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Federalism and constitutional change in Nigeria

[journal article]

Okpanachi, Eyene; Garba, Ali

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Abstract In comparison with established democracies Nigeria is a highly populated and ethnic fragmented state. Therefore after colonial rule and independence a federal constitutional structure was supposed to bring the processes for conflict resolution between the ethnic groups. In 1960 Nigeria started as a highly decentralised state and went through important changes until 1999 towards greater centralisation which found its culmination in regular military governments and open conflicts. Until 1999 each constitution promulgated by the military was considered as a step towards the transition to democracy. After the constitution making process, political actors aspired to constitutional reforms in a democratic way. Those attempts at mega constitutional change were not successful, which lead to military coups once again. This paper traces back mega-constitutional change in Nigeria between 1999 until 2007. After a brief introduction the paper proceeds with the foundations of federalism and constitution making in Nigeria. The following three paragraphs deal with the politics of constitutional change in Nigeria from 1999 until 2007. The final part of the paper compares the failure of Nigerian constitutional reforms with the case of Canada. As in the Canadian case, sub constitutional change in Nigeria is presented as a possible answer to demands of reform, instead of mega-constitutional reform.
Keywords Nigeria; post-colonial society; ethnic conflict; political system; decentralization; federalism; conflict management; constitution-making; constitutional amendment; reform; constitution; democratization; West Africa; developing country
Classification Political System, Constitution, Government; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 1-14
Journal Federal Governance, 7 (2010) 1
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence