In the 19th Century, the British had conquered the different parts of the present Nigeria at different times, and established control and authority over them. These areas were grouped into Protectorates namely Lagos, Niger Coast (also known as Oil River Protectorate), and the Northern Protectorate. For ease of administration and control, the Northern Protectorate, and the Southern Protectorate (made up of Lagos and Niger Coast) were amalgamated in 1914 to form the country Nigeria.
The ‘struggle for freedom’ between 1922 and 1959 characterised national life. Notable Nigerians like Sir Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Anthony Enahoro, to mention but a few, are known as the founders and fathers of Nigerian Nationalism.
The British gave some concessions to Nigerians with the Clifford Constitution of 1922, the Richards Constitution of 1946, the Macpherson Constitution of 1951, and the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954.
In spite of these, Nigerians were still restricted in their contributions to the affairs of their own land and on 1st October 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from British colonial rule. The country was administered at the centre by the Federal Government and three Regional Governments in the East, West and North of the country. In 1963, the Midwest Region was carved out of the Western Region making a federation of four Regions. During this First Republic, a parliamentary system of government was in operation.
The first military intervention in Nigeria occurred in January 1966 when the civilian government was overthrown in a military coup. This effectively marked the beginning of military governments in the nation’s political history. Military-rule continued till 1979 when the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo handed over power to the civilian government of President Shehu Shagari.
In the second Republic of President Shehu Shagari, Nigeria adopted the Presidential system of government with an Executive President as the Head of the Federal Government. The administration was in power until 1983 when it was overthrown in a coup.
In 1993 General Ibrahim Babangida, the Head of the Military Government, put in place an interim civilian administration charged with conducting elections. This interim administration lasted for only three months when it was replaced by a coup by the military. The new military administration was headed by General Sani Abacha. General Sani Abacha’s Government ruled the country from 1993 to 1998 before his demise in June 1998.
General Abdulsalami Abubakar headed the new military administration that implemented a political transition program that ushered in a new civilian government in May 1999. The administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was inaugurated on May 29, 1999 and simultaneously, Executive Governors were also sworn-in in the 36 states of the country.
In 2007, President Obasanjo successful handed over to President Umaru Yar’Adua who was elected President in April of the same year. Unfortunately President Yar’Adua died as a result of ill health in 2010 and his then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan succeeded him in office. In March 2011 Goodluck Jonathan wins presidential elections and was sworn in as the President.
In the Presidential System of Government that is now in place, there is a National Assembly comprising two chambers namely the Senate and House of Representatives. There is also a State Assembly in each of the 36 States, and 774 local governments throughout the Federation representing the third-tier of government.