The Nigerian Federal System of Governance: A Historical Interpretation (1914-2014)


  • Cajetan I. Nnaocha, PhD Department of History, Kaduna State University, Nigeria
  • Gaius Jatau, PhD Department of History, Kaduna State University


Federal, Federalism, Nigeria, Amalgamation, Restructuring, Fiscal, Region


The paper examines the historical antecedents of close interactions among the
various ethnic nationalities and even among the political leadership in Nigeria
that predate independence in 1960 and national integration achieved through
some levels of sacrifice, compromise and harmonization of interests, and
drawing on this lesson from hindsight, the possibility of overcoming the
problems and providing solutions to issues of national unity, integration and
harmony in Nigeria. It further interrogates issues and challenges of practice of
federalism in Nigeria and the journey towards achieving national unity,
national integration and the goals of nation building; which seem to be tedious.
Using historical method of interpretation, the paper explores the Nigerian
Federal system of governance. It is the view of this paper that the
contradictions found in Nigerian federalism, the structural imbalance,
asymmetric power relations among the federating units, diminished financial
powers and fiscal responsibilities of states or component parts of the country
have tended to truncate efforts to realize national cohesion, tranquillity and
unity. The paper recommends greater interaction and cooperation among the
Nigerian elites, which could promote national integration, and more use of
power-sharing mechanisms and practices to promote inter-ethnic
inclusiveness and or discourage sectional imbalances and biases in decisionmaking
process. There should also be economic and political restructuring of
the Nigerian polity to reflect equity, justice, and equality among the federating


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