Nigeria Country Study

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Kerry Nierenberg

AP Comparative Government

7th Hour


Nigeria Country Study

Section I: Les Regles de Jeu

  • Constitutional Structure – The Constitution of Nigeria is the supreme law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The first constitution was drafted in 1960 for the 1st Republic. This was rewritten in 1979 to establish a Westminster system of government that reflected an American Presidential system, with a directly elected executive. The current constitution is the 1999 Constitution. It was adopted in its original form on May 29, 1999 in Abuja, at the dawn of the Nigerian Fourth Republic. The constitution has almost constantly been put up for revising; three attempts at revisions have been made in the past decade.
  • Electoral Systems – Nigeria elects on federal level a head of state, the President of Nigeria, and a legislature, the National Assembly. The president is elected by the people. The National Assembly has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 360 members, elected for a four year term in single-seat constituencies. The Senate has 109 members, elected for a four year term: the 36 states are divided in 3 senatorial districts each electing one senator; the Federal Capital Territory elects only one senator.
  • Legislative Process – The 1999 constitution gives Nigeria a bicameral legislature: a lower house and an upper house, a National Assembly and a Senate. As in the U.S, the lower house is elected democratically and the Senate is elected on equal basis, each state sending five senators to Abuja. Bills are introduced in the house and sent to the respective committees. The chair of each committee is supposed to study the Bill and have public hearings. However, this is rarely what actually ends up happening. Most Nigerian politicians are in fact illiterate, and often resort to bribing committee members into passing legislation rather than actually submitting it for democratic approval.

  • The Courts and Rule of Law – The Nigerian constitution provides for an independent judiciary. In practice, the judiciary is subject to executive and legislative branch pressure, influence by political leaders at both the state and federal levels, and suffers from corruption and inefficiency. The regular court system comprises federal and state trial courts, state appeals courts, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Supreme Court, and Shari'ah and customary courts of appeal for each state and for the federal capital territory of Abuja.
  • Division of Power Among Branches of Government – Executive power is vested in the president, who is simultaneously chief of state and head of government. The president is eligible for two four-year terms. The president’s Federal Executive Council, or cabinet, includes representatives from all 36 states. The National Assembly, consisting of a 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives, constitutes the country’s legislative branch. Three senators represent each of Nigeria’s 36 states, and one additional senator represents the capital city of Abuja. Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated according to population. Therefore, the number of House members from each state differs. Members of the National Assembly are elected to a maximum of two four-year terms. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, and, on the state level, high courts, sharia courts, and customary courts. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court subject to confirmation by the Senate.
  • Role of the Bureaucracy – The public bureaucracy of Nigeria is intended to execute the policies made by political leaders. It implements the decisions of political leaders in order to integrate them into the public to hopefully strengthen and unify the nation. All in all, the role of public bureaucracy looms large in the process of economic, social, and political development.

Section II: History

  • State Formation – Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin trade in Nigeria, and called the port Lagos after the Portuguese town of Lagos. Britain soon took an interest in the area, and moved to consolidate its hold over what is now modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901, Nigeria became a British protectorate, part of the British Empire. In 1914, the area was formally united as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Following World War II, successive constitutions legislated by the British Government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis. Finally, on October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom.
  • Process of Industrialization – There are several ways of categorizing the historical period of Nigeria’s industrialization and trade policy. For example, two eras, the colonial (pre-1960) and the post-colonial (post-1960) periods, could be noted. In the colonial period industrialization in Nigeria proceeded without the benefit of orchestrated trade and industrial policies. What passed for trade and industrial policy amounts to no more than a patch-work of ad hoc measures. With independence in 1960, the nationalist rulers aggressively pursued import substitution industrialization as part of the response to the minuscule industrial base bequeathed by the colonial masters. Nigeria went through a rapid period of industrialization at this time. Unfortunately, the country has not been doing so well in industry in recent years.
  • Major Leaders of the 20th Century
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  • President of Nigeria (1963-1966)
  • Nnamdi Azikiwe (1 October 1963 - 16 January 1966)
  • Heads of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria (1966-1979)
  • Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (16 January 1966 - 29 July 1966)
  • General Yakubu Gowon (1 August 1966 - 29 July 1975)
  • General Murtala Mohammed (29 July 1975 - 13 February 1976)
  • General Olusegun Obasanjo (13 February 1976 - 1 October 1979)
  • President of Nigeria (1979-1983)
  • Shehu Shagari (1 October 1979 - 31 December 1983)
  • Chairman of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria (1983-1985)
  • Muhammadu Buhari (31 December 1983 - 27 August 1985)
  • President of the Armed ...

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