Federalism And National Integration In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science


The problem of federalism and the associated crises of national integration in Nigeria raise serious alarm. The situation attracts growing interest and concern. The crises are very severing such that they culminate in a strong force being mounted on the federation with tendency to disintegrate the country. The works addresses this phenomenon by investigating and analysing the problem. Documentary research method is used in gathering and analysing data. So textbooks, journals, periodical publications by related government agencies formed necessary source of our data while we employed system theory for pour analytical framework. The work identifies the method of revenue allocations as the major factor responsible for the crises of national integration in the Nigerian federalism. It concludes that in face in this problem, harmonious unification or integration cannot take place, political system cannot successfully adapt to both internal and external environment such that the survival of the system is difficult. The work recommends among others that federalism is the ultimate solution to the problems of national integration, so federal character and other related approaches should be effectively enforced. Again the current unjustifiable method of revenue allocation should be reformed to reflect justice, equity and fairness.

Chapter One


The crises of national integration in Nigeria are very severing such that the Nigerian federation is at its collapsing point. The heterogeneous nature of the country combines with the improper mode of the country’s formation gave rise to antagonistic and integrative processes.

Nigeria as a country came into corporate existence in 1914, as a result of the fusion between the northern and southern protectorates by the British. National integration is the ultimate goal to be achieved in a multi ethnic country like Nigeria for there to be any reasonable development,.

According to Chime, [1971.50], national integration is a process of cohesion between two or more social units, whereby these units come together to constitute a political whole which include among other things the joining of various parts of society into a functioning whole, the growth of obedience and loyalty to its pars and the emergence of shared national values. It follows, that Nigeria would have received national unity where obedience and loyalties to the Nigerian state, transcend loyalties to its parts. Thus conceptualization implies social equality of citizens.
Federation is a system of government adopted to enhance national integration in Nigeria; it is also a form of government that defines the relationship between component parts assumed to have the potential for integrating diverse cultural societies. The religions rather engage in ethnicity, political struggle by social classes, religious conflict etc, which culminate in the crises of national integration that reached climax during the period of the attempted succession and civil war.

1.1 Statement of Problem

Nigeria is essentially a plural society, its component groups are separated apart from each other by significant differences of language, ethnicity, and cultures of Nigeria created differences in attitude, outlook and character.

Faced with these problems, Nigeria adopted federalism as a means of achieving its much needed goal of national integration. In essence the federalism so adopted is expected to reduce the immensely aggressive inter ethnic competition and tension, allay the usually alleged fear of domination, bringing government nearer to the people and give the different groups more opportunities, thereby integrating the country.

Federation requires decentralization of power among the component units. It also requires that no component unit should be as large in size as to eliminate others. The case of Nigeria shows that power is concentrated in the central government. On the other parts, there exist structural imbalance between the northern, the east and west of Nigeria. This situation therefore by majority, political power is proportionately in favour of the north above other religions. The issue of revenue allocation in Nigeria is not without its own problems. As if all these problems are not enough for Nigeria federalism, the issue of on shore offshore dichotomy and equally the alarm raised about the marginalization from all religion in Nigeria are by setting the unity of the country.

We can summarily state the under following as our research questions.

  1. Is the method of revenue allocation the major factor responsible for the crises of national integration in the Nigerian federalism?
  2. Could the practice of true federalism in Nigeria alleviate the problem of national integration?
  3. Could religion and ethnic loyalties be a major challenge in national integration in Nigeria?

1.2 Objectives of the Study

The research is set out to among other things

  1. To find out the relationship between revenue allocation and national integration in Nigeria.
  2. To discover if the operation of true federalism in Nigeria could help in tackling the problems.
  3. To inquire into the impact of religions and ethnic loyalties and national integration in Nigeria.

1.3 Significance of the Study

It has become obvious that Nigeria cannot make any meaningful progress in the absence of unity. Some founding fathers of Nigeria adopted federalism as a pragmatic instrument for the achievement of the goal of national unity.

The rationale was to see if there could be unity in diversity which means that there could be ways of bringing diverse ethnic groups into a modern nation. However, amidst all the efforts, the goals of national integration are not yet possible owing to the numerous problems inherent in Nigeria federalism.

It is therefore the task of this work to contribute in no little measure to the solution of the problem of national integration. Apart from thus, the work will equally add to the volumes of research materials available for further work on federalism and national integration in Nigeria.

1.4 Literature Review

Much work has been done on the subject matter federalism and its relation to national integration. Most of the scholarly works were unable to give a comprehensive analysis of Nigerian federalism and how it affects national integration. Though some of them made very relevant scholarly contributions to knowledge from which a number of conclusions can be drawn.

Federalism as has been adopted in Nigeria found its way into our political arena during the colonial era. The concept is closely related to the various social based on coordinative, rather than sub coordinative relationship. It emphasises partnership among parties of equal claims to legitimacy who seek a common social order.

Jinadu says that it is usually built as a form of government and constitutional structure deliberately designed by political architects to cope with the different task of maintaining unity, while preserving diversity, Jinadu, [1979:15].

Speaking about Nigeria federalism two schools of thought emerged on its evaluation. The first school comprising of the nationalist believed that British imposed federalism on Nigeria in order to maintain the neo colonial control of the country after the lowering of the mantle. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a convinced federalist described the British imposed federal structure as an abominable destructive and divisive British heritage, Awolowo, [1968:69]. They also believed that the colonial power made sure that there was enough structured imperfection left behind to bedevil inter ethnic relations after independence. However, this view of imposition held by this school is not exactly objective as Nigerians involved gave consent for her to become a federal state.

The second school of thought is of the opinion that historical and geographical factors determine the political evolution of Nigerian federalism. Nigeria being a large and culturally variegated country could not have been governed for a long time from one centre Akinyemi, [1979:91]. This view is not quite correct, as it is time that factors of history and geography more than anything else determines the constitutional evolution of Nigeria.

Ethnicity is one concept that cannot be over looked in the discussion of the structure of Nigerian federalism and national integration as a whole. It has been defined as the social phenomenon associated with interaction among members of different ethnic groups refer to social formation distinguished by the communal character of the boundaries of which their common factors may be language, culture or both, Nnoli, (1973:58). Nigeria is one country that comprised various ethnic groups with physical or different backgrounds, ancestry and tradition. Nnoli goes further to mention some characteristics that distinguish one from ethnocentrism which simply connotes pride in ones group, a hampering that makes the members of the group inward looking.

According to him, ethnicity exists in a political society consisting of diverse ethnic groups. It is also characterized by a common consciousness of being one in relation to the other groups. Impulsiveness can be sighted as an attribute of ethnicity which says, is normally accompanied by nepotism and corruption. Conflict is also seen as important aspect of ethnicity.

As he says, it is inevitable under conditions of inter ethnic competitions for scarce valuable resources particularly in a society where inequality is accepted as natural and wealth is greatly exchanged.

Several efforts have been made to adjust these social abnormalities and as Ibrahim Babangida said from anthropological and sociological viewpoint, Nigeria is a complex country, therefore nation building in Nigeria context must be of necessity because it is a complex and expensive enterprise.

Eleigwa, (1995:5), Nnoli 1978, also believed that the recovery of Nigeria will not be an easy task. He says adequate solution to the ethnic problems of Nigeria must stern logically from rigorous scientific analyses of the causes of the emergence and persistence and growth of ethnicity in the country. Ojukwu in his lecture, towards a greater Nigeria, said that national integration cannot be achieved by giving setaceous speeches; rather appropriate steps will include de emphasising tribe and ethnic origin in all official documents that no Nigeria should offer instability whatsoever.

However Ema Awa, [1976] has noted that federalism involves corporation between the two levels of government and such cooperation increased in scope and quantity as the federation matures. Bargaining also assumes more important as the federation becomes more highly developed. As he further explained, there are always some conflicts in the relation between the regions and federal government and among the regions and themselves.
After going through the available literatures on federalism it was observed that the writers made relevant contributions, they did not give a comprehensive analysis of the problem of Nigeria federalism as they affect national integration. Sequel to this, in exploring the meaning of federalism, the issue of national integration must inevitably arise. In line with this, it became germane to review the contributions made by some scholars on national integration.

Duuelger defines national integration as building up solidarity and breaking down antagonism among the people in a political system. It refers specifically to the creation of a sense of territorial rationality which overshadows parochial loyalties.

Chime sees national integration as a process of cohesion between two or more social units whereby those units come together to constitute a political whole, which can in some cases be described as community.

Ali Mazrui in his book cultural Engineering and nation building in East Africa 1902, sees national integration as the process of merging sub going entities into a shared sense of national consciousness.

In the same vein De Uree also defines integration as the combination and autonomous social and political problems arising among its members, for controlling their behaviour and the processes occurring among them, for keeping peace among them and or mobilizing their power or resources for making collection decision and as a result of all things, acting as a new unit with respect to its social or physical environment. Prior to these definitions, integration will be conceived as the process of increasing a social or political system capacity based on decision making process.
National integration is relation to national development. It usually constitutes a platform for national development. Development can only be achieved in an atmosphere of cooperation and unity.

Where everybody feel a sense of belonging and wants to contribute his own quota to the development of national goal.

According to O. Aboyade in his book, issues in the development of tropical Africa (1976:16), he observed that development is essentially a continuous process of generating and more efficiently allocating resources for achieving greater social satisfying ends. While political development relates to the overall capacity of a people to govern them efficiently, this ability to govern relates to the capacity to extract resources, make and regulate behaviours. It also means the ability to resolve societal problems and manage conflicts.

If the society is able to do all these things mentioned, it will certainly lead to economic development for that nation.
Conclusively, after going through the available literatures on federalism and national integration, it was observed that some of them were able to explain to an extent the feasibility of achieving national integration. However in this study, we shall attempt to explore the suitability and adaptability of federalism to the excruciating task of building a coherent nation out of desperate and antagonistic people in Nigeria.

1.5 Theoretical Frameworks

Theoretical framework is indeed very useful in a research work in the sense that it enhances its internal activity. With this in mind, there are lot of theories used in the field of political science for research analysis; however, we will adopt the system theory by David Easton.

This theory is seen by scholars among who is Ifesinachi as a set of related elements and interrelations among them, which are disintegrated from those elements not in the system by ambiguous analytic boundaries. The theory explains the component of the system made up of groups, persons or areas where the frequency of a particular pattern of interaction falls to an observable degree. Interdependence is the uniting force in the system; this is because stability and subsequently growth can only be achieved when all the components of a system work together.

As a way of using the system theory by David Easton to analyse this work, Easton, [2002], defines a political system as that system of interacting in any society through which binding or authoritative allocations are made and implemented.’[Easton in Okere 2002:98] this implies that an organization interacting with an environment, influencing it and being influenced by it and there also many interacting internal parts which constitutes parts of the arranging that the society employs in formulating and pursuing its collective goods [Almond and Powell 1980:4].

The three vital components of Easton definitions of political system constitute authoritative allocation, values and society.

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