Federalism and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice: A Case Study, Nigeria


  • Nworgu chioma Thomas Telephone Number: 07066688016


Environment, Environmental Justice, Federalism, Federal Government, Pollution


This paper examined the impact of federalism on environmental sustainability, especially environmental justice. To achieve this, the paper did a comparative and systemic study of federalism and the quest for environmental justice in the United States of America and Canada. The paper further juxtaposed the trend with the situation in Nigeria. The study revealed that in the United States of America and Canadian federalist system of governments, there exist cooperative federalism between the center and the federating units on environmental matters, coupled with the act of acceding more powers to the federating units and provinces, respectively. This implies that powers are shared by the national and sub-national units in accordance with the provisions of the constitution in order to avoid autonomy of powers by the federal government. The aim is to protect the environmental rights of its citizens, achieve sustainability and economic growth. The paper further revealed that federalism as practiced in Nigeria, is a system, standing on its head, and has failed to serve the goals of environmental justice because states are not given powers over environmental issues. Environmental issues in Nigeria are of serious and diverse nature. The environmental hazards emanating from oil exploration and exploitation activities, industrial waste and other harmful activities are problematic. To worsen matters, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 in Section 6(6)(c), expressly ousts or denies the judiciary which is the last hope of the common man, the power to make pronouncements on matters of public policy. The doctrinal approach was used for collection of data, which were analyzed to reach conclusions. The paper recommended the practice of true federalism in Nigeria, especially the devolution of extensive powers on environmental matters to the states and the repeal of Section 6 (6)(c) under Chapter 11 of the Constitution. The paper further proposed that there should be cooperative federalism between the federal government and the states in matters of environmental management, and environmental justice, in particular.


] D. Webster and Ors, https://www.britannica.com/topic/federalism >Accessed November 6, 2021.

[ 2] C. Uwaegbulam, ‘Challenges of Building an Environment-Friendly Nation’, https://www.guardian.ng/property June 2020 > Accessed January 3, 2022.

[ 3] O. J. Oyebode, ‘Impact of Environmental Laws and Regulations on Nigerian Environment’, World Journal of Research and Review, Vol. 7 Issue 3, 2018, 12.

[ 4] D. C. Cory, and Rahman T., ‘Environmental Justice and Federalism’ (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2012) 3.

[ 5] Collins Concise Dictionary, (London: Williams Collins Sons & Co.Ltd, 1978) 275.

] https://www.britannica.com.>topic >Accessed November 6, 2021.

] B.O.Nwabueze, Federalism in Nigeria under the Presidential Constitution.(London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1983) 170.

[ 8] Attorney-General of Lagos State v Attorney-General of the Federation (2003) 12 NWLR (Pt.833)

[ 9] EIA Act, Cap. E12, LFN 2004.

]USEPA, 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com > Accessed November 6, 2021.

] https://www.cambridge.org > Accessed November 6, 2021, Cliff Rechtschaffen, 2009 cited in Dennis C. Cory and Tauhidur Rahman).

[ 12] (D. C. Cory and T. Rahman, Environmental Justice and Federalism. (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2012) 3.

[ 13] R. Nelson, University of Melbourne. www.blog.iacl-aidc.org/new> Assessed 20th August 2020.

] Vanguard Newspaper, February 28, 2021, Environmental Pollution, Cause of Low Life Expectancy in Nigeria-Survey https://www.vanguardngr.com > Accessed November 27, 2021.

[ 15] W H. GOV, Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad January 27, 2021 Presidential Actions https://www.whitehouse.gov/breifing > Accessed November 27, 2021.

[ 16] What was the Goal of Federalism? https://www.google.com/search > Accessed November 7, 2021.

[ 17] The British North America Act, 1867; https://www.canadahistoryproject.ca > Accessed November 7, 2021.

[ 18] The Constitutional Distribution of Legislative Powers, https://www.canada.ca/en/intergovernmentalaffairs > Accessed November 7, 2021.

[ 19] Early History of Environmentalism, https://www.sfu.ca/andrewf/environment > Accessed November 7, 2021.

] Ibid.

] Establishing A Federal Union, https://www.canaddianencyclopedia.ca > Accessed November 7, 2021.

[ 22] Ibid.

] https://www.google.com/search >Accessed November 7, 2021.

] Canada’s Forest Laws, https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural > Accessed November 7, 2021.

] Constitution of the United States of America (1787), Amendment X section 1.

[ 26] American Constitution 1787, Tenth Amendment.

[ 27] Caldwell, L. ‘Authority and Responsibility for Environmental Administration’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 389, 114-115.

] D. J. Elazar, ‘The Scope of Co-operation’ In Laurence J. O’Toole, American Inter governmental Relationship (2nd ed.), (Washington D.C.C.Q Press, 1993); US History, Federalism https://www.encyclopedia.com/history > Accessed November 7, 2021.

[ 29] W. T. Gormley, ‘Taming the Bureaucracy: Muscles, Prayers, and other Strategies, Princeton Legacy Library, 1989, p. 173.

] R. L. Glicksman, ‘From Cooperative to inoperative Federalism: The Perverse Mutation of Environmental Law and Policy’, 41 Wake Forest Law Review, 719 (2006).

[ 31] 456 U.S. 742 (1982).

[ 32] O’Toole, ‘Research on Policy Implementation: Assessment and Prospects’ (1993), 24-25.

] Gregory v Ashcroft, 501 US 452 (1991).

[ 34] S. E. Boslaugh, ‘National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)’ https://www.britannica.com/topic > Accessed November 24, 2021.

] A. Mclntosh, G Stevenson, ‘Federalism in Canada’, The Canadian Encyclopedia 2006 >https://www.anadianencyclopedia.ca> Accessed December 21, 2021.

[ 36] Brooks S. and Miljan L.,’ Public Policy in Canada: An introduction’ (4th ed.) (Toronto: Oxford University Press,2003).

] W. R. Lowry, ‘Paved with Political Intentions: The impact structure on the national park system plan in Canada and the United States’. Policy studies journal 22 (1) 44-58.

[ 38] C. A. Simon and Ors Chapter 2‘State and Local Government and Politics: Prospects for Sustainability’, Oregon State University, Pressbooks.> https;//www.open.oregonstate.education> Accessed December, 22, 2021

[ 39] Schoeenbrod D. ‘Why States not EPA should set Pollution Standards’. In T. Anderson and P. Hill (Eds.) Environmental Federalism. (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977).

[ 40] L. K. Caldwell, ‘Authority and Responsibility for Environmental Administration’, Annals of the American

Academy of Political and Social Science (1970), 309, 107-115.

] A. Krajnc, ‘Whither Ontario’s environment? Neo- conservation and the decline of the environment ministry’, Canadian public policy, (2000) 26 (1), 111-127.

] Ibid, 125.

[ 43] Dr.Mohiuddin Farooque and Anor. v Bangladesh 1997, 26 CLC (HCD).

] C. O. Ikorukpo, ‘Petroleum, Fiscal Federalism and Environmental Justice in Nigeria’ (2010), 321- 354.

] E. Chinwo, ‘’This Day News Paper April 17, 2020’, Thousands of Dead Fish Washed up in Rivers Shoreline.

] O. Obe, ‘This Day News Paper, May 15, 2020’, Nigeria: NOSDRA Traces Causes of Dead Fishes on Atlantic Coastline to Toxic Wastes.

[ 47] The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

[ 48] A. O. Sambo and Abdulkadir A., ‘Good Governance: And Ouster Clauses, Judicial Review and Expository Study of the Experience in Nigeria and Malaysia’ (2013).

[ 49] Jonah Gbmre v Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigerian Limited FHC/B/CS/53/05, 2005 AHRLR 151.

]The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

[ 51] Basics of American Politics, ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Federalism’ https://www.courses.lumenlearning.com > Accessed December 22, 2021.

[ 52] L. Gaille, ‘12 Federalism Pros and Cons’, Vittana Personal Finance Blog.Org, https://www.vittana.org/12federalism >Accessed December22, 2021.




How to Cite

Thomas, N. chioma . (2022). Federalism and the Pursuit of Environmental Justice: A Case Study, Nigeria. International Journal of Social Sciences: Current and Future Research Trends, 13(1), 1–14. Retrieved from https://ijsscfrtjournal.isrra.org/index.php/Social_Science_Journal/article/view/931