oa The Constitution - Sustaining Nigeria's federal democracy: constitutional imperatives

Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1595-5753



Federalism is generally seen as a formidable mechanism for managing plural societies. Little wonder that Nigerias struggle for sustainable democracy has so far been pursued within the federalist logic, though under conditions of perverse practices especially under successive military regimes. Scholars have made remarkable contributions in this regard. But despite these advances, very little is known as regards the role of certain key constitutional imperatives to the survival of a federal democracy. The process and mode of making the constitution, as one of the preconditions for constitutionalism, or the lack of it, as well as its contents especially with regard to power sharing among the federating units, through an essentially open, transparent and participatory process, are some of these core issues. What has the situation been like in the Nigerian context under the fledging fourth republic? This paper critically engages this question and argues that the 1999 constitution upon which the fledging fourth republic is anchored is highly defective and to that extent incapable of guaranteeing a federal democracy. Not only is the constitution divorced from, and above the society it is intended to govern, but also lopsided in its decentralisation of powers, responsibilities and resources in favour of the centre but to the detriment of the lower levels of governance. These constitutional anomalies, the article contends, must be remedied in order to sustain Nigerias federal democracy but requires more than the constitution offers.

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