The House of Representatives is the lower chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral National Assembly. The tenure of the Nigerian House of Representatives lasts for a maximum period of four years, subject to renewal. It has 360 members who are elected by popular vote on a straight ticket. A seat is won whenever there is an absolute majority or more votes than candidates on the winning party.
Leaders of House of Representatives
The House of Representatives is presided over by a speaker who is the majority leader in the chamber. The current speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives is Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila. The deputy speaker of the house, Idris wase, Chief Whip Ado Garba Alhassan, Minority Leader Ogor Okuweh, and Minority Whip Umar Barde Yakubu.
Functions of the House of Representatives
The House of Representatives’ principal function is to pass federal laws. It may initiate or amend bills usually proposed by the executive arm of government (the President and his ministers).
However, the legislative function of the house is restricted to a bill drafted and presented by a minister.
When there is a disagreement between the two chambers on any bill, it will pass through special bicameral committees before going back to the house of origin for reconsideration.
However, if the two chambers pass the bill by Nigeria’s bicameral legal practice, it becomes law after presidential assent.
The legislative powers and practices of Nigeria’s House of Representatives are codified in the Nigerian Constitution section 50 (3) lists exclusive powers of the house. The powers and functions of the house are contained in sections 56 (1) to 56 (8).
Powers of the House of Representatives
The house of representatives has certain exclusive powers that the upper chamber (the Senate) does not enjoy. These include:
• The power to impeach or pass a vote of no confidence in the President or any of its members and the power to expel a member by absolute majority
• The control and supervision of all revenues and other moneys raised or received by the federal government, subject to a final majority vote on any issue.
• The approval of any borrowing by the federal government over fifty per cent of the sum required for the purpose in question, unless otherwise approved by a vote of two-thirds majority members
• The house has powers to compel production and presentation of documents, call for witnesses
• The power to summon any person, including a minister or head of a department.