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A Comparison of the System of Government of Nigeria and Canada

by Abbey
canada and Nigeria


A system of government is the way through which power is distributed among various tiers or units of government, from the local level, up to the federal level. The systems may vary from Federal, Unitary, and Confederate.

Both Nigeria and Canada operate a Federal system of government.

The federal system of government is a system in which power and authority are distributed to the states and regions. That’s what is referred to as ‘true federalism’.

However, there is a contrast in how Nigeria and Canada (See the size of Nigeria and Canada compared) operate. While Nigeria operates a presidential democracy, the Republic of Canada operates a Parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy.

In this post, we are going to compare and contrast the system and as well as the form of government between Canada and Nigeria.


Nigeria is a federal republic where the powers of the executive arm of government are exercised by the president.

The president is the head of the government, head of his party, and the commander in chief of the armed offices.

Nigeria operates a presidential democracy similar to that of the United States where extensive power is vested on the president.

The government of Nigeria is divided into three equal branches with each branch working within the ambits of the constitutional provisions for their existence.

The Judiciary

The Judicial branch is made up of the Supreme court, Court of Appeal, the High courts, and trial courts such as the Magistrates, Sharia courts, and the Customary courts.

The main function of the judiciary is the interpretation of the laws and protection of the fundamental provision of the Nigerian constitution.

The Executive

The president is the official head of the executive arm of government in Nigeria. The president works with ministers who hold various portfolios in the government.

Each minister upon appointment is by law a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and must attend weekly meetings where government policies are assessed.

Assent of the president is required constitutionally before any bill is passed into law. The president may choose to decline his assent to a bill.


The legislative arm of government in Nigeria is referred to as the National assembly. Nigeria operates a Bicameral legislative system.

The House of Representatives has 360 members drawn across several constituencies. The leader of the House of Representatives is referred to as “Mr. Speaker”.

The Senate which is the higher chamber of the National Assembly has 109 members. The leader of the senate chamber is referred to as ‘the Senate President.

The responsibility of the national assembly involves making bills, debating on issues of public importance, oversight of government agencies, approval of appointees, and approval of government expenditure.

When a bill is originated before the senate or the house it will be subject to initial review, which is done by the business committee of the house.

If considered important enough, the bill will be gazetted by the clerk of the national assembly.

After the gazetteer, the bill will pass through 3 readings, and if finally approved, a clean copy of the bill will be passed to the president for assent.


Canada operates a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The monarchic aspect of the Canadian government is ceremonial.

The people of Canada have the final say in all matters, and the government derives its legitimacy and authority thereon.

Just as the British tradition or what is referred to as the ‘Westminster tradition’, the parliament of Canada consists of the crown, the senate, and the house of commons.

All the tiers of the Canadian government must agree before a bill is passed into law. The most important components of the Canadian system of Government are discussed below:

The constitution

The Canadian constitution is the ultimate documents that set out all the basic laws and principles guiding the various tiers of the Canadian government.

The Canadian constitution is a reference point in all policy debates and legal proceedings throughout the Federal Republic of Canada.

The constitutions of Canada has a clear stand on requirements for election into offices as well as duties that will be carried out by the Executive, Judiciary, and the Crown.


The Governor-general also referred to as the Crown is the ceremonial leader of the Canadian government. He/she is appointed by the Queen based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

The governor-general is responsible for giving royal assents to bills passed by the Parliament, the appointment of office holders in the judiciary and diplomacy offices, closing and opening parliament sessions, and dissolving parliament before elections.

Prime minister

The prime minister is the official head of the executive branch of the Canadian government.

He is responsible for overseeing policy implementations, budget spending, and other important issues that affect the lives of ordinary Canadians.

The prime minister upon election selects some cabinet officials who will hold various portfolios as assigned to them. The Cabinet Office is the major decision-making body in Canada.


The Parliament is the legislative arm of the Canadian government. The parliament has the constitutional power to make laws, initiate bills and authorize government expenditure by approving or rejecting budgets.

Canada operates a bicameral legislature (the senate and the house of commons). Both the Senate and the house of assembly must approve a bill before it is passed into law.

The senate consists of 105 senators appointed by the governor-general to represent various Canadian regions and provinces.

The members of the house of commons on the other hand elected, unlike the senators, to represent electoral constituencies and districts.


In Canada, the power to exercise executive privileges lies with the governor-general, through the prime minister or the governor in council.

The Executive branch helps in the implementation of policies made by other branches of the government. The executive also develops bills that are transformed into laws by the parliament.


The Judicial arm of the Canadian government is referred to as ‘Queen on the bench’. One of the important hallmarks of Canadian democracy is the independence of its judiciary.

The Canadian judiciary is responsible for interpreting Canadian laws. The courts are delineated on different levels of superiority and jurisdictions.

The court system is generally divided into Federal, Provincial and territorial. The Supreme court of Canada is the highest in Canada based on Jurisdiction and stature.


  • Both Nigeria and Canada operate a constitutional (See in-depth analysis of the types of constitution in Nigeria) democracy, and a federal system of government.
  • Both countries operate a bicameral form of legislature.
  • In Nigeria the president is the head of the executive, where as in Canada, the Governor in council is the head.
  • Senators in Nigeria are elected from defined constituencies, whereas in Canada, they are appointed by the Governor general.
  • House members or paliamentarians in both Nigeria and Canada are elected by their constituents.
  • Both Nigeria and Canada operate a universal suffrage also known as common franchise.


  • Abbey

    Abbey Johnson has a Masters degree as an engineer and has over 3 years of teaching and research experience. He is happiest when on a bike and is also interested in electric energy and computer Science.

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