Nigerian federalism is characterized by several features that shape the country’s political system and governance structure. Here are some key features of Nigerian federalism:
1. Federal Structure: Nigeria operates as a federal republic, where power is shared between the central government and the 36 states that make up the federation. The federal government is responsible for national issues such as defense, foreign affairs, and currency, while the states have certain powers and responsibilities within their jurisdictions.
2. Written Constitution: Nigeria has a written constitution that outlines the powers and functions of the federal government, the states, and other political entities. The constitution serves as the supreme law of the land and provides the framework for the distribution of powers between the federal and state governments.
3. Division of Powers: Nigerian federalism involves the division of powers between the federal government and the states. The constitution delineates exclusive powers for the federal government, concurrent powers shared by both levels of government, and residual powers left to the states. This division is aimed at promoting a balance between centralized and decentralized governance.
4. Bicameral Legislature: Nigeria has a bicameral legislature consisting of the National Assembly, which is composed of the Senate (upper house) and the House of Representatives (lower house). This legislative structure ensures representation from both the federal and state levels, allowing for the participation of diverse interests and perspectives.
5. Revenue Sharing: Fiscal federalism is a significant aspect of Nigerian federalism. The federal government collects revenue from various sources, such as oil and gas, and distributes it among the states. The formula for revenue sharing is periodically reviewed to ensure fairness and address the needs of different states.
6. State Autonomy: Nigerian federalism recognizes the autonomy and self-governance of the states. Each state has its government, with a governor as the chief executive. State governments have powers over areas such as education, healthcare, agriculture, and infrastructure within their respective jurisdictions.
7. Independent Judiciary: The Nigerian federal system includes an independent judiciary that serves as a check on the powers of both the federal and state governments. The judiciary ensures the interpretation and enforcement of the constitution and resolves disputes between different levels of government.
8. Unicameralism at the State Level: While the federal level has a bicameral legislature, most Nigerian states have a unicameral legislature with a House of Assembly. This structure allows for local representation and decision-making at the state level.
9. State Creation and Merger: Nigerian federalism allows for the creation and merger of states. Over the years, Nigeria has witnessed the establishment of new states to accommodate regional aspirations and promote a sense of belonging among diverse ethnic and cultural groups.
10. Inter-governmental Relations: Nigerian federalism emphasizes inter-governmental relations to foster cooperation and coordination between the federal government and the states. This includes mechanisms such as the National Economic Council, where federal and state officials come together to discuss policy matters and coordinate development efforts.
It’s important to note that the features of Nigerian federalism have evolved and been subject to various debates and revisions throughout the country’s history. The specific implementation and effectiveness of these features may vary in practice.