Home Africa CLEARER UNDERSTANDING OF REQUESTS FOR TRUE PRACTICE OF FEDERALISM: A PERSPECTIVE

CLEARER UNDERSTANDING OF REQUESTS FOR TRUE PRACTICE OF FEDERALISM: A PERSPECTIVE

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For several years or decades, there have been agitations for Nigerians to return to the table to dialogue about the political set-up of the nation. Some actions have been taken; but these have not calmed frayed nerves which still want a closer examination of the extant arrangement. It is always better to discuss and disagree than engage in violence which does no one any good. Lord Lugard’s 1914 amalgamation gave birth to a more or less unitary form of government in Nigeria; the Clifford Constitution of 1922 set the tone for elective representation in the country, although Nigeria’s first experiment with a unitary constitution did not come until 1946, with the operation of the Richards Constitution. The Colonial Secretary, having considered the deep realities of the situation arising from the constitutional conference of 1954 wrote in his diary: If Nigeria was to be a nation, it must be a federation with a few subjects reserved for the Central Government as would preserve national unity. Historical accounts indicate that some items were drawn up to be on the limited Exclusive List of powers exercised by the Federal Government and a substantial concurrent list of areas was to be administered by the Regions from 1954. Subsequent modifications adopted at later constitutional conferences arrogated wide powers to the Regions, thus emphasizing the separateness of Regional Governments which, with the creation of the Mid-Western Region, stood at four in 1963. The 1963 Republican Constitution provided for separate Governors, Premiers, Cabinets and Legislatures, separate judiciaries, separate development plans, public service commissions and civil services. This arrangement granted a considerable measure of autonomy to the regions and promoted sometimes healthy and sometimes unhealthy rivalry among them. The economies of the regions supported their growth to the extent to which managers of resources could harness their human and financial potentials. The system, to all intents and purposes, paved way for the growth of the country along regional and tribal lines. It also allowed for innovation, commitment, dedication and healthy competition among the various constituents of this nation, especially in the areas of political and socio-economic development. HEALTHY COMPETITION It is for this reason that the defunct Western Region was clearly ahead of other regions in terms of development. It is obvious that the complexities of Nigeria can only be addressed by the practice of federalism. Why then has the system failed to record the desired meaningful effect…

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