n Malawi Law Journal - The legislature, tenure security and democratic stability in Nigeria
|Article Title||The legislature, tenure security and democratic stability in Nigeria|
|© Publisher:||University of Cape Town|
|Journal||Malawi Law Journal|
|Affiliations||1 University of Benin and 2 University of Benin|
|Publication Date||Jan 2010|
|Pages||235 - 256|
This article critically analyses sections 64(3) and 68(1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 64(3) empowers the President to call the first sitting of the National Assembly and to dissolve it every four years from the date of the first sitting. Section 68(1)(g) prohibits legislators from crossing the floor during the tenure of their office. We argue that section 64(3) intrinsically undermines, and has been used in practice by the executive to undermine, the independence of the National Assembly, while section 68(1)(g) has been used by the ruling party to weaken the opposition in the National Assembly, thereby stifling the horizontal accountability of the executive. The fact that the anti-defection clause does not apply to elected executive officials means that those officials can defect from the parties on whose platform they were voted into power to other political parties, without seeking a fresh mandate from the electorate. This loophole has the effect of the ruling party undermining the opposition parties. It is argued that Nigeria's brand of democracy is far from being stable. Consequently, this article makes a case for the review of these constitutional provisions in order to guarantee the independence of the National Assembly and ensure the electoral and horizontal accountability of the executive.
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