What Are The Problems And Prospects Of Federalism In Nigeria?

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The term Federalism in Nigeria refers to the devolution of self-governance by the West African nation of Nigeria to its federated states, who share sovereignty with the Federal Government. Federalism in Nigeria can be traced to Sir Frederick Lord Lugard , when the Northern and Southern protectorates were amalgamated in 1914. The aim of federalism is to preserve personal liberty by separating the powers of the government so that one government or group may not control all powers. It is believed that divided power was limited power and applied this theory as they created the Constitution. Federalism helps explain why each state has its own constitution and powers such as being able to choose what kind of ballots it uses, even in national elections. This post will provide information on "What Are The Problems And Prospects Of Federalism In Nigeria?" and also provide answers to question regarding the problems and prospects of federalism in Nigeria.

What Is Federalism?

Federalism is defined as a system of government in which entities such as states or provinces share power with a national government. It is the system of government in which power is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units. It is based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and state governments, creating a federation.Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government that combines a general government with regional governments in a single political system.

Origin And Nature Of Federalism In Nigeria

This can be traced to the colonial era. Parliamentary and Unitary system of government were in operation in Nigeria between 1914 and 1946. In 1939 sir Bernard Bourdillion made a serious constitutional proposal which concluded having regional councils with a central council in Lagos. Nigeria as a result was divided into three provinces. sir Arthur Richards strengthened this proposal in 1945 and regionalism was introduced by his administration in 1946. In the words of Richards, regionalism was introduced to strengthen unity in diversity. Rt. Hon. Justice Udo Udoma is of the view that regionalism was introduced by the colonialists in order to divide and rule, and weaken true national unity in Nigeria. The 1951 constitution gave more strength to regionalism with the creation of two chamber legislation in the northern and western Nigeria. This regional arrangement gave rise to ethnic sentiment and political struggle for the center among the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria. The contradictions generated by this regional arrangement threatened Nigeria unity. Instead of designing a government that should unite the different elements in Nigeria, the colonialists fully adopted federal stem of government in 1954 and created greater regional autonomy. It was under the 1954 constitution that federal system of government was fully adopted. It was believed that federal system of government would take care of the interest of the minority and human rights that had been the fear of the minority under colonial rule. The constitution emphasized areas of authority between the central government and the regions. Matters, enumerated in the exclusive list are selected for the federal authority, while matters that fall within the concurrent list are selected for the federal government, and the regions. However, where there is a conflict of authority between the federal government and regional government, the federal authority supersedes. The regional government had power over matters that are listed under the residual list. Since 1954 successively Nigerian constitution had adopted the federal system of government without much emphasis on the unity or disunity it has accorded to Nigeria. Many Nigerian ethnic groups began to agitate for their own states. In 1963 Midwestern region was created and Nigeria became a nation of four regions. Again, in 1967 twelve states were created to appease the interest of those clamoring for states and weaken the Geo-political holds of Biafra. 19 more states were created in 1976 in order to score more political advantage by the Murtala-Obasanjo regime against those that favor General Yakubu Gowon. The Babangida administration followed the same step and created 21 states and more local governments. The states were later increased to 30 states. Abacha regime, added more states making Nigeria a federation of 36 states and Federal capital Territory at Abuja. The military were able to create more states because military decrees do not pass the same rigorous method bills pass in a democratic government. Military administration does not apply the principle of federation. The first military head of state was dethroned for adopting unitary system of government yet successive military administration in practice follow unitary principle instead of federal system. It has been suggested that the creation of more states and local government have helped in the distribution of national cake. On the contrary it has also been suggested that is created more diversity and conflict for the nation to grapple with. The states too have no resources for development but depended on federal grants.

Brief history of Federalism

Montesquieu. Montesquieu is considered as the starting point of this enquiry through federalism, as he was the first to introduce the idea and semantics of federalism in modern political thinkings. Thus, Montesquieu presented in The Spirit of Laws. The terms "federalism" and "con-federalism" share a root in the Latin word foedus, meaning "treaty, pact or covenant". Their common early meaning until the late eighteenth century was a simple league or inter-governmental relationship among sovereign states based on a treaty. They were therefore initially synonyms.Federalism was born in 1787, when Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison wrote 85 essays collectively known as the Federalist papers. Nigerian Federalism refers to distributing power between national and state governments. The relation between federalism and the First Amendment has important dimensions involving political theory. Modern federalism was created at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Johannes Althusius is called The father of modern federalism, He was a German intellectual who wrote Politica Methodice Digesta, The term federalist was first used in 1787 to describe the supporters of the newly written Constitution, who emphasized the federal character of the proposed union. Influential public leaders who accepted the Federalist label included John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Rufus King, John Marshall, Timothy Pickering and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. All had agitated for a new and more effective constitution in 1787.

What Are The Principle Of Federalism?

The principle of federalism states that the greatest danger to liberty is the majority. ... They supported the idea of a strong national government that shared authority and power with strong state and local governments.

What Is The Uniqueness Of federalism?

An unique feature of the American governmental structure is a balance of both horizontal and vertical division of powers. As an institutional/structural design, federalism is intended to both safeguard state interests while creating a strong union led by an effective centralized national government.

Limitation Of Government Power By Federalism

Federalism causes a limitation of government power by creating two sovereign powers which is the national government and the state governments leading to a restrain in the influence of both. This separation of powers causes internal limits by dividing government against itself, giving different branches different functions and making them to share power.

who Is A Federalist?

A federalist is a supporter of federal government, it is someone who believes in the type of political system in which states or territories share control with a central government.the word federalist describes someone who advocates this kind of system, while an upper-case F denotes a member of a specific political party.

The principles of federalism

This principle includes the Constitution established a national government distinguished by federalism, separation of powers, checks and balances, and bicameralism.

The Distinctive Features Of Federal System Of Government In Nigeria

  • There must exist supremacy of the constitution, which implies that laws passed by the authority in the federal arrangement, if contrary to the constitution shall be declared to be ultra votes
  • The nature of the relationship of the federal and state governments that determines whether a state is federal or unitary and the powers that exist between the federal and state government depends on the constitution
  • The constitution must be rigid to avoid frequent and unnecessary changes
  • There shall be the existence of court to interpret the constitution as it applies to cases and conflicts among the tiers of government
  • There must be a formal decision of government powers by the constitution between the federal and state government

The General Features Of Federalism

  • The same citizens are governed by the various tires of the government
  • There are two or more levels of government in a federal structure of government
  • Federation has their own flags, emblem, anthems and all other signs of the state, except state sovereignty
  • Presences of constituent parts called Republics, States and Local Governments areas
  • The constitution of the country shall specify the respective jurisdictions of the various levels of government
  • There is a relationship between the federal, states and local governments, this relationship is governed by the Federal Constitution
  • The bicameral structure of the federal parliament where one is the organ of the federal government and the other is representing the interests of the federation
  • Foreign policies are conducted by the federal government on behalf of the state and local government
  • The states and local government may issue their own Constitution, decree and other normative-legal acts that will be legal in their territory with the Federal Constitution and federal laws

What Are The Reasons For Federal System Of Government In Nigeria?

  • Unity Of The Country
  • This is one of the reasons for federal system of government in Nigeria. Federalism was basically introduced to bring about peace and unity in the different regions of the country. In many countries of the world, federalism has emerged as a means of accommodating the growing desire of people to preserve or revive the intimacy of small societies and the growing necessity for larger combinations to mobilize the utilization of common resources. The unity here is brought about by the desire of the component units of the federation to form union in respect of some matters. If the desire to remain separate does not exist, the the association will not be federal but unitary with some delegation of powers to local government.
  • Historical Experience
  • The Emergence of Nigeria as a political entity under colonial rule was not an easy affair, It came about following the necessity for administrative convenience and managerial expenses. The major reason for the adoption of federal system of government in Nigeria is borne out of the historical experience that brought all the ethical groups together under one Nigeria. It has severally been emphasized by both the Northern and Western politicians that God did not create Nigeria but the British. Moreover, it is important to note that most of the ethnic groups in Nigeria had strong political inter-group relationship before colonial rule. The history of Ijaw, Edo, Igala, Yoruba, Igbo, Nupe and Hausa Kingdoms are enriched with social-political relationships that existed before the emergence of the white man. Political institutions, Kinship ties, Origin of towns and their cultural antecedents are enriched with similar history. All these strengthen political bonds and gave Rice to unity in diversity.
  • Ethnic, Religious And Geographical Factor
  • The Ethnic, Religious and Geographical nature of Nigeria contributes to the reason why federalism was adopted, because where federal principles apply, the various ethnic groups that cannot or don’t form majority to produce large part may have the opportunity of governing themselves within their federating unit controlled by them.The fear of ethnic groups overlapping regional boundaries and the loyalties of castes cutting of some extent across provincial political boundaries also encourage some groups to support wider federal unions. There is no doubt that geographical factored are one of the influential reasons for federalism in Nigeria. The effectiveness of linking communications has been a vital factor in geographical unit.
  • Political Culture Of Nigeria
  • This factor necessitated federalism in Nigeria because of the political culture of the country. Evidently, Nigeria’s political culture was federalism friendly and that gave rise to easy adoption of federalism. As I have already explained. It represents a synthetic between two perceptiveness; one is that politics of the United States should produce the good commonwealth and the other is that the principal task of politics is to create an open political market. Federalism was the only solution to ensure peace and unity amongst the leaders and the citizens and that was why federalism was adopted into the Nigerian political system. In the same way, the political culture of the United States is civic, republican and participatory.
  • Resource Control
  • The availability of resources in a particular region and the need for that area to control the resources has also been seen as a reason for a federal system in Nigeria. This has nexus with the particular sharing formula adopted. In a unitary constitution which opposes federal principles, everything belongs to the central government; the federating unit does not exist, let alone agitating for resource control. However, that is not so in a federal government system.
  • Minority Marginalization
  • In other not to control only some parts of the big country, Nigeria, the colonial masters thought it wise to divide the country into different component units that will be represented in the government. This helped to solve the problem of marginalization in the leadership.The fear of marginalization by the minority in a unitary system of government has, to a great extent, influenced the majority state support for federating states. Federalism seemed to be the only option left for Nigeria because it allows for popular participation in government. Where the majority and minority are represented in the government.
  • Fear Of Insecurity And The Desire For A Union
In Nigeria, it could be argued that our federal system of government is the creation of British colonialism. It is also an undisputed fact that the Hausas and Yorubas fought Biafra to keep the unity of Nigeria. Insecurity and the desire for union are the main reasons for the shift from unitary system of government to federal system of government in 1954. The Hausa Fulani and the Minorities feared the domination of political powers by the Igbos and Yorubas. It is important to also reason that small states are prone to domination and sometimes control by the big ones. To avert this domination, states unite to form a strong, virile and stable union capable of withstanding external attacks.

What Are The Major Reasons For The Introduction Of Federalism In Nigeria

  • fear of domination by minorities
  • Cultural diversity
  • Geographical factor
  • Economic factor
  • Effective administration
  • Bringing government nearer to the people
  • The fear of domination by minorities

Problems Of Federalism In Nigeria

  • There is acute problem of corruption, favouritism and Nepotism among both the government, the officials and the entire public in general
  • Leadership Problems which is a problem of selecting acceptable and credible national leader
  • There is problem of fear of ethnic domination by minority groups (Minority Issues)
  • There is problem of endless agitation for state and local governments creation by the component units
  • There exists the problem of revenue allocation
  • There is problem of absence of truly national political parties
  • There exists unhealthy inter ethnic rivalry due to the frictions within the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria
  • There is the problem of the possibility of secession which has always threatened the corporate existence of the Nigerian federalism
  • There exists continual boundary dispute among the component units that threatening the union
  • There is the problem of the application of power sharing among the component units such as the federal and states, then states and local governments
  • There is problem of conducting reliable, acceptable and accountable census which serves as a threat to the existing Nigerian federalism
  • Inter-ethnic rivalry
  • Power sharing formula
  • Revenue allocation
  • Promotion of national integration and stability
  • Fairness among ethnic groups
  • Removal of indigene and non-indigene dichotomy

The Prospects Of Federalism In Nigeria

  • Eliminate the problem of uneven distribution of government allocations
  • Political stability
  • National integration
  • Economic stability

What Are The Advantages Of Federalism?

  • Federalism if properly applied will lead to economic development in the country.a federal system is to accomplish economic development and to establish an effective administration Federalism leads to stability in the economy and helps in
  • The elimination of any form of crises that may occur because of ethnic and religion competition
  • Federalism brings political stability, it also helps in promoting unity and bring government closer to the people
  • Federalism help in uniting people of different culture and traditions in the country
  • Federalism is all about national unity, and it creates unity and unites the peoples of the different ethnic and religious group under one government
  • Federalism helps in removing the problems of separation among the various ethnic and religious groups.
  • It helps in minimizing the problem of majority and minority domination in the nation
  • It Removes the problem of unequal distribution of national resources

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