Lord Haldane in Attorney General for Commonwealth of Australia V Colonial Sugar Refinery Co. was of the view that:
“………..the natural and literal interpretations of the word ‘federal’ confines its appellation to cases in which states while agreeing in a measure of delegation of powers to a common government yet in the main continue to preserve their regional constitution. The word could only be used loosely, to describe states which agree to delegate their powers with a view to entirely new constitution even of the states themselves”. This definition presupposes a voluntary act on the part of the federating states in keeping with the theory of the social contract and perhaps does not contemplate a situation of federal state coming about as a result of coercion or the mechanical drawing of borders, which was the case in Nigeria.
To Carl Fredrich
Federalism is the process of federating as well as the particular pattern or design which the inter-group relation exhibits at the particular time…..not only unification (Germany, USA), but also proliferation (Russia, India) are examples of federating and the two processes may be going on at the same time.
According to Prof. Ojo
Federalism is capable of different meaning and conceptions, depending on the perspective and the background of the perceiver. There are writers whose emphasis has been on the form of the constitution and certain institutions and as far as they are concerned the absence of these makes any discussion on federalism futile. Another school holds that federalism is the product of social forces and that the ultimate political structure is dependent on those forces; still is another school that the party system is a crucial federal variable while another is that inter-governmental institutions and arrangements are critical for structuring political and social interaction. However, with the nebulous and uncertain form and content of federalism, we are in agreement that it is better to avoid argument about definition until theory and practice could be harmonized satisfactorily. This is most important in the developing countries which are presently laboratories of political and constitutional activities.
There is no doubt that it is still necessary to be in agreement as to the theory of the concepts before there can be any harmonization.
Williams Living Stone believes that:
The essential nature of federalism is to be sought not in the shading of legal and constitutional terminology, but in the forces-economic, social, political, cultural – that have made the outward forms of federalism necessary …………… The essence of federalism is not in the constitutional or institutional structure, but in the society itself. Federal Government is a device by which the federal qualities of the society are articulated and proffered. In otherwords, it is factors that impel the formation of a federation that determine its essence or nature. The only conclusion that can be reached from this is that since various factors necessitate the forming of federalism in various states, their nature, form and scope necessarily differ. There is no Universal agreement as to what federalism is. A federal government means what the constitution says it means.