In 1979, a new constitution based on the executive presidential system was promulgated which became effective on 1st October 1979. It is worthy to note here that while the parliamentary system which was abandoned acknowledged the supremacy of the parliament , the 1979 presidential system is based on the supremacy of the constitution and the doctrine of full separation of power between the three arms of government- the executive, legislature and judiciary.

The 1979 constitution vested on the president with tremendous amount of power, there was the principle of federal character to eliminate the fears of minorities

The features of The 1979 constitution  

  1. The 1979 constitution introduced the presidential system of government unlike the 1963 constitution that introduced the parliamentary system of government. 
  2.  There was the existence of complete separation of power between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary unlike the 1963 republican constitution that introduced incomplete separation or fusion of power.
  3. The president was the head of state and the head of government unlike the 1963 republican constitution where the head of state was different from the head of government
  4. There was a multiparty system
  5. The parties were funded by the government to avoid external interference
  6.  All the political parties in the countries must be recognized by the federal electoral commission (FEDECO) before it can function
  7. The political parties must establish offices least 2/3 of the 19 states in the country
  8. The constitution also provides that function on the concurrent list, for example education, health etc. are to be exercised by both the federal and the state government.
  9.  Functions on the exclusive list are the exclusive preserved of the federal government only (e.g.) control of the armed forces, police, foreign affairs etc.
  10. The state government is to legislate in all the power and function in the residual list.
  11. The constitution give the power to check and remove the executive when the executive goes against the rule or the constitution
  12.  The 1979 constitution provide that the vice president is not to be elected but to be nominated by the president
  13. The constitution also provides that the vice president is the chairman of the economic council

  • The Nigeria 1999 constitution  

In drafting the 1999 constitution of the federal of Nigeria, justice niki tobi led constitution/debate coordinating committee (CDCC) on what Nigerians want included in the constitution, inspite of this, the provisional ruling council (PRC) decided the inclusion of most sensitive issues of national importance.

The former head of state, general abdulsami abubarka signed into law the federal republic of Nigeria (promulgation) degree 1999 which gave the 1999 constitution the legal backing. However, the degreed stipulated that the constitution would not and did not come into effect until may 1999.

  • Most of the features that were lacking in the 1979 constitution were included in the 1999 constitution, such features includes. 

  1. The federal government is now made up of the central government and 36 state governments. 
  2. The Shari legal system was made optional for the states 
  3. The derivation principle of revenue allocation was included but the national assembly should determine the minimum and maximum limit of derivation 
  4. The president is to nominate the mayor of Abuja and approved by the national assembly before he/she could be consider to have been duly appointed 
  5. The new constitution developed much power to the state unlike the 1979 constitution where certain matters on the concurrent list were transferred to the exclusive list while those retained on the concurrent list were handled in such a way that they would remain exclusive list and they would be implemented that way, this has saved the ugly situations as a witness in the secondary republic when some state government took the federal government to court on issues of revenue allocation, education, taxes, housing etc.


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1979 constitution of Nigeria

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