The Federal Character of Nigeria: A delicate bedrock for national unity and loyalty
Section 318(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 defines federal character of Nigeria to mean the distinctive desire of the people of Nigeria to promote national unity, foster national loyalty and give every citizen of Nigeria a sense of belonging to the nation. Of course, without a true and sustained sense of belonging deliberately and duly given to the citizens of Nigeria, national unity and national loyalty will continually be a legal mirage. It is the researchers’ view that this is wont to be so because the geographical area which eventually evolved into what has become known as Nigeria is a territory undeniably made up of a heterogeneous population. It consisted, and still consists of various indigenous peoples of different ethnic groups, tribes, languages, aspirations, cultures, and even religions. Prior to colonization, a good number of the said different indigenous peoples had existed and operated independent of each other. This work interrogates the reality and enforceability of the federal character of Nigeria vis-à-vis the constitutional need to promote national unity and foster national loyalty in Nigeria through the doctrinal and non-doctrinal research method as well as the utilization of primary and secondary sources of information. The findings made include the fact that there is no sufficient and strong constitutional and statutory framework for the advancement and enforcement of the federal character of Nigeria. On the basis of the foregoing, it is concluded that since the federal character of Nigeria is constitutionally recognized and declared as a distinguished and distinctive desire of the people of Nigeria, there should be ample and effective legal framework for the advancement and enforcement of that distinctive desire of the people because according to Section 14(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, sovereignty belongs to the people from whom government, through the Constitution, derives all its powers and authority.