Relevance Of Sovereign National Conference In Eliminating Political Crisis In Nigeria

Relevance Of Sovereign National Conference In Eliminating Political Crisis In Nigeria

Relevance Of Sovereign National Conference In Eliminating Political Crisis In Nigeria

Having experienced many years of military rule characterised by various forms of violation of peoples’ right and freedom, killing of perceived and real enemies, making the people inconsequential, Nigerians heaved sighs of relief with the eventual handover of power to a “democratically elected government “ in may 29th, 1999, expecting the incumbent government to fulfil their dreams.

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The hope of the people was based on the fact that military government are aberration and this can hardly be compelled under the law to listen to the yearnings and aspirations of the people. This new hope was premised on the assumption that the Obasanjo led civil rule will listen to the crisis of domination and deprivation by the electorate, especially, those who feel short changed by the existing Nigerian order.

Moreover, with a few months to the end of the tenure of the much-heralded democratic government, this administration has left much to be desired. This explains the persistent crises of marginalisation from almost all the zones making up the federation, calls for a confederation by Eastern governors as a reaction to religions crisis in the North. In fact since the inception of the Obasanjo’s administration, there have been an upsurge of disintegrative manifestations further threatening the fragile, peaceless and artificial union.

The present government just like its predecessor has continued to pretend that all is well and manifesting the military orientation of the Head by using coercive instrument to deter agitators especially when it comes from those treated as inferior groups. The central government that is supposed to protect the other levels from oppression has become the master oppressor. In this regard Prof. Sagay wrote, “We must strive for independence from the federal government which is so oppressive…it is an agency that is suffocating the rest of the country “ This government has continually depleted the sphere of jurisdiction of the states.

Emphatically, one would have thought the genocide in Odi and others like it would have silenced the voices of those dissatisfied with the structure of the Nigeria federalism. In other words, the motive behind the agitation for a new Nigerian order is a pointer that the National question is unanswered and until proper consideration and attention is given to this very important issue The problems of Nigeria political system can be traced to the marginalization of the minority ethnic group considering the fact that the North and west have monopolised highest echlom of the political position.

From the ongoing, the rights and privileges of the minorities are denied as a result of the political differences emanating from the ethnic differences. Objectives and aims geared towards political restructure had been in total disarray. Actually they had not arrived at a conclusion from all the ethnic groups.

However, Nigeria independence on 1st October, 1960, as a way forward for the unifications of all the various ethnic groups has rather added salt to injury based on the slogan “ONE NIGERIA”. It is a mere political creation in order to achieve their selfish interest, Federal character system no longer upheld. It is based on political god fatherism. The country’s resources are diverted to a particular ethnic group to the detriment of the other. Marginalization and exploitation have become the order of the day. The above point should be adequately taken care of otherwise Nigeria will continue to represent a practical example of inevitability of instability.



Before independence, Nigeria has been in a turmoil with continued ethnic political and religions crises. Beginning with the Major Isaac Boro-led agitation for the breakaway from Nigeria following the declaration of the Sovereign State of Biafra that led to Nigeria civil war which; lasted for thirty months. It later took a new dimension in the activities of Uwazurike-led MASSOB movement for the Actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra. There is also the Ogoni bill of right demanding the granting of autonomy to the Ogoni people. They equally existed Ikwere Rescue Charter, Middle Belt forum and other militant groups such as (ACF) Arewa Consultative Forum and (OPC) Odua People’s Congress.

On the religions perspective, the declaration of the sharia legal code by Northern state governors have not helped matters. The continued crisis, loss of lives and property question the structure of Nigeria federalism. Federalism is seen as an arrangement that practically represents a compromise between the needs of constituent units as they exist within the central government to foster unity in diversity. However Nigeria experience of this system of government leaves much to be desired, because it has continually failed to establish a state of peaceful co-existence among the various ethnic nationalities that make up the political system. Politics is seen from the point of view as sharing, shaping and distribution of resources.

It is based on this fact that the following pertinent research question are raised.

What is the nexus between the operation of political system and the call for a sovereign national conference,

To what extent can sovereign National conference contribute in eliminating political crisis in Nigeria.

What measure has the leaders of thoughts taken in maintaining orderliness in the society.



The following are the aims and objectives of this research.

1. To x-ray the effectiveness of unity in diversity in the Nigeria political system.

2. To assess the relevance of Sovereign National Conference to our national unity

3. To examine the causes and implication of the political violence in the country.

4. To recommend any other option(s) towards ensuring the unity of the Nigerian state.



This study has both theoretical and practical significance to the society and existing body of Knowledge. Theoretically, this study is a contribution to the scope of literature on sovereign National conference and political crisis, and therefore, will be a source of information for would be researchers in the related subject.

Basically, the study will enable government officials to tackle the demand of the minorities in order to curb the continuous political crisis and thereafter deal with a very sensitive area bordering on the prospect for the existence as a peaceful, united and progressive Nation. It is also topical considering incessant upheavals from every part of the nation.



Based on this study, the theoretical framework of analysis to be used is the system theory. According to Leads (1981) ‘system theory represents one of the attempts at developing more rigorous techniques for the analysis of public polices. The assumption made by scholars about the system theory was that the universe is characterised by certain laws. David Easton (1953) was the first scholar to apply the general system theories to the activities of people especially in politics. He was of the view that a social system was characterised by:

i) A system of roles supported by norms and values concerning the appropriate behaviour and relationship between people occupying the roles.

ii) Shared values, symbols and beliefs, which provide the basis for people who, more often than not act together in pursuant of common goals. Ludwig Bertalantty who is regarded as the father of general system theory conceives of a system as a complex of element. According to Nwosu and Ofoegbu (1986) “a system theory is an organised whole in dynamic interaction.

In the application of system theory to this study, we see the input of demand from the people (ethnic-Nationalities states and individuals taking the form of demand against marginalisation, resources control, demand for a sovereign national conference which the political system (the government) have repeatedly refused to convert to polices hence, the withdrawal of support as manifested in threats and agitation against the system from various quarters.

From the point of view we see an unbalanced political system that is unable to regulate the environment to ensure stability.



In the course of this study, these hypotheses will be tasted.

1. That the defective nature of the Nigerian political system causes the agitation for restructuring.

2. That sovereign national conference is the answer to most of our national problems.

3. That the nature of tribalism in Nigeria shall be addressed through the Sovereign National Conference.



Specifically there are three types of social science research designs, these are descriptive, historical and experimental designs.

According to Cohn and Manron, is simply a plan that specifies how data are collected and analysed. It entails clearly identifiable information collected under condition that are precisely specified, having meaning only in relation to the particular problem being investigated” .

From the above point, we will adopt survey research design. This has to do with the generation of information through secondary sources. Secondary data are data already collected, other than the one intended by the researchers. Information based on secondary sources can be gathered from journals, book and newspaper related to the subject matter.

In analysing the information, content analysis is to be used. Therefore content analysis is a research technique used for the objective, systematic and qualitative description of the manifest content of communications. It equally helps to ensure reliability and validity of data collected.






The Nigeria state is exclusively a product of colonial manipulations. Even the name Nigeria was coined by William Cole a British merchant and popularised by Flora Shaw a reporter with the London Times, in its publication of 8 January 1887. She later became Lugard’s wife.

The above statement is without prejudice to the fact that prior to the British occupation of the territories now called Nigeria, there existed various forms of administration in the hinterland. In the Hausa/Fulani, they occupied area of the North, They had a well centralized administration, an aftermath of the 19th century Jihad championed by Uthman Danfodio.

A system of government was established, dividing the territory into emirate headed by Emir who were known to be autocratic and repressive. Within the emirate system were subdivisions headed by the Hakini, while the villages were headed by the village heads. Administration of the emirate was carried out by the emirate council with various portfolios and officers, which equates present day ministries and ministers. They include amongst others the following.

• The Alkali who presided over the sharia court

• The madawaki- head of the treasury

• The Galadima- Overseer of the emirate

• The Sarkin Ruwa- in change of water resources and fisheries.

The pre-colonial system of government in Western Nigeria was the Yoruba Obaship system, the head of administration was either an Oba or Alafin as the case may be.

Those who were chosen among the royal family. In the Obaship system the Oba and his senior chiefs carry out the administration. These senior chiefs were in charge of various district while the Baales governed the towns and usually at the Oba’s or Baales palaces based on customary laws, norms and religions techniques, the old Oyo system had a relatively more advanced civil and military organisation in which the Alafins polices were interpreted and executed by officials such as Bashorurn who was the head of civil government and Are – Onakakanfo, who was the head of the army. Generally the Yoruba pre-colonial system of government can be said to be partly centralized with the existence of some autonomous Communities such as Ife, Ekiti and Ijebu etc.

Unlike the emirate and Obaship system in Northern and Western Nigeria respectively, pre-colonial Eastern Nigeria and the Non-Muslim part of the North had a cephalous and stateless society with a republication kind of administration. The Ibos had a type of village democracy in which different villages were autonomously administered by family heads, elders, age grades, Oracle priest and members of secret societies.

From the foregoing it can be seen that in the various ethnic group that constituted the geographical entity now called Nigeria, there was already in place home grown machineries for running their affairs in order to achieve their various needs Nevertheless, those ethnic group had little or nothing in common until the British colonial authorities emerged using various ways some of which contravene international law such as occupation and conquest to acquire these territories. According to international law “Occupations is appropriate only to territories that are uninhabited by just a few individuals who do not form a political society. A territory with a sovereign, can not be acquired by mere unilateral act of occupations” the point is that before a territory with a sovereign can be occupied. The consent of the sovereign is desideratum.

British contact with the territories that makes up Nigeria can be traced to 1830, when the British government started entering into various treaties with some Nigeria territories. British activities from this period includes, the establishment of a consulate for the Bights of Benin and Biafra in 1849 for the purpose of protecting British traders in west Africa, Lagos was made a separate consulate in (1853) and a crown colony in 1861. in 1886, the British government granted the Royal , Niger company license over the Niger territories with this character, the Royal Niger company embarked on aggressive conquest in corporating the North into their area of Jurisdiction. The Charter of the Royal Niger Company was however revoked in 1900 and the British government took over direct control of the administration of the territory, on this Kirk-Greene Wrote.

The birth of the politico-administrative Unit of Nigeria occurred in 1900, When the British government took over the territories of the Nigeria coast protectorate from the Royal Niger Company.

Having taken over the administration of the territories from Royal Niger company, the existing traditional administrative system in the various ethnics group formed the platform in which the British authority based their administrations on Warrant Chiefs were created in areas like the East where there was no effective centralised traditional leader. The major difference was that the British authority took over the appointment of traditional rulers and also British administrators replaced local ones. For the purpose of administrative convenience the territories were divided into three administrative units. The colony of Lagos (with MacGreGor as Governor).

The protectorate of Northern Nigeria (with Sir F. Lugard as Governor) and the protectorate of southern Nigeria (wilting sir Claude Mac-Donald as Governor).

Even though these three divisions here under British Crown there were never less administered differently because of their diversities.



The administrative structure of Nigeria was altered in 1960 when the colony of Lagos and the protectorate of southern Nigeria were merged to be known as the colony and protectorate of southern Nigeria with Lagos as its seat of government, Lord Lugard later became the head of the two separate protectorate and by 1913; he submitted a proposal for the unification of the protectorates, with the approval of the proposal by Lugard in 1914 merged the colony and protectorate of southern Nigeria to be known as the colony and protectorate of Nigeria Nwabueze pontificate that:

The origin of federal government in Nigeria may be traced as far back as 1914, the diversity of the country made it necessary to decentralised administration with the unitary framework this established the former Northern and southern Nigeria now re-designated. Northern and Southern provinces continued to be regarded separately for the purpose of administration.

In spite of the amalgamation, each of the province was placed under the charge of a lieutenant Governor, while that of the Northern province operated from Kano, the Lieutenant Governor for the south, operated from Lagos. They were both responsible to the Governor General. This amalgamations can hardly be explained outside the interest of the British colonial authorities, which sought for an escape from the burden of subsidy for the Northern province which operated at a deficit at a time when the surplus of the southern province was enough to cushion the effect of the Northern deficit.

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The problem with the amalgansition was not just that it was a marriage with consent. The British imposed a unified alien administration on its newly integrated territories without giving much thought to its impact on the Nigeria traditional communities with their conflicting values, interest, norms and authority structure.



With the expiration of luggard’s tenures as Governor General of Nigeria. Hugh Clifford took over the office. His major contribution to the political development of Nigeria was the introduction of the elective principle. He was later replaced by Sir Author Richards even as the Clifford constitution OF 1946 replaced the Clifford constitution.

In as much as this constitution is not directly associated with the beginning of federal system in Nigeria. It nevertheless made a significant. Contribution by introducing regionalism; that is the establishment of a regional assembly in all the existing provinces renamed regions.

However, the Richards constitution of 1946 did not bestow legislative powers to the regional assembly so created. Due to the agitation from the NCNC against the Richards constitution for amongst other reasons, non –consultation with the people sir Arthur was replaced by sir John Macphereson in 1948 macphereson reviewing the Richards constitution attempted to avoid the foundational flows of the Richards constitution by carrying out a wide range of consultations and discussion from village level to the district, regions and family leading to the general conference of January, 1950 in Ibadan, this create an impression that Nigeria have been given an opportunity to chart their course however, a discerning observer will be quick to notice that the conference was not void of British manipulations. This can be seen in three-biased structure of the questions for deliberation in the conference and the nature of the representative. These factors impinged on the outcome of the conference.

In a bid to dictate the direction of the conference the chief secretary Mr. H.M foot submitted a series of fourteen questions, such as

• Do we wish to see fully centralised system with all legislature and executive power concentrated at the centre.

• Do we wish to develop a federal system under which component regions of the country would exercise a measure of internal autonomy.

• If we favour a federal system, should we retain the existing regions with some modifications of existing regional boundaries or should be from regions on some new basis such as the many linguistic groups which exist in Nigeria”

The outcome of this conference showed that the Northern delegates advocated a federal system based on the regional boundaries in which all proposed legislation for enactment by the central legislation should be considered first by regional legislature. These Northern delegates opinion – was summarised by Alhaji Tafawa Balewa who was their mouth piece, the Regions of Nigeria as you are aware have reached different stages in their development some of them seem to have advanced very much more than the others and therefore now naturally asking to be given the opportunity to make very rapid political advancement.

The North is very anxious not because the North does not like to go at the speed which the other regions are now asking to be allowed to go, but because honestly speaking gentlemen, the North is afraid of making this rapid and if I may call it artificial advance at this stage. While the North presented a united front the structure within which the representation took place did not allow the same to apply to the southern delegates. The western delegate were divided in their position, whoever, the views of majority Yoruba’s was dominant, they advocated for a classical federalism of states whose boundaries were adjusted such state should be ethnically or linguistically homogenous. The rationale was to protect the various cultural patterns and also predicated on a desire to avoid being retarded in the march to progress by slow North and poor east.

The East just like West had some dissenting voices however, the official positions was that of the Igbo majority and their proposal was a form of unitary structure.

They recommended a unified structure in which regional legislative would excise a measure of autonomy on certain specified matters to be delegated to the regional legislatures by the central legislative. By this the central legislature shall also have the power to dis-allow any legislation passed by a regional legislature.

The failure to get consensus from the Ibadan conference, necessitated future conference involving Nigerians on the one hand and representatives of her majority’s government on the other hand in which some compromise was worked out. In all the outcome was the 1951 constitution. Which as expected to set Nigeria on a federal course bestowing legislative powers to regional assemblies. Nwabueze has written “The division of power under the 1951 constitution concentrated a large preponderance of power at the centre”.

To buttress this he continued:

………under it (1951 constitution) the regions were given powers over a limited range of matters, as the federal legislative might in its discretion delegate to them, any power so delegated was revocable by the federal legislature. The federal legislate generally on all matters within regional competence.

Still on the 1951 constitution, Braton posited that Another curious feature of the constitution was that although the federal legislature could legislate on all matters including even those assigned to the regions, its law did not necessarily prevaily over regional laws, any inconsistency between regional and central laws was resolved by making the first one enacted yield to the one enacted subsequently.

It can be seen from the above point that the concept as it associated with the 1951 constitution is a misnomer because the constitution is a gross abuse of the tenets of federal system. This resulted to various problems, one of which was the disagreement in the house of representative in Lagos between the North and South over the year for granting independence. This later snowballed into the three days Kano riot of 1953 in which many lives were loosed. This was a clear demonstration of the dangers associated with the operation of a unitary system of government in a country as diverse as Nigeria. In may 21st, 1953, the secretary of state for the colonies Oliver Littleton, under scored this fact when he in reaction to the riot announced in the British house of commons that,

Recent events in Nigeria have shown that it is not possible for the Regions to work effectively in a federation so closely Kirt as that provided by the present constitution, his majesty government in the united kingdom while greatly regretting this consider that while the constitution will have to be redrawn to provide for greater regional autonomy and for removing of power of intervention by the centre in matters which can without determine to other regions be placed entirely within regional competence.

Consequently, the Littleton constitution of 1954 was introduced. This constitution adopted a full-fledged federal system that granted the federal and regional government, the following amongst others, an autonomous existence with full governmental apparatus a legislative assembly, an executive council civil service courts, independent of control in the conduct of matters within its exclusive competence.

From the foregoing, we have established the fact that Nigeria never actually operated a federal system of government until 1954, when Nigeria was proclaimed a federal state within a significant degree, a federal constitution. This is so because even in the 1954 arrangement, some pre-requisites of federalism were missing.

These were the absence of separate police force for the regions and also the absence of separate constitutions for the central and regional government. Under a true federal government separate constitution guide independent government but in the Nigeria example of 1954. the central and regional government were organised under a common constitution.

The Hard work and activities of 19 century explores brought into the idea of trade and Tourism, Hugh Clapperton, Mungo Park and the Lander Brothers expedition serve as a facilitating factor for European trades to the sources of the Niger. Trade have been in existence before the explorer started this work towards slaves trade. Their objectives of colonizing the hinterland was to set up their business arena, the discovery of slavery was as a result of industrial revolutions. Mr. John Beecroft wanted to enter into a treaty for slave trade abolitions with king Kosoko of Lagos, but it failed therefore he decided to launch attack on some part of Lagos that led king Kosoko and his men to be deposed. The attack took place on 27th December, 1851.

Akintoye was to take over the mantle of leadership there unto, he was to come and signed a treaty with the British for the abolition of slave trade, Akintoye died on 1853 and was replaced by his son Dosumu, Immediately Kosoko started launching attack against the neighbouring place of Lagos. Later he was recognise as a king of PAJMA AND LEKKI, Dosumu was unable to suppress slave trade and the British through the foreign secretary in June 1861, but later four Chiefs with king Dosumu signed the treaty of cession and Lagos became a British possessions in August 6, 1861 and Lagos colony in 1862. The use of raw materials for their industrial set-up contributed to the abolition of slave trade as machines had taken over slaves labour hence their interest clashed in 1885.

Where they negotiated conference overseas. The 1885 Berlin conference held in Nazi Germany constituted partitioning of the African states according to the interest of the colonialist against the aspiration of the African people. After the conference, European nation were engaged in effective occupation exploitation suppression of the territories and their domination also extended to the hinterland from the oil rivers of Lagos to Niger coast, upper Niger and the valley of Benue. British firms already established the trading post on the Niger (at Onitsha and Lokoja) After the conference the company granted a charter to trade in the area but also to monitor that territory, hence the Royal Niger company was therefore vested with much power by the British government. This charter was withdrawn in 1900 and the British took over the administration of Northern Nigeria (the protectorate of Northern Nigeria). In 1900 the Nigerian states was divided into three distinct groups or territories. The protectorate of southern Nigeria and the colony, protectorate of Lagos.

Before the coming of the colonialists, the Kingdoms in Nigeria had well-established systems of administration. East have the Igbo Kingdoms with power vested in the council of elders and the age grades. The area was administered through the village democratic system, which the Greeks claims they were the originators hence there is a decentralised system of administration. The west known as Yoruba kingdom was more centralised with the Oba at the head of administration, he had classified village chief who help in the administration as the Oba wields much powers, there are checks and balances mechanism in the system to check the excesses of the traditional ruler. If the Oba lack support by his cabinet, therefore presenting calabash for him to commit suicide. North known as Hausa –Fulani emirate system. The Emir serves as a religious and administrative heads, there was a centralisation of power, members of his cabinet are as follows chiefs or Sarki or council of minister who help him in the administration and tax collection two strong emirate include :


In 1906 the different entities in Nigeria was unified as the colony of Lagos, they were merged with the protectorate of southern Nigeria, while the protectorate of Nigeria remained separate. The amalgamation of Nigeria took place in 1914 while the governor General was lord Lugard these paved way for the formulation of Nigeria consul. The objectives of this constitution was to reinforce the existing legislative council which Lugard adjudged as being too small to legislate for the newly unified protectorate, creation of Nigeria council was merely an advisory body since it does not make any difference towards the administration. This led to the formulation of National congress of British West African. The African elite were sad on the issue of commissioning Nigeria council and they criticised it, their aim of establishing branch of the (NCBWA) was to unit the British West Africa colonies, such as Gambia, Sierra Leone. They are pursing the goal of self government, the congress was led by a Ghanaian lawyer Casely Hay Ford, they sent a delegation to London in 1920 to hand over to the secretary of state to the colonies a petition which has the following items.

(a) The establishment in each territory in British West Africa a legislative council which half of the members will be elected and half nominated.

(b) Establishment of a house of Assembly

(c) The appointment of African judicial officials.

(d) The establishment of West African University.

Lets have a clue on what constitutions is all about, it is an accepted principles, customs, conventions norm rules and regulations which governs and guide the ruler and the ruled in a society. It is also a fundamental for the orderly existence of a society as it governs the activities of the government. Aristotle differeicate two kinds of rule, rule by passions and rule of reason. Oxford Advance Leaner Dictionary define constitution as a body of fundamental principles according to which a nation or state organisation or body politics is constituted.

Akande J. 1983 He defined constitution as the basic law and fundamental legal character of the land, Rain Austin 1958 “He defined it as the whole body of fundamental rules regulations whether written or unwritten legal or extra legal according to which a particular government regions or group operates” The relevance of constitution lay emphasis on achieving order and stability. Thomas Hobbes, life was British short and in the state of nature as a result of competing human interest, he further posited that individual can ensure peace and self preservation by giving all power to a sovereign i.e political constitution. Constitution equally ensure justice and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of the people.

Constitutional development in Nigeria has been contributed by so many factors from the past event to present day. Factors include the activities and role of Nigeria press.

Trade union movement, Evolution of political parties Nigeria Educated elites and the impact of the first and second world wars. Sir Hugh Clifford assisted sir Fredrick Lord Lugard at the receiving end of the pressure mounted by the congress of West African elite based on the demand for the National congress, he establish new legislative council and an executive council, the new council was composed of whom were official members twenty seven of whom were official member fifteen were nominated by the Governor while four were eleted three of the elected members were allocated to Lagos while one to calabar. The 1922 constitution provide for the introduction of elective principle which led to the formation of the first political party in 1923 called the Nigeria National Democratic party, (NNDP) led by late Herbert Macaulay, the short fall of the 1922 is on the side of isolating Northern province by virtually excluding it from the legislative council secondly the legislative council was made subordinate to the executive council and both served only as an advisory body or mere rubber stamp. The effect of Clifford constitution lies on the fact that there is an increase in political parties, the process and the National council of British West Africa. The proposal of Richard constitution was approved by the Nigeria council and amended by the imperial parliament before they were passed into law. Richard constitution of 1946 achieved the following success at promoting the unity of the country and greater participation of Nigerians in the discussion of their own affairs. The new council had power to make laws, peace, and order in the country.

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The Richards constitution originally designed to last for Nine years, but the recommendation of the review committee set up McPherson in 1951 called for changes due to pressure from the Nationalist against its provisions. Operations and impact on the citizenry. The provision of the constitution which came into operations on central level, central legislative and central executive council for Nigeria were set up, the central legislative referred as house of Representatives is unicameral in nature. The central executive was known as council of ministers who perform the function of policy formulation and execution , however McPherson constitution created three region East, West and North which has legislative and executive council except the East that retained unicameral legislature while the North and West had bicameral, the House of Assembly and house of chiefs. Moreover macphereson constitution was the first of its kind drawn with full consultation and participation of Nigerians at village, district, regions or provincial levels and the introduction of

Ministerial post and pseudo-federalism, which laid foundation for federal system of government and it was the first time the principle of revenue allocation formular was introduced. It is based on derivation need and National interest its shortfall is the inability to provide for a responsible government at the centre, the ministerial post created were moribund as they existed without participation secondly it did not provide for true leadership both at the centre and in the regional level and there was no provision for the post of the prime minister or premier, it equally lies on the fact that the structure and nature of party position were organised along ethic background as such made the operation of constitution difficult and each of the region was dominated by ethnic political party which controlled the government of the region. In Northern part, Northern people Congress (NPC) controlled while the National council of Nigeria and Cameroun (NCNC) controlled the East and South, however it is interesting to note that none of the parties had nation wide support. Equally no leader of the major political parties had a seat in the House of Representatives. The ministers were more loyal to their regional government than central government which created a lot of controversy among the regions.

The result of the crisis culminated to the following. The relationship between the Northern region East and west regions is no longer recognised, however the crisis led to a temporary alliance between NCNC and AG which lasted for about 6 months, it equally led to Kano riot of may 29, 1953 as a retaliation of the humiliations of Northern delegate in Lagos. The riot was a clash between Northerners and southerners (Ibos and Yoruba’s) the riot was triggered off when chief S.I. Akintola went to Kano to confirm for self government in 1956, the riot lasted for four days and it claimed the lives of 21 southerners, 15 Northerners and 241 wounded. The crisis that took places on macphereson constitution by some upgraded act for selfishness contributed to the execution of the Littleton constitution.

Littleton organised a conference in London on 1953 which represent from each region, Cameron and Lagos conference 1954 under the advice of a fiscal commission to address controversial issues in the conference. The resolution arrived at the two conference was later adopted and referred as Littleton constitution of 1954 which became operational in October 1956. The ratification of the problems on the conference gave impetus to the following provisions. The constitution made Nigeria a federation of three regions North, East and Western region. The council of ministers was presided by Governor General with three (3) official members and three (3) members from each region and 1 member representing the Cameroun. The council were selected from members elected into the House of Representatives. The 1999 constitution is a military drafted constitution just like the 1989 during the Babangida regime and the 1979 constitution of Obasanjo. The military abrogated the constition with a decree by Babangida; the Head of state.

The IBB promised to hand over the government by 1989 but fails to do same, but instead he introduced zero party system because according to him Nigeria was not ripe for democracy, he also practised diarchy, this means that the head was the military while the Governor of all the state, the members of House of Assembly, Federal House of Representative and Senate were civilians. Zero party means that no party were formed,

The annulment of election in June 12 1993 by Babangida made his government to step aside and this brought the Interim National Government (ING). Meanwhile the 1989 constitution was still a sleep and the constitution was not practised at all. Chief Ernest Shonekan became the head of the (ING) Interim National Government for 3 months in 1993. In the same year, General Sani Abacha replaced Chief Shonekan on the ground that Shonekan was not able to handle the June 12 crisis. The 1999 constitution is the one with little amendment. Equally, it has multi-party system instead of 2 party system and it ahs 68 legislative seats as against 66 of 1989. The 1999 constitution reads Federal Republic of Nigeria while Unitary type is in practice hence all important powers are centralised at the centre and all the states in the federal go to the centre for the monthly allocation and Revenue, moreover, the constitution is a military drafted, it is in such a way that there must be confusion that will pave way for the military to rule therefore the constitutional committee members wee still partly elected and partly appointed. Because of the prolonged military rule, the constitution reflect the military tendencies towards the centralization of powers and the constitution was hidden away from Nigerians until few days before the hand over day of 29th May 1999. The executive arms were ignorant on the scope and the extent of its powers. The elected legislature was unaware of the legislative list and comparative power of the state and the centre. Finally, the government were also ignorant of their comparative jurisdiction, bases of appeals on the type of court to be established by the constitution.

Prior to 1960 constitution, meeting were held by political leaders to amend the constitution against the 1979 constitution. It was promulgated into law on the political parties on the 21 September, 1978 before the ban on the political parties was lifted, because of the problems already generated by 1999 constitution. A committee was set up to look into the constitution with views to amending same, the draft of the constitution is already out, there are many agitation and complaints by some sections of the country that the centre is very powerful, hence the call for sovereign National Conference (SNC). The clamour for Sovereign National Conference is because with all this agitation no attempt has been made to address or confront some of the fundamental issues confronting the Nigeria political system. The constitution play a greater role in the system of governance and occupy a significant position, most of the problem faced by ruler and the nation today in several countries stem from constitution makers which also relate to matters of powers and authority. Unless this matters are clearly settled in favour of constitutionalism and the people there will be little or no peace in the nations or between kings and the subject thereby resulting to incessant suspension of the constitution where implication became that a new constitution is written from time, to time. Nigeria since 1922, has written about 9 constitution yet U.S.A since 1776 has operated only one constitution since after independence. Nigeria has fashioned out five constitution in 1963, when the election, June 12 93 was annulled. National Democratic coallision (NADECO) was formed by the Yoruba’s after the June 12 annulment and when formed they were agitating for Sovereign National Conference, which means that every ethnic group must come together to know whether to combine staying together. It started getting effect from Ahmadu Bellow from 1960 in reference to 1914 amalgamations, Awo said that the country is a mere geographical setting.

Zik advocated for unity of Nigerians in the sense that mighty is power, probably the giant of African, meanwhile Nigerian was not practising the federal system, during the first republic in the 60 century their believe was that regions is more powerful than the centre can control as the country was divided into regions. Since they posses market, school, hospital and industry than in the West they have cocoa and cola nut, the region was independent hence the regions is self-sufficient, Northerners possess hides skin and cotton. When Gowon came into power in 1966 he brought the whole resources together hence before the end of the war state government depended on the centre for federal allocation.

Sovereign National Conference is a form of selected or elected members of various ethnic Nationalities, representative of professional bodies, interest groups, gender religions organisation and groups, economics, educational agencies debate and resolve conflicting issues affecting the peaceful co-existence of the nation as a means of realising substantial peoples constitution. The issue remains that they wanted the federal government to land over in the sense that all the regions should be autonomous in the process of administration. However, all the resources are being controlled at the centre. The purpose of Sovereign National Conference is to find fulfilment for Nigeria hope and aspiration that guarantee peace and progress. Sovereign National Conference is to find fulfilment for Nigeria hope and aspiration that guarantee peace and progress. Sovereign National Conference will resolve issues of Federal Character problem, marginlization, revenue allocation formular, political appointment religions problem and educational problem through monetary and fiscal means. Federal power powers should be rotational and there should be power shift hence it was started by Michael A Jachon presently Adessanya.

The Nigeria constitutional development was stipulated as a result of non-implementation of the Nigerian Council Resolution, which the Governor-General established because of the following factors like the press, trade union, Activities of political parties. Nigeria educated elites and the impact of the first and second, world wars facilitate the constitutional development in Nigeria. The media played a very vital role in enlightening the nationalist and the entire Nigeria to demand for constitutional reforms By Tunke Aye Bisinai DAILY INDEPENDENT ASABA TUESDAY OCTOBER 28, 2003 – A former teacher of sociology at the Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma, professor B.I.C Ijomah has advocated a national workshop as against the call for a sovereign National conference as a means of addressing the national question Ijomah maintained that, it would obviate the clamour for a Sovereign National Conference stressing that since no incumbent government, unless under the stress of a national crisis world like to preside over the dissolution of its government. He made the submission in his book Essay of Social Controversies. According to him a Sovereign National Conference could lead to the dissolution of the government in power but that “the outcome of the suggested workshop would provide a blue print for the search of a new national spirit” stating that the present national spirit was” a spirit of corruption ,greed and brutality arising from years of military mis-rule and civilian sycophancy.

“If the federal Government truly wants this country to continue and grow into a nation, the president must set up a workshop to critically examine all the obstacles to Nigeria’s corporate existence.

“Nigerians should be able to tell themselves the home truth what they Northern leaders did in the past, what the East and the Western Leaders did in the past which militated against the spirit of one Nigeria. “he said the interpretation of the country’s social and political realities he added, it must not be left to technicians because the nation is blessed with political socialist.

“The search should the time focus not on constitutional development alone but on what Nigerians must not become acceptable to one another. Since independence, Nigeria has drawn up 11 different constitutions in search of frame work for nation co-existence. Constitution merely prescribed how they (people) might live together. It does not create or guarantee the spirit of the nation. “If we must live together, we must work out the best structuring of Nigeria that can guarantee the emergence of a nation that we can all be proud of. No doubt, the colonial creatures is proving incapable of growth and maturity, it must be created by Nigerians themselves” He said, Democracy has not failed in the country but that the nation needed one of the most enduring ingredients of democracy, patience and tolerance” and attributed the element of dictatorship exhibited by political leaders under democracy to the country’s colonial background, stating that “colonialism is the worst type of tyranny and dictatorship ever witnessed on earth.

“Most Africans leaders and indeed Nigerians were schooled in the colonial school of dictatorship. The colonial regime is in my own opinion the worst type of benevolent dictatorship, there was nothing democratic about the colonial regime and the colonial leaders made no pretence to democratic practices”.

In 1921, John Payne Jackson, a Liberian who lived in Lagos launched THE LAGOS WEEKLY RECORD, The editorial policy focused on promoting racial consciousness among Africans and Nigerians in particular in fighting against alien and colonial rule irrespective of the exploitation/policy of colonial administration in relation to people’s labour in Nigeria. The British government had always encouraged the establishment of trade union, over dissatisfaction with wages and general conditions of employment. One of the propelling factor for the agitation fo constitutional changes and self-government was Macus Garvey’s movement which focused on re-orientating Africans towards demanding for their rights. The influence of Western education on educated African was a driving in agitation for self rule and constitutional changes or reforms. The educated elites having been equipped with knowledge and experience of western culture and language became better placed to challenge attach and express grievances at the imperialist in all facts, the elites’ grievances range from racial discrimination, disarticulated education programme, economic exploitation, lack of development, abduction in the political sphere.

The inhumanity of colonial administration unspired the nationalist struggle championed by educated elites like Herbert Marcaulay, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Azikiwe and may others to fight what constituted obstacle to self rule.





The brain behind the national conference in Nigeria is not of recent origin. As a matter of fact Nigeria as we have it today, is an out come of the various conference held between 1950 and 1959. Even after independence, Nigeria has had various National constitutional conferences aimed at fashioning constitutions for Nigeria. Also, there have been failed attempts by groups at convoking a national conference.

Thereafter in 1990, Alao Aka Basorum a former president of the Nigeria Bar Association rallied progressive groups for a national conference at the National theatre in Lagos. This was however aborted by the Babangida government. Similarly, Dr Olu Onagoruwa and the movement for National Reformation in Collaboration with other pro-democracy groups had scheduled a National conference for September 6-9, 1990. This was also backed by the Babangida administration. The demand for the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference per se is a cardinal fall- out of the annulled June 12, 1993 election, presumably won by late chief, M.K.O Abiola. This demand for restructuring was started by the Yoruba’s through individuals and organisations such as the Enahoro led Movement for National Reformation (MNR), however with the perpetual resurfacing of problems associated with the National Question even after the change from military to civil rule, this demand has taken a new divisions, receiving wide spread support cutting across tribal, ethnic and religion divide.



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Since the annulment of the June 12 election, various governments have reacted differently to the quest for the convocation of a sovereign National conference. The Abacha led government in response to this call and other agitation set up a National Constitutional Conference mandated to produce a new constitution based on resolution that will enhance equity and justice, which shall be promulgated into law by the provisional Ruling council. Election of members into the conference was characterised by various forms of manipulations and boycotts which at the long-run affected the outcome of the conference. As a matter of fact the conference was a farce, the Obasanjo Civilian government have used various means such as calculated silence, propaganda and outright rejection to quell the call.

The National Assembly, following a motion tabled by senator Author Nziribe has had to distance itself from calls for a Sovereign National conference describing the move as an attempt to destroy the country. In the same vane, during the period of his leadership of the upper home, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and president Olusegun Obasanjo had at different occasion rejected the motion for a sovereign National conference on the basis that, it was repugnant to the spirit of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They justified their position by asserting that “sovereignty resided in the president and (or) in the National Assembly by virtue of both having been politically and popularly elected. Therefore, as there cannot be two sovereignties in Nigeria at the same time, the clamour for a sovereign National conference must be rejected. They further opined that agitators should rather write a bill to The National Assembly through their representative in either the senate or the House of Representatives.

Apologist of the government stands such as Okunnu is of the option that …a sovereign National Conference may no longer be necessary. An elected government cannot write itself out of existence”

Similarly others basing their argument on the semantic discuss of the sovereign status of the conference asserts that, if there must be a conference; it cannot be sovereign because there is a legitimate government with sovereign power. Therefore, ascribing sovereign to a national conference at this point in time will be tantamount to either surrendering the sovereignty of the incumbent government or creating a confused situation of two sovereignties within a country.

Others still argue that the idea of a conference whether sovereign or non-sovereign is uncalled for because the Senate and the House of Representative already in place are constitutive of the representative of the people and as such, they are equipped to tackle what ever abnormalities that existed within the polity.

The argument being that the government and her cronies can be anything but altruistic. It borders on class interest which propels their idiosyncratic disposition of striving at all times to present myopic priority views as dominant views. This is done with a view to resisting any attempt they see as threatening their hard earned (or hard bought position).

The issue remains that southerners have been jointly and severally calling for the convocation of a severing National conference, even Northerners are not left out. Author Nwankwo rightly opined that.

“What is happening at the core North today is their understanding of these social forces… their scholars and think tank must have done their home work very well to appreciate the fact that for Nigeria to move forward without catastrophe, the National Question must be resolved that the restructuring of the nation is inevitable and that a sovereign National conference is a pre-condition for national continuity”.

Based on the above antecedents, one cannot but wonder, how long we are going to keep pretending that it is well with the polity how far can insincerity lead us and how long shall the obduracy of the government last.



The quest for the convocation of a sovereign national conference is premised on the fact that the National question in Nigeria has remained unanswered.

This revolves around the reality and issues in our federation and the means to forge ahead. Successive government have failed to acknowledge the presence of injustice, structural defects and marginalisation in the Nigeria polity. The return to civil rule is therefore seen as a positive step towards addressing these and other problems via a sovereign National Conference.

Various constitutional conferences held so far were never intended at addressing these hypersensitive issues. Fundamental defects having always characterised the process of determining every constitutional framework for Nigeria. Since 1914 to date, our constitutional arrangement have never truly reflected the political, economic, social, cultural and religious realities of the country. Morever, the people of the country have been continually denied the opportunity of truly making inputs into constitutional making. This has created a sense of complete alienation of some ethnic nationalities and the masses that have no place in the ill composed and stage-managed constitutional conferences.

The arguments put forward by anti-sovereign National conference apologist may look very logical nevertheless, a closer look at them shows that there are based on a myopic conception of the concept sovereign or simply a reflection of the egocentric character of Nigeria leaders who would rather watch the country sink than risk any progressive demand they see as a threat to their area of jurisdiction and perpetuation in power.

Anti-sovereign National Conference apologists questioning the sovereign status of such a conference under an elected democratic government are misled. In order to clarify issues, we shall attempt an explanation of the meaning and residence of sovereignty. The concept sovereignty can be applied in various senses. Our concern here is on political sovereignty as it applies to a constitutional democracy. This had its origin in the emergence of man’s social contract propounded by the social contract theories like Rousseav and Hobbes. The Osbomes concise law Dictionary defines and illustrated the tern elaborately as “The supreme authority in an independent political society. It is essential and illimitable” it adds. However, it is now considered both divisible and limitable. Sovereignty is limited externally by the possibility of a general resistance. Internal sovereignty is paramount power over all actions within, and is limited by the nature of the power itself.

In the Nigerian circumstance, it is obvious that the legislative sovereignty belongs to the National Assembly, the executive sovereignty rests with the president while the real political sovereignty belongs to the people. The electorate decided what their fate should be under a democratic set-up. This is done through their elected representatives who are constitutionally bound to act in consonance with the peoples’ interest and desires. The mandate to govern believed to be won in election from the sovereignty of the people expressed in how they wish to be governed.

The 1999 constitution is very clear on the residence of sovereignty. Section 14 (2) states that:

a) Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority

b) The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

c) The participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.

Assuming that sovereignty lies with the arms of government under an ideal democratic system, the Nigeria political and constitutional history has been characterised by a continuous transfer of illegitimacy and illegality in the constitutions of government. If the old aged principle “Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet” (No one can give or transfer what they have not got) is anything to go by. We can authoritatively assert that, as all military coup and all the overthrow of democratically elected government by force of arm is illegal, non of the post 1966 government of Nigeria has any constitutional legitimacy or sovereignty that could be transferred to a subsequent government. This streak of illegality and illegitimacy can be broken via a sovereign National Conference.

Also the National Assembly is not well composed to draft a constitution for Nigeria. Under the true federation, such as that of the U.S.A and Australia, the lower house (House of Representative in Nigeria), traditionally represents the people and therefore, the number of representative per federating unit is based on population. However, the upper house (senate) is traditionally meant to represent the nationalities or the federating states hence, the provision for equal representation of the federating units irrespective of their population. The upper house is a means of protecting the smaller federating units (minorities) against the domination and tyranny of the bigger units (majorities) this is however not the case in Nigeria. This normally disqualifies the National Assembly as a vehicle for drafting a new constitution for Nigeria as any constitution drafted by such a body with distorted membership would continue to perpetuate the very iniquities we seek to remedy”.

Even if we were to deviate from the established civilised democratic norms and accept that sovereignty exist solely in the National Assembly and executive (elected extra-constitutionally without the sovereignty of the people) as is the case in Nigeria, a sovereign National conference is still necessary to checkmate political crisis in Nigeria.


In this study we have attempted to look at Nigeria political experience with a discovery that it is replete with flagrant constitutional and practical abuse necessitating a restructure via a sovereign National conference.

The study examined the hypothesis that the defective nature of the Nigeria political system tends to occasion the agitation for restructuring hence the continuous whiltling down of the power of the state vis-à-vis the federal government has made Nigeria a unity state in federal apparel thus resulting in various show of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Accordingly the second hypothesis testing the legitimacy of the demand for a reaction to the ills in the Nigeria polity was carried out. Here various conference providing the constitution used so far in Nigeria were not only ills constituted. By such that very sensitive areas were classified “no go areas” by the military umpires. This is aberration that have been transferred to the present civilian government makes room for a sovereign National conference and equally give the people a true sense of belonging but also break the Jinx of vicious circle of illegality and illegitimacy.

We state here that in spite of the weakness of the 1999 constitution, it still recognizes the sovereignty of the people, the electorate who decide on those to be elected into office, as “trustees” of their common political will or for the purpose of implementation for a sovereign National conference which will enhance the peaceful co-existence among the various region as regard to remedy the political vices in the country.

Any one arguing the relevance of a sovereign National conference in present day Nigeria believe that over problems and issues of the national question can be solved with a mere wave of the hand, its unbelievable, the fact enumerated above has shown that sovereign National conference had maintained stability in the country and unity in diversity. We submitted with due respect that such thinking is antipatriotic and sycophantic.



Our conclusion therefore is that alternative measures are half measure, a sovereign national conference remains a sin qua non to breaking the illegality and illegitimacy syndrome that have characterized Nigeria constitution and political history and also it will go a long way in preventing this precious and fragile amalgam from total disintegration. This is so because a system that makes peaceful change impossible makes violent change inevitable.



In the course of this study we discovered that sovereign national conference as it is being held in various years in Nigeria has suffered abuses right from its foundation and the practice worsens with every succeeding government manifesting insensitivity to the plight of the Nationalities that make up the amalgam.

We concluded that solution to the myriad of problems in Nigeria bordering on the national question can be sort in convocation of a genuine sovereign conference. The semantic divide of this as have been addressed as however not the only contention aspect of a sovereign national conference. It is on this note therefore, that our recommendation will be centred on the modus operandi of the conference.

Sovereign National conference as the only solution to the political crisis in Nigeria will guarantee true peace, justice and appropriate people constitution should be convened as soon as possible to serve Nigeria from disintegration. Since this can not be done in a vacuum, the present government has some preliminary role to play in its actualisation.

However, it should begin by the passing of an enabling Act by the National Assembly, convening a sovereign National conference. At this point, a meeting of the president of national Assembly, speaker of the house of Representatives, thirty six state governors and the speakers of the thirty six state House of Assemblies be convened to set up a sovereign National conference planning committee. This committee should be made up of people chosen based on their ability, honesty, integrity and patriotism. This committee, working in collaboration with INEC should be empowered among other things in conducting elections into the sovereign national conference in such a way that all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria no matter how small, are well represented, determine the venue, federal character system should be adequately followed, and duration of the conference, the number of representatives and how they are to be chosen and generally, produce a blue print for the success of the conference that will help to curb the political crisis in the country.

Prior to the election of members into the sovereign National conference, there must be a definite accurate ethnic map of the federation in order to determine how many nationalities we really have. It is also important that provision be made for the proper representation of special interest groups such as Nigeria labour congress, Christian Association of Nigeria Islamic council etc. observer status should be given to international bodies like UNO. AU ECOWAS, Human Right and media bodies.

Election into the sovereign National conference should be completely devoid of party politics and representatives should not expert any form of payment for participation, but rather, see it as a privilege and honour to be counted as instruments used steering the country out of political turmoil. Moreover they should be no loopholes in the constitution and they should be clarity of function and specification i.e the function of the various levels of government should be well elaborated and hence the principles of separation of power and the concept of rule of law should be equally addressed to ensure political stability in our country.

The process of constitutional making should be democratise and government should seize from interfering in the process of deliberation hence the problem of “ no go area” will not arise and final document should be approved by the national referendum and thereafter the opposition party should criticize the ruling party for any fraud and properly check them instead of cross-carpeting and this will help to make the ruling party follow the constitutional provision strictly and rule effectively to avoid any military intervention.

However the Sovereign National conference be given unrestricted Power of deliberation in order to remove all the social, political, economic, cultural and religious injustices that have bedevilled the country since the unholy marriage without consent of 1914 with a view to producing a constitution of the people first of its kind to be ratified by the people via a referendum. Finally the incessant constitutional amendment will be totally eliminated as it pave way for corruption, nepotism and insensitivity, in order to ensure peace, unity and progress of the country at large.

Relevance Of Sovereign National Conference In Eliminating Political Crisis In Nigeria

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