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Political Science

Challenges And Prospects Of Federalism And Political Restructuring In Nigeria




The trust of this project is to examine the problems of federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria and the manners these problems which constitute fundamental challenges to the Nigerian fledging democracy can be surmounted. The basic minimal structures required for a country to lay claims to the practice of federalism include a political system in which there is power sharing under a written constitution with a government consisting of at least two orders: a central or federal government and the governments of the constituent units. Each order of government receives an allocation of financial resources tailored to their specific requirements. Nigeria has been a federal state since 1954, yet even this basic requirement of federalism has not been attained in the Nigerian federalism. This paper discusses the challenges federalism and restructuring in Nigeria’s political development, and also recommends that there should be an overhaul of the political system through constitutional amendment process to expunge provisions that negate federalism and provide for implementation of true federalism.

KEY WORDS: Federalism, Political, Restructuring, Accountability.




Nigeria has undergone a long process of restructuring in terms of the number of geo-political administrative units constituting the polity. This process is popularly referred to as “state creation” and/or “reorganization” the process whereby new geo-political units/constituents known as “states” in most federations  created out of existing or old ones. The outcome of this process is usually an increase in the number of states constituting the Nigerian federation. Historically speaking, the issue of state creation in Nigeria started as far back as 1963, when the Midwest was carved out of the former Western Region by the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa administration. In 1967 the country was further divided into 12 states by the administration of General Yakubu Gowon. This progressive increase in the number of territorial units continued in 1976 when the Murtala Administration created an additional 7 states, making the total of states 19. Between 1987 and 1991, General Babangida in two separate exercises, created 11 additional states, bringing the total up to 30. And in 1996, the Abacha administration created 6 more states to make the territorial units of the country 36. In attempting to trace the history and politics of state creation in Nigeria, scholarly opinions vary widely, almost occasioning confusion, with particular reference to the timing of the first exercise. A major means of evaluating the level of civilization of modern political systems are the level and extent to which they are well-organized. The political organization of states most often, reflects the structure of governmental authority, level of administrative efficiency and the attendant power relations. Based on the structure, it is convenient to determine the extent to which authority is dispersed or concentrated in a particular political system. One of the most enduring modes of political arrangement in the world today is federalism. Federalism presupposes that national and states/or regional governments should stand to each other in a relation of meaningful autonomy resting upon a balanced division of powers and resources. Each state or region must have power and resources sufficient to support the structure of a functioning government, able to stand and compete on its own against the others. The attraction for federalism borders on its perceived integrative tendency, which makes it capable of serving heterogeneous societies well in situations of crisis. In the words of Roberts and Simbine (2003) when socially and culturally distinct people find themselves together in the same polity through circumstance of history, to live peacefully together and govern together, they have to strike a balance, which must be acceptable to all the parties involved. Federalism is the system which shares power in such a way that each recipient unit assumes a separate existence and commands relatively exclusive authority over some clearly specified sphere of state activity, in principle, ensures such a balance. However, in spite of its integrative tendency, Odukoya and Ashiru (2007) are quick to point out that federalism does not necessarily posses the magic wand or formula that instantaneously resolves the problems and contradictions of heterogeneous societies. Rather they argue that the socio-economic and political specificities of different societies, coupled with constant and continuous engineering, reengineering and adjustment are needed, if the goals of federalism are to be achieved.


As a system of political arrangement, federalism has endured as one of the most preferred form of governmental authority in the modern world. Its attraction borders on its perceived integrative tendency that serves heterogeneous societies well in situation of crisis. In Nigeria, attempt at integrating the various nationalities towards mutual accommodation and national consciousness provided the incentive for its adoption. However, the politics of domination strategy adopted, particularly by the major ethnic groups shortly after independence created a non-accommodating scenario that seriously undermined the potentials of the federal structure in the country. Also, the emergence of the military on the political scene brought about a military styled federal system of administration characterized by over-centralization. Politics and governance under such an atmosphere of undue centralism created fertile ground for corruption, primordial and explosive ethnic competition. The viability and potentials of sub-national entities as co-ordinate spheres of authority and development was equally undermined, as they became mere appendage of the central government. The eventual outcomes were a general sense of alienation, frustration, insecurity and subjugation. The necessity of harnessing and integrating the country’s diverse indigenous experiences into the governance framework becomes fundamental for proactive and positive civic engagement. Effective mass participation emplaces accountability and transparency which are viable ingredients in the management of governmental powers and resource utilization.

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The major purpose of this study is to examine Federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:

  1. To examine the nature of the Nigerian government.
  2. To examine how federalism and political restructuring has help in good governance
  3. To examine the roles of federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria.
  4. To examine the challenges of political restructuring.
  5. To examine the relationship between political restructuring and economic development. We
  6. To suggest ways in which political restructuring can help in developing Nigeria.


  1. What is the nature of the Nigerian government?
  2. How will federalism and political restructuring help in good governance?
  3. What are the roles of federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria?
  4. What are the challenges of political restructuring?
  5. What is the relationship between political restructuring and economic development?
  6. What are the ways in which political restructuring can help in developing Nigeria?


Hypothesis 1

H0: There is no impact of federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria.

H1: There is a significant impact of federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria.

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Hypothesis 2

H0: There is no significant relationship between federalism and political restructuring

H1: There is a significant relationship between federalism and political restructuring.


The national question has remained an intractable challenge to Nigeria’s existence. The debate revolves around the demand for restructuring of the federation and the elaboration of governmental structures in the country. The pattern of restructuring advocated has tended to follow closely the way the national question is framed. Federalism, the governmental framework of the Nigerian state, has been the subject of constant demands for tinkering or fundamental reforms since 1954 when it was first adopted, but these demands have been shaped by the underlying discourse on the national question. Thus this study will help the Nigerian government and students in further research.


 The study is based on federalism and political restructuring in Nigeria.


Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

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FEDERALISM: This is  the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or ‘federal’ government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system. Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism by the United States of America under the Constitution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established. It can thus 0canbe defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status.

POLITICAL:  Relating to government, or the conduct of government, concerned with the making as distinguished from the administration of governmental policy.

RESTRUCTURING:  Bringing about a drastic or fundamental internal change that alters the relationships between different components or elements of an organization or system.

ACCOUNTABILITY: As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector, nonprofit and private (corporate) and individual contexts. In leadership roles,  accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences.

Pages:  73

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF        

Chapters: 1-5

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.

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