Separation of power in Nigeria?
Separation of power in Nigeria like many other states operating a presidential system is an essential feature of the state's administrative system. Nigeria adopted the presidential system in which the executive power is vested in a single man and of course in a single office in 1979 presenting a lucid departure from the hitherto cabinet system in operation before military interregnum of 1963. Pursuant to the basic features for a presidential system, Nigerian administrative system vested the governmental powers of legislating, implementing and interpreting laws into three separate but co-ordinated bodies namely; Legislature, Executive and Judiciary respectively. Hence, the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria like 1979 and 1989 constitutions leanly and succinctly provides for separation rather than fusion of power. Based on this provision therefore, members of the law making body (parliamentarians) at both Federal and State levels and even at the Local government being the third tier of government are not allowed to be members of executive or judiciary and vice versa. Unlike the Great Britain where the Prime Minister is the leader of the party that has the majority in the parliament, and has a parliamentary status, President in Nigeria is elected in a general election on the basis of Universal Adult Suffrage and for the time being in power as the head of the executive and Commander-in- Chief has no parliamentary status. The Judiciary headed by the Chief Justice of the Federation is an independent body charged primarily with the responsibility of interpreting law does not have her membership drawn from legislative or executive branches and as such cannot exercise legislative or executive powers unless the powers are delegated. In view of this, separation of power is an integral part of the Nigerian governmental process based on her adoption of the US modeled presidential system of government since 1979. “When the people know their rights and act on them, the revolution is already on the go.”
Separation of powers is a key characteristic of a liberal democracy where the government has an inherent control system to ensure that no arm of it is able to abuse power. Under this model, the government is divided into three branches with separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility,
This political arrangem ent creates a division of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions of the government among separate and independent bodies. Such a separation limits the possibility of arbitrary excesses by government since the sanction of all three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws.
The separation of powers creates checks and balances which allows for a system based regulation that allows one branch to limit another, such as the power of Legislative to alter the composition and jurisdiction of the federal courts or the Judiciary ruling that a law is unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the Judiciary and the Legislative can not be said to be independent of the executive in our system. The executives mostly wield overwhelming influences on the other arms of the government.
This is an arm of the government that is solely responsible for making laws. Legislatures may be unicameral or bicameral. In Nigeria, at the federal level, we have a bicameral Legislative (the Senate and the House of Representative) while at states level, we have the unicameral Legislative i.e. the state Assemblies. Their powers includes writing and passing laws, enacting taxes, authorising borrowing, declaring a war, establishing the government’s budget, confirming executive appointments, ratifying treaties, investigating the executive branch, impeaching and removing from office members of the executive and judiciary, and redressing constituents’ grievances. Members are elected directly from constituencies representing an entire...
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