THE NIGERIAN SENATE
NB - A new Constitution entered into force in May 1999 (promulgated on May 5 1999, issued on May 28 1999.
I - COMPOSITION
Three senators for each State and one senator for the federal capital, Abuja, giving a total of 109 indirectly elected senators.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
36 plurinominal divisions (3 seats) corresponding to the States and one uninominal division (the federal capital territory).
Term of office : 4 years
Most recent election : 12 April 2003.
Eligibility : 30 years.
Ineligibility ; the following persons are ineligible : undischarged bankrupts, those facing accusations of misuse of funds or of fraud, those condemned by penal sentence, members of a sect, those accused of electoral fraud or professional negligence.
III - ORGANISATION OF SESSIONS
The Senate sits for a minimum of 181 days per year (as does the Chamber of Representatives).
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE
The National Assembly consists of the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives.
A - LEGISLATIVE POWERS
1) Powers to initiate legislation
Each of the two chambers possesses these powers, as does the Head of State : private members may also initiate bills.
2) Right of amendment
Possessed by each of the two chambers and also the Head of State.
3) Legislative procedure
a) Normal procedure
Presentation and vote by simple majority by the chamber which takes the initiative, then by the other chamber. Thereafter, the text passes between the two chambers until agreement has been obtained.
The President then has 30 days to accept or reject it. If he rejects it, the bill is submitted to a further consideration by Parliament : a new vote by a 2/3 majority of both chambers carries it into law on the President's signature.
b) Special provisions in the case of financial laws
If the finance bill passed by one chamber is rejected by the other within a period of two months from the start of the budgetary year, the President of the Senate convenes a meeting of the mixed Finances Committee within 14 days in order to raise the points of disagreement between the two chambers.
If the mixed committee fails to resolve the issue, the bill is submitted to a joint meeting of the two chambers. If the bill is passed, it is then presented to the President for signature.
If the President does not manifest his agreement or rejects the bill within a period of 30 days, the text is again submitted to a joint meeting of the National Assembly and if it is voted through by a 2/3 majority of the members of the two assemblies, the bill becomes law and the President's assent is not necessary.
If the financial law is not passed at the beginning of the budgetary year, the President may authorise the withdrawal from Consolidation Funds of the amounts necessary for the functioning of governmental services for a maximum period of 6 months or until the entry into effect of the financial law, within the limit of the authorisations adopted by the National Assembly for the previous budget.
B - REVIEW POWERS
1) Impeachment proceedings.
2) A minister may be invited by the Senate (as well as by the Chamber of Representatives ) to explain the conduct of his ministry.
3) Financial audit
The General Controller submits his report on the Federation's public finances to each of the houses of the National Assembly.
This report is sent to the competent committee of the chamber.
4) Right of investigation
The Senate (as well as the Chamber of Representatives ) may pass a resolution to enable investigations to be undertaken in any matter relating to the domain of the law, the conduct of governmental activities or the application of laws, and the spending or management of funds under the aegis of the National Assembly.
C - RELATIONS WITH THE PRESIDENT
The President may be present at meetings of the Senate (as well as those of the Chamber of Representatives and at joint meetings of the National Assembly) to make a pronouncement on national affairs, including fiscal measures, or to make a statement on the policy of the government, if he considers this to be of national importance.
D - PROROGATION
If the Federation is at war and the President considers that it is not possible to organise elections, the National Assembly may pass a resolution to prorogue its mandate for successive periods not exceeding six months each.
V - SPECIAL PROVISIONS
A - THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
The Senate President and the Vice-president are (individually) elected by the senators.
They may be dismissed from their posts by a resolution passed by a majority of at least 2/3 of the senators.
The President of the Senate presides over joint sittings of the two chambers.
B - NOMINATIONS
The General Controller of the Federation is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Federal Administration Committee, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
The General Controller of the Federation may exercise his functions for a maximum of 6 months, only, without the authorisation of the Senate.
The person exercising these functions may be dismissed by the President on the request of 2/3 of the senators, for reasons of incapacity or bad conduct.
NB : The Constitution is currently being revised, since it appears that supplements are necessary.