A Critical Analysis of Presidential Powers Under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution

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ABSTRACT

Constitutional power, the power fashioned out through the sovereign free will of the people, is basically meant to regulate the conduct of both the government and the governed. It is central to politics. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution vests executive powers in the President, who is the Chief Executive. Similarly, the 1999 Constitution confers on the President the power to assent to bills and modify existing laws. Even though there is provision for delegation of powers, such delegates act only for and on behalf of the President; hence such acts are acts of the President. In a country like Nigeria, whose history, especially as regards executive Presidency, dates back only to 1979, it is obviously difficult to attempt to imbibe the political model of the United States of America, whose executive Presidency is centuries old, without obstacles. When such powers as are conferred by sections 5, 58 and 315, as well as other specifically granted powers in the Constitution, are vested in one man called the President, without effective checks and balances. Without a clear frontier, as in section 5(1)(b), the tendency is that such powers will be misused. Power, it is said, “tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely”. In light of the foregoing, this thesis examines the gamut of the powers vested in the President, particularly as exercised since the coming into being of the 1999 Constitution.

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A Critical Analysis of Presidential Powers Under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution