National Assembly Nigeria
The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a bicameral legislature established under section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution. It consists of a Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives. The body, modelled after the federal Congress of the United States, is supposed to guarantee equal representation of the states irrespective of size in the Senate and proportional representation of population in the House. The National Assembly, like many other organs of the Nigerian government, is based in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The Senate is chaired by the President of the Nigerian Senate, the first of whom was Nnamdi Azikiwe, who stepped down from the job to become the country's first Head of State. The House is chaired by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. At any joint session of the Assembly, the President of the Senate presides and in his absence the Speaker of the House presides.
The Assembly has broad oversight functions and is empowered to establish committees of its members to scrutinise bills and the conduct of government officials. Since the restoration of democratic rule in 1999, the Assembly has been said to be a "learning process" that has witnessed the election and removal of several Presidents of the Senate, allegations of corruption, slow passage of private member's bills and the creation of ineffective committees to satisfy numerous interests.
In spite of a more than two-thirds majority control of the Assembly by the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), the PDP government led by Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the Assembly have been known more for their disagreements than for their cooperation. President Goodluck has been accused of being slow to implement policy. Many bills, some from as long ago as 2007, are still awaiting the President's assent. While the Assembly has made strong and often popular efforts to assert its authority and independence against the executive, it is still viewed generally in a negative light by the media and many of the Nigerian people. The Assembly sits for a period of at most four years, after which time the President is required to dissolve it and call a new Assembly into session.
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