LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT SSS 2
FOURTH REPUBLIC CONSTITUTION – 1999
General Abdulsalami Abubakar was the Head of State between June 1998 and May 29, 1999. It was during his regime that the constitution was prepared and enacted to return Nigeria to civilian government. The 1999 constitution was largely a recreation of the second republic constitution of 1979. The transition process by Gen. Abubakar climaxed on 29th May, 1999 which was the advent of the fourth republic till date.
MAIN FEATURES OF THE FOURTH REPUBLIC (1999) CONSTITUTION
- The constitution restored democracy in Nigeria.
- It instituted a presidential system of government – the executive president is both the HOG and HOS.
- The office of the Vice President was created as the 2nd in command. (2iC)
- The president and his vice enjoy sovereign immunity from arrest and court proceedings.
- The central (federal) legislature also known as the National Assembly (NASS) is bicameral. The Senate – 109 members (3 from each of the 36 states and 1 from the FCT). The House of Reps – 360 members (10 from each state). The Senate is headed by an elected president and deputy president. The House of Reps is headed by the speaker and the deputy speaker.
- Each of the 36 states is headed by an elected executive governor and his deputy.
- The legislature at state level is the House of Assembly.
- The term of office for the president and the governors is four years and maximum of two terms.
- Elected political leaders (president, governors, senate president or speakers) can be removed from office through impeachment process if found to have violated the provisions of the constitution.
- Separation of power among the three organs of government was defined.
MERITS OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION
- Political office holders in the executive are popularly elected. This ensures people participation in governance.
- Fixed term of office brings about a control on the power of the ruling party.
- Inclusion of federal character means fair representation of both majority and minority ethnic groups in the country.
- Supremacy of the constitution ensures that tyranny is discouraged.
- The Supreme Court having the power of judicial review ensures a check on the powers of the other arms of government.
- Fundamental human rights is respected to protect everyone engaging in legitimate activities.
DEMERITS OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION
- It is expensive to run due to duplication of functions.
- Executive actions that depends on the approval of the legislature may be delayed especially if the ruling party does not have majority of seats in the legislature.
- The executive can refuse to obey court judgment and go scot-free due to the sovereign immunity.
- The impeachment power could be used maliciously.
- Separation of power increases bureaucracy and thereby causes delay in policy/programme implementation.
Constitutional Development in Nigeria
Clifford Constitution – 1922
Richard Constitution – 1946
Macpherson Constitution – 1951
Lyttleton Constitution – 1954
Independence Constitution – 1960
Post Independence Constitutions – 1963, 1979, 1989 and 1999.
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