The Yoruba kingdoms were essentially unstable, even when defended by Portuguese guns and later by cavalry (in Ilorin and Kabba), because the central government had insufficient power constitutionally or militarily to stabilize the subordinate chiefs in the outlying centers. This fissiparous tendency has governed Yoruba contemporary history and has weakened traditional rulers and strengthened the hands of local chiefs and elected councils.
The entry port of Lagos, predominantly Yoruba, is the largest and economically dominant city in the country (and its first capital). In relation to others, the Yoruba had a strong sense of ethnic identity and of region, history, and leadership among Nigeria's peoples. In relation to each other, the seven subgroups used inherited prejudices of character and behavior that could exacerbate animosities, should other factors such as access to education or prominent positions create conflict among the subdivisions.