Federalism exists where power is shared between two levels of government which are co-ordinate. Before the British came to Nigeria, the East, West and North had separate governments.

Historically, Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914,
though the Clifford Constitution of 1922 again separated the North from the South. The subsequent
constitutions – Macpherson (1951), Littleton (1954), independence established two levels of governments namely Federal Government and Regional Governments.


  • Heterogenous nature of the people. The major tribes have little or nothing in common.
  • The common colonial experience of the people also help to account for the adoption of federalism.
  • Thirdly the British Colonial Policy imposed a federal system of government in Nigeria, The British created a quasi-federal system in 1946 through the creation of three regions – North, West and East. The constitution also established three regional legislative councils. This policy was improved upon by the 1954 constitution through division of legislative powers. The North attempted secession in 1953, the British Government persuaded them not to do so. The 1957 and 1958 conferences formally imposed a federal structure with bicameral legislature.
  • The Nationalist Policy also contributed
    to the adoption of a federal system. Leading Nationalists like Azikiwe,
    Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello were not prepared to surrender their regions in the interest of unitary government.
  • The huge size of the country will make a centralized administration difficult hence the adoption of federalism.
  • Fear of domination among the three
    leading ethnic groups also accounted for the adoption of federalism in Nigeria.

Read: The constitutional evolution of federalism in Nigeria upto 1954

Further Research terms

reasons for the adoption of federalism in nigeria pdf

factors that led to the formation of federalism in nigeria

reasons for federalism in nigeria account for the reasons of adopting the federal system of government in nigeria