An Overview of Consociational Policy and Nigeria’s Federal Character Principles

Nasir Haruna Soba


Nigeria is a country of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with varied population size among them. There are about 370 ethnic groups scattered across the country with Islam and Christianity being the dominant religions. As a result of this diversity, the country adopted power sharing system using the Federal Character Principle (FCP) that mandated for the reflection of the country’s diversity in the composition of government and its agencies. However, appointment of minsters does not reflect such diversity proportionally so also it does not take into consideration the varied population sizes of the states. Thus, there is a continued feeling and cries of marginalisation and domination across the country especially from the states with larger population who are left with higher number of unemployed as the system allocates the same number of slots to all the states regardless of population size. Therefore, it became imperative to find out if there is justice in the treatment of un-equals equally or favouring one religion against the other in the composition of cabinet ministers. The objective is to suggest on a more equitable formula for the allocation of slots to all the states and the FCT as well as an equitable and impartial cabinet of ministers. To achieve this objective an examination and analysis of both consociational policy and the FCP was carried out so as to analyse the practice of grand coalition and proportional representation in Nigeria. Both factors were found to be neglected and overlooked by the FCP which could have been utilized to improve on the federal character of the country. 

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