How True is Nigeria’s Federalism: A Theoretical Perspective

Vincent Tam Eremie


Against the background of calls for the establishment of true federalism in Nigeria, this paper examines the literature on federalism in order to find out the true form of federalism. The aim of the paper is to identify the “federalist mean” and to locate the extent to which the Nigerian federation deviates from this “mean”. The paper argues that every federal state is unique in terms of its experience and historical antecedents, and therefore adopts institutions, structures and processes that best suits its needs. There is therefore no “true” or “false” federalism. The study adopts idealism as the theoretical framework, and undertakes data collection and interpretation using the historical method. The paper observes that no two federations are alike given that no two sates are actually the same. It was further observed that every federation is in a fluid state, swinging between unitarianism at one end and confederation at the other end. Finally the study discovers that there is no mean as long as federalism is concerned, therefore Nigerian federalism cannot be described as true or false. The study therefore recommends that Nigerians should drop calls for the enactment of true federalism. Rather a continuous political debate is needed to discuss the restructuring of federalism in Nigeria in a direction that could enable Nigerians  achieve their expectations,. Issues such as accountability and transparency, resource management, human rights and safeguarding the future of unborn generations should be on the front burner of this debate at all times.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5731 ISSN (Online)2225-0972

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