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NIGERIA - The land of Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress

Government & Politics

Political System


Nigeria is a Federal Republic composed of 36 States, and a Capital Territory, with an elected President and a Bi-cameral Legislature. It operates the Presidential system of Government with three distinct but complementary arms namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, each acting as a check on the other two.
The Executive arm of Government, at the Federal level, consists of the President, the Vice-president and other members of the Federal Executive Council, while at the State level, it is made up of the Governor, the Deputy Governor and other members of the State Executive Council. The Legislature is equally found at the Federal and State levels. The Federal Legislature comprises a 109- member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives. The two, combined, is known as the National Assembly (the equivalent of the American Congress). At the State level, the Legislature is known as the House of Assembly.


Nigeria’s current constitution, the fourth since independence, came into effect on May 29, 1999. It provides for separation of powers among a strong executive, an elected legislature, and an independent judiciary.

Branches of Government

Executive power is vested in the president, who is concurrently Head of state and Head of government. The president is eligible for two four-year terms. The president’s Federal Executive Council, or cabinet, includes representatives from all the 36 states of the federation.

The National Assembly, consisting of a 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives, constitutes the country’s legislative branch.  Three senators represent each of the 36 states, while the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is represented by a Senator. Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated according to population of the States; therefore, the number of members of the House of Representatives vary among the states. The Senate President is the Head of the Federal Legislature.The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, and, on the state level, high courts, sharia courts, and customary courts. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Administrative Divisions

Nigeria is sub-divided administratively into the Federal Capital Territory, (Abuja) and 36 states as follow:South-West Zone—Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo; South-South Zone—Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers; South-East Zone—Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo; North-West Zone—Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara; North-Central Zone—Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, and Plateau; and North-East Zone—Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe.
Provincial and Local Government
Each of the 36 states has an elected Governor and a House of Assembly. The Governor is elected to a maximum of two terms of four years. The number of delegates to the House of Assembly is based on population usually about two to four times the number of members of the Federal House of Representative from the State and therefore varies markedly from state to state. Nigeria’s states are subdivided into 768 Local Government Areas, and six Area Councils in the FCT, Abuja each of which is governed by an elected executive (Chairman) and legislature (Councilors). The local government councils constitute the third tier of government below the Federal and State levels.

Judicial and Legal System

Nigeria’s legal system is based on a combination of statutory (legislative) law, English common law, customary law, and, in the north, Islamic law (sharia). Nigeria’s federal and state courts apply statutory and English common law, whereas local courts recognize the legitimacy of customary and Islamic law.

Electoral System

The president is elected for a maximum of two four-year terms. Members of the bicameral National Assembly, consisting of a 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives, are elected to an unlimited number of four year-terms. These conditions apply to the executive and legislature at both the State and Local Government levels of administration. Universal suffrage at age 18 applies to all elections. Winning candidates are determined according to the first-past-the-post system, whereby simple majority of the votes ensures victory. Also under this system, members of the National Assembly represent distinct geographic constituencies.