BASIC THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT NIGERIA’S DEMOCRACY
Nigeria became an independent state on October the 1st, 1960 from Britain. Three years later, in 1963, the country became republic. Since then, it has been known and called as the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the past 58 years as independent nation, the country has 30 years of democratic government and 28 years of military rules.
Nigeria experienced the first military coup on 15th January, 1966. After 13 consecutive years of military rules, on 1st October, 1979, the then military government handed over power to the democratically elected president under the second republic. However, Four years later, the democratically elected government was toppled in another military coup.
After 13 consecutive years of military rules, Nigeria returns to democracy on May the 29, 1999. The journey began with the inauguration of Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo as democratically elected president, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on May the 29, 1999.
Between February 1999, and February 2019, we had six successfully conducted general elections. So far, these elections led to the five successful transitions from a government to another. We are expecting the sixth transition on May the 29, 2019. This followed successful general elections on February the 23rd, 2019, where the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected for the second term of another four years.
DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA:
Nigeria is the biggest democracy in Africa, using presidential system of government similar to that of the United States of America. There are three arms of government, which are constitutionally independent. These include: the Executive, the legislature and the Judiciary.
The Executive Arm of government in Nigeria includes the President, the Vice President, ministers and presidential advisors. The Arm is headed by the President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This comprises two chambers of Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 109 members, while the House of Representatives has 160 members. All the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] Abuja are represented in the two chambers.
Each state is represented by three Senators and one Senator representing Abuja the Nation’s Capital in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly. While representation in the House of Representatives Chamber depends on the population and the size of a state.
This Arm is headed by the Senate President and the Speaker House of Representatives. Both chambers elect their leaders independently.
This is the arm saddle with the responsibility of interpreting the constitution and the laws of the National Assembly. The Arm is headed by a Chief Justice of Nigeria [CJN].
Elections in Nigeria:
The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] is the highest electoral institution in the country. It was established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Section 15 part 1 of the third schedule of the Constitution [as amended] and section 2 of the Electoral Act 2010 [as amended] saddle the Commission with the responsibilities to:
Organize, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of; the president and the vice president, the governor and the deputy governor of the 36 states of the Federation, memberships of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the states Houses of Assemblies
Register political parties, monitor their organization and operations including; finances, conventions, congresses and primaries
Registration of voters including; prepare, maintain and revise the register
Promotion of knowledge of sound democratic election processes
By January 2019, there are eighty four million, four thousand and eighty four only eligible voters, who attained 18 years as requires by the constitution.
There are 119,973 Polling Units in Nigeria.
Registered Political Parties:
Since Nigeria allows multi party system, currently, there are 91 political parties, with the ruling All Progressive Congress [APC] and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] as the major ones.