Political System

Nigeria is a Federal Republic with a Presidential System of Government (Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary). The 1999 constitution (as ammended) provides for separation of powers among the three branches of government.

General elections held in February 1999 marked the end of military rule and the beginning of civilian rule based on a multiparty democracy. General elections were held for the second consecutive time in April 2003. In both elections, President Olusegun Obasanjo and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), were victorious. In May 2006, however, the Nigerian Senate rejected a constitutional amendment that would have permitted a third term. On 21st April 2007, a third Presidential Election was held that heralded in Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as a President. On May 2010, President Yar’Adua died in office after a protracted illness. In line with the provisions of the constitution, the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, was sworn in as the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on Thursday, 6th of May 2010 to conclude the term of Late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua. After the completion of that term, he contested and won the Presidential Election in 2011. He ran alongside others on the platform of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and candidates from other opposition parties.
On the 28th of March 2015, the fifth Presidential Election since the return to democratic rule in 1999 was held with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) emerging as the President elect.


Nigeria’s current constitution, the fourth since independence, went into effect on May 29, 1999. Modeled after the U.S constitution, it provides for separation of Powers among the Executive, an Elected legislature, and an Independent Judiciary. The constitution proclaims personal freedom and a secular state,but permits Muslims to apply Sharia, or Islamic law. The 1999 constitution, which was bequeathed by the military, has witnessed its first amendments, focusing essentially on Electoral reforms. This was adopted by the National Assembly in July 2010.

Branches of Government

Executive power is vested in the President, who is simultaneously the Head of State and government. The President is eligible for two four-year terms. The President’s Federal Executive Council, or Cabinet, includes representatives from all 36 federating states as ministers. 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 Nigeria’s 36 states and one additional senator representing the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated according to population. Therefore, the number of House members from each State differs. 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 the members of the Supreme Court, subject to recommendation from the National Judicial Council (NJC) and confirmation by the Senate.

Administrative Divisions:
Nigeria is divided administratively into the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) and 36 federating states which are cartegorized into the following geo-political zones:
1. South-West Zone-Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun and Oyo
2. South-South Zone- Awka, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo,Akwa-Ibom and Rivers
3. South-East Zone- Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi,Enugu, and Imo
4. North-West Zone- Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara
5. North-Central Zone- Benue,Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, and Plaeau
6. North-East Zone-Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.

Provincial and Local Government

Each of Nigeria’s 36 states has an elected Governor and Elected members of the House of Assembly. The governor is elected to a maximum of two four-year terms. The number of delegates to the House of Assembly is based on population (three to four times the number of delegates each state sends to the Federal House of Representatives) and therefore varies from state to state within the range of 24 to 40 members. The totality of the 36 states are subdivided into 774 local government areas, each of which is administered by a Local Government Council that is responsible for supplying basic needs. The Local Government Council which is regarded as the third tier of government below the Federal and state Levels, receive monthly subsidies from the National Federation Account.

Judicial and Legal System

Nigeria’s Legal System is based on a combination of statutory 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.


The President and the bi-cameral National Assembly, consisting of a 109-member senate and a 360-member House of Representatives. The Presidential and the State Governors are elected to a maximum of a two year term whereas members of the National Assembly are not limited to terms of office. Universal suffrage at 18 years applies to all elections. Winners at election are determined by first-past-the-post system, whereby a plurality of the votes ensures victory. Also under this system, members of the National Assembly represents distinct geographical constituencies.