History of Nigerian Federalism

Governor Bernard Bourdillion
Governor Bernard Bourdillion

The history of Federalism in Nigeria can be traced to the division of the country into three provinces (Northern Province, Western Province and Eastern Province) by Governor Bernard Bourdillion in 1939. Governor Bernard Bourdillion (1935 – 1943) recommended the replacement of the provinces by regions which Arthur Richard’s Constitution later implemented in 1946. It was the idea of the Richard’s constitution that brought in a Federal structure but which it didn’t accomplish to the end. However, in 1953, Governor Macpherson’s constitution improved on that of Richard’s by creating House of Rep. with powers to make law for the country and Regional Houses of Assembly to make law for the regions. Later, in 1954, the Lyttleton constitution came in with a Federal system of government for the country. This was as a result of the constitutional conference that was held in London in 1953 (1953 London Constitutional Conference) where it was decided that Nigeria should become a Federal State.
Federalism is a system of government whereby power is constitutionally shared between the central government and other component units e.g. State/region and local government, but in 1954 there were only the central and regional government in Nigeria. Their powers and functions were shared to them by the constitution. Exclusive legislative functions were meant for the central government while concurrent legislative functions were meant for both the central and regional government and residual legislative functions were meant for the regions.

Here are some reasons why Federalism was introduced into Nigeria.

* Cultural diversity
* Fear of domination by the minorities
* The size of the country
* Geographical factor
* Bringing government nearer to the
*British colonial policy
* Economic factor
* Effective administration.

* C. C. Dibie; Essential Government for Senior Secondary Schools; 3rd edition; Lagos; Tonad Publishers; 2008

Image Credit:
* wikipedia.org

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