Problems of Nigerian federalism and solutions

Problems of Nigerian federalism and solutions

It is not a secret at all that Nigeria is declining. From year to year, the situation doesn`t get better. Today we want to find out the main problems of Nigerian federalism and try to find the best solution. It should be interesting!


What is federalism?


What really is federalism? Federalism can be seen as a system of government in which governmental powers that exist in a country are shared between central government and other component unit’s i.e. state and local government. Federalism in Nigeria is incomplete without its origin.

The major reason behind the inclusion of this principle in the constitution was to prevent the tribal or regional dominance of any government or its agency. Federal character ordinarily protects the minorities but, it’s inappropriate application in Nigeria has led to inequality, tribal dominance, lack of transparency and corruption.

Problems of Nigerian federalism

National Geographic Kids

1. Inter-ethnic rivalry: Nigeria, we all know, is made up of the diverse group of people with different ethnic groups and the rivalry among Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo has become a serious issue over time.

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In Nigeria, we see the different set of people from different geopolitical regions agitating for power which sometimes leads to disagreements and ethnic conflicts among the parties involved. The primary reason for ethnic rivalry in Nigeria is a lack of cohesion and the inability of the parties concerned to concede the defeat in order to promote national peace and unity.

A good example of a leader and a patriotic Nigerian was former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who conceded defeat by congratulating the president elect Mohammadu Buhari via a phone call after election results were announced. We believe he did this in order to promote unity, harmony and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.

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2. Power sharing formula: power sharing has been one of the major militating issues against federalism in Nigeria. This basically ensure that certain elective offices such as the office of the president, governors, and chairman are rotated among several geo-political divisions in the country.

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3. Revenue allocation: the issue of revenue allocation is another problem confronting federalism in Nigeria. Revenue allocation refers to the sharing formula of the country’s financial resources among the different tiers of government in Nigeria. It is aimed at enhancing economic growth and development, reducing inter-governmental tensions and promoting national unity.

Some of the elites at the helms of affairs, especially at the federal level, have seen revenue allocation as a tool to satisfy their unquenchable taste for money.

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4. Minority issue and the creation of states: the nature of the multi-ethnicity of Nigeria has brought about the issue of minorities which constitutes one of the major militating problems against the development of the nation.

5. The issue of secession: the inter-ethnic rivalry in Nigeria has constantly disrupt development in the country. The issue of secession is a major factor disrupting the federalism in Nigeria and it also has a way of affecting the growth and development of the country.

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A good example of this is the current issue of the NDA (Niger-delta avengers) who are clamouring to secede from Nigeria and form their own republic. And as a result of this they resolve incident using violent measures, which include the bombing of pipelines and vandalizing government properties just to prove a point.


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What about solutions let's heed the good words of Chief Victor Attah, a former Governor of Akwa Ibom state. He says that the practice of fiscal federalism is the panacea to the problems plaguing Nigeria. Attah said that if government accepted fiscal federalism, most of Nigeria’s problems would be solved.

“If the government just accepts the principle of fiscal federalism, the states should control what they have and pay certain percentages to the center. Believe me, I can say categorically that at least 90 per cent if not 100 per cent of issues confronting Nigeria today will be solved''.

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Obong Victor Attah

According to him, if fiscal federalism is practiced, the demand for separation and talk of disintegration of the country will stop and the country will develop drastically.

“You cannot tell a governor to diversify. What do you mean by diversify? A governor knows that whether or not he diversifies, at the end of month he collects money from Federal Allocation. If a governor knows that he will have no money to run the state because he has not developed agriculture, he will certainly diversify into agriculture and same with solid minerals and others''.

Attah explained that fiscal federalism, when practiced, would make the 36 states of the federation viable.


“People say that 36 states are not viable. I say the opposite. It is not true. The 36 states are eminently viable, if we just cut our coat according to our cloth and if we accept the fact that the states were created purely on the basis of viability’’ .

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He noted that the practice of fiscal federalism would not disintegrate the country, urging stakeholders and governors to adhere to true democratic principles in order to save the country.


To sum up, if we listen to the words of the former Governor, then the solution of all our problems is lying on the surface. We believe that one day the present government will pay attention to the issues proposed in this article about Nigerian federalism and our grandchildren, maybe even children would live in a flourishing country!

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