Nigeria adopted regionalism in 1946 according to the Richard constitution. Nigeria was therefore divided into three regions – North, East, and West. The reasons for the adoption of regionalism in Nigeria are hereby stated:
TO ENCOURAGE INTEGRATION.
The constitution of 1946 was partly designed to preserve the authoritarian system of indirect rule and partly to allow for a House of Assembly in each of the three regions. The regional assemblies sent representatives to the legislative council.
The arrangement was made because it was assumed that regional political integration was a necessary step towards national political integration.
THE INTEREST OF NORTHERN REGION
The northern region was less developed educationally than the West and the East. It had fewer people who could read and write when compared with the South (East and West regions).
For example, in 1947, the south had 4984 primary schools with a population of 538,391 pupils while the North had only 1,110 primary schools with a population of 70,962 pupils.
Again, the south had 43 secondary schools and a population of 9,657 students while the North had only 3 secondary schools and a population of 251 students.
As a result of this development, the region favored a slower evolution to independence and opposed the creation of states or the adjustment of regional boundaries.
This was necessary because the North wanted to have a firm grip on the people of Northern Nigeria as this would help her to dominate the Nigerian political scene.
THE POLITICAL INTEREST OF WESTERN REGION
The Western region supported regionalism as a means of checking the Igbo competition and stopping Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from emerging as the leader of Nigerian nationalism. Thus, two factors made Azikiwe’s fame rise so high.
First was the establishment of the West African Pilot in 1937 which became the vanguard of the nationalist cause.
The second was the emergence of the National Council for Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) in 1944 in which he was the General Secretary and later the president.
THE ECONOMIC INTEREST OF THE WESTERN REGION
Before the political independence of Nigeria, the West was the richest region of the country. This was due to the high revenue got from the sales of cocoa.
In view of this, she did not want to share her wealth with poorer regions of the country and constantly believed in derivation as the principle for revenue allocation.
THE NEED TO ENCOURAGE REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The adoption of regionalism made each region look inwards and develop at its own pace. The Western region embarked upon aggressive large-scale-socio-economic programs. Her social welfare programs included the provision of universal free primary education, hospitals, a television station, and the University of Ife.
The economic scheme included road and bridge construction, the establishment of the Nigerian Water Resource Development, Nigerian Textile, West African Portland Cement Company, and a number of statutory bodies.
In the East, the regional government pursued social and economic programs. She established some public corporations which dealt in printing, tourism, textile, beer, ceramics, iron, and steelworks.
She also built roads, bridges, hospitals, and the University of Nigeria. However, in both the Eastern and Western regions, the civil service was expanded thereby creating job opportunities for the unemployed. This, therefore, increased the standard of living of the people.
In the North, the regional government embarked on the ‘northernization’ policy. The policy stated that if a qualified northerner was available, an example could be recruited or a non-northerner on contract terms. As a result of this policy, local governments were reformed and the facilities for primary education were expanded. She also founded the Ahmadu Bello University.