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1.1        Background of the Study

Federalism is often regarded as the appropriate governmental principle for countries with huge ethno-cultural diversities. Nigeria inherited a federal system from Britain in 1960 and successive governments have attempted, with varying degrees of sincerity and commitment, to operate federal institutions that can accommodate the country’s ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversities and nurture a sense of national unity (Gambari, 2011).

However, the leaders of government at all levels, have failed to fulfill their obligations to offer good governance anchored on equitable political arrangements, transparent administrative practices and accountable public conduct. Indeed, failure to encourage genuine power sharing has triggered dangerous rivalries between the central government and the thirty-six states governments over revenue from the country’s oil and other natural resources. The defective federal structure has also promoted bitter struggles between interest groups to capture the state and its attendant wealth; and facilitated the emergence of violent ethnic militias, while politicians exploit and exacerbate inter-communal tensions for selfish reasons. Thus, communities throughout the country increasingly feel marginalized and alienated from the Nigerian state. This research work contends that the deeply flawed federal system in Nigeria constitutes a grave threat to national integration, stability and development; and that unless the government properly engages the underlying issues of resource control, power sharing, equal rights and accountability, the country will face an internal crisis of increasing and dangerous proportions. Hence, a call for restructuring has emanated from different quarters within the country.

Since democracy entails the protection of lives and properties of the people, therefore, the purpose of any political system is to maintain law and order in the society (Akinjide, 2009). In Nigeria, a state having diverse ethnic groups which consist of over 250 ethnic formations; these groups can be regarded as nations in the sense that, before the evolution of the colonialism, these groups though may be small, but were living independently before they were forcefully merged together. After the acquisition of the Nigeria territories by the British government, federalism as a preferred system of government was adopted in Nigeria in 1954 due to the cultural diversities of the country (Omotoso 2012). It was believed that federalism would allow each group or ethnic group to develop at its own pace, while co-operating with others within the federation.

Since the inception of democracy in Nigeria, people hoped to have true democracy that would guarantee free and fair periodic elections for the people to elect their representatives But, their efforts towards the attainment of democracy was in vain. Moreso, in 1993 people voted massively to the extent of attaining democracy, but the election result was annulled (Gana, 2013). Democracy which should guarantee free and fair periodic election and good lives and living for the people in Nigeria. But, on the way to true democracy, ethnicity and religion are the most dangerous treats to the attainment of the democracy in Nigeria (Nnoh, 2009 in democracy and civil society in Nigeria). This project work seeks to examine the democracy and the federalism in Nigeria: a call for restructuring, and the challenges they pose for nation-building and national stability.

Some serious scholars have argued variously that federalism is not compatible with democracy or that federalism can be operated effectively under a totalitarian or military regime. However, the implausibility of this line of argument is obvious because, as the Nigerian experience show, when Ironsi attempted to use centralisation of power to placate or diminish the centrifugal problems arising from Nigeria’s multi - level diversities the country was plunged into deep political crisis that never abated until the outbreak of the 1967 civil war.

Federalism and democracy are implicitly related and mutually complementary and compatible. Indeed it would be difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of the successful practice of federalism under a non - democratic system. As we have noted earlier, both federalism and democracy promote pluralism and dispersal of governmental powers. From Montesque through Madison, up until contemporary times, theorists have consistently suggested that decentralised governance, as exists in federal systems, possess many advantages not only for democratic participation, representation and accountability but also for public policy and governmental effectiveness as well as for the representation of territorially based ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences. This is as federalism affords citizens multiple points of access, thereby enhancing opportunities for public participation, increasing the accountability and responsiveness of elected officials to local citizens and hence providing incentives for more responsive democratic government. Advocates also believe that the proliferation of decision - making units at local and regional levels also strenghtens public policy making through potentially encouraging creative new solutions to tough problems.

According to Stuart and Stuart (2013), rather than one size fits all, devolved government bodies may tailor public services and regulations more efficiently and flexibly to meet the needs of each particular community.

1.2       Statement of the Research Problem

Despite the advent of democracy rule in 1999, Nigeria as a country has not been practicing true democracy and federalism. Hence, Nigeria political system has been facing with many challenges that range from political and religion, which are political realities in Nigeria, remain the forces that have contributed greatly to socio-political instability in the country (Madaki, 2010). Throughout the electioneering period in 2003 to be precise, these was sectarian turbulence in the country and the agitation for the presidency by the various ethnic groups as a result of the background nature of the country due to tribal and religion sentiments.

Over the years, in 1999, Nigeria has been practicing democracy did not show elements of the democracy. Basically, ethnic factor is the bone of democratic rule in the country right from the historical perspective to date. There is lack of vital democratic value in such that civil and human right abuse are rampant, freedom of speech and expression are hampered, there is lack of security, justice and tolerance of political oppositions, all these and many more are causing social unrest in the polity.

More so, the nature of the federal government in Nigeria can be regarded as a forced federalism. The federating units are subordinate to the central government. The federal government is very overbearing as it controls about 80 percent of the resources in the country, leaving state and local government at its mercy. In the federal system, there must be an arrangement on how the revenue and power of the state will be shared among the component parts. What these emphases implies is that, the federating units are just subordinate to the central government and federal government is very overbearing, as it controls the largest percentage of the revenue in the country. These issues have made some sections to bear their minds on the restructuring of the country. 

A number of constraints and challenges both within and outside the fiscal system are part of the problems that must be solved in order to achieve an effective federal system. This is the focal point of this study as the researcher is meant to identify the major challengers of Federalism in Nigeria and proffer solutions to them. The challenge to effective  Federalism can be identified to include the problem of external debt overcharge, macro-economic instability, distresses in domestic financial system, lack of political stability and above all, bad leadership or leadership ineffectiveness.

The external indebtedness of the country and inability to meet external debt service obligations had been a major constraint to fresh flow of foreign investment into the country, while the distress in the domestic banking system also constitutes a distinctive to the much needed growth in private savings and investments. This is further complicated by the high level of inflation experienced during the review period. High inflation is destructive to private savings as it continuously increases the share of disposable income of consumption.

It has been observed also that rapid growth and development cannot be achieved in an environment of political and social instability. Political stability implies an orderly system for a change of government.

In view of the foregoing points, Ajibola (2012) identified the following as the major challenges of Federalism in Nigeria:-

·          The major problem could be seen in the mismatch between revenue sources and functions of the various tiers of government. The revenue allocated to the lower tiers of government is lower in comparison to the enormous duties expected of them. This has actually influenced meaningful infrastructural development in the country.

·          Frequent change in government and incessant military coups reduce the operations and effectiveness of federalism. This is because during military intervention, constitution is usually suspended in favour of decrees and edicts. In this situation, the principles of  Federalism were affected and this in turn affected development in the country, especially within the state and local government areas.

·         Dwindling revenue due to reduction in the country’s export and fluctuations in the prices of the nation’s commodities in the international commodity market are among the challenges of the Federalism in Nigeria.

·         Economic and financial mismanagement which is reflected in corruption and financial impropriety of government functionaries have actually affected development in Nigeria especially where leaders in the country are corrupt and self centred.

·         The sharing of federally revenue reflects political applications rather than economic consideration.

·         Rapid increase in federal unit thereby reducing the funds allocated to each state and local government in the country.

1.3    Research Questions

Research questions are very fundamental when research of this magnitude is to be carried out. The research questions include:

1.      What are the challenges facing federalism and democracy in Nigeria?

2.      How corruption and financial impropriety of government functionaries have affected development in Nigeria?.

3.      What are the strategies that could be adopted to curb the challenges of Nigeria federalism and democracy?

1.4       Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of this study are to examine the democracy and the federalism in Nigeria: A Case study of the Struggle for Restructuring of the Federal System in the 4th Republic. The specific objectives include:

1.      To examine the challenges facing federalism and democracy in Nigeria.

2.      To examine how corruption and financial impropriety of government functionaries have actually affected development in Nigeria.

3.      To identify the strategies that could be adopted to curb the challenges of Nigeria federalism and democracy?

1.5       Significance of the Study

This study is important as it will add to the improvement of knowledge on the democracy and true federalism in Nigeria. The findings of this study would assist the Nigerian governments at all levels in managing true federalism at all levels. Equally, it will contribute toward the quest for peaceful co-existence and building mutual trust amongst different ethnic and religious groups.

Finally, this research will add value to existing literatures on the bitter confrontation of groups in Nigeria. The researcher is hopeful that this study will generate new researches from the public and beyond. The findings of this study will assist students to carry out such a similar research in future undertakings. The findings of this study would assist the government to plan well for other researchers who may wish to carry out a research on the subject matter.

1.6       Scope  and Limitations of the Study

This study covers the Democracy and the Federalism in Nigeria: a study of the struggle for restructuring of the federal system in the forth republic. Also, this study covers the emergent of federalism and its role to the Nigeria’s national unity.

The study as expected had encountered a number of constraints in the event that some of the findings of the research do not happen to be accurate. The reason should therefore be attributed to some of the attitude of the government official who were not willingly to release information on time. However less relevant effort have been made so far towards making these research findings as authentic as in other research but they did not in any way affect the outcome of the study.

1.7      Operational Definition of the Key Terms

In this study, some terms were used which will be given operational meaning in the study.

Democracy: –There is no hard and fast definition to the term democracy. Many scholars have variously defined the term based on the perspective they viewed it from. According to Kolawole (2006) he sees democracy as a political ideology that restores faith in people, allows the majority to determine the direction of things and accepts the rational of the people in making decision that affects them. He stressed further that, democracy can be defined as a political system that allows the majority to choose their leaders.

Democracy has been accepted to be most popular system of government, from the two Greek words, demos meaning people, while kratos meaning power, put together. It literally denotes people’s power or rule of the people (Adeyemi, 2008).

Federalism:-Federalism has no specific definition therefore there are a lot of intellectual view points to the definition of federalism. Hence, No general agreement on the definition of federalism.

Nevertheless, as a social concept, federalism is about the linkage of people and identities as the ideal form of social organization. Also, as a political device, federalism can be conceptualized as a kind of political order animated by political principles that emphasize the primary to bargaining and negotiating, coordination among several power centers, a pre-requisite to the exercise of power within a single political system and stress the value of diverse power centered as a means of guarding individual and local liberties (Omotoso, 2008)

According to Wheare (2003)it is the methods of dividing power so that, general and regionals government are each within a sphere, coordinate and independent. Though, Whear believed that both the central government and the units are equal and coordinate. It also sees inevitability of conflicts in the relations of the central and component state government.

Democratic Rule:-Democratic rule is the governance that is based on the principles of democracy. According to Kolawole(1972:27), he sees democracy as political ideology that restores faith in people, allows the majority to determine the direction of things and accepts rationality of the people in making decision that affect them. He stressed further that democracy can be defined as a political system that allows the majority to choose their leaders.

Ethnicity:-According to Nnoli (2011), ethnicity is a phenomenon associated with the competition, exclusiveness and conflict in relations among ethnic groups, which are members of a political community.

Ethnic Conflict:-Ethnic conflict in the words of Osaghae (2008) refers to conflict between people from different ethnic groups which may arise from competition of control of state power, distribution of resources or non-material struggle for supremacy.

According to Maikudi (2006), ethnic conflict therefore can be regarded as the agitation and strives among socio-culturally different groups within a political system for the dominance in the governance process. It is the conflict which is all about subjugation of one ethnic group or more by another ethnic group within a policy in the pursuance of political supremacy.

1.8       Organization of the Chapters

This study is divided into five chapters.

Chapter One contains background to the study, statements of the problem, objectives of the study, definition of the major terms, scope of the study, limitation of the study, methodology and organization of the chapters.

Chapter Two is the Literature review and Theoretical Framework.

Chapter Three Methodology

The research methodology constitutes of the area of study, research design, population of study, sample size and sampling techniques, the research instrument, validity instrument, method of data collection and procedure for data analysis.

Chapter Four focuses on the background of federalism and democracy in Nigeria.

Chapter Five examine on the challenges of federalism and democracy in Nigeria and strategies designed to curb the problems associated with federalism.

Chapter Six dwells on summary, conclusion and recommendations.

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