What are the Problems of Federalism in Nigeria

Generally, federalism has its own problems. But these problems may differ from one country to another. Today, we shall look at the problems of federalism in Nigeria.

In my previous post, I discussed what federalism is all about. I also mentioned the features of a federal system. In addition, I explained the kind of Constitution that introduces the federal System of government and how it works.

Nigeria, a multi-ethnic country with diversities, also operates a federal system of government. In that case, it faces some problems which accompany federalism.

Different systems of government have different features. Each with its own peculiar characteristics. The Characteristics, I mean the pros and cons, and so is the federal system of government.

Problems of Federalism in Nigeria

Let us now see the different issues Nigeria is currently facing as a result of the federal system of government that they adopted.

Important: these problems can also be seen as the disadvantages of federalism in Nigeria.

1. Revenue allocation method

The method of sharing revenue has been one of the major problems in Nigeria. The problems inherent in the sharing revenue among the federating units have been a source of concern since 1950s.

Since federalism requires that each independent state receives some percentage of funds from the central government, it becomes hard to determine factors to consider while sharing it.

Some States where funds are generated want more revenue than others. In the same way, other states also want more, irrespective of their contributions.

For instance, some states in Nigeria are oil-producing States; some are in to agricultural production, and some have other natural minerals such as salt, gold, zinc etc. On the other hand, some are more in population than others even though they produce less than other states. What should the government consider? Is it the population or the production levels or should it be by equality?

If you choose a population, those states that produce more will be left at a loss, and the cost of production will also be lost. If you choose to consider the production level, the state with more population will be left to suffer. Then, suppose the government goes by equality. In that case, some states will receive more than enough, possibly because they are not that populated.

However, solutions have been proffered by some learned scholars, but those solutions (commission) tend not to work. Examples of such commissions are:

The Philipson Commission (1946)

This commission recommended the principle of derivation, stipulating that each region should obtain revenue that corresponds with the contributed quota.

The Hicks Phillipson Commission (1951)

This commission recommended three principles of sharing revenue which include:

  • derivation
  • need
  • national interest;

The Chicks Commission (1953)

This commission came up with derivation formula.

The Raisman commission (1957)

It recommended the principle of

  • derivation,
  • need,
  • population
  • government responsibility;

Binns Commission (1964)

Recommended the principle of need and even development.

Aboyade Technical Commission (1977)

Recommended minimum national standard for national integration, independent revenue and tax efforts, and equal access to development benefits.

Okigbo commission (1980)

Recommended ratios for the sharing of federally collected revenue (federal – 53%, state – 30%, local government – 10%, special fund – 7 %)

Danjuma Commission (1988)

came up with another ratios (federal – 50%, state – 30%, local government – 15% and special fund – 5%) (Akintoye, 2012).

These are the commission that came up just to proffer solutions to the problems of federalism in Nigeria. But till date, Nigeria still suffers same problem as it is always hard to choose which method to use and cling upon.

2. Inter-ethnic rivalry

This is one of the major issues of federalism in Nigeria. Nigeria has diverse groups of people with different culture, language and religion. Due to these differences, there has been serious rivalry among these ethnic groups especially the major ethnic groups – Igbo, Hausaa and Yoruba.

Each group wants to dominate the other and it has caused power tussle among them. Other minor ethnic groups also hustle for power as no one wants to be left behind.

So far, no one has been able to find a successful solution to this problem in Nigeria. Despite efforts from leaders and the government, previous attempts have failed. People have been offering their own ideas, but the issue still persists and remains a major concern.

3. Minority issues and creation of States

There are major and minor groups in Nigeria. The major ones prefer to be independent of any other. On the other hand, minorities are afraid of the domination of the major ones. This causes a problem.

The nature of the multi-ethnicity of Nigeria has brought about the issue of minorities, which constitutes a major problem against the nation’s development.

4. The issue of secession

According to Cambridge English Dictionarysecession means the “act of becoming independent and no longer part of a country, area, organization, etc”.

Due to ethnicity and diversity in Nigeria, groups have been agitating for Independence. In other words, they want their self-government.

This has been the fight of the Igbos since 1960s caused by ethnic differences. Some other minor groups in Nigeria also agitate for same.

This continues to be one of the major disadvantages of federalism in Nigeria as such will never or hardly stop.

5. Federal characters

The appointment and election of federal representatives is another issue in Nigeria. It is important that these appointments and elections are fairly distributed among the different regions and not just given to one particular ethnic group. Rotation of power should take place so that each region has a chance to hold office and bring new ideas to the government. This way, no region will feel excluded or cheated. Having a single ethnic group in power for too long is not healthy for a multi-ethnic state like Nigeria.

Recommended: The Legislative Branch of Government

Conclusion – Problems of Nigerian federalism

Right from the time of Independence, there has been differences among the different tribes in Nigeria. These problems majorly came up as a result of the political structure laid down by the British.

The solution to these problems is good governance, a government that can restructure the Country’s government – Arms of government.

Nigeria needs a government that will adhere to the law’s tenets, not partly obey it.

Furthermore, some sections of the Constitution need some modifications and some things need to be added too. Example: the mode of impeachment of the president oust the court’s jurisdiction to entertain any matter related to it. This simply means the Constitution has, in a way, removed the major function of the Judiciary.

The rotation of power clause should also be added in the Constitution to terminate the struggles for power among the different ethnic groups.

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