A federal system of government can be defined as one in which there is division of powers between the central government and its component units which are called states, cantons, regions or provinces.
This system is usually adopted in countries that are very large and divided by cultural, economic, political and other district attributes.
MERITS OF FEDERALISM
1) Federalism promotes national unity i.e. unity among different units.
2) It allays the fear of ethnic domination in a large country with multi-ethnic groups.
3) It makes possible checks and balances in the exercise of power between the units and the central government.
4) It promotes local initiatives and local autonomy.
5) It creates opportunity for rapid development in all parts of the country.
6) It gives opportunity to smaller states to come together and form a very strong, federation to prevent foreign attacks.
DEMERITS OF FEDERALISM
1) Problems of Revenue Allocation: Problem of sharing revenue and other resources generated in the country among the federal and state governments.
2) Minority Issue and Creation of States: The fears of domination of the minority by the majority group commonly arouse agitation for new states.
3) Boundary Disputes: This happens because many ethnic groups come together to form a federation.
4) It is Expensive to Run: This is a consequence of duplication of ministries and offices.
5) Federal character: Federal character means the Federal government must appoint citizens from all the federating units to form cabinet. This may result in less qualified people being put in key positions.
This is the second tier of government under the federation of Nigeria. There are thirty-six (36) states currently operating in Nigeria.
FUNCTIONS OF STATE GOVERNMENT
1) Promotion of the state economy.
2) To take operational control over most government programmes for individuals such as social programs and risk management.
3) To see to the redistribution of funds and responsibility acquired from central control.
4) Promotion of business through investment in infrastructures e.g. roads, schools and amenities such as state parks.
The local government is the third tier of government, created by law at the local level to perform specific functions within defined areas. They are given substantial powers to take control over local affairs. It was created due to the large size of the country and make government closer to the people at the grassroots. Sources of revenue for local government includes: Federal government grants, grants from state government, loans, taxes, local rates, licensing fees, court fees, commercial ventures etc. Nigeria currently has 774 local governments.
FUNCTIONS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT
1) Providing recommendations to state commission on economic planning or any similar body as regards economic development of the state.
2) Collection of rates, radio and television licences.
3) Establishment and maintenance of cemeteries and homes for destitute.
4) The creation and maintenance of markets and motor parks.
6) Construction and maintenance of roads, streets, drains and other public highways, parks or such public facilities as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly of a state.
7) Naming of roads, streets and numbering of houses.
8) Registration of births, deaths and marriages.
PROBLEMS OF THE THREE TIERS OF GOVERNMENTS
1) Revenue allocation formular among the tiers of government.
2) Boundary disputes among the component units.
3) Inter-village or town rivalry. There had been rivalry resulting to clashes between villages or town over boundary and creation of local government.
4) Federal character: Appointment into federal establishments, states and local governments are not usually based on merit but federal character.
PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRACY
1) Decision making becomes too slow because proper consultation must be made.
2) Representative government is expensive to run.
3) Unqualified candidates may emerge as winners when there is no free and fair elections.
4) Those elected to represent the people may end up representing themselves.
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