that they are bona fide indigenes. 

Because the federal government distributes many employment and educational opportunities among the indigenes of various states, a Nigerian must be able to indicate which part of the country he is an indigene of before he can even apply for them.  Nigerians with no certificate of indigeneity cannot obtain federal civil service employment or compete for any of the many other opportunities that are allocated on a quota basis between “indigenes” of each of Nigeria’s states and local government areas, such as recruitment into the federal police force or education at a military academy.53  They are also barred from admission into many federal universities.  This is because these federal institutions require applicants to submit a certificate of indigeneity so that they can monitor their own compliance with the federal character principle’s requirement of interregional and interethnic equity. 

Along with these handicaps, Nigerians with no indigeneity certificates must also contend with all of the policies put in place by their state and local governments that discriminate against non-indigenes.  One pastor in Kaduna summarized the importance of these certificates this way:

If this simple indigene form is denied it is like a man struggling against an ocean.  Various institutions have to fill quotas from different communities and it is the LGA that decides who can compete for them—they can make you or mar you.54

The plight of these “stateless non-indigenes” is discussed in more detail in the Plateau state case study below.

Some local governments also issue certificates of “residence” or “settlership” to non-indigenes, but these are generally useless except as a form of identification.  One academic at the University of Jos told Human Rights Watch that the widespread issuance of “certificates of residence” to non-indigenes in that city, for example, was primarily designed as a mechanism to help identify the people who should be excluded from government employment and other benefits.  “When they started issuing these Residency Certificates, people were not conscious of their significance—they just rushed to collect them,” he said.  “Then they found that when they applied for a job their applications were just thrown away.”55

In spite of the importance of these certificates of indigeneity, local governments do not generally adopt formal procedures or guidelines for deciding who the certificates should and should not be issued to.  Individuals must generally submit a simple application form to obtain an indigeneity certificate. It is then the duty of local government officials to determine whether each applicant is a bona fide indigene, theoretically by investigating their claims of historical connection to the locality.  In practice, however, local government officials have unfettered discretion to exercise their authority however they see fit.  In many cases their informal, ad hoc approach yields results that are broadly seen as legitimate by a given LGA’s constituents.  But in other cases local governments exercise their discretion in an opaque or even an arbitrary manner easily influenced by personal relationships, prejudice and corruption.56 Of additional concern is that the process is not open to any realistic manner of appeal.  Human Rights Watch interviewed several people who said that they had been improperly denied certificates of indigeneity, and all of them said that they had been unable even to secure an audience with the local officials who were in a position to reconsider their designation as non-indigenes.

Some local governments actually delegate the primary authority to evaluate applications for indigene certificates even further, to the district heads within each local government area.  This is done because the district heads are seen as being closer to local communities and thus better able to determine who is a bona fide indigene and who is not.  The local governments then sign off on the district heads’ decision.  District heads, however, are unelected and are accountable only to the traditional rulers who appoint them.57 

Arbitrary decision making, discrimination and corruption in the issuing of indigeneity certificates

Nigeria’s 774 local government administrations are widely perceived as making up the most corrupt, arbitrary and incompetent level of government in the country.58  As one Christian community leader in Kaduna put it, “If you had incorruptible and honest LGAs, half of Nigeria’s problems would be solved.”59  This broader problem is often reflected in local governments’ issuance of indigene certificates in a number of different ways.

Many local government officials routinely extort bribes from all applicants for indigene certificates, refusing to process applications unless applicants pay double or triple the amount normally charged as a processing fee.  This does not generally constitute a significant financial burden as the amount involved is nominal, but the practice reflects a deeper culture of corruption that makes the certification process subject to manipulation and undermines its validity.60 

In some cases, corrupt local government officials award indigene certificates to people who are not entitled to them, in return for a bribe.  In Kaduna, Kano and Plateau States this practice is widely believed to be common, with the result that other officials are often inclined to second-guess the validity of indigene certificates presented by people applying to them for jobs, scholarships or higher education.  The manner in which these officials purport to “evaluate” the legitimacy of indigene certificates can itself be arbitrary and discriminatory, however.  One professor on the admissions committee of a state-run university in Kaduna State, for example, recounted the following anecdote to Human Rights Watch to illustrate how his committee identifies and scrutinizes suspicious claims of indigeneity:

One applicant, his name seemed suspect—it was a Yoruba name,61 but he said he was from Makarfi LGA [in northern Kaduna]… He had an indigene certificate but it’s so easy to bribe the LGA officials because of poverty, so we didn’t believe it… He was born in Makarfi.  But they are tenants—they do not have a house of their own—so we thought, he is not behaving like an indigene.  So we did not admit him even though he had all of the qualifications.62

One civil society activist in Kaduna confirmed that, “It is very easy to get [an indigene certificate] due to corruption… But it is harder for people if they look Yoruba.  You have to be able to ‘pass’—you have to look right, speak the native language, etc.  Otherwise it becomes more difficult.”63

In other cases indigene certificates are improperly issued by local officials acting out of a sense of solidarity with ethnic kinsmen who they know to be indigenes of some other place.  In Kaduna, for example, Hausa officials are often accused of knowingly issuing indigene certificates to Hausa people who immigrate from other states.  The attorney general of Kaduna State acknowledged that this problem was rampant in his state’s predominantly Hausa LGAs.  “Often they get away with it,” he said.  “Since they mix very easily by appearance it is hard to identify them.”64

The flip side to this problem is that in some cases local officials improperly deny indigene certificates to people with legitimate claims to indigene status because of their ethnicity or religion.  Some local government officials in the predominantly Muslim states in the north of Nigeria, for example, refuse to issue indigene certificates to Christian indigenes.  One Christian indigene of Katsina State told Human Rights Watch that when she applied for an indigene certificate in her local government of origin she was denied it because of her non-Muslim appearance.  When the officials saw her passport photograph, in which her head was uncovered, she said that they accused her of fraud, asking “Why is she not covering herself if she is an indigene?” She was eventually given the form only after submitting another application with a photo attached showing her with her head covered with a scarf. 

Theatres of Government-Sponsored Discrimination Against Non-Indigenes 

Public sector employment 

The public sector is one of Nigeria’s largest sources of employment opportunity.65 In an economy suffering from high levels of unemployment and chronic poverty, recruitment into the civil service or some other government institution is the only realistic hope many Nigerians have of socio-economic advancement.  Stable employment is also one of the few tangible benefits ordinary Nigerians can expect to receive from a government that has largely failed to provide for the needs of its citizens. 

Increasingly, however, non-indigenes find themselves denied the right even to compete for government jobs and are unable to obtain equal terms of service with indigenes when they do manage to obtain public sector employment. Many Nigerian state governments have implemented policies that deny non-indigenes the right to compete for most civil service positions, while also eliminating non-indigenes’ right to retirement pensions and the right to contest seemingly unfair layoffs if they are hired.  This discrimination is also reflected in state policies that prevent non-indigenes from competing for some positions at the federal level as well.

In Kaduna, Kano and Plateau States, government policy is not to hire non-indigenes into the state civil service unless there are no qualified indigene applicants for a position.  Even then, non-indigenes are employed on a “contract” rather than a “permanent and pensionable” basis.  Contract employees are ineligible for government pensions and can be fired at will should the civil service decide to replace them with indigene job seekers.  In interviews with Human Rights Watch, high-ranking state government officials, including spokespeople for the governors of Plateau and Kano States and the attorney general of Kaduna State, said quite candidly that the policy of their administrations was not to hire non-indigenes into the state public service unless there were no indigenes qualified to fill certain positions.66   The Kaduna State attorney general, for example, described the idea of allowing non-indigenes to compete for civil service positions as “unnecessary and totally unacceptable” except in “specialized fields that may require skills that we [Kaduna state indigenes] do not have.”67

However, in all three states discriminatory hiring policies are not mandated by state law or even by the hiring guidelines published by the states’ civil service commissions.68 Nonetheless such discrimination has become an accepted norm perpetuated by local, state and to a lesser extent federal government officials.  One civil servant who had until recently worked for the Kaduna State civil service commission told Human Rights Watch:

The state Civil Service Commission does deny permanent and pensionable appointments to non-indigenes… There is no written policy to that effect; it is very informal.  But everyone is made to understand that—it’s an open thing, people will tell us openly that we are not to employ non-indigenes.69

Other civil servants directly involved with hiring and promotion decisions refused to discuss the details of their states’ hiring practices with Human Rights Watch, except to say that there was no publicly available law or written policy that required them to discriminate against non-indigenes.   

Non-indigenes also find themselves barred from some jobs in the federal civil service.  As a matter of federal government policy, low-level positions in federal agencies or institutions are reserved for indigenes of the state that hosts the agency.70 While higher-level positions in these institutions are not technically subject to the same restriction, the federal government often defers to local demands that such positions also go to indigenes of the host state.  One Jos-based academic told Human Rights Watch that every time there is a vacancy within a federal institution based in Plateau State, “there is a major mobilization about why the position must be filled by an indigene.”71  Professors at the federal University of Jos said that such mobilizations have been largely successful in assuring that high-level university appointments went to indigenes.  Attempts to fill key federal vacancies in Jos with non-indigene Hausa appointees have led to controversy and violence.72 

Many of these obstacles constitute a relatively recent phenomenon and one that is becoming more pronounced over time.  Until several years ago, for example, Kano and Plateau States both employed large numbers of non-indigenes in their respective state civil services, many of whom were members of Kano’s large Igbo and Yoruba populations.  But both states suddenly and arbitrarily purged almost all of their non-indigene employees: Plateau in 2000 and Kano in 2002.  The Kano State purge in particular left hundreds of longtime government employees, including many teachers in the public school system, jobless and adrift.  Because the overwhelming majority were “contract” employees, they had no legal right to challenge their termination—which is precisely why they were not offered permanent and pensionable employment in the first place.  One non-indigene pastor described with lingering bitterness how his wife had been suddenly fired after nearly two decades of service as a public school teacher.  “She was fired without one Naira in compensation,” he said.  “Can you imagine, after how many years my wife contributed?”73  An elderly Yoruba man recalled that after the purge, “most of those fired went back to their own state, where they know no one.”74 

A Plateau State government spokesperson denied that any purge of non-indigene civil servants had taken place, but acknowledged that several thousand civil service employees were laid off in 2000 and that the proportion of non-indigenes in the state civil service was much lower than it had been before the layoffs.75  A spokesperson for the Kano State governor was more forthright, acknowledging that during the tenure of the current governor’s predecessor, “all non-indigenes were sacked from the civil service under the pretext that jobless indigenes should have been occupying their positions.”  He said that the 2002 mass firing, in which at least one thousand non-indigene civil servants and teachers lost their jobs, had been a mistake—but only because there were not enough qualified indigenes to fill all of the empty positions.  He further acknowledged that wherever possible, the present administration had continued to hire indigenes over non-indigenes and to take on non-indigenes only on a contract basis.76 

State government officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch vigorously defended their discriminatory hiring policies as a necessary response to rising levels of unemployment and the debilitating effects of Nigeria’s long history of economic decline in general.  Implicit in their explanations was the notion that state governments are only responsible for the well-being of indigenes and owe little to non-indigene residents of the state.  A spokesperson for the Governor of Plateau State, for example, explained that:

We are training a lot of people who are now unemployed.  So is it wise to fill positions with people who should be seeking jobs wherever they come from?... We have few opportunities for the children of the soil, and the government is there to meet their needs.77

Barriers to obtaining higher education

In September 2004, Nigerian newspapers reported that the northern state of Zamfara had decided to bar all non-indigene children from attending the state’s public schools. Those reports, citing Zamfara state officials and the unusually vocal protests on the part of Zamfara non-indigenes, triggered a nationwide outcry, with leading editorial pages in Lagos-based newspapers slamming what one paper called the state’s “apartheid-style” policies. Nigeria’s attorney general publicly denounced the reported ban as unconstitutional and tantamount to “treason.”78

Attacked from all sides, the state government insisted that the reports were untrue but acknowledged that it had decided to introduce school fees in the state public school system that only non-indigene students would be required to pay.  The Zamfara State commissioner for Information defended the discriminatory fees, asserting that “the federal allocation [of revenue] given to us is for the people of Zamfara,” meaning the indigenes of the state, and claiming that several other Nigerian states already treated their non-indigene students the same way.79 

The commissioner’s charges of hypocrisy were not entirely without foundation.  Zamfara State’s education policies attracted critical attention because they were extreme and because they flew in the face of the federal government’s stated commitment to providing free primary education in accordance with Nigeria’s obligations under international law.80  They did not make Zamfara altogether unique, however.  None of the states visited by Human Rights Watch impose discriminatory fees at the primary and secondary level, as Zamfara has done.  But state governments throughout Nigeria make it difficult for non-indigene students to seek higher education in state-run universities by imposing discriminatory fees there, denying non-indigenes access to scholarship opportunities, and limiting the number of non-indigenes who can seek admission.

State universities throughout Nigeria have implemented policies that reserve the overwhelming majority of places in each entering class for indigene students and charge higher fees to non-indigene students.  According to a professor who serves on the admissions committee of the recently-inaugurated Kaduna State Polytechnic, for example, non-indigene students are charged roughly N32,000 (or just over U.S.$240) as against N20,000 (roughly U.S.$150) for indigenes.  At the same time, non-indigenes must compete for less than 20 percent of the slots available each year, with the remainder reserved for indigene applicants; the professor claimed that this policy is “unusually fair” relative to state universities elsewhere in Nigeria.81  A professor at the Plateau State Polytechnic told Human Rights Watch that similar policies were in place at his institution,82 and a spokesperson for the Kano State government confirmed that the same is true throughout Kano state.83  It is widely acknowledged that similar or even more restrictive policies are enforced at most if not all state universities throughout Nigeria.

Non-indigene students are also generally barred from competing for coveted state government scholarships that help defray the considerable costs of higher education.  This is a real hardship for many would-be students.84  In Kaduna, where non-indigenes are ineligible to compete for any of the roughly 8,500 scholarships given out each year, one civil servant employed by the state scholarship board admitted that often, “when we deny them [non-indigenes] scholarships, they are lost completely.”85  Even non-indigenes who might be eligible for scholarships and lower fees at state-run schools in their faraway “state of origin” often find the cost of attending school far from their homes and families to be prohibitive.    

Similar, though less severe, discrimination exists in federal government universities as well.  Those universities, which are generally regarded as elite as compared with their state-run counterparts, do not “belong” to the indigenes of any one state.  Most, however, grant preferential treatment to students who are indigenes of their “catchment areas,” which encompass the state hosting the university and one or more nearby states.86  Students who cannot prove that they are indigenes of a federal university’s catchment area are forced to compete for admission at a disadvantage, though one that is considerably less pronounced than those imposed on non-indigenes by state universities.87 

State government officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Kaduna, Kano and Plateau States defended these discriminatory policies, claiming that they amounted to a benign form of positive discrimination aimed at advancing the interests of state indigenes.88  Pointing out that Nigerians in the north of the country are generally less well-educated than natives of the southern states, for example, a spokesperson for the government of Kano State said that, “All of these are policies targeted at providing more opportunity to indigenes.  You want to encourage your people to study… So it’s a kind of subsidy for the education of indigenes.”89 

Many non-indigenes hotly dispute this rationale, arguing that the educational needs of their children should also be relevant to the policies of the states they call home.  And some contend that the idea that their children should seek their education in their “state of origin” is nothing short of absurd.  The non-indigene Anglican bishop of Kaduna voiced that sentiment this way:

I have lived in Kaduna since 1963.  Since then I have not spent one whole week and my children have not spent four consecutive days in that place [their “state of origin”].  This is where we belong… This is my home whether they accept it or not—I am a citizen of the state and the constitution says I have a right to live here.90

Barriers to political participation

Non-indigenes are able to vote in the communities they live in, but often face formidable obstacles including outright intimidation should they seek to participate more directly in local politics.  One non-indigene in Kaduna complained that he was interested in becoming involved in politics but that

[Even though] I have lived in Kaduna State for twenty years I cannot run for the chairmanship of my LGA.  The party stalwarts would tell me to go back to my home state.  But of course I cannot be elected there either after being away for twenty years.91

Another non-indigene in Kano said that non-indigenes there generally did not even consider running for office because “all kinds of coalitions would build up against you and prevent you from competing effectively.”92  In some cases, such as in the southeastern city of Warri, indigene community leaders state quite openly that they would resort to violence before allowing a non-indigene to win control of one of “their” local governments in an election.93  The government of Plateau State has appointed a local government administration in the state capital’s Jos North local government area, and refuses to hold elections there, because of fears that the area’s large non-indigene Hausa population might propel candidates from their own community to victory; state government officials say they worry such a development would spark violent conflict.94

[42] Human Rights Watch interview with Mark Jacob Nzamah, Kaduna, November 10, 2005.

[43] Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Permanent Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview with Hon. Abdul Oroh, Abuja, October 31, 2005.

[45] Human Rights Watch interviews, Jos, Kaduna and Kano, November-December 2005.  Seealso below,Section VII, Plateau state case study.

[46] See below, Section VII, Kaduna state case study.

[47] Human Rights Watch interviews, Kaduna, November 15, 2005.

[48] For more discussion on the legal and constitutional implications of discrimination against non-indigenes in Nigeria, see below, section VIII.

[49] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Article 147(3).  The closest the Constitution comes to defining the concept of indigeneity is in Articles 223(2)(b) and 318(1).  Article 223(2)(b) requires that the executive of any national political party contain members who “belong to” at least two-thirds of the states in the federation.  Article 318(1) defines the phrase “belong to” in that context as applying to “a person either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents was a member of a community indigenous to that state.” 

[50] Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Permanent Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[51] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[52] Certificates of Indigeneity are also referred to as “Certificates of Origin” or “Indigene Certificates.”

[53] For a fuller discussion of the plight of “stateless non-indigenes,” see below,Section VII, Plateau state case study.

[54] Human Rights Watch interview with James Wuye, Kaduna, November 9, 2005.

[55] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 22, 2005.

[56] See above p. 23-25.

[57] See below, Section VII, Kaduna and Plateau state case studies.

[58] In one USAID-funded survey carried out at the end of 2001, for example, 60 percent of 2,500 households interviewed said that they felt that their LGA councils were either “very dishonest” or “somewhat dishonest,” while only 15 percent rated their LGA councils as either “very honest” or “somewhat honest.”“Nigeria: Governance and Corruption Diagnostic Study,” available online at

[59] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 9, 2005.

[60] In Kaduna South LGA, for example, residents told Human Rights Watch that a processing fee of N100 was theoretically charged for indigeneity certificate applications, but local officials actually demanded that applicants pay at least N300 directly to them on top of the fee.  Human Rights Watch interviews, Kaduna, November 2005.

[61] The Yoruba are one of Nigeria’s three largest ethnic groups and generally hail from states in the southwest of the country.

[62] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 10, 2005.

[63] Human Rights Watch interview with Rebecca Sako-John, Kaduna, November 9, 2005.

[64] Human Rights Watch interview with Mark Jacob Nzamah, Attorney General of Kaduna State, November 10, 2005.

[65] Hard data is difficult to come by, but this is generally accepted as being true of the Nigerian economy.  One 1984 tracer study estimated that 58 percent of university graduates worked in the public sector.  SeeAndrew Dabalan and Bankole Oni, The Labor Market Prospects of University Graduates in Nigeria (World Bank: November 2000), p. 14.

[66] Human Rights Watch interviews, Kaduna, Kano and Jos, November 2005.

[67] Human Rights Watch interview with Mark Jacob Nzamah, Attorney General of Kaduna State, November 10, 2005.

[68] Hiring guidelines published by the Kaduna state civil service commission, for example, require job applicants to submit a certificate of indigeneity and that appointments reflect the “geographical spread of the state” overall, but do not explicitly state that indigenes should be given preferential treatment.  Document on file with Human Rights Watch.

[69] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 12, 2005.

[70] Positions in the Nigerian Civil Service are divided into Grades, with higher grades corresponding to higher levels of pay and responsibility.   States are entitled to reserve positions from Grade Levels 01-07 for their indigenes.  See Suberu, Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Nigeria, p. 121.  The sole exception is Abuja, the national capital, which is not located within any state—federal institutions located within Abuja need not show preference to the indigenes of any particular state.

[71] Human Rights Watch interview with Etannabi Alemika, Jos, November 17, 2005.

[72] See below, Section VII, Plateau state case study.

[73] Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, November 27, 2005.

[74] Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, November 30, 2005.

[75] Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Permanent Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[76] Human Rights Watch interview with Sule Y’au Sule, Director of Press and Public Relations, Kano, November 30, 2005.

[77] Human Rights Watch interview with Ezekiel Dalyop, Permanent Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, Jos, November 23, 2005.

[78]  “AAGM: Zamfara: Nigeria’s Apartheid Enclave?,” The Vanguard (Lagos), September 13, 2004 and “Government Accuses Zamfara Gov of Treason,” The Guardian (Lagos), September 8, 2004.

[79] “No Going Back on Fees: Zamfara Government Denies Ban of Non-Indigenes from Public Schools,” The Guardian (Lagos), December 9, 2004.

[80] Article 28(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular: (a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all.”  CRC, G.A. res. 44/25, annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49), p. 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989), entered into force Sept. 2, 1990.  Nigeria ratified the CRC in 1991.

[81] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 14, 2005.

[82] Human Rights Watch interview, Jos, November 21, 2005.

[83] Human Rights Watch interview with Sule Y’au Sule, Director of Press and Public Relations, Kano,  November 30, 2005.

[84] See below, Section VII, Plateau and Kaduna state case studies.

[85] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 15, 2005.

[86] The federal universities in Ibadan, Lagos and Zaria are exceptions; the Universities of Ibadan and Lagos have the whole of Nigeria as catchment areas (meaning that they have no catchment area at all), while the catchment area of Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria encompasses the whole of northern Nigeria.

[87] See Suberu, Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Nigeria, pp. 129-131.  At least thirty percent of the students admitted by federal universities must be from their catchment areas.

[88] See discussion of positive discrimination (affirmative action) in Section VIII, below.

[89] Human Rights Watch interview with Sule Y’au Sule, Director of Press and Public Relations, Kano,  November 30, 2005.

[90] Human Rights Watch interview with Bishop Josiah Idowu Fearon, Kaduna, November 10, 2005.

[91] Human Rights Watch interview, Kaduna, November 10, 2005.

[92] Human Rights Watch interview, Kano, November 30, 2005.

[93] See below, Section VII, Warri case study.

[94] Human Rights Watch interviews, Jos, November 2005. 

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>April 2006