Author's Name: Toyin Abe & Olayide Oladeji
Subject Area: Social Science and Humanities
Subject Political Science
Section Comparative Studies


Federalism, Citizenship, Indigeneity, Consociational Democracy, Ethnic Conflict, National Identity/Unity.


The centrality of federalism and citizenship in the discourse and analysis of African government and politics cannot be overemphasized. Being a continent characterized by ethnic plurality, religious and cultural diversities, the quest to design and evolve federal institutions and policies that fosters popular political participation, guarantee ethno-cultural tolerance, cooperation and national unity, undoubtedly, constitutes a major challenge. This study therefore, examined the complex relationships between federal institutional arrangements, governmental policies, citizenship and national identity in Africa, drawing on the Ethiopian and Nigerian federal experiences. Relying mainly on secondary data, qualitative analysis that comprises comparative institutional method, the study sought to compare citizenship and decentralization provisions of the FDRE 1994 Constitution and the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended). The study revealed that ethno-federalist provisions of these constitutions, as well as other consociational policies meant to guarantee ethno-territorial self-governance, equitable distribution of resources/opportunities have tended to exacerbate the same problems they were meant to resolve in the first instance. Similarly, although citizenship remained an exclusive national constitution matter, effective citizenship and rights were only operative at the localities through differentiated ethnic belongings as indigenes of such localities. Thus, attenuating perpetual tensions between the notions of liberal citizenship and republican citizenship based on indigeneity. Furthermore, the study revealed that the contradictions set forth by the indigeneity-citizenship nexus are at the core of the many crises threatening to tear these federations apart. The study concludes that genuine negotiations, consensus-building and strategic alliance between the elites of the various ethnic groups are the first step at resolving these contradictions and attenuate the conflict-ridden intergroup relations in these federations. There is also the need to pay adequate attention to the constitutional imperative of separating indigeneity and citizenship rights. This can be achieved by limiting the former to certain traditional rites, rituals, titles and stools, while democratizing the latter through access and political participation based on continuous residency in any part of the federations. Lastly, is the urgent need to engender viable and efficient governance mechanism that promotes sustained economic growth, reduce unemployment and poverty, particularly among the active segment of the population.

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