The O’Odua People Congress (OPC): From nationalist activism to commercialization of security in Lagos

The OPC is one of the most popular vigilante organizations in the southwest Nigeria. OPC has been formed in 1994, as one of the consequences of the Abiola’s defeat at the presidential elections. Expression and reaction facing a feeling of marginalization experienced by the Yoruba elite, the movement adopted a radical political ideology and developed a discourse against the institutional political system and more widely, about social justice. They have been highly involved in the provision of order in the popular areas in Lagos. Gani Adams, the second OPC historical leader, turned the issue of security and order into the political priority of OPC. A four months fieldwork in Lagos made us realized that after a period of success, OPC has been accused of bad practices and has been rejected by the population in some areas. Vigilante groups under OPC control developed practices reminding the traditional Yoruba witchcraft practices, especially to force arrested people to confess their presumed crimes or infractions. This strategy has been adopted in order to get a new legitimacy in Lagos lower social classes  and to disqualify the state discourse. However, it appeared that they were using a witchcraft register materialized by a relatively new interpretation of the Yoruba values. Our communication will be focused on the OPC evolution process from the late nineties until now. OPC has succeeded not only to label their own practices and to make popular their mode of action to local authorities, but also to sell their services as security private provider. Our paper deals with the observations done in a neighborhood where OPC controls one gated street. We used a micro-scale analysis at the street level to highlight the sense of young men involvement in the OPC.

Revilla . Sciences Po Bordeaux/ LAM .

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