Political System

Nigeria is a federal republic with a presidential system. The constitution provides for separation of powers among the three branches of government. General elections held in February 1999 marked the end of 15 years of military rule and the beginning of civilian rule based on a multiparty democracy. General elections were held for the second consecutive time in April 2003. In both elections, President Olusegun Obasanjo and his party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), were victorious. Despite the consolidation of democratic rule following years of military dictatorship.

Branches of Government

Executive power is vested in the president, who is simultaneously chief of state and head of government. The president is eligible for two four-year terms. The president’s Federal Executive Council, or cabinet, includes representatives from all 36 states. The National Assembly, consisting of a 109-member Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives, constitutes the country’s legislative branch. Three senators represent each of Nigeria’s 36 states, and one additional senator represents the capital city of Abuja. Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated according to population. Therefore, the number of House members from each state differs. Members of the National Assembly are elected to a maximum of two four-year terms. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, and, on the state level, high courts, sharia courts, and customary courts. The president appoints members of the Supreme Court, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Administrative Divisions

Nigeria is divided administratively into the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) and 36 states, which are organized into the following six geo-political zones: South-West Zone—Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Oshun, and Oyo; South-South Zone—Akwa, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ibom, and Rivers; South-East Zone—Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo; North-West Zone—Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara; North-Central Zone—Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, and Plateau; and North-East Zone—Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe

Foreign Relations

Nigeria’s foreign policy revolves primarily around African affairs and emphasizes political and economic cooperation, peaceful dispute resolution, and global nonalignment. Regionally, Nigeria pursues tariff harmonization and the long-term goal of a customs union via the Economic Community of West African States, which it was instrumental in founding. Nigeria is also active in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, which seeks to improve economic conditions in Africa by eliminating trade barriers to exports and attracting investment and development aid. Nigeria maintains excellent relations with its neighbors having fully complied with the 2002 decision of the International Court of Justice in favor of Cameroon over control of the Bakasi Peninsula. Since mid-1998, Nigeria’s relations with the United States have improved steadily in accordance with Nigeria’s transition from military rule to democracy. Nigeria has also supported the United States-led war on terrorism. In March 2006, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo met with President George W. Bush in Washington, DC, to discuss the U.S.-Nigerian relationship. With a touch of drama immediately before the meeting, Nigeria turned over the exiled former Liberian leader Charles Taylor to a United Nations court in Sierra Leone to face allegations of war crimes. Nigeria is seeking a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. President Yar'Adua was also received in washington by President Bush in December 2007.

Membership in International Organizations

Nigeria belongs to the following international organizations: African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States; African Development Bank; African Union; Commonwealth; Economic Community of West African States; Food and Agriculture Organization; Group of 15; Group of 24; Group of 77; International Atomic Energy Agency; International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank); International Chamber of Commerce; International Civil Aviation Organization; International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; International Criminal Court; International Criminal Police Organization; International Development Association; International Finance Corporation; International Fund for Agricultural Development; International Hydrographic Organization; International Labor Organization; International Olympic Committee; International Maritime Organization; International Monetary Fund; International Organization for Migration; International Organization for Standardization; International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; International Telecommunication Union; Multilateral Investment Geographic Agency; Nonaligned Movement; Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; Organization of the Islamic Conference; Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries; Permanent Court of Arbitration; United Nations; Universal Postal Union; World Customs Organization; World Federation of Trade Unions; World Health Organization; World Intellectual Property Organization; World Meteorological Organization; World Tourism Organization; and World Trade Organization.

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