The full explanation of Nigeria’s federalism.
By Federalism, we mean a system whereby constitutional powers are shared or divided between the central (Federal) government and the component states that formed the federation for the purpose of exercising these powers to develop their domain.
This means autonomous states or regions come together to form a larger union while still retaining their territories.
Nigerian federation started from 1914 when the then Governor General Sir Lord Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates. Also the then Governor Sir Arthur Richards in 1946 further divided Nigeria into three regions.
McPherson constitution of 1951, the 1954 Lytteiton constitution, and subsequent independence conferences all gave support and credence to Nigeria becoming a federation. This is why it is usually said that Nigeria became a federation as a result of convenience rather than accident.
In Nigerian Federation, there is division and sharing of governmental powers between the federal and component state governments. Both the federal and state governments derive their powers from the constitution.
Federalism generally be it in Nigeria or elsewhere has certain principles that guides the system. Component states that formed the federation are constitutionally forbidden to secede from the federation. This is to ensure continue existence of the union otherwise each of the federating states may decide to pull out of the federation one after the other for one reason or the other and the federation will fall like a pack of cards.
There is also constitutional distribution of governmental powers between the central (federal) government and the smaller units (states) that formed the federation to the extent that more powers are given to the central government such as the exclusive powers which ordinarily makes the component states to be subjected to the central government to some extent and the sharing of concurrent powers by both the central government and the component states.
The sharing of constitutional powers between the central government and the federating states is a fundamental issue that affect and determine their relationship. This is why it is necessary to document the agreement regarding the form of powers to each body. This therefore necessitates the need to have a rigid and written constitution in which the agreement will not only be entrenched but serve as reference point not only to the governments at all levels but also to the people of the federation.
The existence of a neutral and independent supreme court to adjudicate in cases of disputes that may arise from the sharing of constitutional powers or interpretation of stipulations in the constitution.