Almost all federal states came into being through the voluntary association of independent units, each constituting part of its sovereignty. The federation created in the western colonialism cannot claim such solid foundation. Since the original units are always arbitrary imposition based on colonial Administrative convenience, the appropriateness of the number, size and structure of the very building blocks of the federation are often in doubt. For a federation to be strong and united there should be element and streamlined principle of federal character which should be carefully followed to enhance continuity and oneness.
Federal character is the attribute, which propels a federation to attain high level of unity consequent on equal and fair treatment of all the component units. In other words, federal character assumes to recognize ethnic groups in government attempt to formulate policy of national interest.
Therefore it tackles the problem of inequality and injustice to ensure a balanced federation and reduce tension. As a matter of fact, the concept has been a propelling factor to political integration. Those attribute or characteristics inherent, in a federation tend to promote unity, even development in terms of human and material resources, and the concept of quota system, infrastructural distribution, issue of revenue allocation, balance of power. The federal character is therefore an instrument of eclectic redistribution of bureaucratic positions and industrial locations.
It is pertinent to highlight briefly some of the importance of federal character as it affects its role towards political integration in Nigeria. The concept initiates sense of belonging to one existing people of the federating unit, it reduces the tendency of sectional politics.
More also, it encourages even development. In a well established federation, it make for equitable distribution of infrastructure. For instance, setting of major industries, educational institutions, financial institution, military formation etc. should reflect federal character recognizing different ethnic blocks or groups. This is necessary because there may be some units within the federation, which might be disadvantaged, examples, in Nigeria, Northern region are well known for their disadvantage position in education while the southern part of the country is of advantage position in education; but disadvantaged in landscape and population. They don’t have enough land for modern agriculture, but the concept of federal character seeks to address such issues.
Another issue federal character seeks to promote, is the issue of equal representation which comes inform of federal appointments, of ministers, directors general, chairmen of federal owned companies and parastatals etc. it comes also inform of equal representation of the senate and on population basis at the House of Representatives. These create room for cooperation and coordination among the federating units thereby promoting political and national integration.
Revenue allocation is also a concept which enables states, or regions that are not endowed with enough natural resources to enjoy the resources that come out from other areas or parts of the country. And those that lack natural resources may have a reservoir of skilled manpower and bureaucrat. However, revenue allocation formula has been perennial problem in Nigeria as of todays politics.
However, in spite of the appeals of the federal character, problem still persist in the heterogeneous society of Nigeria.
Large differential between the level of economic development of the former Northern region and southern region of Nigeria threatens the Nations federation. Although, there are no viable percapital figures to demonstrate income differentials, an examination of practical economic indices, such as percapital income differentials is traceable to the large number of factors. The details of all that is contained in the introduction and more shall be dealt with in this research.
1.2STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The federal character in Nigerian society has a deep origin. However, inspite of the federal character, problems still persist in the heterogonous society of Nigeria. These are the problem facing federal character.
The proverbial North-south dichotomy
Competition among the three dominant ethnic or nationality groups
Feelings of domination and oppression of the minority by the majority ethnic groups
Muslim Christian dichotomy
Indigenes versus non-indigenes politics and so on.
These problems stated above are what the researcher intends to find solutions to in this research work.
1.3 PURPOSE OF STUDY
The primary purpose is to study or analyze the forces affecting the Nigeria federal system. There is no doubt that the structure of Nigeria’s federalism has continued to attract wide spread criticism and controversies from various shades of scholars. Yet, federalism remains the only effective and viable instruments for maintaining a disparate collection of sub-nationalities that make up Nigeria.
Consequently, this study seeks to examine the structural foundations of Nigerias federal system especially with regard to the issues of political and national integration. The study analyses the various manifestation of the federalism in relation to the diverse competing demands being made upon it. The research will further explore other factors affecting the process of federalism, and political integration in highly differentiated society such as Nigeria.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is to serve as a guide to policy makers of the nation. When they try to find solutions towards the problem of political and national unity. Perhaps, this will make the government disengage from merely stating grandiose politics that yield little or no result in the improvement of the state in existence. It may equally serve as a guide to those who may wish to carry out similar research in the future, although, this research does not in any way claim monopoly knowledge on the subject matter.