APPRAISAL OF TRUE FEDERALISM AND RESTRUCTURING UNDER NIGERIAN LAW

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APPRAISAL OF TRUE FEDERALISM AND RESTRUCTURING UNDER NIGERIAN LAW

Nigeria has come a long way in its political and constitutional evolution. However, the jury is still out on whether the ends so far achieved justify the means deployed. Nigeria has enacted roughly five constitutions between independence and now, though one was inoperative: the 1960 (Independence) Constitution; 1963 (Republican) Constitution; 1979 (Second Republican) Constitution; 1989 (Babangida) aborted Constitution; and 1999 Constitution (as amended). Elaborate and often expensive constitutional conferences and/or constituent assemblies preceded the making of these constitutions. In the end, it is the attempt, not the deeds, that confounds us, to invoke Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The 1960 Independence Constitution was preceded by the London Conferences of 1957 and 1958 as well as the Constitutional Conference of 1960. The 1957 Conference deliberated and decided on many issues. It decided on internal self-governance in 1959 and full political independence in 1960. There was a proposal to create new states out of the then existing three – Northern, Western, and Eastern – regions, in order to establish equilibrium and allay the fears of minorities.14 The fears of the minority in a lopsided regional arrangement led to the creation of a Commission of Enquiry to ascertain the facts about the fears of minorities in any part of Nigeria and to propose means of allaying those fears. The Minorities Commission, led by Sir Henry Willinks, submitted its Report in 1958. It failed to recommend the creation of new States. However, it recommended the incorporation of Fundamental Human Rights in a future constitution. The Constitutional Conference of 1960 that deliberated on the Independence Constitution gave no consideration to the Willinks Commission Report. Meanwhile, the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions provided for a federal system consisting of strong regions and a centre with limited powers.

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