Nigeria as a System
Everything that functions properly is a product of a healthy system. As healthy biological systems equal a healthy body, so also a healthy political system equals a healthy nation.
A healthy political system is the product of a harmonious interplay between the tiers of government in the country. Nigeria as it stands operates a three-tiered government. As basic as this is, the existence of these tiers makes up for all the complexity that surrounds governance in Nigeria. It determines the existence of Ministers and Special Advisers; the fight against corruption; the fight against terrorism; the determination of such matters as the recent resignation of the Minister of Finance; and every other thing you can think of as a nation.
Since these tiers are so important to the existence of Nigeria – they make up the political system that determines the health of the nation – it is important to have a basic knowledge on what these tiers are and what they do.
The Three Tiers of Government in Nigeria
There are three tiers of government in Nigeria known as:
- The Legislature;
- The Executive;
- The Judiciary.
The Legislature is responsible for making laws; the Executive is responsible for enforcing laws; the Judiciary is responsible for interpreting laws and determining when they have been contravened.
Due to the nature of the Executive tier of government – it is where the Office of the President emanates – there could be the conception that it is the most powerful tier of government. However, in an ideal situation, no tier should be superior to the other. And in an ideal situation, there is always an ombudsman to ensure that these tiers of government are function harmoniously, for the greater good of Nigeria. This ombudsman are the citizens of Nigeria, you and I.
The Ombudsman Public
While the Constitution has designed each level of government to function with the input of the other, it has also empowered the public to influence government processes. In other words, the constitution has empowered you to take part in governance and determine policies of the polity.
Section 71 (1) (a) & (b) of the Constitution divides each state of Nigeria into three Senatorial Districts and divides the federation into three hundred and sixty Federal Constituencies, for the purpose of elections. Section 77 (1) of the same Constitution mandates each Senatorial District and each Federal Constituency to produce one person for a seat at the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be. Section 77 (2) allows any Nigerian who is eighteen years old at the time of voters’ registration for election to the Legislature, to be registered to vote in the legislative elections.
What this means is that as long as you are of age at the time of elections to the Legislature, you have the power to determine who gets elected to the legislature. This is very important because most of the checks the Executive experiences in government comes from the people in the Legislature. When the Legislature is composed of people who are not true representatives of their districts and constituencies it will never be an effective check on the Executive. This means, if the Executive carries out any action that may bring disadvantage to a constituency district, there will be no one to fight for the constituency or district.
We will continue from here next week. In the meantime, feel free to contact me (details in my bio below) if you have any questions.