House of representative is the second chamber or one of the two chambers of the National Assembly. It is described as the lower house of the National Assembly like the House of Common in Britain or House of Representative in United States of America.
The House of Representatives came into existence under the Macpherson constitution of 1951. The house of representatives has wider spread of representation than the senate in that it has about 360 members under 1999 constitution representing constituencies of equal population in the states.
The lower house was made up of 6 ex-officio members and 136 members in 1951, 319 directly elected members in 1960, 450 elected members in 1979. The house is presided over by the speaker or in his absence the Deputy Speaker both of whom were elected by the House of Representatives from among themselves.
A Bill could originate from either House of National Assembly but such bill must be passed by both House of Senate and House of Representatives before it is sent for presidential assent.
For a person to be qualified for election into the House of Representatives, he must be at least 30 years of age, other qualification for election are the same with the House of Senate. An elected member of the House of Representatives ceases to be member if he becomes a member of the executive arm of government.
Quorum in the lower house is one thirds of all members, where it is observed that the House has not formed a quorum, the House shall adjourn sitting. The official language of the lower house of National Assembly is English. Though, Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba could be used where adequate arrangement is made.
The business of the lower house like the House of Senate is restricted to members. A member of the house usually declares his primary interest in any matter before the house to enable members decides on whether to allow him participate in its discussion or not.
The House of Representatives and House of Senate sit for a period not less than 181 days in a year. The House has power to make regulations for recess and summoning of non members for investigation.
In a joint sitting of both the House of Senate and the House of Representatives, quorum is one thirds of all the members of both Houses. The power of the Lower House is usually felt at the joint sitting, in that, the members of the House of Representatives is Higher.
The President of Nigeria may attend any joint meeting of the National Assembly or meeting of the either Houses, to deliver speech on national issues, fiscal measures and statement on policy of government.
The proceedings of the National Assembly are not subject to any court of law. The conduct of business in the National Assembly is guided by standing orders or rules. The standing orders set out definite procedures and standard of conducts in the legislature. Standing orders are principal rules that guide the conduct of business in the house.
Note that the clerk of the National Assembly reads the proclamation issued by the President and conducts the election of the Senate President and his Deputy, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and His deputy and swears them into their positions
The Business of National Assembly begins with the election of the Senate President and Speakers by members of the Senate and House of Representatives respectively. The Senate President and the Speaker appoint Chairman of various committees of their respective Houses in accordance with the rules of National Assembly.
In National Assembly the House of Senate and House of Representatives elect other officers to perform certain functions. A part from the election of the Senate President and Speaker of the Lower House, other elected officers includes, the chief Whip, Assistant Chief Whip for both government party and opposition party or majority leader and minority leader.
There also members of the National Assembly that are not elected members. They are clerks of the House of Senate and Representative. National Assembly is made up of ruling party and opposition party.
In conclusion, Nigeria is a federation operating a federal constitution. Nigeria has both the federal and state legislature. The Federal Legislature is the National Assembly which has House of Senate and House of Representatives. The State has the House of Assembly as its legislative arm. The composition of the House of Assembly is similar to the House of Representatives.
The House of Assembly in the State legislates on laws that falls within the residual list and in certain cases under the concurrent list.