Actors Involved in Nigeria’s Policymaking Process


In the policymaking processOpens in new window of any given country, both government and non-governmental bodies constitute themselves as actors in the formulation process of public policyOpens in new window. To clearly examine the influence of these actors, it is important to cite the works of Ikelegbe (1996) who sum the actors as follows:

1.1  Governmental Actors

Governmental actors are made up of the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy. We shall in turn examine each one of these bodies in the following discussion.

The Legislative Bodies

The influence of Legislative bodies in policymaking process range from its initiation and formulation to its implementation, control and review. The influence over policy emanates from the legislative function of representation and expression of popular opinion, law making, control and oversight of the executive branch and control of expenditure.

The legislators represent the citizens and therefore articulate and aggregate the people's interests and demands by initiating and formulating policy proposals in the legislature. In fact, the legislature is the major factor in many political systems in which demands made on the political process by various individuals, communities, groups and institutions are identified, communicated, discussed, reconciled, compromised, mediated and sometimes concretized into policies. Legislatures may enact bills or draft policies emanating from demands of the people, or members of legislative or the executive branch in to law or policies.

The Executive

The executive possesses enormous influence on the initiation, enactment, implementation, performance and modification of public policies through its powers, responsibilities and activities. The executive branch is clearly a major actor in the initiation, drafting and formulation of public policies.

The executive articulates and formulates policies, then passes it to legislative bodies. Even at the legislature, the executive mobilizes leads and influences legislators to enact the policies through the use of its enormous resources. The executive influence on policy formulation is because of its primacy and resources in the political process.

The Judiciary

The judiciary is the body of judges and courts that interpret the constitution and laws of the country and adjudicates conflicts and crises between the various institutions of government, groups and individuals. The judiciary also possess the power of judicial review through which they could examine and determine the constitutionality of legislature, executive and bureaucratic actions and policies. Through this, the judiciary ensures that every governmental action is in line with the prevailing laws.

These powers of adjudication, interpretation and review make the judiciary an actor in the policy process in the sense that it could make pronouncements as to the propriety, fairness, legality and constitutionality of laws or proposed laws. In fact, Judiciary is a moderator, an umpire and mediator of conflicts and judge of propriety in the process. It moderates the actions and activities of governmental policy actors, in relation to themselves and between themselves on the one hand and groups and individuals on the other hand.

The Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is deeply involved in the proper articulation and shaping of policies, as the policy process entails agenda settings and problems identification.

Bureaucracies inevitably become involve in the policymaking process as they are instrumental in developing experience, accumulating information, and bringing expertise on matters of public policy. This experience is not only central to the policy formulation and implementation stage, but also the final process of evaluation, review and assessment.

The evaluation state is the process where an organization, whether public or private, evaluates and revises its policies on whether it was effective in resolving the targeted issue. According to WhitfordOpens in new window (2003) Bureaucrats are also responsible for monitoring and communicating results to the legislature on whether policies were effective.

1.2  Non-Governmental Actors

These include the following:

Political Parties

Political parties influence public policy and the policy process to an extent. These bodies articulate the needs, demands and interests of their members and supporters and mediate compromise and also aggregate them into courses of policy actions.

The party formulates its programmes on the basis of these policy activities. The party machinery researches and considers policy issues and alternatives, and decides on courses of action.

Interest Groups

An interest group is a collection of individual, with some common characteristics, interests and interactions. They exist principally to project, pursue and protect their common interests.

Interest groups necessarily interact with governmental and non governmental actors in the policy process because a lot of their interests are affected and dictated by governmental interventions and regulations. This is why interest groups are actors in the policy process.

Interest group influence on the policy process occurs at every stage. They are active in the initiation, generation, formulation of public policies and in the determination of their content and direction.

Interest groups constitute a linkage between the public and the government. They articulate the interests and demands of their members to governmental actors in the policy process and seek to influence them to enact their demands and choices into policy actions.

Interest groups in fact initiate policy. This, they do by suggesting and recommending policy solutions to problems that pertain to their activities and interests. Sometimes, interest groups cooperate with governmental actors in the design and formulation of policies.


The citizens or populations of a nation are also important actors in the policy process. In fact, they could be considered as the core or base actor for several reasons. First, they constitute the human environment of policies.

The human environment’s perceptions, values, preferences and demands constitute the major environmental influence on public policies. Thus, the citizens are the dominant constituent of the environment; they have major influence on the determination of policy actions.

Second, the citizens make the demands for public policy and constitute the clients and targets. Thus, policies are made for the benefit of citizens.

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