The Legislative Process in Nigeria

It is difficult to ascertain when legislatures came into being. I suppose that the difficulty lies in defining what is meant by legislature. In ancient Greece, the people of Athens gathered at the Acropolis, discussed matters affecting Athens and voted on them. Was such behavior legislative? In Igbo land, the entire male citizens above age fifteen gathered at the village square as Oha, Amala and discussed matters affecting the village and voted on what to do. Was such practice legislative? These were probably legislative behaviors except that they are not quite what we mean today when we think of formalized legislative process.
In 1066 AD, Norman Frenchmen invaded England at the famous battle of Hastings. The French defeated the English army and subsequently began French rule of England. The French Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror, became the King of England. He appointed his lieutenants the dukes, earls, counts, marquis etc of England. These folks, the Plantagenet, more or less, still constitute the English aristocracy in the present. Since the aristocracy in France itself are of German (Franks) and Scandinavian origin, the English aristocracy has Germanic origin.
The emergent kings of England had a tendency to claim a right to participate in French politics after all they came from France. If the monarchy in Paris was vacant, the English King, himself a French man, would vie for it. Failing to get it he could go to war with his cousins ruling France for the right to rule France. Thus England and France had numerous wars.
The English kings spent the treasury dry fighting wars with France. During one such war, the king of England, John, had less money to prosecute his foreign ambitions and called together his dukes, earls, counts etc to a council. His intention was to get them to support the war and puny up with the money to fight it. The Lords managed to get the king to sign a contract with them to henceforth consult them before he makes decisions involving spending of money. This was the famous Magna Carter of 1215. This date is deemed the origin of the English Parliament (the word parliament is French for council, those making legislative decision in a community).
Subsequently, the Lords met and advised their king on assorted array of issues. It came to pass that when the Lords met to advise the king, they were said to meet in Parliament. In the English world which, ip so facto, Nigeria is a part of, Parliament began in 1215?
The King did not have to accept the advice of the Lords but it was a good start to have a belief that the king needed others input in the making of laws and policies affecting his realm.
Subsequent developments in England led to the rise of the House of Commons. We shall not recount English history here but suffice it to say that the House arose to accommodate non-hereditary aristocrats who were by now becoming important in English economy. Gradually, the House of Commons displaced the House of Lords as the main policy making body in England.
Today, the House of Commons rules England. The House of Lords is essentially ceremonial and has no real power. The House of Commons makes decisions, send them to the House of Lords for input and may or may not accept the input of the House of Lords and sends its decisions to the Queen who is obligated to sign the decision into a parliamentary Act. In effect, the Queen is as ceremonial and nominal as the House of Lords.
England is now ruled by the people, not by the king and his Lords. The King and his Lords, apparently, are retained for historical purposes and otherwise are irrelevant in contemporary English politics. Indeed, the present British Prime Minister, Tony Blair has reformed the House of Lords and gotten rid of hereditary peers. Henceforth, only life peers, those the prime minister recommended and the queen honored can serve in the House of Lords; and do so during their lives but cannot pass such privileges to their children. Again, the House of Lords can only advice the House of Commons, but are not a co-policy making body with the House of Commons.
England established effective control of Nigeria in 1914. She bequeathed to Nigeria her parliamentary form of government.

5 thoughts on “The Legislative Process in Nigeria”

  1. This is good stuff. “When bad men combine,the good must associate”
    paraphrasing Edmond Burke. How can we save our Motherland from the vampires and blood sucking parasites in the country? Talking is necessary but neither adequate nor sufficient.

  2. umoru Jose Bob-manuel

    pls keep previaling on our leaders to do the write thing at the time it is being needed. the rule of law is not effective as it ought to be. keep me posted o latest moves. thanks.

  3. it was a very wonderful piece, i intend make refrences to it for my research. but what i wish to know here is, u talked perfecttly well of the american legislature how it works and many others, but u did not even talk about how the nigerian legislature is? how it works? its segments? nothing, u just killed it, made it look so terrible and not even worth rehabilitating, am sure there is someting good about it, besides what have u done to help or create change for others to follow, really we dont need people to tell us our faliures only that they should also tell us what to do to make us go forward. how will u write such a thing about your own country on the net. aint u suppose to be an ambassador of nigeria and hope that all will be well. its really disheartening.

  4. gosh! this had me reeling with laughter…so we do have a lot of people this bold in Nigeria. this is a typical scenario of the Nigeria state of affairs.
    This deserves an applause… i wish this campaigns could be brought to the streets.
    why fear this good-for-nothing men called leaders. but the uprising against them is crawling gently and of course we would get there, someday, we can’t lose hope on our beloved nation, NIGERIA!

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