This is an attempt to call attention of fellow Nigerians to how we got to where we are now , regarding the state of our federalism practice.
It’s very necessary to examine the process through which we got to this point , so as to learn from history. It’s better to learn from others experience than to have First hand experience. We can get some good lessons from the history of our federalism. How did our founding fathers got it wrong or right , how did we got here ?
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 is a system of government in which governmental powers that exists in a country are shared between central government and component region.It is also defined as the system of government in which governmental powers are shared between the central government, i.e. the federal government and its components (state and local government).
Federalism has been present in Nigeria since the former British colony was reorganized into a federation of three regions in 1946.Regionalism was introduced to the Nigeria system by the Richards Constitution.
*Before and right after independence*
Bernard Bourdillon the Governor-general at that time initiated and laid the foundation of federalism in Nigeria in 1939 by creating three provinces. He later handed over the constitution to his successor Arthur Richards and it became the Richards Constitution of 1946. At the beginning of formal British indirect rule in 1901, Nigeria was divided into two regions: Northern and Southern, both of which were divided into provinces. From 1901 to 1958, the number of regions was increased to three through both acquisition of territories and partition from existing provinces. However, while native-born chiefs and clerks were appointed to govern the provinces, the regions were governed by the British-appointed colonial authorities, and such regions were made dependent upon the colonial authorities for martial law, manpower and management of resources.
With the approach of independence, power over the regions was given to Nigerian-born citizens, and regional legislatures were established. By the time that Nigeria had declared itself a republic and replaced the post of Governor-General with the post of President, a national bicameral parliament was established and the country was considered a federation of the three regions. The Mid-Western Region was formed from the Western Region in 1966, and Lagos, the capital, was effectively governed as an unofficial fourth region outside the bounds of the Western Region.
It’s important to mention that the regions we used to have were four , the northern region Southwest , southeastern and Lagos. This makes the regionalism a bit skewed to the southern part. The south has more regions , though each region was running independent government.
First coup, counter-coup and the new states
After the first coup and under the short-lived military government of Aguiyi-Ironsi, the country was reorganized under a central government(removing the federal character) Following the counter-coup which resulted in Aguiyi-Ironsi’s deposition and assassination, Nigeria was reorganized as a federal country, with three of the regions being divided into newer entities and all first-level subdivisions being renamed as states:
Eastern Region was divided into East-Central (Enugu), Rivers (Port Harcourt), and South-Eastern (Calabar) states;
Northern Region was divided into Benue-Plateau (Jos), Kano (Kano), Kwara (Ilorin), North-Central (Kaduna), North-Eastern (Maiduguri), and North-Western (Sokoto) states
Western Region was divided into Lagos (Lagos) and Western (Ibadan) states.
Mid-Western and the states of former Eastern Region made a bid to secede from Nigeria as the states of Biafra and Republic of Benin, resulting in the Nigerian Civil War.
In 1976, six years after the end of the civil war, the states were further reorganized:
Benue-Plateau state divided into Benue (Makurdi) and Plateau states;
East-Central state divided into Anambra and Imo (Owerri) states;
Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) formed from parts of Niger and Plateau states;
North-Eastern state divided into Bauchi (Bauchi), Borno, and Gongola (Yola) states;
Niger (Minna) state split from Sokoto;
Western state divided into Ogun (Abeokuta), Ondo (Akure), and Oyo states
State boundaries and names were also reorganized.
Akwa Ibom state split from Cross River;
Katsina state split from Kaduna
States of Nigeria from 1991-1996
Abia State split from Imo;
Bendel State divided into Delta and Edo;
Enugu State split from Anambra;
Gongola State divided into Adamawa and Taraba;
Jigawa State split from Kano;
Kebbi State split from Sokoto;
Kogi State formed from parts of Benue and Kwara;
Osun State split from Oyo;
Yobe State split from Borno.
Bayelsa State was split from Rivers;
Ebonyi State was formed from parts of Abia and Enugu;
Ekiti State was split from Ondo;
Gombe State was split from Bauchi;
Nasarawa State was split from Plateau;
Zamfara State was split from Sokoto.
Causes for, and effects of federalism
Problems of Nigerian Federalism
Power sharing among the component unit poses a problem to the NIGERIAN FEDERALISM because it is not always properly defined
Corruption,Favouritism and Nepotism:-
These are problems of the NIGERIAN FEDERALISM
Boundary and Disputes:-
This has been a continous problem between states or local government and has been a threat on the coporate existence of the nation’s state
There is distrust among the various ethnic groups in the country
For sometime in the affairs of this country there has been the problem of conducting reliable and acceptable census
In summary of this write up , we can deduce that , from creation till date Nigeria is still striving with the idea of getting the federalism ideology correctly. From regionalism in the precolonial era Nd in the first republic to the first millitary coup that really did lot of injury to the course of federalism. It will be noted that it was only The Aguiyi Ironsi led military regime that did not implement the federal ideology. However after the counter coup, the north backed millitary regimes sorted to weaken the strength of regionalism and brought in the states system. Though the states system is a very viable federal system, it has not been fully optimized , which is why we have problems with our federalism.