Oiling the Legislature: An Appraisal of the Committee System in Nigeria’s National Assembly

  • Agaptus Nwozor
  • John Shola Olanrewaju
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


The legislature occupies the epicenter of modern democratic system for two major reasons, namely it houses the largest number of elected representatives and secondly, it is the engine room of modern governance as it performs the traditional four-fold tasks of representation, lawmaking, oversight function and constituency services. The demands of modern governance entail that legislative assemblies must sift through several competing expectations and act in the overall public interest. In order to actualize these expectations, legislative assemblies have evolved the committee system to fast-track their operations. Nigeria’s National Assembly has been performing its core mandates through the instrumentality of committees. This chapter appraises the committee system in the National Assembly and finds that in addition to its relevance in reducing workload and improving overall efficiency, membership appointments into committees have been used by successive leaderships as prebends to consolidate their tenures. The chapter recognizes that while committees have been embroiled in several corruption scandals which undermine their moral authority to instil integrity in governance, it concludes that the committees have contributed immensely to the development of critical competencies that have aided the overall legislative success of the National Assembly.


  1. Ademoyega, A. (1981). Why we struck: The story of the first Nigerian coup. Ibadan: Evans Brothers (Nigeria Publishers) Limited.Google Scholar
  2. Agbakwuru, J., & Erunke, J. (2015). 123 bills passed in 4 years as 7th Senate ends. Vanguard, 5 June.
  3. Aiyede, E. R. (2013). Parliament, civil society and military reform in Nigeria. In J. Rüland, M. Manea, & H. Born (Eds.), The politics of military reform: Experiences from Indonesia and Nigeria. New York: Springer HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  4. Akanle, O. (2011). Legislative inputs and good governance in Nigeria: 1999-2009. In I. S. Ogundiya, O. A.Olutayo & J. Amzat (Eds.), Assessment of democratic trends in Nigeria. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House.Google Scholar
  5. Ake, C. (1981). A political economy of Africa. Harlow: Longman group LtdGoogle Scholar
  6. Alabi, M. O. & Fashagba, J. Y. (2010). The legislature and anti-corruption crusade under the fourth republic of Nigeria: Constitutional imperatives and practical realities. International Journal of Politics and Good Governance, 1(1.2), Quarter II, 1-39.Google Scholar
  7. Ayorinde, O. (2012). Nigeria: Dirty deals of national assembly. The News Magazine (Nigeria). Retrieved on 02 March 2013 from:
  8. Baba, Y. T. K (2011). An assessment of legislative inputs in Nigeria’s democratic governance: 1999-2009. In I. S. Ogundiya, O. A.Olutayo & J. Amzat (Eds.), Assessment of Democratic Trends in Nigeria. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House.Google Scholar
  9. Bamidele, A. M. & Alaba, E. V. (2014). Performance evaluation of the national assembly input in Nigeria’s democracy 2007 – 2011. International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education, 1(3), 47-55.Google Scholar
  10. Barkan, J. D. (2005) Emerging legislature or rubber stamp? The South African National Assembly after ten years of democracy. CSSR Working Paper No. 134. Retrieved on 05 March 2013 from:
  11. Barkan, J. D. (2009). African legislatures and the “third wave of democratisation”. In J. D. Barkan (Ed.), Legislative power in emerging African democracies (pp. 1-32). London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  12. Barrington et al (2010).Comparative Politics: Structures and Choices. Boston: WadsworthGoogle Scholar
  13. Beyme von, K. (2000). Parliamentary democracy democratization, destabilization, reconsolidation, 1789– 1999. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Clark, T. D., Verseckaite, E. & Lukosaitis, A. (2006). The role of committee systems in post-communist legislatures: A case study of the Lithuanian Seimas. Europe-Asia Studies 58(5), pp. 731-750.Google Scholar
  15. Elaigwu, I. J. (2011). Topical issues in Nigeria’s political development. Jos: AHA Publishing House.Google Scholar
  16. Erunke, J., & Ndiribe, O. (2013). National Assembly committees: The bony and the juicy. Vanguard, July 4.
  17. Fashagba, J. Y. (2009a). The roles of the committee system in enhancing legislative efficiency in Nigeria: The case of Kwara State House of Assembly. Journal of Sustainable Development in Africa, 10(4).Google Scholar
  18. Fashagba, J. Y. (2009b). Legislative oversight under the Nigerian presidential system. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 15(4), 439–459. Scholar
  19. Fayemi, K. (2012). Nigeria’s first national assembly and the challenge of democratic governance in the fourth republic.
  20. HOR (House of Representatives) (2015). Votes and proceedings, 9 November. First Session, 8th National Assembly, No. 33.
  21. Igwe, O. (2002). Politics and globe dictionary. Enugu: Jamoe EnterprisesGoogle Scholar
  22. Ihedioha, E. (2012). The legislature: Roles, misconceptions and experience in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria. Paper Presented at a Public Lecture Organized by the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos on Monday, 25th June 2012.Google Scholar
  23. Ikpe, U. B. (2000). Political behaviour and electoral politics in Nigeria: A political economic Interpretation. Uyo: Golden educational PublishersGoogle Scholar
  24. Ilonszki, G. & Olson, D. M. (2012). Questions about legislative institutional change and transformation in Eastern and East Central Europe: Beyond the initial decade. In D. M. Olson & G.. Ilonszki (Eds.), Post-communist parliaments: Change and stability in the second decade (pp. 1-12). New York: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Jakande, L. K. (1983). The trial of Obafemi Awolowo. Ikeja: John West Publications LtdGoogle Scholar
  26. Khmelko, I. S. (2011). Internal organisation of post-communist parliaments over two decades: Leadership, parties, and committees. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 17(2), pp.193–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jimoh, A. (2015). Legislative duties and democratic governance in Nigeria: The mistakes 8th assembly should not repeat. 27 August.
  28. Jimoh, A. M. (2018). Failure of past National Assembly boosts corruption, says Enang. Guardian (Nigeria), 10 January.
  29. Jombo, C. O., & Fagbadebo, O. (2019). Integrity deficit as an impediment to effective legislative oversight in Nigeria. In O. Fagbadebo & F. Ruffin (Eds.), Perspectives on the legislature and the prospects of accountability in Nigeria and South Africa (pp. 123-142). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.Google Scholar
  30. Kazeem, A. O. (2013). Legislative oversight functions in Nigeria – Odyssey of hunters becoming the hunted. Acta Universitatis Danubius Juridica, 9(2), 79-95.Google Scholar
  31. Khmelko, I. S., Wise, C. R. & Brown, T. L (2010). Committees and legislative strengthening: The growing influence of committees in Ukraine’s legislative process. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 16(1), pp.73–95Google Scholar
  32. Lewis, P. M. (2009). Rules and rents in Nigeria’s National Assembly. In Joel D. Barkan (Ed.), Legislative power in Emerging African democracies. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  33. Lewis, P. M. (2010). Rules and rents: Legislative politics in Nigeria. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, DC, September 3.Google Scholar
  34. Lü, X., Liu, M., & Li, F. (2018). Policy coalition building in an authoritarian legislature: Evidence from China’s national assemblies (1983-2007). Comparative Political Studies, (in Press).
  35. Mezey, M. (1979). Comparative legislatures. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Moncrief, Gary F, Thompson, Joel A. & Kurtz, Karl T. (1996). The old statehouse, It ain't what it used to be. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 21(1), pp. 57-72.Google Scholar
  37. Nation (2018). Full list: Senate passes 200 bills in 3 years, 29 March.
  38. National Assembly (2007). National Assembly statistical information 1999-2007; 2008; 2009 Abuja: National Assembly.Google Scholar
  39. NDI (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs) (1996). Committees in legislatures: A division of labor. Legislative Research Series Paper #2.
  40. Needham, C. (2009). Legislative-executive relations. In J. Bara & M. Pennington (Eds.), Comparative Politics: Explaining Democratic Systems (pp. 120-144). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Norton, P. (2013). Introduction: The institution of parliaments. In Philip Norton (Ed.), Parliaments and governments in Western Europe (pp. 1-15). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Nwagwu, E. J. (2014). Legislative oversight in Nigeria: A watchdog or a hunting dog? Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization, 22, 16-24.Google Scholar
  43. Nwankwo, C. (2008) SGF Bars Ministries from Funding National Assembly’s Activities. Punch (Nigeria), 19 May.Google Scholar
  44. Oduguwa, A. S. (2012). Chief Obafemi Awolowo: The political Moses. Bristol, UK: Trafford Publishing.Google Scholar
  45. Olson, D. M. (2015). Democratic legislative institutions: A comparative view. London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  46. Olson, D. M. and Mezey, M.L. (1991). Legislatures in the policy process: The dilemmas of economic policy. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Olufemi, J., Akinwumi, R., & Ugonna, C. (2015). Top 10 corruption scandals Nigeria’s National Assembly hasn’t resolved. Premium Times, 26 April.
  48. Omotoso, F. (2016). Democratic governance and political participation: introduction to the issues. In F. Omotoso & M. Kehinde (Eds.), Democratic governance and political participation in Nigeria 1999-2014 (pp. 1-20). Denver, CO: Spears Media Press.Google Scholar
  49. Ornstein, N. (1992). The role of the legislature in a democracy. Freedom Paper No. 3. Retrieved on 05 March 2013 from:
  50. Owen, O., & Usman, Z. (2015). Why Goodluck Jonathan lost the Nigerian presidential election of 2015. African Affairs, 114(456), 455–471. Scholar
  51. Price, J. H. (1975). Comparative government. London: Hutchinson & Co Publishing Ltd.Google Scholar
  52. Radu, L. (2011). Parliamentary systems and the United States Congress. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov, Series IV: Philology & Cultural Studies, 4(53)2, 105-112.Google Scholar
  53. Sha, D. P. (2008). Vote buying and the quality of democracy. In V. A.O. Adetula (Ed.), Money and politics in Nigeria. Abuja: International Foundation for Electoral System IFES-Nigeria.Google Scholar
  54. Shaw, M. (1990). Committees in Legislatures. In P. Norton (Ed.), Legislatures. New York: Oxford University Press, 237–271.Google Scholar
  55. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. Abuja: Federal Government Printer.Google Scholar
  56. Truex, R. (2014). The returns to office in a “rubber stamp” parliament. American Political Science Review, 108, 235-251. Scholar
  57. Wise, C.R. and Brown, T. L. (1996). Laying the Foundation for Institutionalization of democratic Parliaments in the newly independent states: The case of Ukraine. The Journal of Legislative Studies, 2 (3), 226–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yamamoto, H. (2007). Tools for parliamentary oversight: A comparative study of 88 national Parliaments. Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agaptus Nwozor
    • 1
  • John Shola Olanrewaju
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and International RelationsLandmark UniversityOmu AranNigeria

Personalised recommendations