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Nigeria’s federalism faulty, undermines national development, says don

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A teacher with the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Professor David Alabi has faulted the country’s federalism, saying federalism, as it was being practiced undermined the country’s development.

Alabi, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Defence Studies, said this during a lecture in Kaduna yesterday, insisting that unless Nigeria was ‘fundamentally restructured’, meaningful development would continue to elude the country .

At the fifth NDA inaugural lecture with the theme: Federation, National Question And The Crisis Of Development In Nigeria, Alabi explained that there was correlation between true federalism and national development, pointing out that Nigeria was a creation of the British with about 300 ethnics nationalities forcefully merged for colonial administrative convenience.

He argued the merger has thrown up several challenges and contradictions known over the years as the national question, while lamenting that there could be no development until the contradictions were resolved.  

“Chief Obafemi Awolowo realised this in the 1940s and admitted that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression. This is still the reality today. How to resolve these problems with the instrumentality of true federalism has engaged my attention in the last 27 years,” he stated.  

Stressing that 57 years after independence, there were still agitations for secession and balkanisation of Nigeria due to perceived marginalisation, he cautioned that the issues required a delicate management to preserve the country’s cooperate existence.  

He argued that the current pseudo federalism being operated in Nigeria was a serious obstacle and an albatross to the rapid and sustainable transformation of the country.

“Nigeria has been bugged down with over fragmentation resulting in the sub-national units being incapable of driving development efforts and the central government riding roughshod on the states and local governments with impunity and disbursing favours and sanctions as it pleases,” he added. 

Alabi further noted that in a bid to resolve the contradictions in the country’s political and socio-economic processes, Nigerians must dialogue over certain fundamental questions and issues that have arisen from 1914, when the country’s various ethnic nationalities were merged together by British imperialism.  

He said although he recognised the differences between the Sovereign National Conference (SNC) and the national political reform conferences organised by the Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan’s administrations, he however, argued that the different nationalities needed to engage in genuine and legitimate discussion on the basis for their continued stay in the union.  


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