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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Indigeneship, bureaucratic discretion, and institutional change in Northern Nigeria
Author:Ehrhardt, DavidISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
ethnic relations
civil servants
External link:https://doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adx016
Abstract:This article shows how bureaucratic discretion in the implementation of Nigeria's power-sharing institutions, the Federal Character, has led to the formalization of local informal norms on belonging. Under the Federal Character, Nigerians have to be 'indigene' to access certain economic and political opportunities at the federal as well as state and local government levels. However, what makes a person indigenous is not formally defined, leaving street-level officials free to decide how to allocate indigeneship certificates. Using original qualitative and quantitative data on Kano, northern Nigeria's largest city, this article shows that local officials faced with this discretion often turn to locally salient norms on belonging. In Kano, several of these norms set ethnic and religious criteria for belonging, particularly those that prioritize the rights of the 'native' over those of the citizen. The article demonstrates how street-level bureaucrats use these ethnic and religious criteria to allocate indigeneship certificates, prioritizing Kano's 'natives' over other Nigerian citizens. This dynamic may be mirrored across Nigeria, depending on the norms on belonging that are locally salient. While the article suggests a simple technical solution, formally defining indigeneship on the basis of residence, it also shows the deep political barriers to its implementation. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]