Federalism and National Integration in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges
The problem of federalism and the associated crises of national integration in Nigeria raises the serious alarm. The situation attracts growing interest and concern. The crises are very severe such that they culminate in a strong force being mounted on the federation with a tendency to disintegrate the country. The works address this phenomenon by investigating and analyzing the problem. The documentary research method is used in gathering and analyzing data. So textbooks, journals, periodical publications by related government agencies formed the necessary source of our data while we employed system theory for our analytical framework. The work identifies the method of revenue allocations as the major factor responsible for the crises of national integration in Nigerian federalism. It concludes that in the face of this problem, harmonious unification or integration cannot take place, the 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.
The crises of national integration in Nigeria are very severe such that the Nigerian federation is at its collapsing point. The heterogeneous nature of the country combined 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 includes 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 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 a 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, bring 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 as to eliminate others. The case of Nigeria shows that power is concentrated in the central government. On the other parts, there exists a structural imbalance between the northern, east, and west of Nigeria. This situation therefore by the majority, political power is proportionately in favor of the north above other religions. The issue of revenue allocation in Nigeria is not without its problems. As if all these problems are not enough for Nigeria’s federalism, the issue of onshore-offshore dichotomy and equally the alarm raised about the marginalization from all religions 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 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’s 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 this, 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 of 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 several 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 emphasizes 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 tasks 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 the British imposed federalism on Nigeria 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 thinks that historical and geographical factors determine the political evolution of Nigerian federalism. Nigeria is a large and culturally variegated country that could not have been governed for a long time from one center Akinyemi, [1979:91]. This view is not quite correct, as it is time that factors of history and geography more than anything else determine the constitutional evolution of Nigeria.
Ethnicity is one concept that cannot be overlooked 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 one’s 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 of the other groups. Impulsiveness can be sighted as an attribute of ethnicity which says, which is normally accompanied by nepotism and corruption. Conflict is also seen as an important aspect of ethnicity.
As he says, it is inevitable under conditions of inter-ethnic competition 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 an anthropological and sociological viewpoint, Nigeria is a complex country, therefore nation-building in Nigeria’s context must be of necessity because it is complex and expensive enterprise.
Eleigwa, (1995:5), Nnoli 1978, also believed that the recovery of Nigeria will not be an easy task. He says the 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-emphasizing tribe and ethnic origin in all official documents that no Nigeria should offer instability whatsoever.
However, Ema Awa,  has noted that federalism involves corporation between the two levels of government, and such cooperation increases in scope and quantity as the federation matures. Bargaining also assumes more importance 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 literature 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. As a 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 a 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 Here also defines integration as the combination and autonomous social and political problems arising among its members, for controlling their behavior 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 concerning its social or physical environment. Before these definitions, integration will be conceived as the process of increasing a social or political system capacity based on the decision-making process.
National integration is related 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 feels a sense of belonging and wants to contribute his quota to the development of national goals.
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 behaviors. It also means the ability to resolve societal problems and manage conflicts.
If the society can do all these things mentioned, it will certainly lead to economic development for that nation.
Conclusively, after going through the available literature 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
The theoretical framework is indeed very useful in research work in the sense that it enhances its internal activity. With this in mind, there are a 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 composition 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 analyze this work, Easton, , 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 constitute 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’s definitions of the political system constitute authoritative allocation, values, and society.
At this point, it becomes necessary to make a brief application of this theory to the Nigerian political scene, before and after independence. The theory would be employed in this study because in Nigeria, like any other third world federative system, the power to allocate the resources available in the country is essentially concentrated at the central government, [federal level] that is the hierarchy of authority [federal level, state and local government], with the central government sitting on top of other levels in the allocation of revenues. This is basically due to the prolonged military rule in the country, and this has been one of the banes. For the country to experience genuine unity and subsequently development, all the groups and cleavages have to come together since no part of the system can function effectively and maximally without depending on the other components.
It is necessary to formulate some guiding hypotheses. The hypotheses thus raised are.
1. The method of revenue allocation tends to constitute the major factor responsible for the crisis of national integration in Nigerian federalism.
2. Federalism in Nigeria could help in talking about the problem of national integration.
3. Religious and ethnic loyalties are major threats to national disintegration.
1.7 Methods of Data Collection/Analysis
In this study, we adopted the use of a secondary source of data as the main method. This is justified due to its intrinsic values. For any research to be meaningful, reliable, scientific facts and ideas must be supplemented with empiricism.
Secondary materials like textbooks, research papers, government publications, newspapers, magazines, etc will be seriously put into use.
1.8 Limitation of the Study
The basic problems which were encountered during this study were the scarcity and inaccessibility of materials. However, the study was successfully done because of the extra efforts made to get more resources and procure the materials for analyses.
1.9 Conceptual Definitions
In this study, some key concepts will be used. Some of these concepts include national integration and federalism.
I. National integration
National integration involves the existence of national consciousness, which is the feeling of individual or group identity within the nation-state as the only political unit through which their collective interest can be realized.
National integration, therefore, involves patriotism which is a call for supreme scarifies on the part of the entire citizenry for the whole country if the need arises.
Federalism means an arrangement whereby powers within a multinational country are shared between federal or central authority and several regionalized governments in such a way that each unit, including this central authority, exists as a government separately and independently from the others.
Division of power among the levels of government by the constitution is explicit. The center and the component unit [regions, states] have defined spheres of authority, powers and shared among the levels of government which are coordinates. Powers shared among the various levels could be categorized as an exclusive list, concurrent list, and residual list.
A. Exclusive list
Subjects on this list are reserved for the center [federal government] examples here are, defense, internal affairs, national currency, immigration, maritime activities, aviation, etc.
B. The Concurrent List
Subjects here are to be exercised both by the federal and the state. An example includes agriculture, health, commerce, education, works, etc.
C. Residual List
This comprises functions to be exercised by the state/ unit government alone, example includes chieftaincy title, etc.
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