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Brief History of federalism in Nigeria

Federalism in Nigeria can be traced back to the colonial era. After the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914, Richard's Constitution introduced some features of federalism into Nigeria's political system. Basically, his constitution recognized three regions in Nigeria namely, the Northern, Western and Eastern region. There was also the colony of Lagos which was like the headquarters of British colonialists. This was apparently how federalism stated in Nigeria. Arthur Richard is currently known as the father of Nigerian Federalism. The main characteristics of Arthur Richard constitution was regionalism.

Following the criticisms made on Richard's constitution, Macpherson took over power. In Macpherson's constitution, there was a federal legislature called the house of representatives. This legislature was responsible for making federal laws. There was also the regional legislatures that could make laws for their regions. This feature of Macpherson's constitution actually lead to a growth on the idea of federalism in Nigeria.

Conversely, the activities of Nigerian nationalists and many educated elites led to a number of constitutional reforms between 1951and 1957. These reforms created cleared the way for Nigeria to gain independence. In 1956, the Eastern and Western Regions secured the status of self-government while the Northern Region's self-government had to wait until 1959.

The regional system operated by Ironsi to maintain a unitary system was changed to states government with the adoption of Gowon's Decree No 52 which established 12 states from the former three regions in 1967.

The Murtala Mohammed's Military Regime came to power in 1976 and created seven states more. Ibrahim Babangida military regime created two additional states in 1987 making a total of 21. In 1991 he created 9 more states bringing them to thirty states finally Abacha created 6 which made them 36 states.

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