Some aspects of Nigerian nationalism - particularly as espoused by the Ibo elite in the struggle for Nigerian independence and immediately after - are here interpreted as an alternative or supplementary response to the same kinds of structural strains which have generated impulses to so-called tribalism. Rank-equilibration theory is utilized to provide the necessary causal links.
Other approaches are also suggested to amount for the emergence of structural strains, and for the political exploitation of tribalist responses to such strains. Further discussed are a number of attendant micro- and macro-circumstances which might explain why rank-equili bration sometimes stimulates tribalism and secessionism, at other times seems to increase the appeals of a broader nationalism.
Finally, it is maintained that a more durable form of nationalism appears only when based not on individual rank-equilibrating responses, but on the acceptance of common rules within a differentiated and well-balanced system of social exchange such as that hopefully emerging in the new twelve-state federal structure of Nigeria.