Navigating Between National Unity and Political Expediency: The Federal Government’s Response to Substate Identity Policy in Nigeria and Canada

Eyene Okpanachi*, Félix Mathieu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

What factors shape the federal or national governments’ responses to substate identity policies within deeply diverse federal systems? This article answers this question by analysing the role of the President or Prime Minister as ‘bearers’ of national unity, when confronted with (exclusivist) identity policies that may threaten the inclusion of all citizens, in particular minorities residing in jurisdictions dominated by a dominant (ethnocultural, linguistic or religious) group. The empirical evidence draws on the experiences of Canada and Nigeria, focusing in particular on the tension over secularism and the Muslim veil in Québec public institutions, and the adoption of Sharia by twelve Muslim-majority states in Nigeria. The paper demonstrates that while the need to uphold cultural diversity could explain the federal government’s responses to the identity policies implemented in these regions, the primary driver of the responses was the president and prime minister’s political goal of re-election and retaining power. The paper contributes to the literature by stressing the similarities in the political reflexes and strategies utilized by political actors in managing the tension between the constitutional principles of self-rule and shared rule in two federations that are often thought to be so different and, hence, incomparable.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2322866
Number of pages22
JournalEthnopolitics
Volume00
Issue number00
Early online date19 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • deeply diverse federal systems
  • substate identity policies
  • Muslim veil
  • Sharia
  • Canada
  • Nigeria

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