NIGERIA'S FEDERAL CHARACTER: TOOL FOR DEVELOPMENT, UNDERDEVELOPMENT
1.1 Background to the Study
One major obstacle to achieving national developmental goals in many developing nations particularly in Africa is lack of good governance. Other challenges like poverty, unemployment insecurity, corruption, nepotism, lack of national integration, economic problems among others are byproducts of absence of good governance. No wonder, for decades, poverty, famine, war and authoritarian leadership have held back an era of African prosperity and stability. As a result, there is eagerness for governments that are legitimate, honest and effective (Kerry, 2015). The experiences in countries like Somalia, Bukina- Faso, Coted’ Ivorie, Congo, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, among others were as a result of absence of good governance. Good governance is the ultimate goal of democracy as it gives room for equal representation through voting by the electorates.
Nigeria’s experience in democratic governance until 1999 is nothing to write home about. This was because of the long years of military interventions into Nigeria politics. Civilian only ruled for 10 years while the military ruled for 29 years from 1960 when Nigeria got her independence to 1999. The adoption of democratic rule in 1999 was seen as a turning point for democratic regime in Nigeria. However, in spite of the 22 years of consistent democratic rule in Nigeria and with the adoption of federal character principle, it seems the basic ideas of good governance have not been achieved, particularly in the aspect of equal representation in governance. Consequently, it can be deduced that regular election does not culminate into representative democracy? Adio (2015:21) emphasizes the importance of popular election in which the people vote count. To him, “it is also obvious that representative democracy without elections will be a contradiction in terms, that a democracy where votes do not count is nothing but a joke and that democracy’s assurance of worthy governance will always be conveyed in the breach until those at the helm of power are aware that they stand a good chance of being voted out by the electorates (Adio, 2015:21).
Agbo (2008) opines that the future of Nigeria’s democracy solemnly lies on the development of a competent electoral method that would power it. According to him, such a system should be rugged and dynamic enough to resist the complexities of the federation and fair enough to address the uniqueness of Nigeria’s many people. In the same vein, Iwu (2008:6) states that, “at the heart of a successful democracy is the template of representation that should reflect the composition of the country as much as possible in number and heterogeneity of the population”. The above analogy implies that popular participation through a free and fair election and equal representation is more or less to achieving a manly democracy.
The correct policy to guarantee equal representation in Nigeria is through the federal character principles. The goal of this principle is to guarantee an impartial representation that will deal with the issue of the heterogeneous nature of Nigeria populace politically, socially and economically. The federal character principle is also centred on achieving fair justice, and a state of equality that is aimed at developing the nation (Osifeso, 2013). Nonetheless, it appears that the implementation of these principles has been hindered by conflicts and arguments, which at every point in time threatens the national unity and development of Nigeria as a federating nation. Take for example, the uproar of marginalization by the southern part of Nigeria, especially the south east, over the recent appointments made by the federal government is a case in point (Akinboye, 2015, Eke, 2015, Akinlotan, Zebulon, 2015). The recent consistent call for a state of Biafra and Oduduwa nation by the MOSSOB and several youths in Yoruba land respectively could result to another civil war if not properly managed (Onyekwere, 2015). All these have great consequences on national development and underdevelopment. So the question is, how can federal character principles be made as a tool for national development and overcome the issue of underdevelopment in some parts of the country? Therefore, the main aim of this study is to examine the relationship between federal character and national development and underdevelopment in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nigeria and many African countries are being considered to be failed states. This is because nothing seems to be working in them. In spite of the existing favorable conditions for development these countries appear to be drifting back into the dark centuries of the past. Many scholars past and present have attributed the failure of these states to a number of factors. They include culture, moral decadence, traditional religion, belief in occult powers, technological backwardness, colonialism, geography, biogeography, leadership, ethnicity etc. In recent times Ejiogu E. Amaku (2011) has argued that the problem of Africa’s underdevelopment lies on the matter of temporality, the lack of judicious use of time. According to him, If Africa is backward in terms of development, it points to the fact that the ontological importance of time has not been accurately understood and addressed.
Reasons for Africa’s problem will continue to increase. Chukwuokolo (2011) believes that what shows the differences in the pace of development among societies is the proper application of reason. He supports this notion with China, Byzantine and Tibet. China discovered gun powder, printing and mariner’s compass, Byzantine the clockwork and Tibet the turbines. But they diversify their respective discoveries to other uses and not only on development commitments. The Europeans adopted these discoveries from them. They applied their reason in their use. And because of this they are enjoying the dividends of these colossal development. The sure submission to be learnt from Chukwuokolo’s instance is that the reason for Africa being an underdeveloped continent of the world is due to wrong application of reason.
Reasons mostly mentioned around for Africa’s underdevelopment have run their course. The reasons, for example, given for colonialism, have for long been outdated. China and Korea were also colonized in the same way countries in Africa were colonised. However, immediately after their independence, with strong determination and forthrightness, they have come out stronger and better. Unlike colonialism, culture as one of the reasons for Africa’s underdevelopment is no longer acceptable. Alexander the Great in his ambitious efforts to form a united empire caused a lot of damage to the Greek culture and other cultures under his care. It was an initiative that displeased the Greeks. The anger was such that Aristotle who was the tutor of this great emperor would have paid dearly for it if he had not absconded. He refused to allow the Athenians to sin against philosophy twice. Nevertheless, the Greeks were able to rebuild their culture after their freedom and moved on.
However, with all the reasons mentioned above as why Africa is being considered to be the world’s underdog, this studies contends that the greatest of them which militates against the development of Nigeria as a country is ethnicity. Except the problem is addressed properly, significant development will remain subtle and an illusion. Nigeria is a country to over 250 ethnic groups, each of which is pushing for recognition and relevance in the political scene in the country; each is worry of being dominated by others; each is crying of political marginalization. The cry appears to be getting louder as years after years and therefore seems to be threatening the corporate existence of the nation. The situation should not be canned as panting and gasping. Unless notable efforts are made the prediction by some scholars that Nigeria would disintegrate by the year 2030 may become a reality. This study thus examines how federal character can be properly used as a tool for national development in Nigeria and if not properly used will continue to bring underdevelopment to the nation.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The major objective of this study is to examine Nigeria's Federal characters as a tool for development and underdevelopment. On the other hand, the followings are the specific objectives:
i. To understand the relationship between federal character principle and nation building in Nigeria.
ii. To examine the interplay between democracy and Federal Character and its consequences for national development.
iii. To highlight the problems of application of the Federal Character Principle in Nigeria.
iv. To investigate the drawback of federal character to national development.
1.4 Research Questions
The undertaking of this research study will be guided by the following research questions:
i. Is there any relationship between federal character principle and nation building in Nigeria?
ii. What is the interplay between democracy and Federal Character and its consequences for national development?
iii. What are the problems of application of the Federal Character Principle in Nigeria?
iv. What are the drawbacks of federal character to national development?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The researcher will test the following research hypotheses in the course of the study:
i. There is a significant relationship between federal character principle and nation building in Nigeria.
ii. There is no significant relationship between democracy and Federal Character and its consequences for national development.
1.6 Significance of the Study
As so many factors now influence policy implementation that will bring national development at the federal level, the study will serve as a foundation on those factors which range from social, economic to political issues considering the notion that federal character doctrine has become a national policy in every sector that contributes to national development in Nigeria.
Also, the study will help to shed more lights on the various factors that may hinder the national development in the country.
In addition, the study will help policymakers and stakeholders in the country to appreciate the need to ensure that everything possible is done to ensure objective, fair and just implementation of a workable federal character principle in Nigeria.
The study will also serve as a useful tool for students who would want to carry out further research in this domain. It would also be useful to public administrators. The study would be significant to policy makers and implementers at large, as they will find this study useful.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study is aimed at examining Nigeria's Federal characters as a tool for development and underdevelopment. The scope of this study will therefor covers the issues of federal character policy implementation in relation to national development and underdevelopment..