Governance Institutions: Nigeria’s 8th Senate

 In CPPA Archives, Governance & Political Economy, The Legislature, Thinking Aloud

CPPA’s series on Nigerian Institutions of Governance continues with a look at Nigeria’s 8th Senate, courtesy of Tosin Osasona. 

The 1999 constitution of Nigeria in Section 4(1) places the legislative power of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the National Assembly, which is composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. Section 4(2) goes further to state that the National Assembly shall have the power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the federation with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List.

The National Assembly has the sole legislative prerogative over issues listed in the Exclusive Legislative List contained in Part 1 of the second schedule of the 1999 constitution. The exclusive list has 68 items including defense, taxation of incomes, oil fields, and oil mining.  The Assembly also can also make laws along with states on matters listed in the concurrent legislative lists. The items on this list are 30 and these include public funds at state and local government levels, antiquities and monuments, collection of taxes, stamp duties, voter registration in the local government councils, agriculture, education, cadastral and topographical surveys.

The incoming senate will be Nigeria’s 8th Assembly and has 109 senators, which consists of 3 senators per state and 1 senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. 950 candidates contested for the 109 available seats at the 2015 general elections.


The incoming senate would be the first time since 1999 that only 2 parties would be represented in the senate out of the registered 28 political parties in Nigeria that presented candidates for the election. The PDP will lose its status as the majority party in the senate after dominating the senate for four terms. Since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, only two political parties – PDP and ANPP – have consistently sent representatives to the senate. (ANPP merged with others in 2013 to form APC, which will be the majority party in the senate for the 2015 term).

Table 1: Party Affiliations of Senators between 1999 and 2015

1999 71 18 19 1
2003 81 22 6
2007 87 14 1 5 1 1
2011 70 7 1 4 18 8 1
2015 49 60


Section 65 (1)(a) of the 1999 constitution sets age 35 as the minimum age for election into the Nigerian senate. The youngest elected senators are Dino Melaye (40yrs) from Kogi State and Mustapha Sani (40yrs) of Niger. The oldest senator-elect is Senator Shaaba Lafiagi (74yrs) from Kwara State. Nigerian senators have one of the youngest global average age for senators.

Table 2: Age band of Senators Elect 2015

Age Band Numbers
40-50 24
50-60 60
60-70 23
70+ 2


With only 8 female senators, the incoming senate would be a male dominated one. These are Oluremi Tinubu, Monsurat Sunmonu,Binta Masi Garba,Uche Ekwunife, Stella Oduah, AbiodunOlujimi , Raji-Rasaki and Rose Okoh. The last senate also had 8 female senators. Nigeria has one of the most gender-unbalanced senate in the world.

Table 3: Global Comparison: Gender Balance in Senates

Countries Seats Number of Female Senators Minimum Age Average Age
United States 100 20   (20%) 30 63
Canada 88 35 (38%) 30 65
Australia 76 28     (38%) 18 51
France 348 87     (25%) 18 65
Pakistan 104 18     (18%) 30
Italy 319 91     (28%) 30 48
Ireland 60 18     (30%) 21
Rwanda 26 10     (38.5%) 40 57
Nigeria 109 8       (7%) 35 56


The 1999 constitution in section 65 (2)(a) requires a minimum educational attainment of a school certificate or its equivalent. The incoming senate as shown in Table 4 is dominated by senators who have had at least 4 years of university education and close to 10% have a PhD.

Table 4: Educational Qualifications of 2015 Senators

Qualification Number of Senators
Senior School Examination 3
Certificate of Education 3
Diploma 13
Bachelor Degree 58
Masters Degree 22
PHD 10

Source: INEC


The senate in Nigeria has been tagged “a retirement home for governors” because of the number of former state governors that were elected in the past. The incoming senate will have 16 former governors as members, which is an increase from the 11 governors that were elected in 2011 into the senate. Thirteen of the senators-elect have former legislative experience. Compared to the current senate that had 36 senators re-elected, the incoming cohort only had 18 senators re-elected. A good number of the senators have held political appointments in the past. The current senate president (David Mark) is the longest serving senator, having being in the senate since 1999.


Section 63 of the 1999 Constitution fixes 181 days as the minimum number of days that the senate shall sit in a year. Poor attendance was a problem in the 7th senate with a number of critical sittings adjourned for lack of quorum. The salary of senators in the 7th senate was a cause of controversy with some reports stating that Nigerian senators are the highest paid in the world. The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) puts the basic annual salary of a senator at $64, 476, but this does not include discretionary allowances and other payments.

Table 5: Salary of Senators from Across the World

Country Bills Passed by Senate (2012/2013) Earning in 2012/2013
United States 297 $174,000.00
Australia 149 $195,130.00
France 43 $85,900.00
Canada 39 $154,000.00
Ireland 140 $120,400.00
Italy $182,000.00
Pakistan 14  $3,500.00
Nigeria 62 $1.7M [$64,476]
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