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Why Nigeria adopted the federal system of Government

At independent, Nigeria adopted the federal system of government as opposed to the unitary system of government which Ghana chose at independence. Several factors accounted for this choice.

The size of the country
One of the major requirements for a federation is that the country must be geographically big. In other words, the size of a nation is a determinant in the choice of either unitary or a federal system of government. Nigeria is a big country. It covers an area of 923,768 km². So it was one of the reasons why Nigeria opted for a federal system of government.

Another requirement for a federal state if the population of the country must be huge. At the time of independence, the population of Nigeria was about 45.21 million. Many times more than the population of Ghana. It was no wonder that Nigeria decided to adopt a federal system of government.

Diverse background
For a federation to be adopted, the ethnic background of the state must be varied. In Nigeria, there are three major ethnic groups. These are the Yoruba, the Igbo, and the Fulani. Apart from these three major ethnic groups, there are over 245 other smaller ethnic groups.  Within these ethnic groups are diverse languages and dialects, and different kinds of religions. It was this diversity that led to the adoption of federalism by Nigeria.

Regional Leaders supported a federation
By the time of independence, the various political parties that had emerged on the political scene were regionally based. Their leaders were from different major tribes. These political leaders were in favour of the adoption of a federation, hence Nigeria opted for a federal system of government.

Recommendations of constitutional conferences
Prior to the independence of Nigeria, there were two constitutional conferences to discuss her independent constitution. At these two conferences, there was overwhelming support for the adoption of a federation.

The initial formation of Nigeria
The creation of the state of Nigeria was not an event, it took many years. First, Lagos and the Southern parts were created in 1906. Then in 1914, the northern area was created. The seeds of the federation had already been planted. It is believed that this influenced the choice of a federal system of government.

 1. a. What is a federal system of government? [2 marks]
    b. Highlight five reasons why Nigeria adopted the federal system instead of the unitary system of government. [10 marks]
 2. Give six reasons for the adoption of a federation at independence. [12 marks]


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