The 1989 Constitution: Main Features Of The Constitution

Decree No 12 1999 brought the constitution into existence before the promulgation of the decree, three institutions played prominent roles. They include: the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) set up in accordance with the Transition to Civil Rule (Political Programme) Decree 1987, to review the 1979 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.

Also, the Constituent Assembly consisting of a Chairmen, a Deputy Chairman, 450 elected members and 111 nominated members to deliberate upon the Draft Constitution prepared by the Constituting Review Committee. Lastly, the Armed Forces Ruling Council made some amendments to the drafted constitution before its final approval by the council who gave it the force of law by 1st October, 1992.

From the foregoing, the 1989 constitution stands as the 1979 constitution – as amended by the Constitution Assembly and approved by the Armed Forces Ruling Council. Thus, it provided for all the features of the 1979 constitution.

1. It maintained the Executive President System of government in which the President is the Head of state, the Head of government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The president was directly elected by the electorates and he is responsible to them. The president was to appoint his ministers on their merit, and the ministers are responsible to him. Appointment of the Ministers was to respect the federal character and their appointments must be approved by the Senate. The President was to be assisted by his Vice-President who was his running mate during the general election.

2. At the state level, the Governor remained the Chief Executive. He was assisted by the Deputy Governor who was his running mate during the general election. The Governor also appointed their Commissioners on merit basis but with the approval of the state Assembly. The Governor possessed the power to remove any commissioner at his own discretion. However, both the President and Governors could be removed from office by impeachment.

3. The constitution contained the principle of separation of powers as the members of the executive are appointed from outside the legislature. Also, the constitution divided the powers of government between the federal government and the existing twenty-one states.

4. The National Assembly was bicameral. The senate consisted of 3 Senators from each state and one from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The House of Representatives on the other hand was composed of 453 members. It provided for a President and a Deputy President as the head of Senates, while the House of Representatives was headed by a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker.

5. Under this constitution, there shall be a House of Assembly for each of the States of the Federation which consisted of two times the number of seats which that state has in the House of Representatives, and the members of a House of Assembly shall be elected on part-time basis. The Assembly should be headed by a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker.

6. The constitution provided for Fundamental Human Rights. It provided for the independence of the judiciary and it established Judicial Service Commission.

7. It provided for a Council of State, National Economic Council, Civil Service Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, National Boundaries Commission, National Defence Council, National Electoral Council, National Population Commission, National Primary Education Commission, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, National Security Council, the Nigeria Police Council and Public Complaints Commission, among others.

8. The constitution was supreme and it provided a list of function of a Local Government.

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