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The origins of Nigerian federalism: the Rikerian Theory and beyond

[journal article]

Babalola, Dele

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Abstract Scholars of federalism have offered different reasons why federations are formed. One of the most notable works in this area is that of William H. Riker, who made no pretence about his attempt to build a general theory of federalism, particularly its origin, operation and significance. Central to the Rikerian theory is that federations are formed through a political bargain between two sets of rational politicians, and the motive for the federal bargain is principally military. This theory is predicated on the assumption that two conditions – the expansion condition, and the military condition – must be present for a federation to be formed. In reference to the Nigerian Federation established in 1954, Riker asserted that the expansionist ambition of Ghana and its then leader Kwame Nkrumah, was the main external threat that informed the formation of the Federation. The main aim in this paper is to argue that the Rikerian theory of federal formation is inadequate to explain the origin of the Nigerian Federation, especially in the light of the centripetal and centrifugal forces that combined to result in the Federation.
Keywords Nigeria; federalism; political history; political theory; political system; West Africa
Classification Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Political Science; Political System, Constitution, Government
Free Keywords Rikerian Theory
Document language English
Publication Year 2013
Page/Pages p. 43-54
Journal Federal Governance, 10 (2013) 1
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence