70% of Nigerian lawmakers serve a single term, why’s that?
How Nigerian legislators lose their seats. Source: Stears

In the middle of June this year, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, addressed his colleagues in the green chamber on their return from recess—a legislative break—cutting a solemn, sober figure.

Key takeaways:

  1. A high number of legislators losing their seats every four years is one of the main trends in Nigeria’s 4th Republic.

  2. This turnover is due to interference by governors, zoning, the contest for higher office, and defeat in the general election.

  3. This high turnover is bad for Nigeria’s democracy because it erodes the institutional memory of the National Assembly and affects its effectiveness.


The House had gone on recess so members could return to their constituencies and campaign in their respective parties' primaries. Many hoped to secure tickets for return to the chamber for another four-year term. But, while the Speaker successfully defended his seat and secured a ticket to contest the 2023 general election (it will be his 6th term as a Rep if he wins), two out of every five of his colleagues—nearly 40% of the lower House—did not successfully defend their seats and will not be running in 2023.

This high level of legislative turnover in the National Assembly every four years is one of the main trends of Nigeria’s 4th Republic. Since 1999, legislative turnover has averaged 67% for the Senate and 72% for the House of Representatives.

Interestingly, when you look across the African continent, you quickly see that our numbers are pretty high relative to our peers.

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Joachim MacEbong

Joachim MacEbong

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