Federalism In Nigeria: The Past, Current Peril and Future Hopes
The origins of Nigeria's federalism lie not in the pluralities of economic and geographic regions or of ethnic nationalities, but in the plurality of colonial administrative traditions imposed by the British. Different administrative traditions were especially evident in the Northern and Southern Regions of Nigeria. These traditions produced regional rivalry and conflict that were entrenched in the Nigerian polity by the processes of consolidation and nation-building. After independence, this regional rivalry became the basis for triggering the conflicts between economic and ethnic areas present in Nigeria's federal system and for creating more states in attempts to accommodate various group interests. In the aftermath of military rule, Nigeria's new civilian, democratic federal system is highly centralized while also being fragmented subnationally. There is much pressure to reconstitute the federal system, devolve powers, provide for a more equitable distribution of natural-resource revenues and other revenues, and use states to advance ethnoreligious identities. Although federalism is likely to survive in Nigeria, political leaders need to develop a culture of intergovernmental consultation and cooperation in order to solve the federation's problems more peacefully and expeditiously.