Parliamentary Chamber: House of Representatives


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  House of Representatives

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  4 July 1992

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all seats in Parliament as part of a programme to return Nigeria to civilian rule after nine years of military rule. General elections had previously been held in August 1983.

Background and outcome of elections:

  The previous National Assembly was dissolved in December 1983 following a bloodless military coup. In January 1986, the military ruler, Major-General Ibrahim Babangida, announced that he would hand over power to a democratically-elected government in October 1990. In 1987, he announced a programme for the transfer of power by 1992, two years later than scheduled. This programme included elections for a bicameral federal legislature, which finally took place on 4 July 1992.

The elections were held against a background of economic and financial crisis which had brought a lot of hardship for Nigerians. In mid-May 1992, ethnic and religious violence had erupted in Kaduna, in the north, leaving hundreds of people dead. Only two political parties, the conservative National Republican Convention (NRC) and the progressive left-of-centre Social Democratic Party (SDP) were allowed to contest the elections. Both parties had been crated by the Babangida administration in an attempt to prevent the organisation of political life along tribal lines. Their structures and activities were funded by the State. Their manifestos were also written by the administration. In the election campaign, both parties focused on virtually the same issues, basically promising Nigerians a better life.

Turnout polling day was relatively low (25%) but better than during the December 1991 elections for state governors and legislatures (15%). This low rate was attributed by party officials to antipathy to the “open ballot” system, while others ascribed it to Nigerians’ rejection of the political system imposed on them. The SDP won control of both Houses but failed to obtain the two-thirds majority needed to pass laws with constitutional implication or to reverse presidential vetoes. It obtained 52 Senate and 314 House of Representatives seats as against 37 and 275, respectively, for the NRC.

The new legislature was scheduled to be inaugurated on 27 July in Abuja, the country’s capital, but the military regime subsequently contended that it would be unconstitutional for it to start sitting before an elected President of the Republic was sworn into office. It was nevertheless formally inaugurated by President Babangida on 5 December.

On 15 December, a civilian Transitional Council was appointed to form a temporary administration until the restoration of full civilian rule, rescheduled for 27 August 1993. Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan was elected as its chairman, and assumed the office of acting Prime Minister.

On 12 June 1993, presidential polling took place as planned. But the elections were subsequently annulled by the ruling military junta, the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC).


Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group %
Social Democratic Party (SDP) 53.3
National Republican Convention (NRC) 46.7

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Social Democratic Party (SDP) 314
National Republican Convention (NRC) 275

  Four seats to be filled following by-elections.

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 580
Women: 13

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Copyright 1992 Inter-Parliamentary Union