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Nigerian Federalism and the Clamour for Restructuring: Is It the Structures or the Leadership

Updated: May 20, 2018

Salihu Mohammed Niworu, Ph.D.

Department of Political Science, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State,


Restructuring is a topical issue that is making news headlines in Nigeria. The restructuring debate has divided the Nigerian political elites into two groups. First, the proponents of State and Local Government creation. The second are those advocating for devolution of powers to the component units. Dialectically opposed to the above two groups, is the separatist agitation by the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) with divergent strategies for actualizing their intention of seceding from the Nigerian federation. They wanted an independent country for the Igbo ethnic nation. However, they are diametrically opposed to each other in their modus operandi. The MASSOB are favorably disposed to peaceful and consensual separation, while IPOB chooses to be armed with an aggressive confrontation with the Nigerian state. The fundamental question raised in this paper and attempt made to provide answers to is, what is wrong with the federal structures of Nigeria. Is it the structures or the governance process. The paper concluded that corrupt and inept leadership cutting across regime type in Nigeria is responsible for the dysfunctional federal system of Nigeria. The paper suggested among others that more Local Governments be created with the condition that Nigerians of proven integrity should contest election at the local council, while they still retain their jobs in the public and private sectors, only to resign when they emerge victorious in the poll.


On the 12th of November, 2017, an erudite scholar, Dr. Kasim Waziri ( katukan Borgu), Associate Professor of property law, University of Abuja, stated that "You would not appreciate the value of divorce until you have a cantankerous husband." Since then, I began to search for the attributes of a cantankerous husband, only to realize that, a cantankerous husband is bad-tempered, but has enormous wealth with farms and fruit orchards where rivers flow. His resources can be diversified at will to numerous profitable economic ventures, but he always battered his wife. He deprived her of her legal matrimonial entitlements of better shelter, food, and clothing. She is always faced with starvation in her wealthy husband's house, yet she remains patient and calm in the face of all denials of right.

The cantankerous husband would come at night to sleep with her, and if she used that conjugal relationship to ask for her basic needs, he would react negatively. In this scenario, instead of the battered wife, it is the cantankerous husband that is asking for a divorce ( satire emphasis is mine).

This scenario is the replica of the Nigerian situation where the vultures (Selfish Politicians) that devour the commonwealth of the nation and impoverished her citizens are the people asking for the restructuring of the Nigerian Federation. Let us reawaken our consciousness by first defining the concept of federalism and the reasons for adopting federal system anywhere in the world so that we can contextually see, if Nigeria satisfied the necessary conditions for federalism and asked the fundamental question of why are the federal structures not functioning the way they should?

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