Relationship between the three tiers of government In Nigeria

11046 Relationship between the three tiers of government 3 tiers federal state local government Relationship between the three tiers of government 3 tiers federal state local government

The relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria goes beyond their division. It involves the power, responsibilities, etc shared among them as stated in the Nigerian constitution.

If you were told to explain the relationship between the three arms of government in Nigeria and discuss the relationship among the level of government in Nigeria, how would you go about it?

This relationship involves the division of political authority among the three levels of government, hence, the need of specific functions to each level.

Let’s break it down

What Is the Relationship Between the Three Tiers of Government In Nigeria

It is no news that the relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria has been somewhat shaky, filled with resentment that leads to cases settled in the Supreme Court, etc.

relationship between the 3 tiers of government in Nigeria - federal state and local government
image by sesco photograpy

But, What are the three tiers of Government In Nigeria

In my previous article on the Nigerian government structure and politics, I’ve given a detailed explanation of these 3 tiers of government or levels of government as you may call it.

They are:

  • Federal Government
  • State Government
  • Local Government

Also Read: Administration and functions of local government in Nigeria

Differences Between the Three Tiers of Government

So, I’ve got for you in this detailed article the relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria using the following elements:

  • Power sharing among the 3 tiers of government
  • Revenue sharing between the 3 tiers of government

So, let’s shed more light on the first relationship between the federal, state and local government in Nigeria.

Highlighting The Relevance of Power Sharing Among the Three tiers of government in Nigeria

Timothy Sisk described power sharing as ‘a term used to describe a system of governance in which all major segments of society are provided a permanent share of power’.

Power sharing between the three tiers of government aims at creating governmental stability in the relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria.

The Nigerian constitution provide for distribution of powers, between these levels of government, in the legislative lists.

These legislative lists are divided into three, namely:

  • The exclusive legislative list.
  • The concurrent legislative list.
  • The residual legislative list.

power sharing between the federal state and local government in Nigeria

Let’s see what each legislative list entail.


The exclusive legislative list entails functions that are mainly and only to be performed by the top level of government, the federal government.

These are functions that are beneficial to the entire country and can be carried out efficiently at the national level.

These functions are carried out in the following areas:

  • Accounts of the government of federation
  • Arms, ammunition, and explosives.
  • Awards of honors and decoration.
  • Bankruptcy and insolvency.
  • Banks, banking, bills of exchange, and promissory notes.
  • Borrowing money inside, and outside Nigeria.
  • Citizenship, naturalization, and aliens.
  • Commercial and industrial monopolies.
  • Construction and maintenance of federal trunk roads.
  • Control of capital issues.
  • Creation of states.
  • Custom and excise duties.
  • Currency, coinage, and legal tender.
  • Diplomatic, consular, and trade representation.
  • Drugs and poisons.
  • Election to offices of president, vice-president, governor, or deputy governor.
  • Exchange control.
  • Export duties.
  • External affairs.
  • Immigration and emigration.
  • Implementation of treaties.
  • Incorporation, regulation, and winding up of corporate bodies other than those established by a law enacted by the state houses assembly.
  • Maritime shipping and navigation.
  • Military (army, navy, and air force).
  • Mines and minerals.
  • National parks.
  • Nuclear energy.
  • Passports and visas.
  • Posts, telegraphs, and telephones.
  • Patents, trademarks, trade, or business names.
  • Pensions and gratuities payable out of the public funds of the federation.
  • Police and other government security services established by the law.
  • Powers of the federal national assembly and the privileges and immunities of its members.
  • Public debts.
  • Public holidays.
  • Public service of the federation.
  • Regulation of all political parties in Nigeria.
  • Service and execution in civil and criminal processes, judgements, decrees, and other decisions of any court of law inside or outside Nigeria, except for laws made by the state.
  • Stamp duties.
  • Taxation of incomes.
  • Profits and capital gains, as provided by the constitution.
  • Trade and commerce.
  • Traffic on the federal trunk roads.
  • Water from sources declared by the national assembly to affect more than one state.
  • Weights and measures.
  • Wireless, broadcasting, and television except for those owned by the states.


The concurrent legislative list contains duties that are carried by both the federal government and state government.

These duties are carried out in the following areas:

  • Allocation of revenue.
  • Antiques and monuments
  • Collection of taxes.
  • Electoral law.
  • Exhibition of cinematography films.
  • Industrial, agricultural, or commercial development.
  • Scientific and technological research.
  • Trigonometrical, cadastral, and topographical surveys.
  • Technological and post primary education.


The residual legislative list contains functions that are not entailed in the exclusive and concurrent list.

The matters in the list are the concern of the state government alone; the federal government is not to interfere.

Power sharing is associated with the relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria but the right to borrow money within and/or outside the country is exclusive to the federal government.

Interesting History: List of all Nigerian Presidents Since independence

More on Relationship between Federal and State Local Government In Nigeria

So far, you’ve seen the levels of government in Nigeria, how power sharing is a huge factor that differentiates this levels of government.

Also, you’ve learned how this power sharing cuts across the three legislative lists according to the Nigerian constitution.

Now, let’s talk about the one more factor that gives more insight into the relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria – Revenue sharing.

MUST READ: The History of Nigeria Biafra War – The Untold Story of Biafra

Revenue Sharing Between The Three Tiers of Government

The functions of the above lists are not carried out using personal funds but public funds. The public funds are the revenue generated by the country.

revenue sharing between the three tiers of government in Nigeria
Image by statisense

Petroleum has been said to be the major concentration of Nigeria, well it is true.

Crude petroleum has been the major source of income for Nigeria for as long as I remember (when I could enter buses between states on my own).

Also Read: Full List of all 36 states and their capital

These income along with other incomes gotten from other sources, go into an account called the FEDERAL ACCOUNT.

This federal account is not for anybody but for the country (it is called national cake for a reason even if most of us haven’t had a taste).

The money in this account is used for the development projects of the country at all levels of government.

But you know as usual, money and problems are twins especially when it involves more than one person.

So the elders of our land thought things through and said money cannot be withdrawn by anybody whenever they need it plus they had to come up with a solution to the revenue-sharing-problems in the relationship between the three tiers of government in Nigeria, hence, the REVENUE SHARING FORMULA.

A federal agency, Revenue Mobilization, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission, was set up to determine the revenue sharing formula for the three tiers of government.

The revenue sharing formula determined has to be approved by the national house of assembly before it can be put to use.

Though the commission was said to be established in 1989 by Decree No. 49 and inaugurated in 1990. It was reported to be ignored during the military regime as the government ignored its advice on revenue sharing.

Quick Interesting Post: The History and Impacts of Military Rule in Nigeria

The end of the military regime in 1999, did not only bring about democracy, it brought the commission into the spotlight to be noticed.

The Nigerian constitution defined it to consist of a chairperson and 37 members (a member from each of the 36 states and the federal capital territory).

NOTE: Revenue is shared vertically across the federal, state, and local governments and shared horizontally between state, and local governments.

The Revenue Sharing Formula

The sources of government revenue spans across various areas and it shares the revenue in the following percentages:

  • Federal government (56%).
  • State government (24%).
  • Local government (20%).

Revenue allocation across the three levels of government in Nigeria - Government revenue allocation formula

The federal government share, 56%, is further split into the following:

  • Stabilization fund (1.5%).
  • Federal capital territory (1%).
  • General ecological problem (2%).
  • Development of natural resources (3%).
  • Federal government (48.5%).
  • 1% of the federal account derived from mineral revenue is to be shared among the mineral producing states, but not evenly, based on the quantity of mineral produced from each of these states.

Learn more: Government revenue sharing formula in Nigeria

NOTE: In the event of any state suffering absolute decline in its revenue due to factors beyond its control, the stabilization fund is used to first augment the allocation due that state according to an acceptable percentage worked out by the National Revenue Mobilization, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission.

The state government and local government share, 24.0% and 20.0%, is paid into the State Joint Local Government Account.

The 24% state government share is distributed among the 36 states unevenly. It is distributed based on proportional area size, PAS.

The PAS for states is calculated using the formula:

state revenue sharing formula the three tiers of government

Each state gets its allocation based on its PAS percent of the 26.72%.

The 20% local government share is also not distributed evenly among the 774 local governments. It is distributed based on each local government PAS.

The PAS for local government areas is calculated using the formula:

local government revenue sharing formula the three tiers of government

NOTE: The state government not only takes money from out of the state joint local government account, it pays 10% of its internally generated revenue into this account.

This 10% can be paid to its local government councils as directed by the state house of assembly. Now we have seen the differences between the federal, state and local government in Nigeria.

You May Also Read: The updated list of 20 local governments in Lagos state

Tiers of Government In Nigeria and Their functions

The federal government is responsible for the following basic duties:

  • Providing public amenities like public education, power supply, etc.
  • Provision of security to its citizens’ lives and properties.
  • Creating employment opportunities, and economical environment for businesses to thrive.
  • Protecting the country from external and internal threats.
  • Generating revenue for the country and its states.
  • Establishment of research institutes, educational institutions, health care facilities, etc.

State Government Functions

States were created to achieve effective administration of resources and to serve as a closer link for the people to access the benefits of the federal government.

Other functions include:

  • Protecting the lives and properties of its citizens.
  • Providing basic amenities like education, quality and affordable health care, good roads, etc.
  • Creation of employment opportunities
  • Generation of revenues for the state.

Duties of Local Government

The local governments perform the following duties to perform:

  • Registration of birth, death, and marriage certificates (take a look at your birth certificate, now you understand, right?).
  • Construction and maintenance of roads, street drains, parks, open spaces, and other public highways.
  • Establishment, maintenance, and regulation of markets, motor parks, etc.
  • Naming of roads, streets, and numbering of houses.
  • Provision and maintenance of public conveniences, and refuse disposal.
  • Control and regulation of shops, restaurants, kiosks, and other venues for sales of food.

Relationship between the Three Tiers of Government in Nigeria (Summary)

Having highlighted the relevance of power sharing and revenue sharing between the three tiers of government in Nigeria, can we say they have been or have not been doing their jobs?

Well, some say they are not, and criticize the federal government majorly, claiming the federal government percentage of the federal account should be reviewed.

The federal government is not the only one been stoned at, the state governments have been claimed to hoard funds meant for the local governments leading to the under development of most local government areas.

Despite this reason been justifiable due to the reality faced in most areas some of us live in, others say they are trying their best.

I have been on road journeys and I tell you, some roads are bad and some are so bad, some are federal roads and some are state roads.

If they are actually doing their jobs, why do we still have in most cases of bad roads? I have also traveled on some good roads, and I have applauded the government saying who says they are not doing their jobs? They are trying jare.

There are always two sides to a story, and the reality is the goodness is happening in some areas and not covering the entire country as it is supposed to.

Besides what exactly can be done to solve these problems? Let’s have your opinions about this, kindly drop your comments in the box below.