Nigeria As A Federation: Needs And Characteristics

Table Of Content

1. Meaning Of Federation
2. Needs for Federation
3. Characteristics Of A Federation

Meaning Of Federation

A federation is a political arrangement in which a group of region, states or province have come together to form a large and more viable political union. There is a central (Federal) government and regional Or state government and each level has defined and constitution power and functions over matter of local interests such as as culture, religion customary and chieftaincy.

The central or federal government has power and functions over matter of strategic interests, to the survival of the nation. Such interests include security, defence, Aviation, currency or monetary policy and foreign affairs.

Nigeria operates a federal system of government. Comprising 36 state and a federal capital territory at Abuja. The federal and state government constitute the first and second tiers of government respectively addition. Nigeria has 774 local government Areas presently. The local government system constitutes the third tier of government activity. In effect, the Nigerian Federation allows a power sharing arrangement between the federal, State and the local governments.

The Nigerian Federation is a creation of the British colonial administration, following the amalgamation of the Northern and southern protectorates by sir Lord Frederick Lugard, in 1914. Prior to the amalgamation, the territory known as Nigeria was inhabited by people of diverse ethnic, religious, historical and cultural backgrounds. The British colonial authority created Nigeria mainly for her economic interest and for administrative convenience.

Today, there still exists ethnic, cultural, religious and social differences among the various group that make up Nigeria.

However, there is general desire and commitment by the various ethnic groups towards the unity and oneness of the nation. Indeed, the challenge of the Nigeria federalism is the need to achieve national unity and integration of is the need to achieve nation unity and integration of its divers ethnic groups.

Needs For Federation

A federation is a union of people of diverse backgrounds in terms of culture, language, religion, social and political orientation. Certain basic requirement are necessary or imperative for its sustenance and survival. They are:

1. National Integration:

Nigeria is a multi ethnic nation or state. This implies the existence of several ethnic group in Nigeria. There are about 250 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. The major ones are the Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, Ijaw, Edo, Efik, Ibibo, Tiv, Etc. The various ethnic groups possess diverse identities, cultures, traditions, loyalties, etc.

They are also endowed or possess reasonable Economic resources without the support and cooperation of other ethnic groups.

There is therefore the need for proper integration and unity of the various ethnic group. This would make for loyalty to the nation, not to the ethnic group. So federalism is a provision whereby various ethnic groups combine and become one entity for the purpose of collective effort, which result in greater prosperity and protection, for the federating units.

2. Unity In Diversity:

An essential ingredient of federalism is the desire for unity despite the difference that exist in language, culture, customer and tradition. Social orientation and religion of the peoples unity in diversity implies the desire for unity and integration of the various group, while respecting and preserving the unique differences and ethnic identities of the various IOUs groups that make up the federation. It is a worth acknowledging that there is strength in unity while also maintaining and respecting those unique identities which define the groups.

3. Controlling The Activities Of State:

Federalism is characterized by a central government which protect the constituent state and also controls their activities. The constitution confers power and functions on the central or federal government which enables it to exercise control over the states. Even though there is power sharing between the federal and state government, the central and allocation, aviation , foreign affairs.

By these functions, the central government exercises overriding control on the state. For federalism to survive, the central government must be powerful to exercise influence and control over the state or regions.

Characteristics Of A Federation

The main characteristics of a federal system of government are:

1. Powers of government are shared between the ventral and state governments.

2. State have constitutionally defined control over their own affairs.

3. Central government control the state.

4. Existence of a federation Constitution.

1. Sharing Of Power:

As discussed earlier, powers of government in a federation are shared between the central government and the states government is contained in the

(i) Exclusive list

(ii) Concurrent list

(iii) Residual List

1. The Exclusive list contains power and functions exercised by the policy, monetary policy, mines and power, mineral resources.

2. The Concurrent List contain powers and functions exercise jointly by both the central government and state governments. They includes, security, education, health, works, environmental, commerce and industry, arts and culture, tourism etc.

3. The Residual List contains functions exercised by the state government which are particular to the state, they include chieftaincy, customs and traditions, and religious matters.

READ ALSO: Cultural Integration Of Nigeria: Concepts And Roles

In the Nigerian federalism, there is a further division of powers and functions between the state government and the local governments. In effect, there are 3 tiers Of government in Nigeria:

Federal, state, local government. The three tiers are constitutionally recognised. But in practice, the local governments are subjected to state governments. The states have overbearing influence on the powers and functions of the local governments.

In practice, the local government level of government is not autonomous. At best, the local governments are extension of the state and operate within the limits allowed by the state.

2. Constitutionally Defined Control Of Affairs By The States:

In a federation,the constitution defines the powers of the various levels of government. The state have clearly defined powers which give them a measure of autonomy from the central or federal government. Beside the concurrent functions which are powers shared between the federal government and the states, the state governments enjoy powers over matters which reflect local identity like culture, customs and tradition, chieftaincy and religious matters. The central or federal government cannot violate or trespass on the constitutional powers of the state.

3. Central Government Controls The States:

Even though the constitution grants powers to the states to control certain functions, the powers of the state governments cannot override the authority of the central government. The central government exercises certain powers which have controlling influence over the state and which provide a national outlook.

The central government controls the police and the armed forces. The central government controls the states through the exercise of it exclusive functions like defence, foreign policy, mines and powers, petroleum resources, aviation, security.

4. Constitution Of The Federal System:

The constitution of the federal system of government is written and usually rigid so that it is difficult to abused by any level of government. The constitution defines the powers of government and the right and responsibility of the citizen. It stipulate the power relations between the levels of government.

It stipulates the procedure for elections, the tenure of the elected officers, including the process of removal of elected officers for misconduct. The laws of the constitution are superior to any other laws in the country. The constitution is provided to ensures that all the levels of government conduct their affairs in accordance to the laws.

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