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History

The Clifford Constitution of 1922 – Features, Merits & Demerits

Clifford Constitution of 1922
Sir Hugh Clifford

Introduction to the Clifford Constitution of 1922

The Clifford Constitution of 1922 disposed the Nigerian Council of Lord Lugard (1914) and set up a new legislative council for the Southern Protectorate.

The membership of the Clifford legislative council was forty-six (46). Twenty-seven (27) out of the forty-six 46 members were officials while nineteen (19) were unofficial members. Ten (10) out of the nineteen (19) unofficial members were Nigerians and out of the ten (10) unofficial Nigerians, four (4) were elected, three (3) from Lagos and one (1) from Calabar. The remaining six (6) were appointed by the Governor.

 

The Northern protectorate was excluded from the council. The governor continued to govern the North by proclamation.

Establishment of the Elective Principle by Clifford in 1922

The Clifford constitution of 1922 established the elective principle for the first time in Nigeria. However, the elective principle was limited to male adults that have resided in Nigeria for over 12 months and have a gross annual income of 100 pounds.

The Clifford constitution of 1922 also gave way to the establishment of political parties in Nigeria. In 1923, Herbert Macaulay founded the first political party in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) and also established a newspaper called the West African Pilot. The Clifford constitution gave room for more participation and representation in the government than the 1914 constitution.

Main Features of the Clifford Constitution Of 1922

  1. Elective principle to elect the desired person into the Legislative council. NB:- Only an individual earning £100 annually can vote and be voted for. NCBWA struggled for the granting of the elective principle in Nigeria.
  2. All colonial governors were to report to the Secretary of State for colonies who was a cabinet minister in Britain.
  3. The Executive council was an all- European council. No Nigerian was included i.e Nigerians were not part of the decision-making body.
  4. The Legislative council consists of 46 members of which 27 were official and 19 were unofficial.
  5. The North was ruled by proclamation coming from the governor.
  6. Formation of political parties e.g NNDP of Herbert Macaulay.
  7. Establishment of Newspapers e.g The West African Pilot and Lagos Daily News.

Advantages or Merits of the Clifford Constitution

  1. Elective Principle – The Clifford constitution brought the elective principle into Nigeria which paved way for elective representation of Nigerians into the Legislative council.
  2. Political Activities for Nigerians – The Clifford constitution permitted the formation of political parties in Nigeria so as to ensure greater participation of Nigerians in their government. E.g. The Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) of Herbert Macaulay.
  3. New Legislative Council– The constitution created a new legislative council which consists of 46 members of which 27 were official and 19 were unofficial.
  4. Nationalism – The constitution geared up Nationalism among Nigerians
  5. Establishment of Newspapers – Newspapers were established to promote more political activities in Nigeria.

Disadvantages or Demerits

  1. Sectionalism – The Clifford Constitution of 1922 brought sectionalism into Nigeria as the constitution was meant for the Southern protectorate alone. The Legislative council was also created for the south excluding the North.
  2. The Legislative council was dominated by Europeans
  3. Partial representation – The elective principle introduced by the Clifford Constitution of 1922 works only for the legislative council. The executive council is not elective.
  4. Imposition – The people claimed that the constitution was imposed on them
  5. The Governor-General had veto powers on issues discussed in the legislative and executive council
  6. Partial Elective principle – Only Nigerians with resident qualification and have a gross income of £100 per annum which as at then was a very huge sum.

References:

  1. C. C. Dibie; Essential Government for Senior Secondary Schools; Tonad Publishers; August 2008
  2. Constitutional Development In Nigeria – Teslim Opemipo Omipidan, highlifextra
  3. The Nigerian Constitution: History and Development; Oluwole I Odumosu; London, Sweet & Maxwell, 1963
Categories
History

Merits and Demerits of the Richards Constitution of 1946

Read the full details and features of the Richards constitution here.

Arthur Frederick Richards. Richards constitution of 1946
Arthur Frederick Richards

Below are the merits and demerits (advantages and disadvantages) of the Richards constitution of 1946

 

Merits/advantages of Richards constitution

  1. t brought about regionalism which served as a bedrock for federalism in Nigeria
  2. Unlike the Clifford constitution of 1922, the people were consulted (though not really) in the drafting of Richards constitution.
  3. The constitution paved way for constitutional development in Nigeria.
  4. The constitution promoted unity in Nigeria as it brought the North and South together in the central legislative council.
  5. The constitution geared up nationalism among Nigerians.

Demerits/Disadvantages of the Richards Constitution of 1946

  1. The constitution did not allow the full participation of nationalist leaders in the administration of the country.
  2. Nigerians were not fully consulted before the operation of the constitution. Therefore it was regarded as autocratic.
  3. The governor exercised veto power – The governor was not bound to accept the recommendations of the legislative council. The council only served as an advisory body.
  4. The Richards constitution introduced regionalism in Nigeria which brewed regional rivalry because each region represented one or more ethnic groups. The Northern region represented the Hausa/Fulani people, the Eastern region represented the Igbo people, the Western Region represented the Yoruba people and the Mid-Western Region represented Benin and Delta people. This gave birth to ethnic and tribal contradictions in Nigerian politics.
  5. The constitution represented colonial interests.
  6. The constitution was partial on the ground that it created the House of Chief in the north and none in the south.
  7. Franchise was limited to people from the upper class.

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History

The Lyttleton Constitution Of 1954 – Main Features, Merits And Demerits

Oliver Lytteton - Lyttleton Constitution Of 1954
Oliver Lytteton

The Lyttleton constitution of 1954 is the fourth and the last of the pre-independence constitutions of Nigeria. It was enacted in 1954 as a successor of the Macpherson constitution of 1951 which was reviewed through constitutional conferences (the London constitutional conference of 1953 and the Lagos constitutional conference of 1954).

The Lyttleton constitution is known to have been a pathway to the independence of Nigeria and also did it include the federal principle in its features which differentiated it from previous constitutions such as the Clifford constitution of 1922, Richards constitution of 1946 etc.

 

Main Features of the Lyttleton constitution of 1954

  1. Post of the premier was created in every region. The Premiers were to advise the governor of their regions.
  2. Federal system of government by sharing power between the central and the regions.
  3. Lagos was carved out of the Western Region and made the Federal Capital Territory.
  4. It retained the bicameral legislature for both Northern and Western regions, and uni-cameral for the Eastern Region.
  5. There was the autonomy of regions.
  6. Federal legislature (House of Representatives) consisting of 184 members who were elected directly from regional assemblies.
  7. A council of minister with the governor-general as the president, three official members, three ministered from each region and one minister from southern Cameroon.
  8. The speaker instead of the governor presided over the House of Representatives.
  9. The governor of the region ceased to be a member of the Federal executive council.

Merits of 1954 Lyttleton constitution

  1. Nigerian ministers were appointed with portfolios
  2. The posts of permanent secretary and parliamentary secretary were created
  3. Real law making powers were given to the regional legislatures
  4. It recognized the need for the integration and unity of the ethnic groups in Nigeria by passing powers to the regions.
  5. There was clear division of powers between the federal and regional governments in which each was autonomous in its jurisdiction.
  6. It granted separate elections into the regional and central legislative houses.
  7. It paved way for the independence of Nigeria with the introduction of the Federal system of government.

Demerits or Disadvantages

  1. The revenue allocation formula which was introduced by the constitution overemphasized derivation as against needs and national interest.
  2. The governor still retained his veto powers. He can make and pass laws know the interest of good government.
  3. The constitution left the Eastern region with uni-cameral legislative.
  4. The ministerial appointment was from the three major political parties which were from the regions. This rendered the central executive ineffective because the ministers were only loyal to the regions.
  5. The eastern and western regions alone used direct elections; elections in the Northern Region were indirect
  6. There was no provision for the post of Prime Minister.

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Categories
History

The Richards Constitution of 1946 – Features, Merits & Demerits

Arthur Frederick Richards. Richards constitution of 1946
Arthur Frederick Richards

The Richards constitution of 1946 is another link in the chains of colonial or pre-independence constitutions of Nigeria. Following Hugh Clifford’s tenure as the governor of Nigeria, three more governors held the post (Graeme Thompson, Donald Cameron and Bernard Bourdillon) before the enactment of the next constitution which was the 1946 Richards constitution.

 

Governor Bernard Bourdilloun took office in 1935. In 1939, while in office, he turned the Northern and Southern protectorates into provinces and then divided the Southern province into Eastern and Western provinces while the Northern province was left untouched.

At the time Governor Bourdilloun left office in 1943, he had almost completed the new constitution he was drafting where he recommended regionalism. He had made a lot of improvement on the previous constitution before handing over to his successor.

Later on, Arthur Richards took office and enacted his constitution which is credited for bringing regionalism into Nigeria. The Richards constitution of 1946 replaced the Clifford Constitution of 1922 which was highly criticized for bringing sectionalism into the Nigerian government.

The Richards constitution of 1946 was specifically drafted to promote the unity of Nigeria and give more room for greater participation of Nigerians in the administration of their country.

Features of the Richards Constitution of 1946

  1. Bi-cameral legislature: The Richards constitution granted the Northern region a bi-cameral legislature – Regional Assembly and the Regional House of Chiefs.
  2. The constitution retained the elective principle but with limited franchise.
  3. The Richards constitution of 1946 brought regionalism to Nigeria – Eastern, Western and Northern regions.
  4. Dual Membership: Members of the central legislative council were at the same time members of the regional councils.
  5. The Nigerian Legislative council was made up of 44 members – 16 official and 28 unofficial members.
  6. Creation of Regional House of Assembly.
  7. Each region received grants from the revenue of the country in the form of bulk.
  8. Limited powers were given to the regional House of Assemblies.

Merits or Advantages of the Richards Constitution of 1946

  1. It brought about regionalism which served as a bedrock for federalism in Nigeria
  2. Unlike the Clifford constitution of 1922, the people were consulted (though not really) in the drafting of Richards constitution.
  3. The constitution paved way for constitutional development in Nigeria.
  4. The constitution promoted unity in Nigeria as it brought the North and South together in the central legislative council.
  5. The constitution geared up nationalism among Nigerians.

Demerits or Disadvantages of the Richards Constitution

  1. The constitution did not allow the full participation of nationalist leaders in the administration of the country.
  2. Nigerians were not fully consulted before the operation of the constitution. Therefore it was regarded as autocratic.
  3. The governor exercised veto power – The governor was not bound to accept the recommendations of the legislative council. The council only served as an advisory body.
  4. The Richards constitution introduced regionalism in Nigeria which brewed regional rivalry because each region represented one or more ethnic groups. The Northern region represented the Hausa/Fulani people, the Eastern region represented the Igbo people, the Western Region represented the Yoruba people and the Mid-Western Region represented Benin and Delta people. This gave birth to ethnic and tribal contradictions in Nigerian politics.
  5. The constitution represented colonial interests.
  6. The constitution was partial on the ground that it created the House of Chief in the north and none in the south.
  7. Franchise was limited to people from the upper class.

Thanks for reading.

References:

  1. A Textbook Of West African History: E. Ola Abiola- May 1974
  2. Omipidan, Teslim Opemipo. (2018). Constitutional Development in Nigeria. https://highlifextra.com/tag/constitutional-development-in-nigeria/
  3. C. C. Dibie; Essential Government for Senior Secondary Schools; 3rd edition; Lagos; Tonad Publishers; 2008
Categories
History

The 1960 Independence Constitution of Nigeria – Features, Merits & Demerits

1960 Independence constitution of Nigeria
Jaja-Wachuku, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Princess Alexandar of Kent on Nigeria’s independence day, 1960

Definition of a constitution. What is a constitution?

Let us start with the definition of a constitution. A constitution is a set or body of agreed rules that guide a state or country in the administration of its affairs. In other words, a constitution is the basic principles and laws of a nation or state which determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people.

1960 Independence Constitution of Nigeria

Before Nigeria gained independence in 1960, some constitutions had been used to administer the country, they are the Clifford constitution of 1922, Richards constitution of 1946, Macpherson constitution of 1951 and Lyttleton Constitution of 1954. All these constitutions have their own features and are linked to one another in some ways.

 

When Nigeria gained its independence on October 1st 1960, a homemade constitution known as the 1960 Independence Constitution was adopted which replaced the colonial 1954 Lyttleton Constitution; although it retained some of its features.

Main Features of the 1960 Independence Constitution of Nigeria

  1. The 1960 independence constitution provided a democratic parliamentary system of government whereby the office of the Head of State is different from the office of the head of government.
  2. A federal system of government was retained.
  3. Queen Elizabeth was still the Head of state, Nnamdi Azikwe, the Governor-General, was a ceremonial Head of State representing the Queen until October 1st 1963 when Nigeria became a republican State.
  4. The prime minister was the Head of government and administration (Tafawa Balewa).
  5. The constitution provided for a bi-cameral legislature at the center – the Senate (upper house) and House of Representatives ( lower house).
  6. The 1960 independence constitution of Nigeria provided a premier as the Head of the executive of each region.
  7. The fundamental human rights of the citizens were entrenched in the constitution, and also did the constitution defined who a citizen is and how to acquire citizenship.
  8. The Constitution laid down the procedure for creating new regions.
  9. It gave the federal government the power to declare a State of emergency in any part of the country.
  10. The constitution divided the legislative powers of governments into three – exclusive list (Central government), concurrent list (both central and regional government) and residual list (local government).
  11. The final Court of Appeal was the Privy Council in London.
  12. The 1960 independence constitution of Nigeria provided for the establishment of the Judicial Service Commission. The appointment, discipline and promotion of judges were the responsibility of the commission.
  13. The constitution also stated the procedure for the amendment of a constitution.

Other features include:

  • The powers of Parliament to make laws;
  • Powers, practice and procedure of Federal Supreme Court;
  • Appeals to Federal Supreme Court from Sharia Court of Appeal and Court of Resolution.

Advantages or Merits of 1960 Independence Constitution

  1. The granting of residual powers to the regions strengthened the regional governments in relation to the central government.
  2. The parliamentary system adopted under the constitution was simple and easy to understand and above all, it was in conformity with our traditional political system.
  3. Elections to the various public offices at all levels were conducted by an independent electoral commission. The adoption of the single-member constituencies encouraged the emergence of large and few parties thereby bringing together various groups and interests across the country.
  4. The revenue allocation formula which was based principally on derivation enabled each region to develop at its own pace.
  5. The 1960 Constitution created the Nigerian State.
  6. The fact that each region had its own constitution was a recognition of the diverse nature of the Nigerian federation. This helped to reduce the stifling tendency towards uniformity as often seen in pseudo federations.
  7. The introduction of the federal system of government ensured respect for the feelings of the local people and the promotion of national interest.

Disadvantages or Demerits

  1. The enormous powers granted to the federal parliament during an emergency meant that any region which exercised its executive authority to obstruct the Federal Government might be sanctioned. This was what happened in the Western Region in 1962 when a state of emergency was declared in the region by the Federal Government.
  2. The constitution succeeded only in granting political independence to Nigeria but failed to address important political issues such as the minority problem and the political integration of the country.
  3. A glance at the distribution of powers between the central government and the regional governments showed that the Federal Government was more powerful than the regional governments.
  4. The Constitution failed to specify the number of ministers to be appointed and, whether or not their appointment should reflect the federal character of Nigeria.

The 1960 independence constitution was later replaced by the Republican constitution of 1963 which substituted the Governor-General (appointed by the British monarch) with a President elected directly by members of the Nigerian federal legislature.

The independence constitution of 1960 was rigid, i.e. it was difficult to amend. You can download the full 1960 independence constitution PDF below.

Download Constitution

Thanks for reading

References:

  1. C. C. Dibie; Essential Government for Senior Secondary Schools; Tonad Publishers; August 2008
  2. Law Nigeria- Constitution Hub; [Accessed- Oct. 2, 2015]
  3. The Nigerian Constitution: History and Development; Oluwole I Odumosu; London, Sweet; Maxwell, 1963

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