In order to effectively tackle the problems of federalism in Nigeria and find the appropriate solutions, we need to first under what federalism means. Federalism can be broadly seen in the light of the system of government that entails branching of powers into two level of equal government. which translate to mean a form of mixed government which involves a branched government and a centralized power which involve a provincial, regional, state, territory and other subforms of government into just a central system.

This shared government has a shared authority over the same geographical area.

The origin of federalism in Nigeria can be traced to when the British colony was reorganized into a federation of three regions in 1946. This brought in Regionalism by the Richards Constitution. Though earlier, Governor Bourdillion suggested the replacement of the provinces by regions which made Arthur Richard introduce such in 1946. Richard brought the idea of the introduction of a federal structure into the Nigeria system but he was unable to accomplish it. Governor McPherson set up a constitution which is to see to the improvement of the Richard constitution in the year 1951 by establishing a house of Representatives which has the power to makes rules and order for the country. He also created regional houses of assembly to make laws for the regions.

Problems Of Federalism In Nigeria And Solutions

These actions were what led to the development of federalism in Nigeria today.

Unfortunately, the essence of federalism in Nigeria as not being fulfilled; thus, affecting the development of Nigeria as a whole.

Thus, in this article, we shall be dealing with the problems of Nigeria federalism. We shall also see how we can proffer solutions to this problem.


  • 1. Multi-Ethnicity

Nigeria is a country with a lot of ethnic groups. As a result of this, it has brought about the cry of the minorities clamoring for their own state. Such an act has constituted to one of the major problems of federalism thereby militating against the development of the nation.

  • 2. Power Sharing Formula

Power sharing has been one of the main issue militating against federalism in Nigeria. It simply means to see to elective positions are distributed and circulated evenly among the different geopolitical zone in the country. As a result, this defeats the right purpose of appointing and electing these executives; that is on merit.

  • 3. Revenue Allocation

This is another issue confronting federalism in Nigeria. Revenue allocation simply implies the formula in which the fund or financial support are being distributed among the states and the other tiers of the government in Nigeria to see to the growth of the country in terms of economic wise and developmental wise which have the overall objective of reducing cushion on the federal government and enhancing national unity. But this aim has not been adequately fulfilled as some of the elites at the federal level has seen revenue allocation as a tool to satisfy their un-quenching taste for money.

This is surely one of our problems causing the poor development of federalism in Nigeria. Under a federal system of government, revenue allocation creates complex problems. The complexity erupts from the distinctive nature of federalism as a form of government in which the legislative, executive and judicial functions or powers of the states are shared amongst the three tiers of government. This act makes the component government depend heavily on the central government. Also, this revenue allocation causes tension among states.

There is evidently no doubt that revenue allocated to the state government has not promoted any sense of financial responsibility on the part of state and local government. These component governments have increasingly become inefficient in the use of the little funds they get. They are tempted to spend on questionable and unprofitable projects.

Besides the revenue allocation formula has not satisfactorily given incentives to the state governments to exploit truly their own sources or revenue. In fact, they have found it more rewarding to concentrate their energies on the way in which they can obtain a larger transfer from the federally collected revenue rather than try to generate more revenue internally. This is a big problem created by Nigeria’s federalism, which must be urgently solved

  • 4. The Issue Of Secession:

Due to the multi-ethnicity nature of Nigeria, inter-ethnic rivalry in has constantly disrupt development in the country. This had, therefore, erupted the issue of secession by some ethnic groups thereby disrupting the federalism in Nigeria, and affecting the growth and development of the country.

  • 5. Weak State Government.

In a proper and well-defined federal state, the federal government and the state government share the power in the control of resources equally. But in Nigeria, The federal government controls about 80 percent of the resources in the country, leaving the state and local government at its mercy.

Presently, Nigeria has a strong center and a weak component. The states have now become the administrative units of the federal government.

Due to their weakness, the states do not enjoy fiscal independence from the federal. The federal government pays the piper and thus dictates the tune to the states. This weakness has made the state inefficient and cannot make them negotiate meaningfully with the federal. In the country today, no state generate enough internal revenue to see to the funding of certain social needs and development of the state individual excerpt for Lagos state. Instead of pillars, Nigeria states government has become burdens on the federation.


  • 1. Fairness Among Different Ethnic Groups

The government should embrace fairness in order to eliminate the issue of favoritism in Nigeria.

  • 2. Removal Of Indigene And Non-Indigene Separation

For a proper development of federalism in Nigeria, there should be a removal of indigene and non-indigene dichotomy from the constitution. It is really Abad idea for nation-building and national integration to see fellow Nigerians, whom were born and may have lived in a place all their lives, apply for a job and be rejected. Also, a Nigerian citizen being discriminated against because they are not indigenes of the area.

The government need to this and see that every citizen of Nigeria who settles in any part of the country is treated as an indigene of the place and endowed with residency rights, as it is done in developed countries like the United States of America.

Such an act will help to foster unity and national integration.

  • 3. The Practice Of Fiscal Federalism

According to Chris Attah, such practice is the panacea to the problems plaguing Nigeria and its development. Attah said that if the government accepts fiscal federalism, most of Nigeria’s problems would be solved.

The principle of fiscal federalism is that the states should control what they have and pay certain percentages to the center. Attah believes that at least 90 percent Nigeria problem will be solved.

Chris also said that fiscal federalism will wash off the demand for separation and talk of disintegration made by certain states and ethnic groups. Thus, making the country develop drastically.

  • 4. Equal Decentralization Of Power:

The federalism in Nigeria has structured in a way that the Central government holds more power than the state government. Which is not supposed to be so. There should be an equal distribution of power between the federal and the state government.

Efforts should be made to give equal access to education to all Nigerians to bridge the educational disparities and to give opportunities for further training and education to serving staff.

  • 5. Review Of Federal Character Principles:

What does this mean? It implies mean it should not just adhere to with insincerity or with a lenient hand rather a strict and core action should be seen to the full implementation and allow fair entitlement among all ethnic groups in the country.

Following the former president antecedent General Obansanjo that on the altar of the federal character principle of merit should not be offered. The appointment of persons to various positions should be made from the best available in any group or section in the country.

However, recruitment to posts which are of specialized training such as those of medical practitioners, pilots, architects, and engineers, should be based on merit.

  • 6. Promotion Of States Internal Revenue:

For a well-defined federalism to be practiced in Nigeria, each level of government should have enough resources and funds to perform its project without appealing to the other level of government for financial assistance. Modern federal countries have three levels of government. These levels are each distinguished by the scope of the geographical areas over which their respective Jurisdiction extend. Federal Government jurisdiction extends to the entire country in some subject matters. The jurisdiction of the Regional (state) government’s cover sub-sections of the country. While the local government exercises responsibility nonoverlapping areas with the state. If such modern federalism is well practiced in Nigeria, it will foster huge growth in the country as every component government, possesses its unique way of generating funds and revenue for its development.


Conclusions On The Problems Of Federalism In Nigeria And Solutions

In conclusion, we have seen that federalism is the sharing of power by the states and the federal government.

But there are some problems that hinder the development of federalism in Nigeria

However, we have also gone through the solution that can be met out in order to curb these problems and thus bring about a modern and perfectly working federal system of government. As such, this will lead to the development of Nigeria.

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