The United States and Nigerian Presidential Systems: A Comparative Analysis

Cite this article: Mohammed, S. (2021). “The United States and Nigerian Presidential Systems: A Comparative Analysis”. In Sokoto Journal of History Vol. 10. Pp. 56-69.


Sule Mohammed

Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria


The Presidential system of the United States of America was created to address the issue of governance in a country of diverse convergence. Apart from the small population of the aborigines in the area, the majority of the population came from different parts of the World. They created a constitution to take care of the divergent interests of the population, even though the property owners had their interest more protected. The United States Presidential system had stood the test of time and had existed for more than two hundred years.

No wonder that Nigeria decided to adopt the system in its Second Republic. This was after the practice of the British Parliamentary system, which was terminated by the military coup of January 1966. In drafting the 1979 constitution, which ushered in the Second Republic, majority of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) members adopted, substantially, provision of the United States constitution. Although the operation of the constitution was ended by the military coup of 1983, the constitution resurfaced in the 1999 constitution, which marked the beginning of the Fourth Republic.

It is, therefore, a worthwhile exercise to make a comparison of United States and Nigeria Presidential systems in order to bring out the similarities and differences. The paper used comparative analysis to address the issue of peculiarities, which is necessary for development of any society. While adoption of the practice of a particular society by another society is not bad in itself, but such practice should consider the peculiarities of the adoptee society for effective results. Nigeria certainly needs to adapt the United States Presidential system to its own peculiarities for its development.

The Making of the Presidential Systems

i.                    The United States of America

The Presidential system of Government was started in the United States of America, in 1787, following the writing and signing of the country‘s constitution, in that year1. These were against the backdrop of diversity of population, colonization and war of independence.

Following the ―discovery of the New World‖ by Christopher Columbus in the late 15th century and the visit by Amerigo Vespucci, whose name was given to the ―New World‖, in the early 16th century, peoples of diverse origins began to converge on the area2. There were mainly immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia. Some of the immigrants were forced to migrate. For instance, there were forced migrations from Europe and Africa. From Europe were Christian Protestants and Roman Catholics. There were also free-thinkers who left Europe for fear of persecution in their various countries, such as Britain, Austria and France.3Again, there were criminals and paupers sent to the New World‖ from Europe. This was aimed at ridding Europe of social misfits. From Africa


were slaves forcefully taken to the New World‖ to provide labour on plantatioins.4 But there were also capitalists that consisting wealthy merchants and nobles from Europe who went to the New World‖ to acquire colonies to generate more wealth. 5 The immigrants combined with the aborigines of the New World‖ formed the population of the area.

The process of colonization of the New World‖ became heightened when Governments of various European countries became involved. Spain led the way, followed by France, Britain, Netherland, Portugal, and Italy. The European countries colonized the various parts of what became known, from 1507, as America. Britain was able to colonize North America, despite competition from other European countries, especially France and Netherland. Thirteen colonies were initially brought under British rule in North America and they include: They were: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. These were the colonies up to the time of the war of independence in 1776.

As was the case in most of the other colonies across the World, Britain imposed oppressive policies on its North American colonies, in order to derive maximum benefits from them. One of these policies was the imposition of new taxes to generate more revenue. The colonies reacted aggressively and went into confrontation with the British colonialists. This culminated in the war of independence that began in April 1775 and ended in July 1776with declaration of independence and creating what became the United States of America. 6 However, the declaration of independence did not immediately lead to the formation of central Government by the colonies. This was because Britain was yet to grant autonomy to the colonies. As far as the British colonialists were concerned, the rebellion of the colonies must be crushed. What compounded the problem of the colonies was division among them after the war of independence. They could not form a united front on the way forward. But eventually there was compromise, which led to the writing and signing of the constitution, which united the colonies.7

The United States constitution provides for executive, legislative and judicial arms of Government. The executive is headed by the President, with executive powers. This is why the system of Government is called Presidential system. The President is elected for a period of four years, after which he is eligible for election for a final four year period. The legislative powers are vested in Congress, made up of Senate and House of Representatives. Membership of Senate is based on two persons per State, whereas membership of House of Representatives is based on the population of each State. The Senate and House of representative members are elected every two years and are eligible for re-election continuously. The judicial powers are assigned to the Supreme Court and lower courts. The Federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, whereas State judges are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by State Senates.

The United States constitution also provides for checks and balances between the three arms of Government. This is to ensure that no one arm gets more than its share of power. Consequently, the President is empowered to check congress by vetoing legislation. Congress can check the President and judiciary by power of impeachment. The judiciary is allowed to declare pronouncements and actions of the President and Congress as unconstitutional. As a matter of fact, even within the Congress itself, both chambers have to approve a bill to become law.8


Thus, even though the United States constitution, when it was written, did not satisfy everybody, it was described as the best that could be provided under the circumstances. No wonder the constitution has stood the test of time, in spite of being the oldest written constitution in the World.9

ii.                  Nigeria

In tracing the making of the Presidential system in Nigeria, it is also important to go back to the country‘s foundation. Prior to the British colonization, there existed many independent polities in the area. Thus, in the North, there existed the Sokoto Caliphate, Kanem-Borno and numerous smaller polities which dotted the remaining parts of the North.10 In the South, were the independent kingdoms of Oyo, Benin, Ife, Niger Delta States, Onitsha kingdom and several other polities in Igboland.11

When the British conquered all these territories and colonized them between the 19th and 20th centuries, they were brought together by series of amalgamations, under the name Nigeria that became independent in1960.12 The Parliamentary system of Government was initially adopted because that was the system practiced in Britain. The system was terminated by the military coup of January 1966, thus terminating the First Republic. In the attempt at preparing for the Second Republic, the military regime of General Murtala Muhammed, which came to power in 1975, set up a Constitution Drafting Committee, to draft a new constitution for return to democratic rule in the country in 1979.13 The majority of the 49 member Committee produced a constitution fashioned after the United States constitution.14 Although a minority constitution was prepared by Olusegun Osoba and Yusuf Bala Usman, to take care of the peculiarities of Nigeria, it was prevented from seeing the light of the day, in 1977, by the Olusegun Obasanjo military regime. In fact, it was declared  non-existent‖  by  Obasanjo It  wa only  in  2019  tha the  minorit constitution  was published by the Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training (CEDDERT), Zaria, for readers to know to know the type of constitution Nigeria needs.15 But because the majority constitution was the one recognized by Government, it was the one amended and made the 1999 constitution for Nigeria‘s Fourth Republic.16

Comparative Analysis

i.                    Domestication of Democracy

For any human system to be successfully developed and operated in an environment, it must be suited to the people of that environment. The founding fathers of the United States constitution were practical in drafting the constitution. They must have had some knowledge of history to know the system of Government suitable for their people and environment. They knew that their people came from different parts of the World, with different cultural and political backgrounds. They knew that they needed a system of Government that would successfully bring the people in convergence. Consequently, they domesticated democracy and adopted the Presidential system of Government.17

In the case of Nigeria, the drafters of the majority constitution did not make use of knowledge of history in performing their duty. If they had done so, they would have considered the past cultural and political experiences of the peoples that made up the country and prepare a system that would accommodate all.

Not only did the drafters of the constitution not use knowledge of history in performing their duty, neglect of history became a policy of some Nigerian leaders. For instance, in 2007, under the Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, history was removed from primary and secondary school


curricula. It was subsumed under social studies.18The reasons that came to the fore for this action were shortage of history staff, shunning of history by students and scarcity of jobs for history graduates.19 But if these were the reasons, then disciplines, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, should have suffered the same fate, because, at one time or the other, they were affected by the same reasons. Government did not remove them from school curricula; instead, it provided incentives to keep the disciplines on tract.20 The fact is that over the years, Government has been imbued with the idea that science disciplines are the better ones to study for development. President Muhammadu Buhari brought this out recently, when he addressed Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, boys, who were kidnapped and freed. He told them to count themselves lucky to be studying science disciplines, which had job prospects for them, unlike those studying History, English and other arts disciplines, which did not have job prospects.21

But this is a clear misunderstanding of History because science itself is part of historical process, which is the activities of human beings from the beginning of human existence to the present.22 So, the relevance of the study of History to man cannot be overemphasized. Wole Soyinka, a playwright and Nobel laureate, in his keynote address entitled, ―Forget the Past, Forfeit the Future‖, delivered at the conference on ―The Humanities in Africa in the 21st Century: Prospects and Challenges‖, in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 2006, chronicled the importance of record keeping in the study of humanity.23 This was simply recognizing the importance of history to humanity.

Thus, it was not a coincidence that the writers of the minority constitution, Olusegun Osoba and Yusuf Bala Usman, between 1976 and 1977, were historians. They used their knowledge of history to draft their minority constitution report, a document that is more desirable for the country‘s sustained development.

ii.                  Respect for Constitution

In the United States, there is ultimate respect for the constitution. This is apparently as a result of the rights of citizens taken care of in the constitution and application of the rights in running the affairs of the country. Powers of institutions have also been clearly provided for in the constitution. These are the ingredients for sustainable governance, a situation which has made it difficult for anti- democratic forces to succeed in the country. A good example of this is the recent attempt by Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 United States Presidential election in his favor. Under the United States electoral law, a Presidential candidate must get at least 270 Electoral College votes, out of a total of 538, to be declared winner. Trump got 232 votes and refused to concede victory to the winner, Joe Biden, who got 306 votes.24 In order to actualize his desire to win, Trump filed over 50 law suits, but failed to win any. His attempts to get some Republican State officials to overturn results in his favor, such as in Georgia, also failed. He requested from Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, 11,780 votes, to win the State, but was declined.25 His attempt to use his supporters to prevent the confirmation of Electoral College votes by the United State Congress, in the Capitol building, did not succeed. Again, his attempt to pressurize his Vice President, Mike Pence, to overturn Joe Biden‘s election victory, was declined.26Allthese were as a result of respect for the constitution of the United States.

In Nigeria, the situation is more or less the reverse. The constitution is selectively respected by the leadership. They respect it when it suites their interests and ignore it when it is against their interests. Election rigging was the order of the day, until the introduction of Voter Card Readers (VCR), in 2015 and Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), in 2021. For instance, in the


2003 elections, President Olusegun Obasango and the ruling People‘s Democratic Party (PDP), ensured that almost the whole country was under the control of the party, through massive rigging. The right of choice of the electorate was jettisoned. Thump-printing of ballot papers was done in private houses and staggering results were announced, by compromised electoral officials, in favor of the PDP. The PDP won one hundred percent of the votes cast in some Local Government Areas in the south-west and south-south. In those Local Government Areas, nobody was sick, nobody died, everybody voted and all the votes went to one party, the PDP.

The situation was even worst in the 2007 elections. As a build up to the elections, President Obasanjo sought to amend the 1999 constitution to enable him have third term in office, against the two terms provided for in the constitution. However, his attempt to get members of the National Assembly to amend the constitution failed. As a result, he worked to ensure that the anti-third term members of the National Assembly did not return to the Assembly. He used the PDP machinery to effect that and, he succeeded in denying many members return to the Assembly. He also worked to deny many anti-third term party members election to other positions.27 President Obasanjo was so bent on controlling the Nigerian Political space that he declared, at a PDP campaign rally, in Akure, in 2007, that the elections, in that year, would be a ―do-or-die affair.28 As far as he was concerned, it was either he continued in power or somebody he anointed should take over from him. That was not respect for the constitution.

When the 2007 elections eventually took place, they were regarded as the worst in terms of rigging, when compared to previous elections in Nigeria.29 Even the elected President, Umaru Musa Yar‘adua, acknowledged that the Presidential election was characterized by massive rigging and, he set up an Electoral Reform Committee, under the Chairmanship of Justice Mohammed Lawal Uwais, to address the issue.30 However, the Committee‘s recommendations were largely ignored.

Thus, during the 2011 elections, there was little, if any, improvement, in spite of the fact that a member of the Uwais Committee, Prof. Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, was appointed as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).31 But this was probably because the INEC Chairman did not have sufficient time to prepare for the 2011 elections, having been appointed in June, 2010, with less than a year to conduct the elections. As a result of disaffection with the elections, there were riots in some parts of the country, which led to loss of lives and properties.32. The Committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan, under the Chairmanship of Sheikh Ahmad Lemu, to investigate the riots, identified some of the causes as: widespread desire for change in the political set up of the country, subsisting culture of impunity, bad governance, inciting political statements, insecurity, corruption, unemployment and extravagant lifestyle of political office holders,33 which could all be attributed to lack of respect for the constitution.

However, there was significant improvement during the 2015 elections, as a result of some effective measures put in place, especially the use of Voter Card Readers to verify voters. This reduced election rigging drastically. The Presidential election was good enough for the incumbent, President Jonathan, to concede defeat to the opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.34 But there is still a long way to go, in establishing respect for the constitution.

iii.             Quality Leadership

Election of President of the United States is a tortuous exercise. It starts at primary level. Candidates of each of the political parties conduct campaigns to inform members of their parties about the


programmes they will execute when elected. Each State has specified number of delegates allocated to it. Members of each of the parties across the States will then vote for candidates of their choice. The candidate that wins the highest number of votes in a State wins the delegates of the State. Similarly, the candidate that wins the highest number delegates from all the States is nominated at his or her party‘s convention to stand for election with the candidates of other parties, including independent candidates, if any. The best candidate is normally nominated by a political party. It does not matter where the candidate comes from. What matters is the ability of the candidate to perform to the satisfaction of majority of the people of the country. This is why a family could produce more than one President, like the case of George H. W. Bush, the father, in 1989 and George W. Bush, the son, in 2001. There was also the case of Barak Obama, whose father was a Kenyan, yet he was elected President of the United States, in 2008.35As part of the process to get quality leader, debates are organized between the leading nominated candidates on issues dear to the people. The candidates then go through general election and the one that gets the required Electoral College votes wins the Presidency. It was this process that produced the quality foundation leaders for the United States, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison; and those that followed them.36 The process is such that any President who fails to meet the aspiration of the people is voted out in the next election. Thus, each President tries to do his best to satisfy the people, as enunciated by President John F. Kennedy, during his inaugural address, in 1961: ―ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.‖37

In the case of Nigeria, leadership is tied to region, geopolitical zone, ethnicity and religion. Quality is relegated to the background. If a President is to be elected, the first consideration is the region and geo-political zone he comes from.39 Belonging to geo-political zone is now being seen by the zones as birth right to get some positions, which, ironically, limits the right of choice of voters. Regions and geopolitical zones are followed by the ethnic group a Presidential candidate belongs to. The ethnic groups, especially the major ones- Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo- believe that one of their members should be the President; as if the President is for the ethnic group he belongs to and not President of Nigeria. There is then religious consideration. Religious groups, especially Muslim and Christian groups, always stand up to ensure that one of their members becomes President and if not possible, Vice President; as if the President or Vice President will only work for the religious groups and not the country. Instead of working on the factors that will bring about unity of Nigeria, factors of disunity are being promoted.

iv.              Cost of Governance

The Presidential system of Government is an expensive one that requires enormous resources to operate. The United States prepared sufficiently to bear the cost. The people harnessed their resources to develop a strong economy. Extensive fertile land is available for farming and there is abundance of water for fishing and technological development that facilitated industrial growth. There was rapid growth of population and increase in capital that was used to absorb the population in employment. There was also territorial expansion which greatly helped the economy, especially in terms of discovery of resources, such as petroleum, gold, copper, iron and lead.40The States kept expanding from 13, in 1776, until they reached 50, in 1959. The last two States that joined the Union were Alaska and Hawaii, in 1959.41The United States economy grew promisingly that by the 1920s it became the World‘s largest economy.42There was prudence in managing the economy. Thus, the huge size of the economy and prudence in managing it, have made the cost of governance seamless in the country.


The cost of governance in Nigeria has been a burden on the generality of the populace. This is because of the huge annual budgetary allocation to recurrent expenditure, in order to service the huge number of public officials associated with the Presidential system. Under the system, the legislature at the Federal level is bicameral consisting the House of Representatives and the Senate. At the State level, the legislature is unicameral. That is, there is one chamber, the House of Assembly. At the Local Government level, there is also one chamber, the Local Legislative Council. The legislature, in general, has been gulping a lot of revenue, without commensurate productive input into the development efforts of the country. But even more fundamental issue is the superfluity of the remuneration of the legislators vis-à-vis the size of the economy of the country. Nigerian economy is a developing one that relies heavily on petroleum resources. Other sectors of the economy are not significantly tapped. If crude oil price drops in the international market, the revenue drops; and under this situation, the nation‘s ability to carry out capital projects is hampered. Yet the burden of servicing the huge number of public officials under the Presidential system of Government is allowed to continue.

In 2010, the then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, reported that out of the Five Hundred Billion Naira (N500 Billion) Federal Government overhead cost for that year, the National Assembly took One Hundred and Thirty Six point Two Billion Naira (N136.2 Billion), equivalent to 25.1 per cent of the total.43 The members of the National Assembly are just four hundred and sixty nine, out of the one hundred and fifty eight million, six hundred thousand people of Nigeria in that year. Also, in 2018, Senator Shehu Sani told Nigerians that each Senator received Thirteen Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N13, 500, 000) monthly, as running allowance.44 If this amount is added to the monthly basic salary of Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N750, 000) for each of the Senators, it becomes Fourteen Million, Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N14, 250, 000). So each Senator takes home this amount every month. This is humongous and should be brought down to the size of the country‘s economy.

As a matter of fact, I am of the view that Nigeria does not need bicameral National Assembly to practice the Presidential system of Government. Unicameral Assembly can serve. The Senate should be abolished. The House of Representatives should be retained, but downsized. There should be only three members from each State and one from the Federal Capital Territory. This will give the total number of one hundred and nine members. The State Houses of Assembly should be made up of one member from each Local Government Area. The total number of members of each of the Houses of Assembly will, therefore, depend on the number of Local Government Areas in a State.

Similarly, the executive arm of Government should be downsized. A situation where politicians are appointed to positions simply as compensation for work done for political parties should be stopped. Compensation should be paid from the coffers of the political parties not from the coffers of Government. Some State Governors are known to have appointed more than one thousand political aides, who are paid from Government coffers. For instance, a former Governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda, is reported to have appointed one thousand and seventy political aides, at a time, during his tenure, to serve as Special Advisers and Special Assistants.45This over bloated public service is what has been responsible for the larger size of recurrent expenditure than capital expenditure in the annual budgets of Governments at all levels in Nigeria. Appointments should be done only as necessity and not as compensation.


Priority should be given to capital expenditure as it is what drives the economy. It will create jobs and lift people out of poverty. In 2018, over one hundred million Nigerians are said to have lived in poverty.46 Some countries deliberately took steps to reduce recurrent expenditure in order to increase capital expenditure. Senegal for instance, abolished Senate, in 2012; to enable it put the money saved into more useful projects.47 Even the United States of America, whose constitution Nigeria adopted, has kept its recurrent expenditure much lower than capital expenditure, for development purpose. In spite of having larger population and more number of States than Nigeria, the United States, in 2021,had only fifteen Federal Secretaries, the equivalent of Ministers; and two Senators per State, totaling one Hundred Senators.48Nigeria, in the same year, had forty four Ministers; and three Senators per State, totaling one hundred and nine Senators.49

v.                  Strong Institutions

In order for the Presidential system to succeed, there must be strong institutions. In the United States, strong institutions were developed to make the Presidential system work. These institutions include: Federal Electoral Commission (FEC), State Electoral Commissions (SEC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Police, State Police, the Judiciary, among others.50Elections are held at State and Local levels, supervised by the Federal Electoral Commission. Votes are well managed, which minimizes rigging to the barest minimum. Consequently, when winners are announced, they are congratulated by the losers, with the exception of few cases, like that of Donald Trump.51If there are cases to be investigated they are thoroughly and effectively investigated. The cases that need to be taken to court are taken and appropriately adjudicated. No one is exempted from investigation, not even the President. For instance, President Richard Nixon was investigated, following the 1972 Watergate burglary incident. The burglary, which targeted the Democratic Party‘s National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel Complex, in Washington, was meant to spy on and sabotage the Democratic Party‘s candidate, George McGovern, in favor of the re-election of President Richard Nixon of the Republican Party. Investigations by the FBI and United States Congress led to the resignation of Nixon in 1974.52 Also, following the 2016 Presidential election in the United States, there was investigation, headed by a former FBI Director, Thomas Mueller, into alleged ties between Donald Trump campaign team and the Russian Government. The Russian Government had been accused, by the United States authorities, of interference in the election, to discredit the Democratic Party‘s candidate, Hillary Clinton and favor the Republican Party candidate and eventual winner, Donald Trump.53 However, the investigation could not nail Trump due to lack of sufficient evidence.

In Nigeria, although similar institutions exist, they are not strong enough to support, effectively, the Presidential system. It can be admitted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been improving on elections in Nigeria, from 2015, but the same cannot be said about the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs). For instance, technology has been used, by INEC, to improve on accreditation of voters, voting and delivery of results, which has earned the elections, conducted by the Commission, more credibility. But the SIECs- with the exception of Kaduna State, which introduced electronic voting machines, in 2018- have been lagging behind in deployment of technology, thereby making the elections conducted by them fraught with problems. As a result of poor deployment of technology, the election results are manipulated, in fact, sometimes not held, yet results are declared.54 Most of the SIECs are, as a matter of fact, under the direct influence of the State Governors, as they declare all the election results in favor of the ruling parties. This is why there has been clamor for transfer of Local Government Elections, from the SIECs to INEC, for better handling of the elections. But even the INEC handling of elections is not foolproof. There is


the major problem of vote buying. Politicians, having been blocked from other forms of election malpractices, such as ballot box stuffing or snatching, have resorted to vote buying in their bid to win elections. Arrests of vote buyers and sellers, by security agencies, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Police, have been few. As a matter of fact, even the few people that have been arrested have not been seen to have been successfully prosecuted. Moreover, it is only the party foot soldiers that are normally arrested; the main sponsors are not identified and arrested, not to mention prosecution. This is not to say that the judiciary is not without its own problems. The politicians have been using the courts to obtain conflicting judgments to achieve their political ambitions in what has been aptly described as ―judgment shopping. This made the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, to caution Chief Judges of six States over conflicting judgments emanating from their courts.55 Little wonder that most of the political offenders commit their offences without punishment.

vi.                Anti-Corruption Fight

Corruption, which, simply put, is the misuse of position for personal gain,56 is a vice that retards the progress of any society, whether developed, developing or underdeveloped. When there is corruption, the resources meant for development of society are diverted to personal hands. This is why societies put up measures to ensure that corruption is put in check so as not to prevent their progress. In some societies, such as in China, corruption is even punished with death.57In the United States, its strong institutions play effective roles in putting corrupt practices in check. The first measure is intelligence gathering, which involves the public and private sectors. The intelligence gathered is analyzed and credible information is acted upon by the relevant Government agency. The action can be on prevention, plea bargaining and prosecution. To prevent is to foil the attempt being made at corruption; plea bargain is a situation where the defendant admits guilt for lighter punishment and avoidance of lengthy court trial; and prosecution is trial in court to establish whether the defendant is guilty or not.58In 2021, the Corruption Perception Index reported by Transparency International rated the United States number twenty seven, out of one hundred and eighty countries surveyed.59The Presidential system is helped by the anti-corruption fight in the United States because the resources that would have gone into corruption are available to effectively run the system.

The situation in Nigeria is markedly different from that of the United States because corruption has been rising progressively in the country since independence in 1960, in spite of the anti-corruption measures various Governments have put in place. Virtually all the Governments that came into existence made corruption an issue to tackle. There are also institutions specifically set up for anti- corruption fight, such as the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), established in 1979; Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), created in 2000; and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), formed in 2003.60 The progressive rise of corruption in Nigeria can be attributed to three main factors; viz., acceptance of corruption by the populace, greed by paid workers and weak Government institutions. The populace generally adores people who live above their means, as long as the wealth trickles down. It does not matter how the wealth is obtained. Even if it has been established, through prosecution process, that a person has obtained his wealth through corrupt means, members of his ethnic group will express their support for him. Another person who works diligently, relies on his pay package and has no wealth to cascade down to his people, is regarded as a failure.61 This makes gullible people to want to acquire wealth, through corrupt means, to satisfy the expectations of their communities. But greed also drives some paid workers to acquire wealth illegally. A greedy worker, no matter how highly paid, will persist in


corruption. Thus, it is common in Nigeria to find highly placed and highly paid public servants involved in corruption. For instance, there were the cases of Bode George, a former Chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), between 2000 and 2003, who was jailed for contract fraud, of the amount of Eighty Four Billion Naira (N84 Billion);62 Farouk Lawan, a former member of the House of Representatives, who was imprisoned for receiving bribe, of the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000), while serving as Chairman, House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee, investigating the fraud around fuel subsidy regime, in 2012;Jolly Nyame, a former Governor of Taraba State, from 1999 to 2007, who was jailed for One point Sixty Four Billion Naira (N1.64 Billion) fraud, in 2018; Joshua Dariye, a former Governor of Plateau State, from 1999 to 2007, who was imprisoned for One point One Hundred and Twenty Six Billion Naira (N1.126 Billion) fraud, in 2018; Orji Uzor Kalu, a former Governor of Abia State, from 1999 to 2007, who was incarcerated for Seven point Sixty Five Billion Naira (N7.65 Billion) fraud, in 2019;and Abdulrasheed Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), who was jailed for Two Billion Naira (N2 Billion) pension fraud, in 2021;63 But notwithstanding the convictions for corruption, the crime still persist due to weak institutions. There is also a lot of interference, by Government, in the operation of the institutions. For example, all the Chairpersons of the EFCC, before the present one, Abdulrasheed Bawa, were removed in controversial circumstances, by Government. Those removed were: Nuhu Ribadu, 2003-2007; Farida Waziri, 2008-2011; Ibrahim Lamorde, 2011-2015; and Ibrahim Magu, 2015-2020.64These removals, obviously, weakened the EFCC, as an anti-corruption institution. Also, a report, by the ICPC, on Nigerian Corruption Index, between 2018 and 2020, placed the judiciary on top of the Index. The report stated that Nine point Four Hundred and Fifty Eight Billion Naira (N9.458 Billion) was paid, as bribe, by lawyers, to members of the judiciary, mainly for election related cases.65In spite of this, the ICPC, as an anti- corruption institution, has not been able to prosecute the lawyers and judicial officers involved, which shows sign of its weakness. The 2021 Corruption Perception Index report by Transparency International placed Nigeria number One Hundred and Fifty Four out of One Hundred and Eighty countries surveyed.66No wonder that many high-profile corruption cases, involving politically- exposed persons or public office-holders, remained unresolved in Nigeria. The huge sums of money lost to corruption could have been used to run the Presidential system effectively.

vii.              Citizenship Rights

In spite of the appalling experience of slavery in the history of the United States, the country has come a long way in entrenching citizenship rights. After the abolition of slavery in the country, in 1865, the journey for freedom of black people began. It started with amendment of the constitution, in 1868, which granted African Americans citizenship. In 1870, another constitutional amendment gave voting rights to the African American men, to the exclusion of women whose voting rights eventually came through civil rights activities. What could be said to have started the civil rights movement, in the United States, was when, in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) was formed. In 1955, Rosa Parks, of the Association, refused to give up her seat in a public bus to a white man.67This encouraged other civil rights activists to push for more rights for people discriminated against. Activists, such as Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, W.E.B. Du Bois and Malcolm X took the centre stages in propagating the rights of the oppressed people. One of the highlights of this propagation was the famous speech of Martin Luther King, ―I have a dream, which he made at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, in 1963. In the speech, he stated that ―I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.‖68Notwithstanding the continued racist attacks on the African Americans, by individuals


and groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, Martin Luther Kings‘ speech made significant impact on citizenship rights in the United States. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, by the United States Congress, which removed any impediment to voting by citizens, thereby allowing African American women to vote.69Not only were the African Americans able to fully vote, as a result of the Voting Rights Act, they were, subsequently, able to stand for elective positions, even at the highest level. For instance, Barack Obama, of Kenyan descent, contested for and won Presidential elections, in the United States, in 2008 and 2012. Furthermore, United States citizens are being taken care of by their country, to the extent that they are ready to defend the country at all cost. In a 2014 General Social Survey (GSS), eighty four percent (84%) of the citizens preferred to belong to the United States than any other country in the World.70They, therefore, defend their Presidential system by voting for the candidates who will work selflessly for the system and their country.

In Nigeria, although citizenship rights are provided for in the constitution, the practice is at variance with the provision. Citizens are brutalized and sometimes killed for flimsy reasons. Cases have occurred of people killed on the roads, by security agents, for refusing to give as low as Fifty Naira (N50.00), or less, to the security agents, as bribe.71The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS),a unit of the Nigerian Police, became notorious for brutalization and killings of citizens, to the extent that there were anti-SARS protests, in many States, in 2020, hash tagged #EndSARS.72The judicial panels of inquiry set up in the States, after the protests, to investigate cases of police brutality received numerous complaints. The victims who were able to prove their cases received compensation. The SARS unit was disbanded. However, brutality and killings of citizens, by security agents, have continued. Recently, in July, 2022, a police officer, Mr. Richard Gele, was dismissed for justifying extortion of members of the public. Another police officer, Mr. Liyomo Okoi, was dismissed, in August, 2022, for flogging a man with a machete. Also, in the military, two soldiers, Mr. John Gabriel and Mr. Adamu Gideon, were dismissed, in August, 2022, for killing an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Goni Gashua.73 But not only are citizens brutalized and killed in Nigeria, for flimsy reasons, there is very high level of unemployment. In 2021, Nigeria‘s unemployment rate rose to thirty five percent (35%).74 This leaves 35% of Nigerians idle. They must be fed. This certainly creates scarcity of resources. It creates poverty. It was due to the high level of poverty in Nigeria that the country maintained its position as the World poverty capital, from 2018 to 202175As a result of unemployment and poverty; many Nigerians are embarking on dangerous journeys across the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea, to Europe, for job opportunities. In fact, even Nigerians with jobs in the country go abroad for better job conditions, due to poor job conditions at home. According to the Nigerian Medical Association, forty thousand out of the seventy five thousand registered Nigerian medical doctors, in 2017, practiced abroad, where they had better job conditions.76 The high levels of unemployment, poverty and poor job conditions in Nigeria do not encourage love of the country, by the citizens. This has resulted in nonchalant attitude, by the affected citizens, towards Governmental activities in the country, including the practice of the Presidential system. Citizens cannot normally be expected to love and participate in Governmental activities for the development of their country, if their citizenship rights are not upheld.


The Presidential system of Government, like any other system, cannot just be practiced for the sake of the name, but must be adapted to the peculiarities of the society in which it is to be practiced, for effectiveness. From the comparative analysis of the United States and Nigerian Presidential systems, which we have attempted in this paper, Nigeria has a lot of work to do to make the system beneficial to the generality of Nigerians. The present situation whereby Nigerian politicians have


jettisoned the ingredients that make the Presidential system work and have embraced pursuit of selfish interests must be stopped. There is need for sacrifice, by the Nigerian politicians, like the United States politicians, who laid the foundation of and developed their Presidential system. In spite of the diversity of the peoples of the United States, the political leaders were able to unite the peoples into a nation, which they came to love and can defend at all costs. For Nigerians to love and defend their country at all costs, they must be allowed popular participation in democracy. Their rights, in all aspects of life, must be guaranteed. They must feel sense of belonging. They must be truly united into a nation. It is only then that all hands can be on deck for the Presidential system to work and development to thrive for the benefits of everyone.


1.             Richard C. Wade, Howard B. Wilder and Louise C. Wade, A History of the United States,

Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1966, chapter six.

2.             Chritine Bolt, A History of the U.S.A, Macmillan Education Limited, London, 1974, chapter one.

3.             Wade, et.al, A History of the United States, chapter three.

4.             J. E. Inikori (ed), Force Migration: The Impact of the Export Slave Trade on African Societies, Hutchinson Publishing Group, London, 1982

5.             Wade, et.alA History of the United States, chapter 3.

6.             The name is said to have been first used by a German cartographer, Martin Waldseemuller, on  map  drawn  in  1507,  based  on  travelling  accounts  of  explorers  of  the  Ne World, especially those of Amerigo Vespucci, See www.meriam-webster.com

7.             See www.history.com

8.             www.govinfo.gov, The Constitution of the United States of America‖

9.             Wade, A History of the United States, p.133.

10.          See R. A Adeleye, Power and Diplomacy in Northern Nigeria, 1804 1906: The Sokoto Caliphate and its Enemies, Longman, London, 1977.

11.          Obaro Ikime (ed), Groundwork of Nigerian History, Historical Society of Nigeria, 1980.

12.          A.H. M. Kirk-Green, Who Carried the namNigeria? West Africa, 1956.

13.          James O. Ojiako, 13 Years of Military Rule, 1966-1979, Daily Times of Nigeria, Lagos, 1979.

14.          James S. Read, ―The New Constitution of Nigeria, 1979: The Washington Model? Journal of African Law, Vol. 23, No.2 1979, Pp 131-174.

15.          Olusegun Osoba and Yusuf Bala Usman, Minority Report and Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1976, Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training, Zaria, 2019, P.1

16.          www.constituteproject.org, ―Nigeria‘s Constitution of 1999‖, Note that the Third Republic did not attract a constitution, because it was a mixture of military dictatorship and civil rule.

17.          Wade, A History of the United States, p.133

18.          www.theabujainquirer.comIt took the efforts of the Historical Society of Nigeria and well- meaning Nigerians to get history back on primary and secondary school curricula.

19.          www.guardian.ng


20.          www.researchgate.net Improving Science Education in Nigeria: The Role of Key holders‖

21.          www.nationaldaily.co, ―Buhari Congratulates Rescued Schoolboys, Proves Science Superior to History and English,‖

22.          Sul Mohammed,  ―The Teaching  of Histor in Nigerian  Secondar Schools:  Problem and Solutions‖, Zaria Historical Research: Journal of the Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Pp.132-139

23.          Wole Soyinka, Forget the Past, Forfeit the Future, Ahmadu Bello University Press, Zaria, 2006.

24.          www.nationalpopulanote.com The Electoral College‖

25.          www.theguardian.com I Just Want 11,780 Votes: Trump Pressed Georgia to Overturn Biden Victory‖

26.    www.cnbc.com, 06/01/2021.

27.          Abubakar Saddique Mohammed and Alkasum Abba (eds.), Obasanjo: Democracy and Election Rigging in Nigeria, 1999-2007- A Documentary Source Book, Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training, Zaria, 2019, pp.29-85.

28.          Vincent Nyewusira and Kenneth Nweke, An Appraisal of Nigerias Democratization in the Fourth Republic, 1999-2010‖, International Affairs and Global Strategy, Vol. 6, 2012, pp.5-6

29.          Mohammed and Abba (eds.), Obasanjo, pp.47-48.

30.          www.guardian.ng, The Uwais Reporand the High Cost of Indifference‖

31.          www.vanguardngr.com, ―Attahiru Jega, the New INEC Chairman‖

32.          www.researchgate.netElectoral Violence and Nigerias 2007 Elections‖

33.          www.cfr-org, ―Nigeria‘s Committee on Post-Election Violence Reports to President Jonathan‖

34.          www.vanguardngr.com, ―Jonathan Congratulates Buhari, Concedes Defeat‖

35.          www.whitehouse.gov

36.          Joseph J. Ellis, The American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Foundation of the Republic, Vintage Books, New York, 2007, pp.16-18.

37.          www.ushistory.org

38.          G O Olusanya,  ―Constitutiona Development in  Nigeria 1861-1960‖,  Obaro  Ikim (ed.),

Groundwork of Nigerian History, Heinemann Educational Books, 1980, pp.518-544.

39.          www.infomediang.com

40.          Wade, A History of the United States, chapter 13.

41.          www.infoplease.comStates by Order of Entry into the Union‖

42.          www.eh.net, The US Economy in the 1920s‖

43.          Abubakar Adamu and Zuwaira Haruna Rasheed, ―High Cost of Governance and the Challenges of National Development in Nigeria‘s Fourth Republic‖, Journal of Good Governance and Sustainable Development in Africa, Vol.3, No.1, 2016, pp.51-52

44.          www.premiumtimesng.com, Nigerian Senators Receive N13.5 Million Monthly, apart from Salary‖


45.          Adamu and Rasheed, High Cost of Governance‖, p.53.

46.          www.worldbank.org

47.          www.bbc.com

48.          www.whitehouse.gov and www.senate.gov

49.          www.premiumtimes.com

50.          www.whitehouse.gov

51.          Donald Trump refused to concede the Presidential election which he lost to Joe Biden in 2020.

52.          www.britannica.com

53.          www.fbi.gov

54.          www.premiumtimes.com

55.          www.premiumtimes.com

56.          www.dictionary.cambridge.org

57.          www.theguardian.com

58.          www.americanbar.org

59.          www.transparency.org

60.          ccb.gov.ng; icpc.gov.ng and efcc.gov.ng

61.          See Audu Jacob, ―Fifty Years of Nationhood and the Challenge of Corruption: An Interrogation of the Persistence of Corruption in Nigeria‖, ZAHIR: Zaria Historical Research, Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 2012, pp.216-227.

62.          www.vanguardngr.com

63.          www.premiumtimesng.com

64.          www.punchng.com

65.          www.guardian.ng

66.          www.transparency.org

67.          www.history.com

68.          www.npr.org

69.          www.history.co

70.          www.washingtonpost.com

71.          www.premiumtimesng.com

72.          www.amnesty.org

73.          www.punchng.com

74.          www.businessday.ng

75.          m.statisticstimes.com and www.thisdaylive.com

76.          www.punchng.com


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