Features Of Independence, Republican And Presidential Constitution

Table Of Contents
1. The Independence Constitution(1960)
2. The Republican Constitution(1963)
3. Main Features Of The Republican Constitution
4. The 1979 Presidential Constitution
5. Features Of The 1979 Constitution
6. Differences Between The 1963 And 1979 Constitution
7. The 1989 Presidential Constitution.
8. The 1999 Presidential Constitution
9. Features Of The 1999 Constitution
10. Features Of Post 1960 Constitution In Nigeria
The Independence Constitution, 1960
Nigereia was granted full independence and sovereignty by Britain on October 1, 1960.
The independence Constitution had the following provision,
1. Federalism as a systen of government was retained.
2. The Governor- General became the cereminial head of state and representatives of the queen of England.
3. The Prime Minister at the federal level and the premiers at the Regions were concerned with executive powers of government.
4. Adoption of parliamentary system with Bicameral legislatures through out the country.
5. Powers of government were shared between the federal and regional governments.
6. Entainment of the fundamental human rights in the constitution.
7. Laid down procedures for amendment were provided giving the constitution a right status.
The Republican Constitution, 1963
The need for a republican constitution arose from operational problems of the independence constitution. Such problems were:
a. The Queen of england still controlled executive powers of government through the Governor General , her representative.
b. The final court of Appeal in Nigeria was the judicial committee of the British Privacy Council.
c. The power of the Prime Minister over the regional government was not effective.
Main Features Of The Republican Constitution
1. Establishment of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2. The office of the president and commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria was created. This replaced the role of the Queen of England. However, the role of the president was ceremonial head of state.
3. The post of the President became elective by secret ballot of the joint session of the House of Representatives
4. The supreme Court became the final Court of Appeal in place of the Judicial committee of the british privy council.
5. The prime Minister was the head of government .
6. Powers of the prime Minister became increased, but subject to parliamentary control.
7. The federal Government was conferred with certain emergency powers.
8. Fundamental human rights were strengthened.
9. Provision for creation of new states and alteration of boundaries of regions.
10. The supreme Court was empowered and granted judicial review powers.
The 1979 Presidential Constitution
Note that the military took over the reigns of government in Nigeria in january, 1966, following the overthrow of the elected government of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was the first prime Minister of Nigeria. After over a decade of military rule in Nigeria, there was need to review the 1963 constitution, inorder to return the country to civil ruke.
Olusegun Obasanjo, then military ruler of Nigeria set in motion the process by inaugurating the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) in 1975. This was followed in 1976 by the establishment of a Constituent Assembly to examine and ratify the draft constitution produced by the CDC.
The outcome was the 1979 Constitution, otherwise known as, the Second Republic Constitution.
Features Of The 1979 Constitution
1. Introduction of the Presidential system of government and abolition of parliamentary system.
2. The President has executive powers of government and was also commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
3. The President to be elected in a general( national) election
4. The President had full powers of appointment of ministers and heads of key government boards, agencies and parastals, with the approval of the senate.
5. The principle of the federal character and equal representative by the states was duly observed.
6. Removal of the President of the Vice President from office impeachment.
7. Separation of powers among the organs of government.
8. The Governor was the chief executive officer of each state of the federation. He had Deputy and he also had powers of appointment of commissioners and other key functionaries of the state.
9. Tenure of office of both the President and the Governor wass 4 years with provision for re-election for another term only.
10. Bicameral legislature at the federal level. Senate and House of Representatives, while it is unicameral in the states.
11. Establishment of a Council of State to advice the president. Membership if the council were, the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives, State Governors, Former Presidents, Former Head of State, Former Chief Justice and Attorney Generals etc.
12. Establishment of a National Economic Council comprising the Vice President( chairman), State Governors and the Governor of Central Bank.
Differences Between The 1963 And 1979 Constitutions
1. While the 1963 constitution was a parliamentary democracy patterned after the british type, the American system of government.
2. The President was the chief executive officer and head of government in the 1979 constitution, the Prime Minister was the head of government in the 1963 constitution.
3. The President was elected in a single constituency election of the whole country, while the Prime Minister was selected from the party that won the majority seats in the parliament.
4. There was a clear separation of powers between the executive and the legislature in the 1979 constitution while the two are fused in the 1963 constitution.
5. The prime minister and his ministers were members of the Parliament in the 1963, while the President and Ministers were not, in the 1979 constitution.
6. If a member of parliament was appointed minister he lost his parliament seat in the 1979 constitution, while he retained it in the 1963 constitution.
7. The existence of official opposition in the 1963 constitution. Which was absent in the 1979 constitution.
8. The 1963 Constitution provided for the principle of collective responsibility of government, while the 1979 constitution did not.
9. Removal from office of the president was by impeachment in the 1979 constitution while the removal of the prime minister was by vote of no confidence in the 1963 constitution.
10. Tenure of office of the president in the 1979 constitution was defined and fixed while the prime minister could stay in office as long as his party won majority of parliamentary seats.
11. The Constitution was supreme in the 1979 constitution, but the parliament was supreme in the 1963 constitution.
The 1989 Presidential Constitution
The 1989 Constitution was a product of the amendments of the 1979 constitution as reviewed by the constituent Assembly and approved by the Armed Forces Ruling Council. This was during the military rule of Ibrahim Babangida. As a result, its provisions did not depart from the fundamental features of the 1979 constitution.
Thus, all the main provisions of the 1979 constitution were retained. The 1989 Constitution however introduced a number of new measures;
1. It entrenched a two party system in Nigeria.
The two parties were
i. The National Republican Convention(NRC)
ii. The Social Democratic party (SDP).
2. It opted for part time membership of the State House of Assembly.
3. It recognized and entrenched the autonomous status of the Local government as a third tier of government in Nigeria.
4. It granted direct statutory monthly allocations form the federation Account to the local government.
5. It increased and entrenched the statutory functions of the local government.
6. It increased the number of local governments from 301 to 449,
The 1999 Presidential Constitution
The Third Republic Collapsed with the annulment of the June 12, 1993. Presidential election. This was during the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida. That election was supposedly won by MKO Abiol. The heat generated by the annulment of the June 12, election and the political impasse it generated forced Babangida to “step aside”. In doing so, he constituted an interim Government headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan, with Gen. Sani Abacha as the secretary to the interim Government. Shortly and in the same year, 1993, Sani Abacha sacked Shonekam and took over the government. Abacha instituted the worst form of military dictatorship for five years and died in office in 1998. Another military ruler, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, who succeeded General Abacha worked hard to hand over government, after one year, to an elected civilian government in 1999, of President Shehu Shagari.
The 1999 constitution was an amendment of the 1979 constitution as approved by the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council under General Abdulsalami Abubakar in May 29, 1999. It maintained all the features of the 1970 constitution.
Features Of The 1999 Constitution
1. Essentially it maintained power the federal government and the component 36 states.
2. It provide for Exclusive Legislative list of 68 functions for the federal government in the following areas. Defence, external affairs, customs and excise, mines and power and power, aviation, communication etc. It also provided for concurrent legislative list of 30 functions performed by the federal and state governments. They included, commerce, industry, agriculture, education. They included, commerce, industry, agriculture, eduction archives, electricity, revenue collection etc.
3. It entrenched a multi party system as against the two party system of the 1989 constitution.
4.it upheld the autonomous of the local government as a third tier of government.
5. It granted administrative autonomy status to the federal capital territory(Abuja).
6 it entrenched the 774 local governments and the federal capital territory Abuja.
7. It maintained a bicameral legislature at the federal level, and a unicameral legislature in states.
Features Of Post 1960 Constitutions In Nigeria
the post 1960 constitutions refer to constitution which were made after independence. To understand the features of the post independence constitutions in Nigeria, there is need to have an overview of the salient or important issues of the colonial constitutions.
Essentially, the pre-independence constitution centered on how to consolidate british colonial rule over Nigeria. The constitutions were largely experimental and conservative in their approach to issues of enhancing and experiment democracy. They were also targeted at law and order within the colonial territory. There was no deliberate effort to encourage self rule and independence of the nation.
The pre_independence constitutions made conscious effort to reflect the differences among the nationalities based on a regional arrangement. For this reason, the constitution provide different laws for different regions, at different times. The constitutions recognized the difference in educational development of the various regions, the geographical and populations diversities, the traditional chieftaincy authority systems of the various regions.
Accordingly, the constitutions encourage diversities in our way of life which did not augur well the unity of the country. This assertion cab be illustrated by the following;
i. The timing of self government was different for the north which was 1959 as against self government in the east and west in 1957.
ii. Bicameral legislature was introduced in the north and west in 1951 while the east operated a unicameral legislature, until 1957 when bicameral legislature was introduced.
iii. Most Nigerian membership of the central legislative council and the central executive council were appointed not elected. They were also central executive council were appointed not elected. They were also largely ex-officio, unofficial members, whose roles were not so significant.
The post independence constitutions in Nigeria made systematic efforts to achieve total sovereignty from British rule. The constitutions were targeted at increased political participation and growth of the democratic process.
Above all the constitutions were concerned with national unity and integration of our diverse people. They provided uniform laws and structures of government through out the country.
This was a major departure from the colonial constitutions which made laws that reflected imbalances in social order and culture development of our people.
The post independence constitutions in Nigeria had the following feature:
i. Retained federalism as a system of government with a 3 tier structure of government.
ii. Made deliberate efforts to disengage the authority of the queen as a symbol of colonial authority.
iii. Adoption of common parliamentary practices throughout the country which is bicameral at the federal level – house of assembly in the states.
iv. Unifying laws for the whole nation.
v. Establishment of government of the federal republic of nigeria.
vi. Entrenchment of human rights in the constitution.
vii. Entrenchment of the universal adult suffrage as basis for elections.
viii. Federal character enshrined in the constitution.
ix. Elective principle of government.

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