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Nigeria, Government

Nigeria’s 1979 constitution laid out a government styled after that of the United States—made of separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches. A new constitution was promulgated in 1989 that introduced minor changes. General Sani Abacha suspended the constitution when he took over the country in 1993. Abacha presided over the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC), made up of senior military officers, which wielded supreme legislative and executive authority. Abacha paid lip service to international demands for democracy in Nigeria by holding legislative elections in April 1998 and scheduling presidential elections for October. He carefully orchestrated the electoral process to make sure that his followers were elected to the legislature and that he would be elected president. After Abacha died suddenly in June 1998, his successor, Major General Abdulsalam Abubakar, promoted a transition to democratic, civilian rule and appointed a constitutional commission to draft a new constitution. Legislative and presidential elections based on the old constitution were held in February and March 1999, and the newly elected civilian government assumed control in May. That same month, Nigeria adopted its new constitution, which was closely based on the previous document.

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