Research Article Open Access

Separation of Powers and Institutional Autonomy at the Subnational Level in Nigeria (1999-2011)

Ibraheem Oladipo Muheeb1 and Emmanuel Remi Aiyede1
  • 1 Universty of Ibadan, Nigeria
Journal of Social Sciences
Volume 14 No. 1, 2018, 20-29


Submitted On: 8 September 2015
Published On: 5 January 2018

How to Cite: Muheeb, I. O. & Aiyede, E. R. (2018). Separation of Powers and Institutional Autonomy at the Subnational Level in Nigeria (1999-2011). Journal of Social Sciences, 14(1), 20-29.


Sub-national legislatures have remained largely underdeveloped and until recently, they have not been accorded adequate attention in Nigeria. This article highlights the performances of two sub-national assemblies 1999-2011. The study from which the article was derived involved a survey, supplemented with exploratory designs and content analysis. Sub-national legislatures possessed the requisite constitutional powers to function effectively but lack the complimentary capacity like experienced members, resources and facilities to guarantee independent action. The transitional Assembly 1999-2003 was largely dependent on the executive for financial and human resources and subsequent ones, 2003-2007 and 2007-2011 did not fare any better. They were unable to consolidate on their constitutionally granted powers to enhance performance due to executive intransigence; high turnover of membership and principal officers; lack of cohesion; frequent conflicts over allegiance to the executive, involving accusations and counter accusations of cultic oath-taking; and weak oversight capacity. During the period, legislative tools were merely used to achieve limited political goals. The fallouts of Resolution ‘167’ barring the government from all financial transactions until the Assembly directed otherwise in Ogun State, were indications that House Resolutions, where and if well deployed could be a potent tool for oversight. However, a determined executive could clandestinely debar the legislature from functioning properly without necessarily dissolving the Assembly through threats and intimidation. Enduring and Democratically productive legislature-executive relation would require ‘ideological and programmatic’ party system, institutional independence and enhanced capacity. Sub-national Legislatures should be restructured and strengthened to enable them assert their authorities and to overcome their inadequacies.



  • Nigeria
  • Legislature
  • Separation of Powers
  • Autonomy and Representation