Federalism evolves in various nations for different reasons, but is mostly seen in nations with vast expanse of land and multi-ethnic peoples; or diverse religions, historical, political, or other backgrounds.
In the United States of America for example, it was part of the fervour of the war of independence, which led to the articles of co-federation that gave powers to the confederate states and the federation. This was later to be translated into a constitution which gave more powers to the federal government. In Nigeria, it came about as a result of the multi- ethnic nature of the country. Agitation of the minorities for a system of government which would ensure continuity and give them a sense of belonging and most importantly the existence side by side of the three major religions-Christianity, Islam and Traditional mode of worship, in such a way as to divide the nation into two major entities.
As was noted by Awa
“The Moslem group believing themselves to be superior on accounts of their religion disowned the other people initially. The southerners despised the Moslem for their lack of education, and assured that in view of their own better educational background and general experience, they would be the rightful people to take over the mantle of rulership from Britain. But they feared that the British officials who maintained a somewhat protective attitude towards the Northern Moslem might impose the Moslems on the country, particularly in view of the fact that the northerners were assured to be superior numerically than the other groups put together. It was realized that the most effective way of allaying the fears of the group was to evolve a federal government in which these major groups would be given autonomy over their local affairs.”
Authentication for this fact can perhaps be seen in the continuous agitation for creation of more states within borders that tend to include more and more people of a particular ethnic origin or language.
Whatever the prerequisites for the formation of a federal union, there is no doubt that there are certain minimum requirements which are the main focus of the federal concept and which must be in place before a nation can be said to be truly federal.
In this unit, we have attempted to examine the various definitions of the concept federalism. The relationship between the different tiers of government rather than different geographical entities comprising different people. Hence, from the legal perspective the federal state with its territory and people is one and indivisible going by the relationship created by arrangement which are with government and not the people.
We have been able to establish how the various definitions of federalism evolved. We concluded with the view of Prof. Awa on the concept of federalism who believes in the evolvement of a federal government where major groups would be given autonomy over their local affairs.