Nigeria As a Federation | Meaning And Characteristics Of Federation

Meaning And Characteristics Of Federation | Civic Education


What is Federation?

A federation is essentially the combining or bringing together of two or more smaller states into a big one. It can alternatively be described as a group of independent states regulated by a centralized government for decisions at the national level yet free to manage their own internal affairs.
People from many ethnicities, cultures, and tongues can unite to establish a single nation with a centralized or federal government. The federal, state or regional, and local governments each have a portion of the governing authority under a federation.


Tiers of government involve the following; the federal government, state government, and local governments. Each tier is given certain duties, authority and functions under its jurisdiction within the constitution. The three lists; exclusive, concurrent, and residual lists—describe these powers.


1. The Exclusive List: These are the rights and authority that can only be used by the federal government in specific situations. Defense, money, and foreign affairs are a few examples.

2. The Concurrent List: These are responsibilities shared by the federal and state governments, such as those related to education, health, and transportation.

3. The Residual List: Consists of functions that are only exercised by the state or regional government, such as local government, markets, etc.
Examples of nations that use a federal system of governance are Nigeria and the United States of America. The federal or centralized government is paramount and has more authority than the state and local governments in both nations.


History Of Federalism In Nigeria

Nigeria’s history of federalism begins with the colonial period, when the nation was ruled by the British. Three main ethnic groupings and numerous additional minorities make up Nigeria. These numerous communities existed separately from one another. They were all ruled by different governments until 1914,

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when Nigeria was created as a result of an amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates by Lord Frederick Lugard, the colonial British Governor-General at the time. Federalism in Nigeria was established by Lord Lugard’s administrative and political arrangement in 1914.

In 1946, a new constitution known as the Richard’s Constitution came into being, dividing the nation into the north, east, west, and colony of Lagos. This improved the nation’s readiness for federalism. The Lyttleton Constitution, which created the exclusive, concurrent, and residual lists, marked the beginning of true federalism in 1954. The 1960 Independence Constitution was also founded on federal ideas, with Lagos serving as the capital of the three zones (east, west, and north).

The Republican Constitution of 1963 was likewise built on strict federal principles, with Lagos serving as the nation’s capital and four distinct regions in the east, west, north, and midwest. As a result of the creation of states by Yakubu Gowon’s military regime in 1967, Nigeria is now a federation of 12 States.

Nigeria became a federation of 19 states in 1976 after Murtala Mohammed’s government added an extra 7 states. The nation became a federation of 21 States in 1987 with the formation of Katsina and Akwa Ibom. Today, Nigeria now has 36 states, with Abuja serving as the nation’s capital.


Nigeria’s Needs and Justifications for Adopting Federalism

No group gets sucked up by any large group under federalism; instead, each group is assisted by others in surviving without fear of insecurity. The constitution and the local government, the third tier of administration, are both influenced by all areas of the federation. The particular local demands of the populace are met by this, especially at the grassroots level.
The weak and strong are equally represented in federal arrangements, and their demands are well met. Both the majority and the minority will have their voice. The necessity for federation has been caused by a number of circumstances. These elements are:


1. National Integration

People from many different tongues, cultures, and ethnic origins came together in Nigeria after the merger of 1914. In actuality, Nigeria is home to around 250 different ethnic groups. All of these groups must come together to form a powerful nation or state. Federalism is therefore the best structure for achieving national integration. The civilizations of the world have been said to have blended in the United States of America. This indicates that although Americans are a diverse group of nationalities, they have achieved national cohesion through federation and have grown to be the world’s most powerful nation. They have all collaborated to accomplish their country’s objectives.

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2. Unity In Diverse

By bringing people from various origins together, federalism fosters a sense of national togetherness. Despite their extreme differences, they work together to achieve a common objective.
People from many ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and religious backgrounds make up Nigeria’s population. These many groups have been able to come together as one and maintain their unity despite their differences thanks to the federal system of governance. Only the federal system of government can function in a place where there are such variances or diversities.


3. Controlling The Activities Of States

Because the federal or central authority is supreme and more powerful than the states, the federal system of government aids in the regulation of state activity. Defense, monetary policy, and other highly sensitive issues are all under the exclusive control of the federal government, giving it significant leverage over the states. Otherwise, some states may decide to leave the union and declare their independence, which would be detrimental to the interests of the federation.
The robust federal government keeps the states united and in check, and is constantly prepared to put down any form of rebellion. It looks that Federation is more powerful than other systems.


4. Fear Of Insecurity

States form federations out of concern for invasion or exploitation by larger or more powerful states. Nigeria adopted federalism for several fundamental reasons, one of which is that it protects weak states and aids them in maintaining their autonomy through collective defense of the federating states. Additionally, this collective defense provides weaker governments with the assurance that they won’t be invaded by more powerful nations.


5. Economic growth

Different natural resources, both human and material, are available to states. For instance, Nigeria’s east is home to oil, its north to groundnuts, and its west to timber. Federation enables one state to obtain items from other states that she lacks. In actuality, federalism ensures that the riches of the nation are distributed equally. For instance, petroleum makes Nigeria wealthy, but it is only extracted from a small portion of the nation and distributed throughout the entire federation.

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6. Management Effectiveness

The finest or most appropriate form of government for big, diversely ethnic, cultural, and religiously varied nations is federation. Nigeria cannot be governed via a unitary system due to its vast population. Federalism makes it simpler to rule over huge populations and areas of land.



Characteristics Of Federation

The federal system of governance is distinguished by a few features that are shared by all federal systems.


1. Power-sharing between the federal government and state governments

The three (3) levels of government, often known as the three (3) tiers of government, are constitutionally divided into equal parts. According to the constitution, the state alone is responsible for powers on the residual list, whereas the federal and state governments share responsibility for those on the exclusive list and the concurrent list, respectively. In the fourth schedule of the 1999 Constitution, the local governments are given information on the subjects over which they have authority.


2. States have Constitutionally defined control over their affairs

The ability of the states to maintain some control or autonomy over their own issues is one of the most striking aspects of the federal form of governance. They avoid being absorbed by the bigger group as a result and instead maintain their sense of identity. As a result, federalism is a practical form of government.


3. Central government controls the states

Although the states are allowed to maintain their independence, the federal government in the federal system of governance is stronger than the state governments. The federal government has authority over the states since they alone possess the authorities on the exclusive list.


4. Federal system constitution

The written and strict constitution that governs the federal system of government divides authority between the central government and the constituent units (states and local governments). For the entire nation, there is only one constitution, and it is paramount.


5. The federation has a Supreme court

The supreme court interprets the constitution to resolve any disputes that may arise between the federal and state governments as they exercise their respective authorities.
The supreme court, which is the nation’s highest court, can be consulted by citizens who believe that the high court and appeals courts failed to provide them with justice.


6. The legislature typically has two chambers

The bicameral legislature is another name for this. The lower house is known as the federal house of representatives, and the upper house is known as the senate. The national assembly is the aggregate name for the two houses, upper and lower.