What Type Of Government Does Nigeria Have?

Federal Ministry buildings in Abuja, Nigeria. Editorial credit: Fabian Plock / Shutterstock.com.
Federal Ministry buildings in Abuja, Nigeria. Editorial credit: Fabian Plock / Shutterstock.com.

Nigeria is a country in West Africa. The nation's first president was Nnamdi Azikiwe, a former governor general who rose to power with the declaration of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in October 1963. A Coup in 1966 established military rule in Nigeria and triggered the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). The Nigerian Second Republic was established with a new constitution in 1979 after which a presidential system modeled in American style was implemented. A subsequent constitution was adopted in 1993 establishing the Third Nigerian Republic, but the military coup took power until 1999 when another constitution was passed and is still in use today.


The Nigerian president serves as both the chief of state as well as the head of government. Nigerians go to the polls after every four years to elect the president. The president undertakes all required duties as the commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces. The Nigerian president assents to and signs bills and can return a bill to Parliament for reconsideration or can refer it to the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the bill. Other duties of the president include appointing commissions of inquiry, summoning the Parliament to hold sessions on extraordinary business, calling a referendum, pardoning offenders, conferring honors, receiving foreign dignitaries, and appointing ambassadors, consular, and diplomatic representatives. The Nigerian president appoints the ministers who are confirmed by the senate. Ministries have permanent secretaries and also oversee various parastatal organizations.


Both the House of Representatives and the senate undertake legislative duties in Nigeria. A total of 360 members currently sit in the House of Representatives representing single-member constituencies. These legislators are elected every four years using the simple majority. Sessions of the House are presided over by the speaker who is indirectly elected in the chamber. 109 senators sit in the upper chamber. Three senatorial districts in every state elect one senator while the Federal Capital Territory is represented by only one senator. Sessions of the Senate are guided by the President of the Senate assisted by a deputy.


The Judiciary system of Nigeria is headed by the National Judicial Council, an independent executive institution. The Chief Justice chairs Nigeria's Supreme Court with the help of thirteen associate judges. These judges receive their appointments from Nigeria's President, acting on the advice of the National Judicial Council and are further approved by the Senate. Courts of the first instance in Nigeria include district or magistrate courts, customary courts, and Shari’a courts. Shari’a and customary courts only have jurisdiction if the defendant and the plaintiff agree although they are often chosen due to delays and legal costs in the regular courts. Nigeria also has High Courts as well as Courts of Appeal.


There are a total of 36 states and one territory (Federal Capital Territory) in Nigeria. Some of the nation's states include Abia, Kano, Yobe, Benue, Kebbi, Kaduna, Edo, Imo, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara, Enugu, Anambra, Adamawa, and Lagos. Each Nigerian state is further subdivided into Local Government Areas or LGAs. As it stands, Nigeria has 774 LGAs. The most LGAs found in one state are in Kano at 55. Six LGAs exist in the Federal Capital Territory.


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