Urgent Need to Rethink Some National Issues

Urgent Need to Rethink Some National Issues

Since the inception of the Tinubu Administration, the nation has had to grapple with humongous challenges, not necessarily of its own making. Some of the core issues that have occupied front-burner in the nation today include, agitation for the creation of State Police, calls for a review of the Constitution, for Nigeria to return to Parliamentary democracy, strategies to shore up the ailing Naira and Presidential intervention to fix the prices of goods. In this Discourse, Chief Ferdinand Oshioke Orbih, SAN; George Oguntade, SAN; Dr Sam Amadi; Dr Akpo Mudiaga Odje and Peter Taiwo give their perspectives on these critical national issues

Nigeria at a Cross-Roads: Restructure or Die

Ferdinand Oshioke Orbih, SAN, FCArb, KSG

Historical Introduction

Nigeria as a country crystallised through the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates and the Colony of Lagos in 1914 by the British Colonial Administration, and has since been faced with several challenges of nationhood such as elites/the masses, North/South, assumed socialism/unitarism, Islam/Christianity. The units so amalgamated comprised over 250 distinct ethnic groups with diverse traditions, religions, and cultural, economic and historical backdrops. These ethnic groups were obviously brought together without their consent or contributions to the administrative arrangement, hence, the incessant tribal disputes, regional disputes, agitations and/or calls for constitutional and institutional reforms, and national re-engineering. 

It was not until 1946 that the country’s diversity appeared to have been recognised, by the division of the country into three regions under the Richards Constitution of 1946 for administrative convenience. The three regions comprised Eastern region (primarily Igbo), Northern region (predominantly Hausa/Fulani), and Western region (mainly Yoruba); later on, Mid-Western region was also created in 1963.  

The country at independence, alongside the Federal structure, practiced a parliamentary system of government, which ceased to exist with the military take-over of government in January 1966.

Despite its complications and challenges, federalism has so far remained the most feasible option for Nigeria, being a legacy from the British colonialists who in 1914 welded different ethno-religious, geo-political, ethno-cultural and linguistic nationalities into one political entity. The main rationales in federalism are reduction of conflicts, increase in harmony among the component parts, granting autonomy and self-determination and identity by the minorities, and limiting the majority’s impositions on the minorities in a reconciled arrangement.

Restructure or Die?

For the longest part of Nigeria’s political history, calls, agitations, clamour for constitutional reviews, amendments, conferences, national question, restructuring, among others, have partly dominated the public discourse. The political atmosphere also remains heated from time to time with military interventions and transitions, elections, opposition parties, marginalised elites/politicians/the public, and geo-regional, ethnic and religious groups, among others. These have prompted various constitution making and re-making; constitutional conferences and amendments; establishment of Constituent Assemblies, MAMSER, National Political Reforms Conference, Oputa Panel, various Revenue Allocation and Minority Commissions, and National Reconciliation Commission (NARECOM), among others. 

There is the argument that the Nigerian Constitution is so incurably defective, that what is required is a brand-new Constitution based on an agreement by the different nationalities that make up the country, while others argue that we continue to amend the Constitution in identified areas to solve specific problems. However, one thing is certain, unless the country is restructured to address some critical issues rocking its very foundation, Nigeria as presently constituted, will die either peacefully or violently. The choice really, is ours to make.  

Critical Issues

The critical issues that should form the focal point of the structuring of Nigeria include the following – National Security-Police and Armed Forces, Environment and Natural Resources, Revenue Sharing Formula, Models and Structures of Government, Public Service, Power Sharing, Local Government Reforms, The Economy, Proposals for judicial and Legal Reforms, Traditional Institutions and Cultural Reforms, National Media Reforms, Human Rights and Social Security, Peoples Charter and Social Obligations and other areas of our National life requiring Reforms. 

Space does not permit us to deal with all the identified critical issues, but we shall concentrate on two burning issues. The first one is the desirability or otherwise of State Police, and the second one, whether we should continue with our present Presidential system of government, or return to the Parliamentary one.

A Nation Under Siege

One of the greatest challenges currently plaguing Nigeria and questioning the adequacy or appropriateness of its governance structure and functioning, is insecurity. It manifests in the form of the threat of Boko Haram terrorism/violent extremism in the North East; armed banditry and kidnapping across the entire country, cattle rustling and farmers-herders conflict in the North-central, calls for secession in the South East and West, pipe-line vandalisation and incessant attacks on oil installations in the South-South. Really and truly, Nigeria a nation under siege. 

It would be recalled that Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) declares that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. Is the Government of Nigeria living up to the obligation imposed on it by Section 14 of the Constitution? We can only answer this question in the negative. 

The Nigeria Police

Nigeria has for long run a centralised Police structure headed by the Inspector-General of Police, who controls the entire Force from the Abuja and only takes orders from the President of the country. The statutory responsibility of  national security in Nigeria is vested in the President (the Executive arm of Government) through all security Forces established by law, as enshrined in the exclusive legislative list.

Incidentally, the United States of America whose governance template Nigeria substantially copies, practices a decentralised Police structure. In the USA, the command and control of the Police is not domiciled in one person; rather, there are several layers of autonomous and semi-autonomous security groups that take care of security issues based on geo-political jurisdiction. For instance, at the Federal level there is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the whole country. In addition, Most of the U.S States have Police at all levels-municipal, county (Local Government) and State level. Needless to add that, the US Police system is pretty effective.

It is pertinent to note that security architectures across the world are dynamic and constantly changing, to confront the challenges peculiar in that society. Thus, every society formulates its security strategies in ways that best relate to the environment and the prevailing security issues. The repeated failures of Nigeria’s centralised security structure in tackling crimes and terrorism call for change of template, in this instance, a change from the over-centralised security structure of the entire security Forces, to a decentralised structure of at least, the Nigeria Police Force. Section 4 of Police Act, spells out the functions of the Nigeria Police Force. 

We are of the view that the nature of security challenges or failure in the country, urgently requires that States should be allowed to maintain their respective Police Forces to tackle the escalating security challenges bedevilling and indeed, overwhelming the country. 

Since the Constitution already makes provision recognising the Governor of a State as the Chief Security Officer of the State, he should have the active constitutional power to order the Commissioner of Police or head of the Police in the State to action. As it stands, the Commissioner of Police in the State takes orders from the Inspector General of Police who is at the Federal Capital Territory, rather than the Governor of the State. That means that in the case of security emergencies of which time is of the essence, response is slow and often weak, if any. Of course, it renders the Governor of a State handicapped even though he is the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of the State, as enshrined in the Constitution. The same applies to Local Government Chairmen and other community leaders, who lack free access and control of the head of the Police in their communities for effective policing. 

Presidential or Parliamentary?

Under the 1960 Independence Constitution and the 1963 Republican Constitution, Nigeria operated a Parliamentary system of Government as bequeathed to us by the British. The Head of State and President of the country was Rt. Hon, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, while the Head of Government and Prime Minister was Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Balewa was Prime Minister not because he  contested and won election to that position, but because he was leader of the political party that had majority of seats in Parliament – the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) which formed a coalition with National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group (AG), being the leader of the Party with minority seats in Parliament, automatically became the leader of the opposition. 

The Parliamentary system had many advantages. The Government was a lot cheaper to run. The Prime Minister appointed his Minister, from members of Parliament. The membership of Parliament was part-time. Most of them had their separate callings, vocations and professions, and only attended parliament on part-time basis. For example, Chief Adekunle Ajasin was a parliamentarian and principal of the then famous Imade College, Owo. My late father, Chief M. C. K. Orbih was a parliamentarian and Principal of Blessed Martin Secondary Modern School, Uzairue. Parliamentarians were not on salary, but only drew sitting allowance. The longest sitting of Parliament at any one time was six consecutive weeks – for budget sessions. The Ministers were answerable to the people through their representatives – their fellow parliamentarians. Above all, the Parliamentary System in Nigeria came about vide an agreement between our founding fathers and the British.


The Presidential System of Government, is a trouser that does not fit Nigeria. The Nigerian President, is the most powerful President in the world. Our skewed Constitution made him in the image of a demi-god. The system is too expensive, and cumbersome to run. Because of the awesome powers of the President and the Governors, the checks and balances have broken down irretrievably, and the country is the worse for it. The Ministers and Commissioners are not responsible to any one, except the President and the Governors respectively. The Presidential system which is essentially governance by appointment, makes it easy for the President and the Governors to perpetuate, cronyism, nepotism and tribalism. 

The recent call by 60 legislators that Nigeria should return to the Parliamentary system, is nothing but a breath of fresh air. Nigeria must structure the country. The time to do so is now, lest we risk going the way of a Failed State. May God help Nigeria.

Chief Ferdinand Oshioke Orbih, SAN, FCArb, KSG, Benin City

Rethinking Government’s Approach to Crucial National Issues

George Oguntade, SAN

Government Intervention in Naira Depreciation

There is no doubt that ensuring fiscal stability is a core function of the Central Bank, and this is carried out through various policies and regulations.

With respect to the challenges posed by the current free fall and depreciation of the Naira, however, this will appear to be more of an economic problem than a fiscal problem. It is a case of, the chicken coming home to roost.

The Naira has for many years traded at an illusory value, propped up artificially by regular intervention of the Central Bank. Trillions of Naira have been spent on this this endeavour. The Federal Government has been borrowing and printing money at an alarming rate for so many years now, and the country’s resources have been mortgaged to the hilt as security. The manufacturing industry is effectively dead, bedevilled by a myriad of issues. From infrastructural deficiency like power generation, inefficient transportation systems, to the multiplicity of taxation. We end up exporting nothing of substance and importing everything we need, thereby, putting pressure on scarce foreign exchange. The Federal Government operates on a huge deficit, and the rampant printing of the Naira has resulted in galloping and uncontrollable inflation. The citizenry have lost faith in the Naira, and everyone has become a hoarder of foreign currency making it even more expensive. So, the only thing that Government can do in the short term is what it has been doing for years, which is to artificially support an arbitrarily pegged value. When the peg is removed, the Naira finds it real value, and this is what we are currently witnessing.  

In the real world, it is the productive capacity of a country that determines the value of its currency. Government needs to start by fixing critical infrastructure, like power generation and good transportation networks. Manufacturing needs to be prioritised in all ramifications, first to meet local demand, and then for export. It is when there is an alignment of these important components and real productive business is being conducted, that the true value of the Naira will be achieved. Until then, it is the usual merry go round and Government intervention which will bear no enduring fruit. The solution does not lie in Government fiscal interventions, but in Government economic regeneration.

Parliamentary or Presidential Legislature

Both systems are hugely expensive, and frankly speaking, I do not believe one is not preferable to the other in our present circumstance. I do not think the debate should be about, which of the two systems is better or preferable. The overhead costs associated with the current Bicameral Presidential system is extremely prohibitive.

What we should be looking to accomplish, is to bring about a reduction in the size and associated cost of the legislature, thus, ensuring that it is effective and fit for purpose. 

I will advocate a streamlined part-time Legislature, where Legislators are  generally remunerated on an ad-hoc basis. 

As an aside, you also have a situation where State Governors just ending their tenures manoeuvre their way straight to the Senate, mainly for the purpose of seeking and enjoying immunity from prosecution. This should not be so. The consequence is that the calibre of the Legislature generally speaking, does not engender public confidence, and this negatively impacts on its overall effectiveness.

George Oguntade, SAN, Lagos

State Police to the Rescue? 

Dr Sam Amadi

Nigeria seems to be losing the war against insecurity. In that desperation, the President, and the Governors grasp at the concept of State policing as the answer. But, is that the answer to the grave challenge of insecurity that is fast destroying State order, and making it difficult for sustained economic growth? 

State Police: Not a New Conversation 

There is much to be said in support of the idea of State policing. It is not a new conversation, that Nigerian political elites are having on State Police. In the 2019-2023 session of the National Assembly, former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, sponsored a Bill for the establishment of State Police in Nigeria. I think the Bill went through due process, but did not pass. Before then, there was intense conversation about the need for State Police during Buhari Presidency, when many States were overrun by Boko Haram terrorists. The debate did not result in a consensus. But, here we go again. Should we now establish State Police? How will it function? What are the benefits and the problems, we should expect from this policy?

Law and History

Let us start with law and history. Policing is a central feature of State order. The power to police, is a defining power of a proper State. State failure is mostly highlighted by the inability of a State to exercise its policing power consistently, comprehensively and coherently over its territory. A State that loses such power, is generally considered to be a failing or failed State. This is the reason that the most basic aspect of State order, is the creation and maintenance of a Police Force. Constitutional creation is determined by the nature of constitutional order. In a federal system, each level of authority will have an appropriate form of policing power to execute laws and enforce order, in its sphere of authority. In a centralised system, you may have one central Police Force with departments across the territorial divides of the country.

Nigeria started with a colonial government that decentralised political governance, even without granting real powers to the subunits. In 1958, one of the key debates about the future of the country centred on the form of its Police Force. There was a strong demand for State Police, considering how policing has been used against religious, ethnic, and social minorities. The neo-feudal nature of political power in precolonial and colonial Nigeria, meant that there was no guarantee of fair policing that respected the rights of the poor and powerless in the society. Fear of using the Police against political minorities and the powerless, led to agitation for State Police. The Willink Commission set up in 1957 to resolve these and similar questions, asked for a few more years of centralised policing before Nigerian ethnic groups develop the required trust and protocols for fair and just policing. Since then, we have the various Constitutions  – 1960, 1963, 1976, and 1999, all creating a Unitary Police Force. 

The 1999 Constitution in its schedule, lists the Police Force and any other security agency as exclusively for the Federal Legislature to regulate. Section 5 derives the executive power of the Federal and State governments, from their legislative competences. Thus, by virtue of Section 5(1) of the Constitution, the Federal executive has exclusive power to manage the Police Force, to the detriment of State executives. This is the status quo.

Reforms Required

Do we need to change it? Yes and no. We need a major reform of the Police Force. I think that reform, has three components. First, is reform to enhance political accountability of the Police Force. The Constitution and the Police Act 2020, do not impose strong and democratic control of policing in terms of operations. It is true that the Police Council and the President have political control in the conventional sense of appointments etc, and the Police Service Commission has regulatory authority; but, the Police Force is still conceived and managed as a repressive Force. There are no internal procedures to ensure that the Police Force is accountable to ordinary citizens, in the manner the society is policed. This is why impunity is rife, in the Police Force. The Police Force needs to be reconceived as a democratically accountable institution that provides security and safety to the people, not as a repressive Force as conceived during its birth under colonial rule. 

There is also the need for operational reform, to institutionalise operational independence to enhance effectiveness of policing. This requires that real operational authority should rest with divisional and local heads of the Police, and not the Inspector General of Police or the President. The Constitution says that the President appoints the Inspector General of Police, though in consultation with the Police Council and with approval of the Senate. The Constitution also gives the President, power to give general directions to the IGP. The result of all this, is that the Police Force has been used mostly to bolster the interest of the President, to the detriment of the public good and against the rights of the people. As democracy is a system to restrain the government from hurting the people, democratic policing would require a Police Force that cannot be easily harnessed to the wagon of political office holders. This reform is important, in a society where there are still significant neo-feudal encrustations on the exercise of political power.  

The third desirable reform, should be to enhance the transparency and accountability of the Police Force as an institution. People do not know that, the Police Force is one of the darkest institutions of the Nigerian State. It has historically acted criminally, in many instances. There is a need to make Police internal processes transparent, by making them fully documented and digitalised. Modern policing should be like any other public service, whose defining features are effectiveness and accountability. There can be no real accountability, in a system that is closed and opaque. We need to have documentation of all aspects of policing, for reviewability and accountability. 

Accountability on Police matters, has two aspects. First, there must be external accountability, relating to how the Police deal with citizens and other residents in Nigeria. Every infraction in the name of policing, should be remedied in a manner that re-establishes the right of the people and the democratic control of policing. Second, the administration of the Police Force should be transparent and accountable. Police officers themselves are the worst victims of unfair treatment, that borders on gross violation of fundamental rights at the hands of superiors. There should be accountability about what happens internally in the Police Force, including denial of fair wages and salaries. Junior officers are often treated like slaves. Such pathology manifests in the gross abuse of citizens, during Police operations. We should restore dignity and fairness to Police officers, and hold them accountable for abusive behaviour to citizens and residents. 

With these three reforms in mind, do we need to have State police? Can we achieve them without having State Police? What are the dangers of State policing in the current context? Without these reforms, a State Police will be as corrupt and inefficient as the current Nigerian Police Force. It is true that decentralisation is required for efficiency. But, decentralisation alone will not solve the problem. We need to have transparency, accountability and operational autonomy in the manner I have explained in this paper, to change of policing in Nigeria. More importantly, the history of policing in Nigeria shows that State Governors have been very abusive of executive power, and have more readily used policing against the political opponents to constrain democracy and violate human rights. 

State policing will be a good adjunct, to true federalism. If we want to restructure the country to give States or regions more political power and resources for economic and social development, we need to match that with policing power. But, if we construct State Police in the image of the current Federal Police Force, then we will replicate the corrupt and inefficient performance of the Nigeria Police Force. That is not what we need now.

Dr Sam Amadi, Abuja

The Nigerian Federation and Agitation for State Police

Dr Akpo Mudiaga Odje

This issue has lingered on since the advent of our incipient democracy in 1999. Erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo had to contend with this volatile agitation, especially from the South West States which was predominately controlled by the Alliance for Democracy and/or Afenifere at that material time in our chequered history.

The progressives from the South West and some from the North, pungently agitated for State Police, in order to curb the high rising wave of insecurity and banditry in the nation, and in particular, the States.

However, one strong point that stultified this agitation for State Police, was the fear of the misuse and abuse of same by the Governors. Indeed, this fear is real, and cannot be wished away. We are not unaware that even under the present Police structure and architecture, which is basically Federal, some Governors nevertheless, influence posting of Commissioners of Police, and use them to terrorise perceived opponents.

Notwithstanding the above however, the need for State Police has reached its crescendo. The present state of insecurity and banditry, especially kidnapping has assumed a fighting dimension, that has now necessitated the birth of State Police.

This apprehension informed the recent meeting between Mr President and the Governors, on how to curtail the huge challenge of insecurity in the West, East, South/South and North, in particular.

Some Statistics About the Nigeria Police

The Nigerian Police Force has about 371,000 members to Police over 200 million Nigerians. This is a very difficult task, both in terms of physical manpower, and provision of ammunition.

The United Nations, expects a Police police a hundred and fifty persons as basic security! 

So, 371,000 Policemen to monitor over 200 million Nigerians!  That leaves us with one Police Officer to about only God knows! And from this 371,000, the VIPS (“Vagabonds In Power” according to the great Fela Anikulakpo Kuti), have acquired almost a 100,000 as their security and domestic staff!

It’s a shame!

As a result of the above, many communities do not feel Police presence, hence, the bandits now have a field day manifesting and inflicting their evil acts on the battered populace.

Indeed, during President Tinubu’s tenure so far, over 200 persons were slaughtered in three Local Government Areas in the Plateau, some too in the Benue and lots more in Kaduna State.

We retrospect the lamentation of a former Governor in Zamfara State in 2020, who stated that only 30 Policemen were guarding over 100 villages in his State! These horrendous statistics of our collective state of insecurity, will readily outweigh the formidable opposition against State Police. In the some contemporary Constitutional Federations, Police has been decentralised, like in the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Belgium and even the British who practice the unitary system, has also devolved its policing to a lower level.

Accordingly, the time has come for us to embrace this idea of State Police with almost urgency, as the great 18th Century Poet Victor Hugo, quipped to wit:

“No amount of standing army can stop an idea which time has come”.

 Way Forward for State Police in Nigeria

Indeed, it is axiomatic that Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which establishes the Federal Police will have to be tinkered with, vis-à-vis the removal of Police from the Exclusive Legislative list into the Concurrent Legislative List therein.

This will be the Constitutional Authorisation for the creation of State Police in Nigeria. The 10th National Assembly has budgeted as usual the whooping sum of N1 billion to amend the Constitution vide the National Assembly Constitutional Review Committee (I was a pioneer Staff member of the maiden National Assembly Constitutional Review Committee in 2002).

State Police, Powers, Jurisdiction and Funding

The first point to agree on, is the extent and scope of powers to be granted to the State Police vis-à-vis the Federal Police.

Their powers must be clearly spelt out in their respective laws and the Constitution. With power comes the issue of jurisdiction. How far will the jurisdiction of the State Police go and end? What are the offences it can arrest for, and charge to court for?

In addition, the funding of the Police Force, whether Federal or State, is a herculean task. What will be the procedure for the funding of the State Police? Its recurrent and capital expenditure? Are the States economically viable and strong enough to add State Police to the payroll of their already over bloated civil service?

There must be a Constitutional direction to the States on the funding of State Police, their salaries, allowances, welfare and logistics required to police the State. Put succinctly, the source of funding State Police should be clearly spelt out in the amended Constitution and be included as a first line charge in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the States.

Appointment of Commissioner of Police for State Police

Here again resonates the fears of Governors appointing their cronies to man State Police, with a view of hounding opponents.

Even if a proviso is added, to the effect that the House of Assembly should confirm such an appointment, we all know our democracy and can’t pretend about it, that majority of the Houses of Assembly are stereotypes and rubber stamps, who will always kowtow to their Governors.

This is very germane issue has to be thoroughly looked into, if the incubus of nepotism and favouritism are to be permanently blocked out of the appointment process of a State Police Commssioner of Police.

Even with all the Constitutional checks against abuse of State Police, the highly cerebral Olu Fasan, writing under the banner “Insecurity: Nigeria Needs Regional Police, Not State Police”, declared that:

“No Constitutional Safeguards will stop State Governors from hijacking State Police for political ends; State Police will destroy local democracy in Nigeria”.

Voice of Reason!

 Calls for Reintroduction of Parliamentary System of Government into Nigeria

Indeed, students of history knew how the Nigerian nation on her independence on 1st of October, 1960, was handed down and/or bequeathed to her, by her colonial master, the United Kingdom with a parliamentary/cabinet system of government.

Students of Government, understand clearly that parliamentary and cabinet systems are the same form of Governance. And, in that nomenclature, the Prime Minister is usually the repository of wide powers than any other participant in that system.

In that arrangement, Ministers are also Parliamentarians, thus, wielding the amalgamation of both executive and legislative powers, duties and responsibilities.

Political Systems Failures in Nigeria

Away from the conception of that political entity, to the return of same into our recent democracy post-1999.

We recall that this parliamentary system lasted only six years in Nigeria, as the operation Dimassa, the 15th January, 1966 coup, led by radical Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, terminated its life span. Amongst issues raised in the coup, included nepotism, favouritism and corruption by the politicians.

Subsequently, after 13 years of military rule from 1966 – 1979, the then Military Head of State, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo commendably handed over power to the democratically elected government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Thus, on 1st October 1979, Nigeria started the practice of the Presidential system of Government. Again, this system was cut short by the military coup of December 31st, 1983 in a speech voiced over by late Gen Sanni Abacha.

Now why was the system truncated?

Amongst issues raised in the coup speech was squandermania, high state of corruption, nepotism, and favouritism.

I have tried to set out the reasons for the termination of both systems of governance as practiced in Nigeria between 1960 – 1966, that is, Parliamentary/Cabinet system, and the Presidential system, between 1979 – 1983.

Above all, to also find out the raison d’etre why both systems were overthrown by the military. As we can now glean from the above recitals, the reasons for sacking both systems are basically the same. And that is corruption, favouritism and nepotism.

At no point did anybody including the Military, state that it was because of the high cost of running the systems, that made them to intervene. Rather, I think the high state of corruption employed by the practitioners, was the reason for their comprehensive failures.

 Corruption Makes Our Presidential System too Expensive to Practice

Every system has a potential to be expensive, unless leakages and waste are reduced to the barest minimum by patriotic leadership. Nigeria has however, been bedevilled by myopic leadership, timid administrators and unpatriotic managers as well as, in fact, “damagers”, who we have had the unfortunate lot to rule over us.

In other words, this system is expensive to run in Nigeria, because those who run the system are Expensive Looters! In what Fela Anikulapo-Kuti branded as “Authority Stealing”, that has stultified our development and ruined our nation. If not, how else can you explain that this parliamentary system that we could merely operate for only six years, is still being practiced with remarkable vigour for centuries now in the United Kingdom!

Parliamentary and Presidential Systems Still Flourishing in UK and USA 

The cabinet system is in its near State of Eldorado, in the Britain till today. A fortiori, even if Britain started the practice of parliamentary system on October 1st, 1960 when it granted us independence, Britain would as at today, be practicing that system for 64 years now, whilst our own version terminated only after in six years after 1966.

Again, the Presidential system we are crying is too expensive to run, is still been practiced from 1776 in the ever flourishing democracy of the United States of America. Yet, our first attempt to practice same lasted for barely five years!

Again, even if the United States started the Presidential system on October 1st, 1979 when we started its practice, the American version will now be 45 years old, unlike our own which collapsed in barely five years.

This comparative analysis is to let us appreciate the axiomatic fact, that there is nothing, and absolutely nothing, wrong with either the parliamentary or presidential systems of Government. However, there is everything wrong with the Nigerians that operated, and still operate these systems in Nigeria. Nigerians should look inwards, especially those who operate any of the systems, and check our unrestrained penchant and appetite for primitive accumulation of public funds required to run the system.

The Operators steal the recurrent budget required to run the system, and this makes it twice as expensive as it ought to be run.

Looting of Public Treasury in Nigeria and the Political Systems

The former EFCC Czar, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, publicly declared that 25% of the Recurrent Expenditure of Government to run the system, is lost to corruption! This is the act that makes the Presidential system too expensive to run in Nigeria!

Here in our presidential system, only the tickets for the entourage of the President or a Governor or even a Minister, is enough to construct roads for our people. In addition, the estacodes paid for the entourage, including feeding and accommodation, can build bridges across the country.

The budget of the National Assembly has recently been reviewed upward by the same National Assembly, with over N341 billion.. This is in addition to buying cars of N160 million each for 109 Senators, and 360 members of the House of Representatives.

I recall that when I was in the National Assembly as a Special Adviser on Constitutional Matters to the Deputy Speaker, one principal officer alone, had over 28 cars assigned to him with five motor bike riders. It is still the practice till today! Their salaries and allowances, are eating very deep into our common wealth. Constituency projects are mostly phantom scams, to siphon funds from the system.

If we write on this issues of waste, leakages and corruption which has made the original brand of our presidential system too expensive for the governed in Nigeria, we may require 35 pages of this vibrant newspaper to pen them down.

It is on this note, that I pungently adumbrate that rather than change the political system, we should change our laws to reduce salaries, allowances, estacodes, entourages, recurrent budgets, logistics, constituency projects, ways and means advances, security votes etc, and you will see how less expensive the presidential system is, to govern us.

Since 1776, the Americans only amended their Constitution 15 times as at 1974, after about 200 years. Whereas in Nigeria, we have over amended our constitutions and even Magically enacted Five Constitutions in only 64 years.

(1960, 1963, 1979, 1989 and 1999 Constitutions for Nigerian).

Nigeria has Practiced Nearly All Forms of Government, Yet, No Progress

In 64 years, we have practiced to wit:

I. Parliamentary System 1960 – 1966

II. Military Rule 1966 – 1979

III. Presidential System  1979 – 1983

IV. Military Rule 1983 – 1991

V. Diarchy, (Military and Civilian Rule (together) Under Gen Ibrahim Babangida)  1991 – 1993

VI. Interim National Government 1993 – 1993

VII. Military Rule 1993 – 1999

VIII. Presidential System 1999 to date.

 Kakistocracy has Killed Nigeria

As gleaned from the above, Nigerians have practiced nearly all forms of government, including Diarchy and Triarchy! All have failed, and have become very too expensive because what we have been practicing in reality, is called a Kakistocracy!! This is Government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a State, and also called Plutocracy!!


The problem therefore, lies not in the systems we have practiced, but in the inherent profanity, vainglorious desire, and unmatched cocktail of greed of the Nigerian Character, and her incorrigible Leadership

And, the above requires urgent physical and spiritual amendments, to set Nigeria free and free indeed!

Dr Akpo Mudiaga Odje, LLD, LLM (Merit) (London), Member, British Council  

Examining the Issue of the Reintroduction of the Parliamentary System 

Peter Taiwo

On February 14th, 2024 a Bill by the lower chamber of the House of Assembly minority leader Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers State) was introduced to the floor. The Bill at the time of its introduction was supported by 60 members of a group called “Parliamentary Group”, seeking to change the current system of government from Presidential to Parliamentary system. The Bill supporters are of the view the current system is too expensive, powers given to the Executive too excessive, especially to appointed officials within its branch who are not accountable to the people, but to the President.

 A system of government is not a Bill or an Act of the National Assembly, this is the Constitution  (the grundnorm). If an alteration of this magnitude is to be done, it must be annulled for a new Constitution with a different system to take proper effect.

Concerns of the Parliamentary Group

Now looking at the concerns of the parliamentary group, it could be argued to be legitimate for the following reasons: i) The current system is expensive ii) Appointed executive members are not answerable to the public, only the President iii) They hold far too much power than elected officials like the members of House of assembly iv) No proper accountability v) No proper challenge posed by the opposition vi) National issues take a lot of time to be addressed, which is dangerous.

Advantages of the Parliamentary System 

The parliamentary system would help with accountability from the Prime Minister who is a member of the House of Assembly, Leader of the Party with the majority or a coalition government like we had in 1960. Also, members of a cabinet that are appointed would be elected officials answerable not just to the Prime Minister but the public, just like the British parliamentary system. Members would be able to bring issues facing their different consistencies to the leader, and get answers with actions taken. Like in Britain, every week the Prime Minister answers questions from other members of parliament while also debating with the leader of the opposition party, directly challenging the Prime Minister on a host of issues.

Disadvantages of the Parliamentary System 

However, this system also practised by our colonial master, Britain, can be a double edged sword with its disadvantages such as: i) In reality it is actually more expensive ii) Our Police system, will it still be headed by the Federal Government, or see a move to State policing iii) Like the First Republic, is Nigerian politics ready and mature to overlook regional politics and focus on national politics iv) Issue of number of seats allocated to each region would need to be addressed, to avoid some controlling others v) Issue of Census for proper resources allocation vi) Do we still have a ceremonial President or not.

 Like I said above, it is far more expensive to run. We would have a President, probably ceremonial, two Houses of Assembly on the Federal level, while at the State level we have a Mayor or a Governor with its own assembly just like London that has a Mayor, there is the London Assembly, which acts as the City’s legislative body.


A lot of uncertainty with this system at the present moment: i) The policing system which in 1960 and 1963 Constitution, put them under the control of the Prime Minister or nominated government officials. Will this system be returned to, or there would be a new modification with State policing in mind. In Britain, the policing system is not State-based, but a commitment to serving the public through consent-based policing.

 Another uncertainty, is the issue of politicians’ readiness to focus on national politics instead of regional politics. Remember, this was one of the reasons that led to the deposition of the First Republic by the Military.

 The issue of census and resources. This also another issue that led to the end of the First Republic. Currently, Nigeria has not been able to conduct a new census since 2006, which would be important to know which part gets what or would there be another modification to properly distribute resources. Also, there is a need to actually know the number of people in the country.

 Yet another issue, is the Clarity between the President (Governor General) and Prime Minister. In 1960, the Governor General was ceremonial, basically holding office on Her Majesty’s pleasure. In 1963, Section 34 of the Constitution stated that the President be elected by secret ballot at a joint meeting of both Houses of Parliament. The President would also be the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation. While Section 106(3) of the same Constitution put the prime minister in control of the Nigeria Police. One nation, two masters, hopefully this would be clarified if there would be a transition.

Parliamentary system can bring about better economic performance, proper accountability which favours the citizens depending on government ability to function well but then again the cost. It all depends on our specific needs as a nation which is more important.

Peter Taiwo, Legal Practitioner, Lagos

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