Title page                                                                                          i
Approval page                                                                                  ii
Certification                                                                                                iii
Dedication                                                                                         iv
Acknowledgment                                                                              v
Table of content                                                                                vi-viii
Abstract                                                                                            ix

    • Background to the Study 1-3
    • Statement of the Problem 4-5
    • Objectives of the study                               5
    • Basic assumption 5
    • Justification of the Study 5
    • Definition of major terms 6-12
    • Methodology 12
    • Scope of the Study 12-13
    • Limitations of the study 13


  • Organization of chapters 13-14

References                                                                                                 15-17

  • Theoretical Framework And Literature Review                 17-18

2.1     An overview of Theoretical framework                                18-24
 2.2     Literature review                                                                            24-34
2.3     References                                                                               35-36
CHAPTER THREE:                                                                

  • The History Of Federalism And Democracy In Nigeria 37     
    • An overview of Nigeria’s experience with federalism 38-40
    • History of democracy in Nigeria 40-49
    • The Nexus between Federalism and Democracy in Nigeria 49-53

3.4       References                                                                            54
4.0. Challenges Of Federalism And Democracy In Nigeria           55-56            
4.2. Overview of the Evolution of Nigerian Federalism                              56-60
4.3. Corruption                                                                                 73-76
4.4. LeadershipCrisis                                                                        76-77
References                                                                                         78-79

  • Summary, Recommendations And Conclusion
    • Summary 80-81
    • Recommendations           81-83
    • Conclusion          83-85

References                                                                                        86
Bibliography                                                                                     87-93
Federalism is often regarded as the appropriate governmental principle for countries with hugeethno-cultural diversities. Nigeria, with over twohundred and fifty ethnic groups inherited a federalsystem from Britain in 1960 and successivegovernments have attempted, with varying degreesof sincerity and commitment, to operate federalinstitutions that can accommodate the country’sethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversitiesand nurture a sense of national unity.  However, theleaders of these governments, at all levels, havefailed to fulfill their obligations to offer goodgovernance anchored on equitable politicalarrangements, transparent administrative practicesand accountable public conduct. Indeed, failure toencourage genuine power sharing has triggereddangerous rivalries between the central governmentand the thirty-six states governments over revenuefrom the country’s oil and other natural resources.The defective federal structure has also promotedbitter struggles between interest groups to capturethe state and its attendant wealth; and facilitatedthe emergence of violent ethnic militias, whilepoliticians exploit and exacerbate inter-communaltensions for selfish reasons. Thus, communitiesthroughout the country increasingly feelmarginalized and alienated from the Nigerian state.This writer contends that the deeply flawed federalsystem in Nigeria constitutes a grave threat tonational integration, stability and development; andthat unless the government properly engages theunderlying issues of resource control, powersharing, equal rights and accountability, the countrywill face an internal crisis of increasing anddangerous proportions. This paper seeks toexamine the contentious issues in Nigeria’s federalarrangement, and the challenges they pose fornation-building and national stability.

Background tothe Study
Democracy is the expression and determination by people in a polity on how the society should be governed. However, the translation of this expression into certain action viaappropriate power is the obligation of the government. 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.
In Nigeria, a  state having diverse ethnic groups which consist of over 250 ethnic formations.These group 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 2008:33). 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, peoplehoped 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
By and large, this study is mainly on how democratic principle is impacting on federal arrangement. It also concerns the nature of factor ethnic politics in Nigeria. Ethnicity is the major factor affecting or causing the abuse of federalism and democracy in Nigeria. This can be seen in the various crisis that rocked the country since the inception of the democratic rule between 1999 to 2013, the study however, examine how ethnic politics is affecting democracy and smooth running of federalism in the country. Democracy which should guarantee free and fair periodic election and good lives, 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, 1999:93 in democracy and civil society in Nigeria)

       The study also tends to examine the consciousness of the ethnicity in Nigeria polity as retard the smooth practicing of democracy and federalism in the country.
Despite the advent of democracy rule in 1999, Nigeria as a country has not been practicing true democracy and federalism, hence the need for this study which is on the challenges of federalism and democracy in Nigeria, 1999- 2013. Hence, Nigeria political system has been facing with many challenges the 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.
 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 andmany 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. Also, the most dissuaded issue in the country are fiscal federalism and revenue allocation because of its effort on
In the view, what accrued to each at what percentage and ration is of major concern to every individual and the federating units. Going to this, scholars have discussed revenue allocation extensively. We have like of Olowomoni (1998), Adesina (1998), Mbaneto and Suberu (2001) in this category.
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 re just subordinate to the central government and federal government is very overbearing, as it controls the largest percentage of the revenue in the country.
Objectivesofthe Study
The following are the Objectives of this study:

  • To examine the history of federalism in Nigeria
  • To examine the consciousness of ethnicity in Nigeria polity
  • To examine the challenges of Nigeria federalism and democracy
  • Also, the study will interrogate ethnicity and federalism in Nigeria.


  • The assumption of this study is predicated on the following
  • That ethnic can retard both political and democratic development.
  • It is assumed that, true federalism will promote development through democracy as a system of government
  • It is also assumed that, true quota system as practised in Nigeria is a problem to democratic growth and development.

The study is justified to the extent that ethnicity is a major factor in Nigeria democracy.
Another justification is that Nigeria federalism is only unique to the country in such that none of the attributes of federalism can be found in it.
The study is also justified that power sharing in Nigeria federalism is a major problem that always affects the cooperate existence of the country.
Also the study is justified because ethnic politics tends to retard unity and democratic development.
In this study, some terms that will be constantly used which will be given operational meaning so that, they will not be misconstrued when comes across 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 (2004:30) 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 (Kolawole, 1997: 161).
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, 2004:163).
Also, according to Abegunde(2010:142, he sees democracy as a system of government that allows the citizens to choose their leader, make important decision through wide consultation and voting, it also allows for the supremacy of the rule of law. He also defined democracy as a process that allows every individual in a country to be partaker in the system of government.
Democracy is the philosophy of government that sets a high premium on the basic fundamental human rights of citizens. It is concerned with the institution and process of government (Omotoso, 2005:3). It may also be described as a system of government under which the people exercise their governing power either directly or through representatives that are periodically elected by themselves (Appadorai, 1975:187)
Nevertheless, democracy can be regarded as the system of government, mainly determined by the people. It is a representative government in which people in a particular society elect their representatives that are to be in the helm of affairs in the state.
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, 2003:3)
Federalism is the means of unifying many people for special but limited purpose, without disrupting their primary tiers.
According to Wheare (1964:33)it is the methods of dividing power so that, general and regionals government are each within a sphere, coordinate and independent.
Though, Whear we 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.
From the various literature available, it is simply about sharing of power among the various units or various levels of government to the extent that opportunities given to each to perform effectively either administratively and financial in its spheres of operations. Legislative and practically, no levels of government should be hamstrung in any way that makes it solemnly subordinate to the levels in the performances of its functions.
According to Daniel Elazer’s, he recognized the unavailability of strain and stresses in the group relations particularly among the component units. He therefore emphasized the need for compromise and reconciliation. For example, in Nigeria federalism, there are strains and stresses among the component units; these are most noticeable in the ethnic uprising area of revenue allocation issue of domination and marginalization of one section of the country over others. But desire for the compromising and conciliation among the various groups in the federating is still keeping the country together (Elazer, 1977:26).
Federation refers to a political system where there are at least two levels of government. In which case, there is the juxtaposition of two levels of power of a central government otherwise called the federal government and other state labeled variously as states region, republic, canton or union. The juxtaposition of these two levels of government present a car models situation engine (Schmitt, 2007:22)
More so Friedrich defined federalism as a process rather that a design. Any particular design or pattern of competence or jurisdiction is merely a phrase, a short run view of a continually evolving political reality. It is understood as the process of federalizing, it will become apparent the federalism may be operating in both direction of integration and differentiation (Friedrich, 1964:23)
Federalism is a system where the federal government shares power with the autonomous states that make up the federalism (Adeniran, 1997:24). Also, federalism is based on the mutual agreement of a federal government for the purpose of securing a more efficient government and better security and power in the centre.
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.
According to Larry Diamond, he noted that there must be extensive competition among individual, political participation in the selection of leader and political liberties (Diamond etal, 1988.Pxiv). It was a system of government that entails the setting of affairs, according to know rules of government  toleralism, forward mainly views, regular elections (that is free and fair election), freedom of speech and above all, observance of rule of law.
Democratic rule, is the rule that allows the supremacy of the people, their freedom and equally guarantee when the ultimate power in that is lodge in their hands.
Ethnicity:-According to Nnoli (1998:11) Ethnicity is a phenomenon associated with the competition, exclusiveness and conflict in relations among ethnic groups, which are members of a political community.
Also in reference to Omu(1996:170), ethnicity denotes the consciousness of belonging to identifying with and being loyal to a social group distinguish by shared cultural traditional, a common language, in group sentimental and self identity.
Basically, ethnicity exists only within a political society consisting of diverse ethnic grouping. It is associated with people that are socially and culturally related through which they tend to protect their identity and dignity.
Furthermore, defining this concept will be based on the perception from which one views it. One perspective sees ethnicity as the acceptability of one another by the members of one ethnic group and discrimination by the member of one group against others on the basis of differentiated system of socio-cultural symbols and costume with the primary focus of members of groups and loyalties of individual member of such group consciously or unconsciously, ethnicity is expressed in every plural society.
ETHNIC CONFLICT:-Ethnic conflict in the words of Osaghae (1992:218) 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. Ethnic conflict is not based on race but, or other socio-cultural difference (Maikudi, 2003:376). 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.
Miall (1922:114), opined that, conflict emerges where a clear contradiction exists or it perceived to exist between the participants who view the outcome of such a conflicts extremely important. In summary, conflict implies struggle, competition, context or disagreement between the participants over valued and scarce resources in which the aim of the ethnic groups or participants is to have advantage over each in the control of such resources.
Methodology is an orderly procedure used in conducting an enquiry. Secondary source is the source of data collection and gathering adopted for this study. It also entails to use literature on the subject, journal and newspapers written by eminent scholars on the area of the study.
Also government publications and library materials and text books on federalism and democracy in Nigeria were consulted.
This study covers challenges of federalism and democracy in Nigeria between 1999  to 2013. The reference will be made to historical democratic values and federal structure and the evolution of ethnicity, as a very vital factor in the country’s policy.
Also, this study covers the emergent of federalism and its role to the Nigeria’s national unity.
The following are some of the major problems encountered during this study were carried out:
Difficulty in getting access to available data for the study. That is, access to official document was stressful because government officials were reluctant to release document that are important for this study due to the classification nature of the document.
Also, logistic problem as a result of financial constraint and insecurity of lives and properties due to bad economy and national security problems.
More so, various divergent views and opinions by scholars as to the meaning of the subject matter of this pose a great threat.
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, theoreticalframework, methodology, scope of the study, limitation of the study, organization of the chapters and references.
Chapter two, is the theoretical framework and literature review
Chapter three focuses on the history of federalism and democracy in Nigeria.
Chapter four examine on the challenges of federalism and democracy in Nigeria between 1999 to 2013.
Chapter five dwells on summary, recommendation and conclusion.
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Appadorai, A.A (1975) “The Substance Of Politics,New Delhi Oxford     University Press”.
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