What are the Nigerian government and politics

Political system:

Nigeria is a federal republic with a presidential system. The constitution provides for the separation of powers between the three branches of government. The general election, held in February 1999, marked the end of 15 years of military rule and the beginning of civil rule based on multi-party democracy. The general elections took place for the second time in April 2003. President Olusegun Obasanjo and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), were victorious in both elections. Despite the consolidation of democratic rule after years of military dictatorship, some feared that in the absence of a clear successor, the incumbent president would attempt to amend the constitution so that he could run a third term in 2007. Obasanjo reportedly has a variety of motives for seeking a third term in office, or at least leaving the points open: eagerness to see his economic and political reforms through to completion, concerns about being compromised by the perception of lame duck status and the Desire to prevent his rival, Vice President Atiku Abubakar, from taking power. U.S. Government officials have expressed concern about the potential destabilizing effects of such a move. In May 2006, however, the Nigerian Senate rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed a third term. On April 21, 2007, a presidential election was held, which announced Musa Yar'Adua of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as president in Alhaji Umaru.


Nigeria's current constitution, the fourth since independence, took effect on May 29, 1999. Shaped according to the U.S. Constitution, it is a separation of powers between a strong executive, an elected legislature, and an independent judiciary. Critics of the constitution fear that the federal government will retain too much power at the expense of the states. Although the constitution proclaims personal freedom and a secular state, it also allows Muslims to follow Sharia or Islamic law.

Branches of Government:

The executive power lies with the president, who is both head of state and head of government. The President is entitled to two four-year terms. The federal executive committee of the president or cabinet includes representatives from all 36 states. The National Assembly, consisting of a 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives, which forms the country's legislative branch. Three senators represent each of Nigeria's 36 states, and an additional senator represents the capital of Abuja. The seats in the House of Representatives are allocated according to the population. Therefore, the number of house members differs from each state. Members of the National Assembly are elected for a maximum of two four-year terms. The judicial authority consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal Court of Justice, and at the state level: the high courts, Sharia court and common courts. The President appoints the members of the Supreme Court, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Administrative areas:

Nigeria is administratively divided into the federal capital area (Abuja) and 36 states, which are organized into the following six geopolitical zones: South-West Zone-Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Oshun and Oyo; South-South Zone-Akwa, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ibom and Rivers; South East Zone-Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo; North West Zone-Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara; North-Central Zone-Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger and Plateau; And north-east zone-Adamawa, Bauchi, Bornue, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

Provincial and Local Government:

Each of Nigeria's 36 states has an elected governor and house of representatives. The governor is elected for a maximum of two four-year terms. The number of Assembly House delegates is based on population (three to four times the number of delegates each state sends to the House of Representatives) and therefore varies from state to state in the range of 24 to 40. Nigeria's states are divided into 774 local government areas, each governed by a council responsible for providing basic needs. Local councils, seen as the third tier of government below the federal and state levels, receive monthly subsidies from a national "federation account". Critics claim that the division of the country into so many counties is a trace of military rule and that it is arbitrary, wasteful and inefficient.

Judicial and legal system:

Nigeria's legal system is based on a combination of statutory law (legislative), English common law, customary law and, in the north, Islamic law (Sharia). Nigeria's federal and state courts apply statute law and english common law, while local courts recognize the legitimacy of common and Islamic law. The inadequacies of the existing legal and criminal justice system partly explain the popularity of Islamic law in the twelve northern states. Sharia has been criticized for imposing draconian penalties, although no death penalties have yet been implemented under Sharia law.

Elective system:

The President and the members of the bicameral National Assembly, consisting of a 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives, are elected for a maximum of two four-year terms. Universal suffrage at the age of 18 applies to all elections. Winning candidates will be determined using the UK's first-past-the-post system, with a large number of votes ensuring victory. Under this system, too, the members of the National Assembly represent different geographical constituencies. International observers and several Nigerian parties alleged procedural impractices in the most recent elections in 2007. The Independent National Electoral Commission, which was responsible for administering the elections, was criticized for a lack of transparency.
Mass media:

The government controls and regulates most of the Nigerian broadcast media through the National Broadcasting Commission. Radio is the main mass medium for reaching the general audience because it is inexpensive and does not require literacy. The federal government owns stations affiliated with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, individual states control other stations, and others are privately owned. The voice of Nigeria is broadcast in Arabic, English, French and five indigenous languages. Some voices on Nigeria broadcasts are aimed at domestic audiences; Others, predominantly short-wave, are transmitted around the globe. Much like the radio broadcasting market, the federal government owns two stations affiliated with the National Television Authority, different states have their own stations, and private operators that are broadcast by satellite. Nigerians also get news on Voice of America, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Deutsche Welle. In contrast to the broadcast media, the print media dominate private publications, a situation that is more amenable to criticism of the government. Nigeria has 14 major daily newspapers, but only - the New Nigerian - is state-owned. The country also has six newsweeklies and various tabloids. The government is not restricting access to the Internet, which is most prevalent in internet cafes and is increasingly common in workplaces and homes.
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Foreign relations:

Nigeria's foreign policy revolves primarily around African affairs, highlighting political and economic cooperation, peaceful dispute settlement and global neglect. Regionally, Nigeria is pursuing tariff harmonization and the long-term goal of a customs union via the economic community of West African states, which was decisive when it was founded. Nigeria is also active in the New Partnership for Africa's Development, which seeks to improve economic conditions in Africa by removing trade barriers to exports and attracting investment and development aid. Nigeria has excellent relations with its neighbors, who have fully complied with the 2002 International Court of Justice ruling in favor of Cameroon over control of the Bakasi Peninsula. Since mid-1998, Nigeria's relations with the United States have steadily improved in line with Nigeria's transition from military rule to democracy. Nigeria has also supported the United States-led war on terrorism. In March 2006, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo met with President George W. Bush in Washington, DC to discuss the U.S.-Nigerian relationship. With a touch of drama just before the meeting, Nigeria surrendered former Liberian leader Charles Taylor to a United Nations court in Sierra Leone to stand up for war crimes. Nigeria is looking for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. President Yar'Adua was also received by President Bush in Washington in December 2007.

Membership in international organizations:

Important international treaties:

Nigeria is a party to the following non-proliferation agreements: Biological Weapons Convention, Chemical Weapons Convention, Accession to Nuclear Non-Proliferation. In terms of the environment, Nigeria is a party to the following agreements: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Waste, Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection and Wetlands. Shortly after September 11, 2001, Nigeria ratified a mutual legal assistance treaty with the United States. The treaty, which has been ratified for 12 years, contains provisions for cooperation on anti-crime, anti-drug and counter-terrorist initiatives.