Time to mitigate inter-agency conflicts

In the complexities web of governance, the inherent nature of conflicts between different tiers of government are not uncommon. Whether it’s the  government agencies versus state governments or federal, these clashes often arise due to overlapping functions, power tussle, and opposing ideologies. One such perennial conflict is between the federal and state governments, a tug-of-war that has characterised many political landscapes worldwide.

Recently two  conflicting court orders over the move to arrest the immediate-past governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, on money laundering allegations by Kogi state high court Lokoja and the federal high court in Abuja speaks volumes about inter-agency rivalry in Nigeria.

At the heart of this conflict lies the fundamental question of sovereignty and the division of powers. In many government ministries departments and agencies, MDAs, the delineation of powers is often blurred, leading to clashes and disagreements.

One of the primary sources of conflict is funding or one’s action or inaction while discharging his roles. State governments rely heavily on federal funding for various programmes and initiatives. However, federal grants often come with strings attached, imposing conditions and regulations that may not align with the priorities of state governments. This can lead to tension as states seek greater autonomy in decision-making and resource allocation.

Another contentious issue is the interpretation of constitutional powers. The constitution is the supreme law of the land, outlining the powers and responsibilities of each tier of government. However, interpretations of these powers can vary, leading to disputes over matters such as environmental regulations, healthcare policies, and taxation in Nigeria. 

Evidently, political ideology, party affiliation and agency supremacy can exacerbate conflicts between federal and state governments’ agencies. When different parties control the an organisation it often results in policy gridlock and partisan bickering. This can hinder progress and lead to inefficiencies in governance.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the complexities of intergovernmental relations. Responses to the crisis varied widely between federal and state governments, with disagreements over lockdown measures, vaccination distribution, and economic relief packages. These divergent approaches underscored the challenges of coordinating a unified response in a decentralised system of government.

Efforts to mitigate conflicts between federal and state governments often involve mechanisms such as intergovernmental councils, cooperative agreements, and judicial intervention. Intergovernmental councils provide a forum for dialogue and collaboration, allowing stakeholders to address common challenges and find mutually beneficial solutions. 

Cooperative agreements enable federal and state governments to work together on specific issues, leveraging resources and expertise to achieve shared goals. Judicial intervention, through the interpretation of the constitution, helps clarify the respective powers of each tier of government, resolving disputes and setting precedents for future conflicts.

Ultimately, the conflict between  governments constituted authority reflects the complexities of modern governance and the competing interests at play. While disagreements are inevitable in a democratic system, constructive dialogue, cooperation, and respect for the rule of law are essential for effective governance. By recognising the complementary roles of various institutions of governments and fostering collaboration, societies can navigate conflicts and harness the strengths of each tier of government for the collective good.

Josephine Jeremiah,


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