Nigeria is a country that is in dire need of restructuring. The call for this has become very strident among scholars, politicians and statesmen alike. Among the politicians, the word, “restructuring” has become a manifesto without a clear roadmap on how it can be achieved. In this work, we look at the concept of restructuring in relationship with the practice of federalism in Nigerian politics. The historical background of federalism in Nigeria is traced to show a balanced view of how a restructured Nigeria should work. This paper concludes that in the absence of restructuring, there will be no justice in Nigeria and inevitably peace and development will continue to be elusive.
For us to understand the background for the agitation of a restructured Nigeria, we look back at the Nigerian history and try to link the historical experience to the present agitation of a restructured Nigeria and subsequently make a prediction of how a restructured Nigeria is expected to work.
Nigeria came into existence following the coming into effect of the Nigeria Council in 1914. The British government rule over Nigeria territory ended on 1st October 1960 when Nigeria was declared an independent country. The period between 1954 and 1960 was a period of intensive political negotiation among the power brokers in Nigeria on the nature and political arrangement of the anticipated independent Nigeria. The Richard Constitution of 1946 had previously created three regional councils and legislative chambers in the Northern, Western and Eastern parts of the country (Obingene & Ujam, 2018). This constitution led to series of conferences which culminated in Macpherson Constitution of 1951 which introduced House of Representatives and elected majorities in the three regional legislatures. In 1953, a conference was organised in London which resulted in Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 that laid the foundation for Nigeria independence. The constitution provided for Nigeria, a federal state with limited and specific powers allocated to the federal government and the rest either shared by the central and regional or allocated to the regional government entirely (Obingene & Ujam, 2018). This was a great departure from the 1951 constitution which was unitary in nature with powers devolving from the centre to the regions. The duties assigned to central government included among others defence, external relations, foreign trade, Central Court of Justice, etc. Among the powers to be shared included higher education, industrial development, power, insurance, etc. It is worthy of note that to give credence and effects to the federalism, the nature of revenue allocation was changed.
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