LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT SSS 2
REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION OF 1989
On the 27th of August 1985, there was a coup (popularly referred to as ‘palace coup’) which toppled the government of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and brought in Gen. Ibrahim Babangida as the Head of State and President.
With the aim of returning Nigeria to civil rule, Babangida initiated the process for developing a new constitution by forming three different bodies in succession.
The first Body was the Political Bureau. It was composed of 17 members established in 13th January 1986. The body was to sample the opinions and feelings of Nigerians about their political future and write a report for the CRC to work with.
The second body was the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), a 46-member body constituted on 7th September 1987 to use the findings of the political bureau as a basis for reviewing the first and the second republic constitution and drafting a new one.
The third body was the Constituent Assembly formed on 11th May 1988 with a membership of 452. This body examined the drafted constitution by the CRC and submitted a final document to the administration of Babangida who made some amendments and promulgated it into law by a military decree. This was the constitution of the third republic. However, the republic was truncated after the result of the presidential election was annulled in 1992 by the incumbent military President.
FEATURES OF THE REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION OF 1989
- Presidential system of government was retained.
- Two-party electoral system was adopted.
- Fundamental human rights was entrenched in the constitution.
- Citizenship was defined – that is by birth, by registration and by naturalization.
- Secondary school certificate was adopted as the minimum qualification for the offices of president, governor and legislator. Prior to this time, an illiterate can hold such offices.
- Provision was made for recalling lawmakers who no longer had the confidence of the people.
- Lawmakers were to work on part-time basis.
- The judiciary arm of government was to be independent.
- The FCT (Abuja) would not have the status of a state.
MERITS OF THE REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION OF 1989
- Two-party system implied that electorates could make quicker decision of who to vote for.
- Part time legislature on allowance means the governance would cost lower.
- Setting a minimum educational qualification means an illiterate would not have a chance at the helms of political leadership.
- Process of recalling would cause law makers to work harder to avoid being recalled.
- Entrenchment of the fundamental human rights is a positive development.
Constitutional Development in Nigeria
Clifford Constitution – 1922
Richard Constitution – 1946
Macpherson Constitution – 1951
Lyttleton Constitution – 1954
Independence Constitution – 1960
Fourth Republic Constitution – 1999