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Background of The Study

Nigeria is a Federal Republic composed of 36 States, and a Capital Territory, with an elected President and a Bi-cameral Legislature. It operates the Presidential system of Government with three distinct but complementary arms namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, each acting as a check on the other two. The Executive arm of Government, at the Federal level, consists of the President, the Vice-president and other members of the Federal Executive Council, while at the State level, it is made up of the Governor, the Deputy Governor and other members of the State Executive Council (Idada and Uhunmwuangho, 2012). The Legislature is equally found at the Federal and State levels. The Federal Legislature comprises a 109- member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives. The two, combined, is known as the National Assembly (the equivalent of the American Congress). At the State level, the Legislature is known as the House of Assembly. The President, The Governor, their Deputies, as well as members of the Legislature at both Federal and State levels are elected, under the present constitution, for four years, renewable only once. The Senate President is the Head of the Federal Legislature. The Judiciary interprets the laws and adjudicates in conflicts between the Executive and the Legislature. It carries out these functions through the various established courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the land, followed by the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, Magistrate Court, Area Court and Customary Court. Long before the creation of the entity called Nigeria, the various peoples that existed independently then had established their own indigenous systems of administration. There were recognized political entities such as the Benin Empire, Kanem Bornu Empire, Sokoto Caliphate, Oyo Empire, to mention a few. The Empires and Kingdoms had established contact with one another and with other peoples, through trading activities. Earlier in the 19th Century, the British had conquered the different parts of the present Nigeria at different times, and established control and authority over them. These areas were grouped into Protectorates namely Lagos, Niger Coast (also known as Oi1 River Protectorate), and the Northern Protectorate.  For ease of administration and control, the Northern Protectorate, and the Southern Protectorate (made up of Lagos and Niger Coast) were amalgamated in 1914   by the British. Thus come into existence the country presently known as NIGERIA. As time went on, British colonial rule, with its attendant alienation and subjugation of the indigenous people, resulted in agitation for self-government. The history of Nigeria was therefore dominated by ‘struggle for freedom’ between 1922 and 1959. Notable Nigerians like Sir Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnnmdi Azikwe, Chief Sire Ahmadu Bello, Chief Anthony Enahoro, to mention but a few, are known as the founders and fathers of Nigerian NATIONALISM. Given this struggle, the British gave some concessions to Nigerians. This gave rise to the series of constitutions that come into existence, to assuage the feelings of the people. The constitutions included the Clifford Constitution of 1922, the Richards Constitution of 1946, the Macpherson Constitution of 1951, and the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954. Although, with these constitutions, Nigerians were allowed limited contributions in the affairs of their own land, this could not stop the continuous clamour for total independence from colonial rule which had engendered social sufferings, as well as discrimination in the areas of employment, education, health, creational facilities, coupled with unjust and high taxation. On 1st October 1960, Nigeria became self-governing from British colonial rule and was administered at the center by the Federal government and three regions Governments in the East, West and North of the country. In 1963, the Midwest Region was carved out of the Western Region making a federation of four Regions. During this First Republic, a parliamentary system of government was in operation. This lasted till January 1966. The first military intervention in Nigeria occurred in January 1966 when the civilian government was overthrown   in a military coup. This effectively marked the beginning and succession of military governments in the nation’s political history. Military-rule continued till 1979 when the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo handed over power to the civilian government of President Shehu shagari. In the second Republic of President Shehu shagari, Nigeria adopted the Presidential system of government with an Executive President as the Head of the Federal Government. The administration was in power until 1983 when it was overthrown in a coup and the military once again come into governance. Nigeria again witnessed another round of military governments until 1993 when General Ibrahim Babaginda the head of the military government, put in place an interim civilian administration charged with conducting elections. This   interim administration lasted for only three months when it was replaced in a palace coup by the military. The new military administration was headed by General Sani Abacha. General Sani Abacha’s Government ruled the country from 1993 to 1998 when the Head of State suddenly died in June 1998. It must be pointed out that during this particular regime, Nigeria faced tremendous opposition from the International Community over human rights abuses, culminating in Nigeria’s suspesion from the Commonwealth. Indeed, at this period, Nigeria was treated like a pariah nation, tolerated only by a few and abandoned by other countries, including her traditional allies like Britain and Canada. With the sudden death of General Abacha in June 1998 General Abdulsalami Abubakar headed the new military administration, and was immediately confronted with the Herculean task of drawing Nigeria back from the brink of collapse and restoring her image. Admirably, this administration rose up to the occasion. The issue of human rights abuses was immediately addressed with the release of all political detainees and prisoners. The Government also announced and implemented a political transition program that ushered in a new civilian government in May 1999. Precisely in less than one year. Thus, General Abubakar administration was able to restore democracy back in Nigeria. Within that period too, Nigeria gradually regained her voice in the comity of nations. The administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was inaugurated on May 29, 1999. Simultaneously, executive governors were also sworn-in in the 36 states constituting the present Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the Presidential System of Government that is now in place, there is a National Assembly (equivalent of US Congress) comprising two clambers namely the Senate and House of Representatives. There is a State Assembly in each of the 36 States. Also there are 774 local governments throughout the Federation representing the third-tier of government. It is evident from the above political history that the military had dominated power for close to 30 years. The country is still undergoing a learning process and will continue to strive to nurture democracy and all its institutions to full development. The nation has come to accept that civilian democracy is the form of government that can guarantee full participation by the entire citizenry, ensure good governance, rapid progress and socio-economic development. Since democracy was restored in the country there has been a gradual and impressive transformation of the political landscape. In 1999 only 3 political parties contested elections in Nigeria. But in 2003, 25 new political parties were registered by the national Electoral body, bringing to 28 the number of political parties that contested the 2003 elections. The key test to the political future of Nigeria still lies in an enduring civilian governance. Elections conducted by civilian administration in 1965 mad 1983 had failed and led to military   interventions. Nigerians are, therefore, now strongly determined, more than ever, to lay a solid foundation for an enduring democracy that would be the pride of future generations of Nigerians. The present civilian government has shown its commitment to even development of the country and cases of marginalization in certain parts of the country. Today, Nigeria enjoys peace inspire of periodic crises, because consultation in handling issues. The administration is determined to transform the country, in line with democratic principles, into a land of opportunity, equity, of government’s use of dialogue and progress and prosperity for all.


         Nigeria as a country after gain independent from British colonial master in 1960 has experience series of political instability, crisis among ethnic groups. The failure of the first form of government adopted by Nigerians, that is parliamentary system of governance, in resolving or reducing conflict among rivalry groups led

to the adoption of the presidential system of governance provided by the 1979 constitution.

Inspite of its adoption to curtail the harsh conditions of the country, the 1979 Nigeria presidential system of government was unable to meet the need and aspirations of Nigerians, due to its inherent defects and the lack of political will on the part of its executors.

The 1999 constitution adopted also some provision of the 1979 constitution in ensuring the continuous existence of the presidential system for the progress of popular polices participatory exercise.

The problem of this study is to critically review and analyze how the presidential system of government in Nigeria from 1983 through 2007 have been, either by a positive applause or the other way round.


The aim of this study is to analyse how presidential system of government operate, the constitutional executive powers of the president, the idea of separation of power among the three organ of government and also the relationship between the president and the other two organs of government (legislature and judiciary).

This piece of work will also in all resource at it disposal, examine some domestic and foreign policies of the constitutional executive president (s) within the range of appropriated time of study (1983-2007).


         Due to the increasing rate of conflict and crisis and their effect in presidential basis of participatory governance, it becomes important that stakeholders be made aware of the need to guide against future occurrence of any intending or un-intending conflict or better still, whenever conflict arise between stakeholders, the constructive use of it (presidential frame) should be applied to increase productivity, still and to bring about new ideas, also the study would be of great importance to study to who would want to research into similar problem in future time.

In addition this study will provide some useful information that may be useful to stakeholders in conflict resolution in fashioning out efficient and effective ways of reversing the ugly circle of human deprivation, misery and want which characterizes the life of the citizenry.


         The following hypotheses are going to be tested in this course with a view to giving the research a scientific and empirical basis.

  1. In an executive presidential system of government the president must work in harmony with the legislature to successfully implement his government policies.
  2. The nature and character of any administration is determined by the president choice in appointing his cabinet and political appointees.
  3. In a presidential system of government, unions and stake-holders have influence in shaping executive policies.


         Research project involve a lot, both human and material resources. A researcher of worth would want a thorough and encompassing research work to be carried out by her in order to promote scholarship. However, this can be impeded in one way or the other by limited resources, time available and low degrees of response to and provision of information by respondents in spite of assurance of the researcher to treat the information supplied with confidentiality for this reason, this study will be limited to Nigeria presidential system of governance from the period of 1993 through 2007.


Republic: A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representative, and which has an elected or nominated president.

Parliamentary System: Is a system of democratic governance of a state in which the executive branch derives its democratic legitimacy from, and is held accountable to, the legislature (parliament); the executive and the legislative branches are thus interconnected.

Presidential System: Is a system of government where an executive branch is led by a person who serves as both head of state and head of government. That person is usually elected and titled “president,” but can also be an unelected monarch.

Maurice Duverger stated that the presidential system is characterized by the principle of the separation of powers, presidential elections by means of universal suffrage, presidential appointment and removal of ministers and because none of them are not political responsible to the parliament.

Joseph Lapalobara wrote that in the presidential system; the president, who is both the head of state and of government, is independent of the legislative branch and therefore does not depend much or continuously on this branch for his existence or survival; the legislative and executive branches are independent; the first is not obligated to approve the bills sent by the executive and the executive can veto bills from the legislative; the executive can appeal directly to the people through plebiscites and referendums; the legislative branch can judge and remove the president; the president has the power of appointing his cabinet members,

presenting bills and preparing the budget; the people elect the president and expect him to be their leader.

Leadership: Is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. This definition is similar to Northouse’s (2007, p3 ) definition leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal .

Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership knowledge and skills. This is called process leadership (Jago, 1982).