FEDERALISM AND POLITICAL INSTABILITY IN NIGERIA: THE FOCUS ON ELECTIONS IN THE FOURTH REPUBLIC

KINGE RUTH FANNY1&SHADRACK TERENGSON DANBABA2

1Department of Political Science, Gombe State University

Corresponding Author’s Email: fkinge@gmail.com

2Department of Political Science, Gombe State University,

Email: Danbabatereng78@gsu.edu.ng

ABSTRACT

This study examines elections as contending issues in Nigeria’s federalism leading to political instability. The objective of this paper is to argue that elections have been a destabilizing factor in the practice of federalism in Nigeria. The study adopted qualitative research design using documentary content analysis. It sourced its data from secondary sources mainly newspapers, academic journals, official government publications and internet based sources. This study is also anchored on integration theory developed by Lieber (1973) to explain that elections have been the source of political instability in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. The findings revealed that federalism was adopted in Nigeria to foster unity in diversity between different nationalities that made up the country. However, evidence has shown that there is over centralization of powers at the centre to the disadvantage of the sub-governments at the lower levels. This culminated into intense desire to control the centre by the regional, religious and ethnic groups leading to unnecessary tensions, regional agitations, clamour for zoning, true federalism, structuring, identity politics, political violence, ethno-religious armed conflicts, insurgency and quest for self-determination. The paper further revealed that the quest for power at the centre and the conducts of elections in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic have been the major destabilizing factor causing political instability and regional agitation in the federalism. This can be seen in the way and manner political actors from 1999, approach elections into political offices as matter of life and death thereby introducing regionalism, religion, ethnicity as the basis for qualification to be elected into political offices. It also revealed that failures to entrench credible electoral process led to election of ethnic, regional and religious bigots into political offices that failed to manage the diversity of Nigeria. It is therefore, recommended that only credible elections can usher in trusted leaders that can provide good governance and genuinely address the quest for structuring and practice of true federalism.

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