Tribalism in Nigeria is not a historical inevitability.. Accordingly, Nigerians tribalism is a relatively new phenomenon. It is a product of modern times arising from colonialism, urbanization and the political culture that sprung up in independent Nigeria.
Before the coming of the colonialists Nigerian tribes lived in their own distinct areas or territory with their own cultures, i.e. language, customs, myths of origin etc. The communities lived free from each other, save for some conflict over water and pasture for livestock.
When the British came, they brought with them the principle of divide and rule. They magnified differences amongst the various communities/ tribes, instigating clashes where by each community distrusted and fought the other. This served as the breeding ground for negative tribal stereotypes which then became embedded in popular belief that some tribe are better than the other.