General Ibrahim Babangida came to power through a military coup (popularly known as a palace coup) on 27 August 1985 after he had successfully removed General Mohammadu Buhari, who took over power on 31st December, 1983.
It was for a transition to civil rule programme by his government that the 1989 Constitution was initiated with a Constitution Review Committee, the Constituent Assembly as well as a political Bureau. 17 members constituted the political bureau established on the 13th of January, 1986. This body wrote a report for the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) after going through the views of Nigerians about the country’s political future, their feelings and aspirations.
On 7 September, 1987, 46 members of CRC was constituted to use the findings of the political bureau as a basis for reviewing the 1963 and 1979 First and Second Republic Constitutions respectively. The CRC produced a constitution after the examination was carried out by the Constituent Assembly established on 11 May, 1988 with a membership of 452. The report was submitted to the administration of Babangida, with some amendments and later promulgated into law with a decree backing it up.
Features of 1989 Republican Constitution
- Presidential System of Government: The 1989 Republican Constitution retained the 1979 presidential system of government.
- Two-party system: The constitution adopted a two-party system of government.
- Part Time: Law makers in the country’s legislative houses were to be on part-time with sitting allowances.
- Federal capital: Abuja, the new Federal Capital would not have the status of a state.
- Independence of Judiciary: Provision was made for the entrenchment of the independence of the Judiciary in the constitution.
- Fundamental human rights: This was also entrenched in the constitution.
- Citizenship: By registration, by birth and naturalization was defined accordingly.
- Process of recall: The electorate could recall any law-maker that no longer had the trust and confidence of the people.
- Adoption of school certificate: This was adopted as the minimum qualification for the offices of the president, governors and lawmakers or legislators.
- Compilation of election results: Provision was made for a rounding off of fractions to a whole number arising from final compilation of election results/votes.
MERITS OF 1989 REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION
- Political offices: The adoption of a Secondary School Certificate as the minimum qualification for eligibility for participation in politics and in seeking political offices has succeeded in preventing illiterates from seeking such offices.
- Quick decision: Voters have the opportunity of making quick or better decision since two-party system was involved.
- Cost-saving: Placing law-makers on part-time with sitting allowances made the system cost-saving.
- Hard-work: The process of recall of lawmakers by the people was meant to promote hard work on the part of the legislators.
- Fundamental human rights: This was entrenched in the constitution.
DEMERITS OF 1989 REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION
- Ineffective law-making: Law-makers are placed on part-time and allowances, and therefore could hardly concentrate on effective law-making, since their attention was divided.
- Two-party-system: The politicians and the electorate were restricted to only two parties. Thus limiting the people’s choice. Multi-party system makes for a wider choice.