The latest constitution of Nigeria that was created to rule our country was accepted in 1999. This document became the fourth in Nigerian history to appear in the law field. However, there is a huge history before that constitution and its power.
A lot of things have been changed, modified or even disappeared from the life and laws of Nigerians. It is easy to see how, throughout the years, Nigeria is developing its legal system, bringing new political, economic and social opportunities for the people.
What is constitution itself?
The constitution is the main law that any country has. It’s not a secret that constitution is a special normative legal act, which has the highest legal power. Its aim is to structure and organize the political, legal and economical sphere and also, to create some laws for the country's government. This document is the foundation of the legal status of a country. It controls the relationships between the individual and those who rule the country.
The order of state formation and the relationship between different sides are determined and defined by this “law-list”. The Constitution has a specified structure with a Preamble and is followed with other parts that describe everything concerning the process of organizing the country’s life. Nigeria has come a long way when it comes to forming their original set of laws. What is the situation like right now? Let’s discover this together.
The basic features of the 1999 constitution:
1) The Preamble is intended to be a page of contents for the Nigerian legislation. Chapter 1 has general provisions and gives us a general look and summary statements. It has the main rule that the Constitution shall remain the most powerful authority for people and government.
2) The next part is about Government. It claims that the country’s law should be based on the rules of democracy and justice among society. The administration framework in Nigeria is indicated by the constitution and demonstrates that people are working on the presidential arrangement and the President should be taken as the formal head. Segment 130-140 of the 1999 constitution talks about the President of the Federation.
READ ALSO: Challenges facing rule of law in Nigeria
3) The next chapter is dedicated to the territory. All the details that affect the group of people in the country are emphasized here. It also talks about citizenship and ways of achieving this.
4) Chapter 4 is dedicated to the main rights that serve as the foundation of every citizen’s life. Separation of powers can be found in section 4, 5 while section 6 delegates certain powers to be among organs of Government in Nigeria. The Section 4 of the 1999 constitution discusses administrative arm of Government, Section 5 has focuses on the Executive and 6 discusses the individual.
5) Section 5 is about sovereignty and legislature. The power can be characterized as the capacity that a country can control without outside obstruction. Nigeria, due to the 1999 constitution, is a sovereign state, and this fact can be found in segment 2 of the Nigerian law act.
6) Chapter 6 is dedicated to the Executive arm. It discusses the position of a President, candidates, and elections. The second and third parts are dedicated to state executive and other issues.
7) The following chapters discuss Federalism and Constitutionalism. Particularly, Chapter 7 is about Nigerian Court and everything connected with it. In addition, Chapter eight is about the Federal Capital Territory. Federalism manages the division of Government, state, and local government.
History of Nigerian Constitution
The Constitution is the highest law in Nigeria. There’s a certain history that resulted in the creation and these “rule-sets”, however, the current constitution was established only in 1999. It is the “successor” of the three previous constitutions of 1960, 1963, 1979 and 1993. The first constitution in Nigeria was made on 1 October 1960. That year Queen Elizabeth II became the main person to have power over Nigeria. Nigeria's second constitution set up the nation as a federal republic. It had been in use since October 1963 (Nigeria's third year as a free country).
The constitution, which acquired the Second Republic, was established in 1979. It surrendered the Westminster framework for a certain presidential one that is similar to the “American’ style. It reflects the formation of political parties in different states in Nigeria; these parties had to be registered.This makes it very much like the American system of government. The constitution in 1993 was adopted in Nigeria due to the recognition of a Third Republic.
The 1999 constitution was adopted after the 1993 constitution and started the Fourth Republic of Nigeria. It highlights and emphasizes different important areas of Nigerian laws and policies, talks about citizenship, the executive head, law systems, forms of elections, police force, political parties, etc.
President Goodluck Jonathan signed two amendments to the 1999 constitution in January 2011. The most crucial changes started to become a reality since the constitution had come into utilization in 1999. Such features were caused by the preconditions that came up as a result of the development in Nigeria.