Nigeria's Constitutional Pluralism: Implications for Peace, Security and National Development

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Law (SJD)



First Advisor

Professor Christian Nwachukwu Okeke

Second Advisor

Professor Benedetta Faedi Duramy

Third Advisor

Professor Ashmeed Ali


The Nigerian 1999 Constitution was created under circumstances that encumber its capacity to respond adequately to the challenges of pluralism, federalism and constitutionalism. This has impeded the foundation of civil order in the country. Decades of military dictatorship have led to centrist federal structure and what the presidential constitutional review commission referred as “the curtailment of opportunities for political institutionalization and democratic consolidation” by the Report of the presidential Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Volume 1, Main Report, February 2001. Any serious appraisal of the 1999 Constitution, including the courts and other political power players, must reckon with these realities. Neither the legitimacy of the federal constitutionalism nor the practice of federal constitutionalism is yet to be firmly entrenched in Nigeria. The Nigerian Judiciary has not fully woken up to the realities and demand of the transitional Nigerian polity. It has not fully made a clean break from a past tainted by complicit jurisprudence, and Nigerian national culture of ignoring the realities of it’s ignoble past. The study adopts doctrinal, analytical designs and comparative designs. Reliance will be placed on both primary and secondary sources of data. Primary source materials will include statutes, personal observations, oral interviews and comments of legal practitioners. The secondary source materials that were used include: case law, textbooks, journal articles, conference papers, the internet materials and other legal literatures. The study argues that there is a strong and direct correlation between the wanton disregards of the principles of constitutional federalism and pluralism in the Nigerian socio-political life and the failure to realize the promise of her great potentials, in terms of national cohesion and stability resulting in the current high level of religious, social and ethnocentric crises in the country. It recommends that failure to genuinely address the various pluralistic issues and positively exploit the attendant huge potentials for national development, peace and security has aggravated regional and religious conflicts, (as is seen in the Boko Haram scourge), encouraged centralized revenue system, (which has inhibited genuine regional economic growth), stimulated widespread and systemic corruption, and causing grand distortions throughout Nigeria’s political and socio-economic systems. It concludes that Constitutional pluralism is a sure way out of social malfeasance where people are treated with several bias stemming from the perceived differences amongst the other groups. At times these differences may not actually be seen but are just in existence in the minds of the people.


This dissertation is available in the Golden Gate University Law Library.

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