Causes, Cost and Possible Benefits of Inter and Intra Governmental Conflict in the Nigerian Federation

Olanrewaju O. Ogunnubi


As a federation of 774 local governments, 36 states and a federal government, inter and intra governmental conflict is an inherent characteristic of Nigeria’s federal system. Thus, this paper examines the dynamics of inter and intra governmental conflict in Nigeria with a specific focus on its causes, cost and possible benefits. It provides a review of selected cases of inter and intra governmental conflict within the country with a view to draw out the causes, cost and benefits of these conflicts to the Nigerian federation. It employs the qualitative research method and makes use of primary and secondary data sources for its analysis. Also, the paper adopts the decentralisation theory and the cooperation and competition theory, both of which provide theoretical grounds for a comprehensive analysis of the subject under focus. The paper reveals that constitutional ambiguity, inter-party conflict and personal interest of political actors are major causes of inter and intra governmental conflict in Nigeria. It further reveals that political instability, discrimination in the distribution of resources, delay in policy formulation and lack of collaboration among governmental levels are the cost of intergovernmental conflict in the country. The paper argues that despite the aforementioned costs, intergovernmental conflict has been instrumental to consolidating Nigeria’s nascent democracy as it prevents arbitrariness and promotes checks and balances as well as an active judicial system. The paper concludes that intergovernmental conflict is not only natural but equally necessary for democratic development in Nigeria. However, intergovernmental conflict must be meticulously managed to prevent an outright breakdown of law and order.



Intergovernmental relations; intergovernmental conflict; decentralisation; conflict; federalism; Nigeria

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