n Journal of Public Administration - Federalism in a multi-ethnic state with special reference to Nigeria

Volume 39, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The very nature of administrative arrangements suggests that the form of centralisation or decentralisation of power to constituent units, regions or states is a fundamental issue for all societies, as this has implications for the machinery of government. The federal system, a devolved form of government with varying degrees of regional autonomy, suggests that a greater level of co-existence will be achieved, but this is not always the case as complexities in the management of various phenomena such as multiculturalism are bound to arise. The challenge is for governments to manage the inherent differences in multi-cultural societies as this varies from country to country. The federal Nigerian state, a creation of the British colonial administration has emerged as a melting pot of diverse ethnic and cultural groupings, with continuous threats to the polarisation and atomisation of the Nigerian society. The management of multiculturalism in any society could be translated as a major weakness or challenge or as the nation's must important strength or asset. In the case of Nigeria, it should be noted that historically, regional or tribal identity has been pursued at the expense of nationhood. This article will deal with the concept of federalism, the evolution of the Nigerian federal state, inherent challenges and tensions, and pointers with regard to managing multi-culturalism and intergovernmental relations in the federal state.

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