Politics of Nigeria

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Nigeria is a federal republic modelled after the United States and greatly influenced by its former colonial ruler, Great Britain, with executive power exercised by the president. The government of Nigeria is also influenced by the Westminster System model in the composition and management of the upper and lower houses of a bicameral legislature. The president, however, is the head of state, the head of government, and the head of a multi-party system. Nigerian politics takes place within a framework of a federal, presidential, representative democratic republic, in which executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is held by the real government and the two chambers of the legislature: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Together, the two chambers make up the law-making body in Nigeria, called the National Assembly, which serves as a check on the executive arm of government. The highest judiciary arm of government in Nigeria is the Supreme Court of Nigeria which was created after independence and also practices Baron de Montesquieu's theory of the separation of powers [1] based on the United States system and also practises checks and balances[2]

The law of Nigeria is based on the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and British common law (due to the long history of British colonial influence). The common law in the legal system is similar to common-law systems used in England and Wales and other Commonwealth countries. The constitutional framework for the legal system is provided by the Constitution of Nigeria.

Like the United States, there is a judicial branch, with the Supreme Court regarded as the highest court of the land.

Legislation as a source of Nigerian law

In the pre-colonial of the Nigeria legal system indigenous or customary law constituted the major source of the law . Colonialism ushered in written law through local legislation, and this has remained the most comprehensive source ever since the inception of colonial rule. Legislation means written or written law signifies any law that is formally enacted two streams of legislation constitute this source in the Nigerian context they are[3]

(1) Acts of British parliament, popularly referred to as statutes of general application.

(2) Local legislation (comprising enactments of the Nigerian legislatures from colonial period to date). There were other sources which though subsumed in Nigerian legislations were distinctly imported into the Nigerian legal systems. They are called the criminal and penal codes of Nigeria.

Nigerian statutes as sources of Nigerian law

Nigerian legislation may be classified as follows. The colonial era till the date of 1960 , post independence legislation1960-1966 , the military era 1966-1999.

The post independence legislation 1960-1966

The grant of independence to Nigeria was a milestone in the political history of the country. This period witnessed the consolidation of political gains made during the colonial era. Politicians genuinely focused their lapses in the polity. It achieved for herself a republican status by shaking off the last vestiges of colonial authority. However, despite the violent violation of its provisions, the constitution remained the subsequent administrations (military or otherwise).

Military regime, 1996-1999

The breakdown of law and order which occurred in the period under review would not be attributed to any defect in the Nigerian legal system. Corrupt practices both in the body politic and all aspects of Nigerian life eroded efficiency and progress. There were 8 coups generally five were successful and 3 were unsuccessful.

Executive branch

The president is elected through universal suffrage. He or she is both the chief of state and head of government, heading the Federal Executive Council, or cabinet.

The executive branch is divided into Federal Ministries, each headed by a minister appointed by the president. The president must include at least one member from each of the 36 states in his cabinet. The President's appointments are confirmed by the Senate of Nigeria. In some cases, a federal minister is responsible for more than one ministry (for example, Environment and Housing may be combined), or a minister may be assisted by one or more ministers of State.[4] Each ministry also has a Permanent Secretary, who is a senior civil servant.[5]

The ministries are responsible for various parastatals (government-owned corporations), such as universities, the National Broadcasting Commission, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. However, some parastatals are the responsibility of the Office of the Presidency, such as the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Federal Civil Service Commission.[6]

Legislative branch

The National Assembly of Nigeria has two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives is presided over by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It has 360 members, who are elected for four-year terms in single-seat constituencies. The Senate, which has 109 members, is presided over by the President of the Senate. 108 members are elected for four-year terms in 36 three-seat constituencies, which correspond to the country's 36 states. One member is selected in the single-seat constituency of the federal capital.

President of the Senate Bukola Saraki 2015 -
Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara2015 -

Judicial branch

The judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the Court of Appeals, the High Courts, and other trial courts such as the Magistrates', Customary, Sharia and other specialised courts.[7] The National Judicial Council serves as an independent executive body, insulating the judiciary from the executive arm of government.[8] The Supreme Court is presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and thirteen associate justices, who are appointed by the President of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council. These justices are subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Office Office holder Assumed office
Chief Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar[9] 16 July 2012
Associate Justice Sylvester Umaru Onu1993
Associate Justice Umaru Atu Kalgo1998
Associate Justice G. A. Oguntade2004
Associate Justice Sunday A. Akintan2004
Associate Justice Mahmud Mohammed2005
Associate Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen2005
Associate Justice Ikechi Francis Ogbuagu2005
Associate Justice F. F. Tabai1999
Associate Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad2007

Political parties and elections

Presidential elections of Nigeria, 2015

Margin: 2,571,759
Candidate Party Votes %
Muhammadu BuhariAll Progressives Congress 15,424,92153.96
Goodluck JonathanPeople's Democratic Party12,853,16244.96
Adebayo AyeniAfrican Peoples Alliance53,5370.19
Ganiyu GaladimaAllied Congress Party of Nigeria40,3110.14
Sam EkeCitizens Popular Party36,3000.13
Rufus SalauAlliance for Democracy30,6730.11
Mani AhmadAfrican Democratic Congress29,6650.10
Allagoa ChineduPeoples Party of Nigeria24,4750.09
Martin OnovoNational Conscience Party24,4550.09
Tunde Anifowose-KelaniAccord Alliance22,1250.08
Chekwas OkorieUnited Progressive Party18,2200.06
Comfort SonaiyaKOWA Party13,0760.05
Godson OkoyeUnited Democratic Party9,2080.03
Ambrose Albert OwuruHope Party7,4350.03
Invalid/blank votes844,519
Registered voters/turnout67,422,00543.65
Source: INEC

House of Representatives

Party Votes % Seats +/–
All Progressives Congress 225
People's Democratic Party 125
Other parties 10
Invalid/blank votes
Total 360
Registered voters/turnout
Source: Reuters Nigeria Tribune


Party Votes % Seats +/–
All Progressives Congress 60Increase19
People's Democratic Party 49Decrease15
Labour Party
Invalid/blank votes
Total 109
Registered voters/turnout
Source: Naijaonpoint

Administrative divisions

Nigeria is divided into 36 states and 1 territory*. They are: Federal Capital Territory (Abuja)*, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara

Each state is further divided into Local Government Areas (LGAs). There are 774 LGAs in Nigeria.[10] Kano State has the largest number of LGAs at 44, and Bayelsa State has the fewest at 9. The Federal Capital Territory of Abuja has 6 LGAs.[10] LGAs replaced the Districts that were the previous third-tier administrative unit under the British government.


Main article: Military of Nigeria
Nigerian troops

The military of Nigeria has played a major role in the country's history, often seizing control of the country and ruling it for long periods of time. Its last period of rule ended in 1999, following the death of the leader of the previous military junta Sani Abacha in 1998.

Active duty personnel in the three Nigerian armed services totals approximately 76,000. The Nigerian Army, the largest of the services, has about 60,000 personnel, deployed between two mechanized infantry divisions, one composite division (airborne and amphibious), the Lagos Garrison Command (a division-size unit), and the Abuja-based Brigade of Guards. The Nigerian Navy (7,000) is equipped with frigates, fast attack craft, convettes, and coastal patrol boats. The Nigerian Air Force (9,000) flies transports, trainers, helicopters, and fighter aircraft; however, most of their vehicles are currently not operational. Recently, Marshal of the Nigerian Air Force, Sadique Abubakar, suggested the purchase of equipment after dumping the non-operational vehicles.

Foreign relations

Nigeria currently has better foreign relations with its neighbors, due to its current state of democracy. It is a member of the African Union and sits on that organization's Peace and Security Council. In 1960, Nigeria joined both the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations; however, they were briefly suspended between 1995 and 1999.

See also


  1. "separation of powers". TheFreeDictionary.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  2. "Checks and Balances". www.factmonster.com. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  3. "SOURCES AND CLASSIFICATION OF NIGERIAN LAW". Newswatch Times. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  4. "Government Ministries in Nigeria". Commonwealth of Nations. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  5. "Permanent Secretaries". Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. Retrieved 2009-12-20.
  6. "BOARDS OF PARASTATALS". Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  7. "Court System in Nigeria". The Beehive by One Economy Corporation. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  8. "Constitution". The National Judicial Council. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  9. "ALOMA MUKHTAR: Making of Nigeria's Female CJN". P.M. News. Independent Communications Network Limited. July 16, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2012.
  10. 1 2 "USAID Nigeria mission: Nigeria administrative divisions" October 2004
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