Federalism in Historical Perspective

By Aboki Associates


It is in recognition of the above challenge and as an
attempt towards its resolution that the publication of
Federalism in Historical Perspective by the Historical Society
of Nigeria (HSN) represents a timely and appropriate
intervention. The book examines the emergence, growth and
development of federalism in Nigeria through time, and
discusses its many dimensions, problems as well as
implications on the development of the country and its
peoples. While establishing the pre-colonial antecedence
of federalism as a political arrangement in Nigeria,
contributors to this important volume attempted to analyze
changes, continuities and adjustments during the colonial
period and since independence. Some of the challenges
underpinning federalism in Nigeria, their roots, basis and
manifestations, were also thoroughly examined. The
thirteen essays in this volume were selected from papers
presented at the 52nd Congress of the HSN hosted by the
Department of History, University of Calabar.
Federalism in Historical Perspective
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When Professor J. O’Connell articulated his thesis on the
“inevitability of instability” in his iconoclastic interrogation
of postcolonial African polities, very few scholars
understood the prophecy in his declaration.1 He had
contended among others that: (i) the boundaries of African
nations were drawn arbitrarily by the colonial masters and
that the ethnically, culturally and politically diverse peoples
grouped together under these artificial boundaries were
only held together by the force of a powerful, authoritarian
and external colonial power; (ii) that these ethnic categories
and cleavages re-asserted themselves very powerfully as
the competition for state and other public resources
intensified just before and after independence; and (iii) that
the political elites who inherited power from the departing
colonial rulers, having themselves been tutored with the
authoritarian tradition of the colonial rulers, assumed
leadership of their respective states on the platform of
primordial sentiments and lacked the competence,
democratic skills and managerial ability to effectively
grapple with conflicts associated with heterogeneous
societies, and so relied on corruption and ethnic politics to
perpetuate themselves in power. Barely six decades after
regaining political independence, social and political
realities across postcolonial African states have continued
to prove Professor O’Connell right.

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Aboki Associates

Aboki Associates


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