October 1, 1960 was a song of victory on the tongue of the good citizens of Nigeria, as Nigeria gained independence. It could be recalled from Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the then Prime minister of Nigeria in his independence speech the excitement and joy in the heart of Nigerians ”Today is Independence Day. The first of October 1960 is a date to which for two years every Nigerian has been eagerly looking forward. At last, our great day has arrived, and Nigeria is now indeed an independent sovereign nation” Balewa said. ”Words cannot adequately express my joy and pride at being the Nigerian citizen privileged to accept from Her Royal Highness these Constitutional Instruments which are the symbols of Nigeria’s Independence. It is a unique privilege which I shall remember forever, and it gives me strength and courage as I dedicate my life to the service of our country”.
”This is a wonderful day, and it is all the more wonderful because we have awaited it with increasing impatience, compelled to watch one country after another overtaking us on the road when we had so nearly reached our goal. But now we have acquired our rightful status, and I feel sure that history will show that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace: it has been thorough, and Nigeria now stands well-built upon firm foundations”.
”Today’s ceremony marks the culmination of a process which began 15 years ago and has now reached a happy and successful conclusion. It is with justifiable pride that we claim the achievement of our Independence to be unparallelled in the annals of history. Each step of our constitutional advance has been purposefully and peacefully planned with full and open consultation, not only between representatives of all the various interests in Nigeria but in harmonious cooperation with the administering power which has today relinquished its authority”. The above quoted words were the writings of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
The Southern Nigeria Protectorate was combined with the Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914 to create the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, which has the borders of modern-day Nigeria. The call for independence of territories in Africa in the late 1950 was massive and the decline of the British Empire led to the country being granted independence on 1 October 1960 as the Federation of Nigeria. On October 1, 1963 Nigeria became a republic with Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe as the ceremonial President and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister
Though I was not born in the days of Balewa but I could remember my History and Government teacher in high school ensured I memorize the preamble of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria which goes thus ‘We the people of the Federal Republic Of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereigh state under God dedicated to the promotion of inter African solidarity., world peace, international cooperation and understanding:
‘And to provide for a constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people; Do hereby make, enact and gives to ourselves the following constitution.
The question now arises what is Federalism? Drawing from the definition of Federalism from Political Scientist, Philosophers, Authors and Researchers of ancient and contemporary politics, I will like to define Federalism in my own words as ‘A system of Government which combine the central government (Federal) and its component units (State and Local Government) in a single political system’ .
Federalism is characterized by responsiveness of the government to the citizens, involvement of the people where citizens choose their leaders through periodic, credible, free and fair election. It is through this that they decide the people to govern them. In federalism, there must be clear separation of powers which can defined as a system in which power is equally shared between the central government and its constituent unit. The theory of separation of power was propounded by professor A.V Dicey. It prevents power to be concentrated on one organ of government and embrace check and balances.The question now arises, as we celebrate Nigeria at 60, Is Nigeria operating true Federalism?
Citing from the preamble of the 1999 constitutition aforementioned is equity and justice the other of the day? Is the welfare of all persons adequately promoted? Rhethorical questions as we celebrate Nigeria at 60. Long live Nigeria, Long live Adazionblog.
Kayode Adeshina Rhymes