Back to the Future: Nigerian Lawmakers Eye Parliamentary Return!


Revisiting Nigeria’s Governance Structure: Understanding the Proposed Parliamentary System

In a move that could reshape Nigeria’s political landscape, about 60 lawmakers have initiated a proposal to abolish the current presidential system of government and transition back to a parliamentary system. This sweeping constitutional amendment, driven by concerns over the “imperfections” of the presidential system, aims to significantly impact Nigeria’s governance structure if passed.

The parliamentary system, once the hallmark of Nigeria’s First Republic, is being championed as a more accountable, responsible, and less expensive form of government. Unlike the presidential system, where power is concentrated in the hands of the executive, the parliamentary system distributes power between the legislature and the executive, ensuring greater checks and balances.

Understanding the Parliamentary System:

In the parliamentary system, the Head of Government is the Prime Minister, who is elected from the majority party in the legislature. The Prime Minister leads the government and is accountable to the parliament. The Head of State, often a ceremonial role, is separate and typically held by a President or a Monarch.

History and Context:

Nigeria initially adopted the parliamentary system at independence, which proved effective during the First Republic. However, political instability and the military coups that followed led to the adoption of a presidential system, mirroring that of the United States but with significant powers vested in the executive.

Key Changes Proposed:

  • Prime Minister as Head of Government: The President would be replaced by a Prime Minister elected from the legislature, reducing the concentration of power in the executive.
  • Ceremonial President: The President’s role would become largely symbolic, similar to a monarch, with limited executive powers.
  • Legislative Elections: Governors and Local Government Chairmen would be elected by their respective legislative bodies, potentially reducing the cost and influence of large-scale election campaigns.
  • Streamlined Administration: The proposed system aims to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and foster closer collaboration between the executive and legislative branches.

Implications for Nigeria:

If these proposed amendments are passed, Nigeria could see a more accountable and responsive government, with a potentially smaller central government, reduced administrative expenses, and increased legislative scrutiny over the executive.


The move to return to a parliamentary system of government represents a significant shift in Nigeria’s governance structure. It reflects a desire to address the shortcomings of the current system and create a more efficient and accountable government. As these bills spark national conversation and debate, the future of Nigerian governance hangs in the balance, awaiting a decision that could shape the country’s trajectory for years to come.

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