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This research presents the results of the impact of ethnicity on Nigeria public service; a case study of Ogun state civil service.

The population for the study consists of 40 people which were randomly selected, Data were gathered using a self -constructed questionnaire and the result gotten was analyzed using the simple percentage method.  The validity and reliability of instrument were ascertained. Data analyzed from the research shows that there is a positive impact on public servant performance. However, ethnic diversity also comes with its benefits that can enhance employee and organizational performance. The study recommends that ethnicity and workforce so as to promotes unity and also encourage tolerance among the employees and knowledge of other culture can be help to successfully carried out a specific task that requires such knowledge when the need arise.



The term ‘ethnicity’ has its roots in the Greek term ethnos/ethnikos, which was commonly used to describe pagans, that is non-Hellenic and, later, non-Jewish (Gentile) or non-Christian, second-class peoples, its academic and popular use is fairly modern. Sociologically speaking, the term was coined by D. Riesman in 1953 and it gained wider use only during the 1960s and 1970s (Glazer and Moynihan, 1975).

Social scientists define ethnicity as “a shared racial, linguistic, or national identity of a social group” (Jary and Jary, 1991: 151). Social researchers are interested in the assignment of individuals to social groups.

Ethnicity may be defined as “the employment or mobilization of ethnic identity and difference to gain advantage in situations of competition, conflict or cooperation” (Osaghae 1995:11). This definition is preferred because it identifies two issues that are central to discussions on ethnicity. The first is that ethnicity is neither natural nor accidental, but is the product of a conscious effort by social actors. The second is that ethnicity is not only manifest in conflictive or competitive relations but also in the contexts of cooperation. A corollary to the second point is that ethnic conflict manifests itself in various forms, including voting, community service and violence. Thus, it need not always have negative consequences. Ethnicity also encompasses the behavior of ethnic groups. Ethnic groups are groups with ascribed membership, usually but not always based on claims or myths of common history, ancestry, language, race, religion, culture and territory. While all these variables need not be present before a group is so defined, the important thing is that such a group is classified or categorized as having a common identity that distinguishes it from others. It is this classification by powerful agencies such as the state, religious institutions and the intelligentsia such as local ethnic historians that objectifies the ethnic group, often setting in motion processes of self-identification or affirmation and recognition by others. Thus, ethnicity is not so much a matter of ‘shared traits or cultural commonalities’, but the result of the interplay between external categorization and self-identification (Brubaker, Loveman and Stamatov 2004:31-32).

Ekeh (1972, 1975) posits that one of the fundamental consequences of colonialism was the creation of two publics, which contested for the loyalty of Africans. These are: (1) the primordial public which is made up of ethnic unions, community associations and other primordial groups, established in the colonial period to meet the welfare needs that were denied by the colonial state; and (2) the civic public whose genealogy begins with the colonial state apparatus and encompasses the symbols and institutions of the post-colonial state. While the primordial public enjoyed the affection of the people who always thought of what they could do for it without asking for anything in return, the civic public is inundated by avaricious citizens with a notion of citizenship that begins and ends at the realm of rights.

Years before the attainment of independence, Nigeria’s constitutional development experiences were concerned with the principal goal of managing ethnicity, which had shown clear signs of subverting the nation-building project. Federalism, the creation of regions and states and local governments, the shift from parliamentary to presidentialism, the institutionalization of quota systems, the prohibition of ethnic political parties, consociation politicking, and the adoption of the federal character principle are some of the approaches that Nigeria has taken to manage ethnic diversity. These mechanisms have enjoyed the intellectual backing of institutionalists who posit that there is a connection between ethnic conflict or peace and the nature of political institutions (Young 1976, Horowitz 1985).

Ethnic inequality in Nigeria has really hindered growth in many areas of development. The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) is a means to curb ethnicity in Nigeria; which if serious about it, a positive impact will be felt.


In spite of the great contributions of the public service to the economic growth and development of the Nigerian economy, the capacity of the human capital has been limited by ethnicity in the industry. Organizations greatly rely on the performance of their employees and the performance of employees also relies so much on the ethnic diversity of the firms which obviously influences the performance of employees. When an organisation does not have a conducive and enabling environment for practicing workforce diversity, employees will be deprived of all the positive benefits that would have resulted from a better management of workforce diversity such as motivation, knowledge and skill transfer, creativity and better decision-making thereby demotivating those in the organization who would have become the catalysts for better service delivery and organizational growth. Also, if workforce diversity is not handled correctly, the formation of various groups will occur; this could lead to miscommunication, emotional conflicts, power struggle and ultimately to high turnover of employees. The diverse workforce will then become an inhibitor for organisational growth. When workforce diversity, that is, ethnic diversity, age, educational background, cultural background, and sexes of the employees are relegated to the background, the service delivery, competitive edge, profitability among others of the organisation seem to collapse due to lack of team work among the employees; within a heterogeneous workforce, a variety of values and work habits would be found in which supervisors would need to become skilled at managing diversity (Mustapha, 2016).


The general objective of this study is to examine the impact of Ethnicity on public service in Nigeria. The specific objective are:

1.     To ascertain if Ethnicity has positive or negative impact on Public Service in Nigeria.

2.     Determine strategic ways in which Ethnicity can favorably impact the Nigerian public service.


The important research questions related to this study are:

1.     Has Ethnicity have positive or negative impact on Public Service in Nigeria?

2.     Are there ways in which Ethnicity can favorably impact the Nigerian public service?


The result of this study will be of immense benefit to the Nigeria Public Service, as it would help to establish the relationship between ethnicity and productivity of civil or public servant. This study will also help the employees to accept and respect the unique diversity of follow colleagues who are not only similar to them but also those who are dissimilar. It will help them to realize that working together can help improve their performance. The findings of this study will serve as a source of materials to future researchers and as well guide them in researching on the impact of Ethnicity in Nigeria Public service


The study is focused on the type of relationship that exists between ethnic diversity in Nigeria Public service, Ogun state is used as a case study while Ado-Odo LGA is used.


This study encountered drawbacks and limitations due to the unyielding attitude of the respondents. Some of the respondents were unwilling and refused to fill the copies of the questionnaire due to fear of loss of their jobs. This problem was however, mitigated by revisiting the respondents and convincing them on the need to assist in completing the copies of the questionnaire as the information would be used solely for academic purpose

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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