Federalism and the Challenges of Nation Building in Nigeria

Chijioke Basil Onuoha, John E. Bassey, Henry Ufomba

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Nation-building is about building the tangible and intangible threads that hold a political entity together and gives it a sense of purpose. It was the belief of Nigerian nationalists that federalism will foster nation building in Nigeria, but fifty-eight years down the line as an independent nation, Nigeria is still grappling with challenges of nation building. Acknowledging this as a threat to the nation continued existence this paper discusses the implication of the continued practice of skewed federalism “Nigeria Model” and it effect on the country quest to become a strong and united nation. Adopting the descriptive method of enquiry as well as Integration paradigm as analytical guide, the paper argues that though federalism is the most suitable principle for ensuring nation building in a heterogeneous country like Nigeria, the “Nigeria Model” of federalism where so much fiscal resources and responsibilities is being concentrated in the center to the detriment of the states breeds confrontation between the central government and component units, thus hamper nation building. For empirical analysis, this study makes a survey of 1500 government officials and citizens out of which 1346 questionnaires were returned. The data obtained was analyzed using Pearson Correlation which showed a significant relationship between nation building and three key variables (federal structure, citizen perception of the political structure, and interaction of the tiers of government). The paper recommends, among other things, a review of the 1999 constitution to reduce the power and responsibilities of the federal government to common services like Foreign Affairs, Currency, Immigration and Defence and granting of more responsibilities to states as well as a reintroduction of the Derivation Principle which allow states generate it revenue from the resources available in it domain and give a percentage to the central government. This will bring out ingenuity inherent in the various states and lead to healthy competition in terms of development. This proposed new federal arrangement will not only give confidence to but enhance nation building in the country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-118
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of World Policy and Development Studies
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Federalism
  • Nigeria
  • Nation building


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