What is the Nigerian Federal System?
Federalism is a system of government powers balanced among the central government and other government departments at the state and local levels. The constitution provides Federalism in Nigeria, preventing tribal or regional dominance in the lawmaking chambers. Federalism helps ensure there is representative democracy by protecting minorities. The system Nigeria uses currently has shortfallings due to inappropriate application. The country’s governance system is well known for inequality, tribal dominance, lack of transparency and corruption. This branching of powers into two levels of equal government should ideally result in mixed government. Governmental control should be held accountable to provincial, regional and state territories.
The geographical area that constitutes Nigeria should be governed in a shared manner. The origin of Federalism in Nigeria has its roots in the arrival of the British colony. This process was initiated in 1946, whereby three regions of power were established in the country. Regionalism was the initial step to introducing a federal structure to the Nigerian system. With the introduction of a constitution in 1951, power was now shared between the House of Representatives and regional houses of assembly. These existed along with the central government and worked together to draft and coordinate legislation.
How it compares to similar systems
Nigeria has a similar Federal system to other nations such as Switzerland. They both employ a federal model that believes in the supremacy of the constitution, equal representation of all interest groups, and the principle of separation of powers. This framework is similar to other nations that embody structural-functionalism as its theoretical framework.
Five problems of Federalism in Nigeria
Nigeria is a significantly diverse country. The country has almost 250 documented ethnic groups that speak close to 500 different languages. This complex build-up of the citizenry means that minorities often feel underrepresented in the democratic state. This problem can lead to political apathy, which can cause citizens to try and balkanize the state. When Federalism is not correctly applied, it can militate against the development of a country.
Power Sharing Formula
An equal power power-sharing formula does not consistently deliver adequate results. A specific balance is required that promotes a sense of equality and justice. An inability to find this balance has given elites significant power, which works against Nigeria’s Federalism. This factor means that elective positions are rarely redistributed and circulated evenly. Given the extreme diversity of the geopolitical zone in Nigeria, citizens often feel reluctant to participate in appointing and electing their leaders on merit.
Federalism in Nigeria has failed to manage revenue allocation processes for the betterment of the country. The breakdown of their funds or financial support is not often equally distributed. Nigeria expects to witness the economy’s growth and infrastructure development; however, there has been a lack of reduced cushioning for the people by the federal government. Without equal revenue allocation, fostering an environment of national unity is complex. Without elites willing to respect revenue allocation at the federal level, the governance system suffers from widespread corruption and mismanagement. The issue is complex given the explicit nature of Federalism as a form of government. Nigeria’s legislative, executive and judicial functions are often partisan, meaning they all depend heavily on the central government. This poorly orchestrated revenue allocation policy is the critical factor around state tensions. These entities seek a large portion of the national budget rather than focusing on internal revenue generation. They are unlikely to react accordingly without incentives from the revenue allocation formula.
Nigeria has a significant multi-ethnic population. The nature of their citizen’s diversity means inter-ethnic rivalry is typical. Many groups feel under/misrepresented and therefore express their political will by constantly disrupting development in the country. Many ethnic groups think their interests will only be heard through secession. This action involves formally cancelling or withdrawing membership from a federation or political state. This conflict disrupts Federalism in Nigeria and further delays growth and development.
Poorly Defined State Government
The federal and state governments are expected to have equal access to the resources available in Nigeria. The country, however, sees the federal government control around 80% of the available resources in Nigeria. The state and local governments must bend to their will, defeating checks and balances. There is too much concentration at the centre and a soft exterior. This feature takes lawmaking powers away and renders the states administrative units of the federal government. The states have no fiscal independence from the federal government and no room to negotiate.
Solutions to problems of Federalism in Nigeria
Equal Representation For All Ethnic Groups
Eliminating the issue of favouritism in Nigeria will help reduce political apathy. Reduced political apathy provides greater legitimacy for the actions undertaken by the government.
Removal Of Indigene And Non-Indigene Separation
The indigene and non-indigene dichotomy has long been a barrier between citizens created by the constitution. This law states that some Nigerians born and raised may fail to get a job there. It is an effective form of discrimination targeting non-indigenes in the country, and to solve this, residency rights must be duly accorded equally to all born in Nigeria. The separation has made nation-building and national integration extremely difficult.
This principle argues that the states should control what they have. The income generated by one state should be managed by its leaders, with specific percentages being transferred to help support the centre’s activities. Fiscal Federalism is key to eliminating the state’s demand for separation and balkanization. It is a form of devolution that helps prevent the country’s disintegration by certain conditions and ethnic groups.
It reduces disparities and provides opportunities for the people of the country. Reducing the power allocated to the central government will help improve the country’s administrative capacity. It is difficult for more issues to be prioritized when the executive holds more power than the state government. Equal power distribution will help bridge the gap in inequality among all Nigerians.
Promotion Of States Internal Revenue
Federalism requires every state in Nigeria to have adequate resources. Without these financial resources, it is challenging to perform developments. Forms should be encouraged to generate income within their respective Jurisdictions.