Merits And Features Of Clifford, Richard, Macpherson And Lyttleton Constitution

Table Of Contents

1. The Clifford Constitution(1922)
2. Composition Of The Legislative Council.
3. Main Features Of The Clifford Constitution.
4. The Richard Constitution (1946)
5. Main Features Of The Richard Constitution
6. The Macpherson Constitution(1951)
7. Merits Of Macpherson Constitution
8. Constitutional Developments, 1954-1957
9. The Lyttleton Constitution(1954)
10. Merits Of The Lyttleton Constitution

The Clifford Constitution (1922)

This constitution marked the second phase in the constitutional development of Nigeria. It abolished the legislative Council of the Colony of Lagos and the Nigerian Council. In their place, it established a new Legislative Council and a new Executive Council for the whole country.

The newly introduced Clifford constitution was based on elective principles.

However, the North was not represented in the Legislature Council, and Lord Lugard made laws for the North based on the advice of the legislative council.

Composition Of The Legislative Council

i. Total membership was 46.

ii. Bristish members including the Governor were the official members, numbered 27.

iii. Non official members was 19, out of which 10 were Nigerian. 4 of these were elected, 3 represented Lagos, one Calabar.

iv. Only male adults who had resided in Lagos for one year and could earn a gross income of one hundred pounds were qualified to vote.

The Executive Council of the constitution was an advisory body to the Governor General. The Executive Council had 10 ex-officio members who were advisers to the Governor.

The Governor exercised full administrative authorirty and power of discretion. He enjoyed full legislative authority with power of veto over legislative bills.

The Clifford Constitution and its elective principle gave rise to the formation of political parties. It also became the spring beard of nationalism and nationalistic aspirations in Nigeria.

It led to the formation of the first political party in Nigeria-the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP) by herbert Macaulay in 1923. The party won all the three legislative seats allocated to Lagos.

The party also establisheds the “Lagos Daily News” founded in 1925, which propagated its ideology and programmes. We note that though the qualification to vote was selective and restricted to those who had lived in lagos and those who earned a certain income, the Clifford Constitution marked a great turning part in the political evolution of Nigeria.

Main Features Of The Clifford Constitution

1. It was the first attempt in constitutional government in Nigeria.

2. It introduced the elective principle of government which made it possible for Nigerians to elect representatives.

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3. It gave impetus to political activity and aided political party formation

4. It led to agitations and awakening of nationalism, which was prelude(led) to self rule and independence in Nigeria.

5. It led to the establishment of newspaper journalism in Nigeria.

6. It provided for the executive and legislative structure of government even though it shielded the North from the legislative functions of government.

The Richard Constitution (1946)

The Richard Constitution was anchored on three objective principles;

a. To promote the unity of Nigeria

b. To provide adequate political institutions

c. To cater for the diverse elements in Nigeria

d. To bring about greater involvement and participation of Nigerians in their own affairs. The constitution provided for:

1. The Central Legislature Council whose membership were

a. The governor, who presided
b. 16 officials( 13 ex-officio and 2 nominated members)
c. 28 unofficial members ( 24 norminated, 4 elected)

Under the Richard Constitution, the North was represent in the central Legislative Council unlike in the Clifford Constitution. The Central Legislative Council had power to make laws for the whole country. But the Governor also could make laws for the whole country without the regard to the legislature council.

However, the Governor must report without delay, to the Secretary of the State for Colonies, based in london, anytime he exercised this power.

2. Regional Councils: The constitution provided for regional councils in the North, West and Easy. The Regional Councils made laws on local interests; customs, chieftaincy and traditional matter.

3. The Central Executive Council: The composition remained as in the Clifford Constitution of 1922, until 1943 when a Nigerian was appointed to it, and a second Nigerian in 1949. As in the clifford Constitution, the Governor had power of veto over legislative bills.

Main Features Of The Richard Constitution

1. It aimed at national unity by integrating Northern representatives into the Central Legislature Council.

2. It created wider opportunity for the educated class to participate in politics.

3. It broadened the scope of political participation of Nigerians through its elective principles.

4. It gave a new impetus to nationalist agitations. Our leaders became more opportunef to agogat for greater participation in government.

The Macpherson Constitution

The constitution created;

a. Central legislature Council called the House Of Representatives.

b. Central Executive Council called the Council of Ministers.

c. Regional Legislatures

d. Regional Executive Councils

1. The Central Legislature: This was made up the Governor 3 ex-officio members, 136 regional representatives, 68 from the north, 34 west, 34 from the east, and 6 appointed members representing special interests.

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The Central Legislature made laws for the whole country, and its laws could over- ride the laws made by the regional legislatures.

2. The Central Executive Council: This comprised of the Governor and 6 ex-officio members. The council made policies and also carried out policies made by the legislative Council.

3. The Regional Legislatures: The regional legislatures were bicameral in the Northern Nigeria and Western Nigeria, but unicameral in the Eastern Nigeria.

Thus, there were House of Chiefs and House of Assembly in the Northern and Western Nigeria. While the Easter Nigeria had only the House of Assembly. The reason for this difference is that while the traditional chieftancy system was elaborate and well defined in the North and West Nigeria, it was not so clear in the Eastern Nigeria.

The regional legislatures had powers to make laws only on areas allowed by the constitution. Such areas were education, public health, customs and traditions and agriculture.

The regional legislatures were subject to the central legislature, ie the laws of the central legislative were superior to the laws of the regional legislature.

The Macpherson Constitution Had The Following Merits;

i. It was a product of wide consultations with the people before it was introduced.

ii. It gave Nigeria the basic of federalism by sharing powers of government between the centre and the regions, and made the regions subordinate to the centre.

iii. The various structure of the constitution provided opportunities for effective training of Nigerians in responsible government.

iv. For the first time, Nigerians became ministers, though without portfolio.

v. Unofficial members of the House of Representatives were elected by an indirect system of election.

Constitutional Developments,1954-1957

The macpherson Constitution collapsed because of a combination of factors. Its unworkability, the crises in the Eastern Region, the crisis following the motion by Chief Anthony cenahoro for “self government in 1956” the kano riot of may 1953.

These factors led to the collapse and breakdown of the Macpherson Constitution in 1953.

Following the breakdown of the macpherson constitution, constitutional conferences were held in london and lagos in 1953 and 1954 respectively. This was under the British Secretary of State. Oliver Lyttleton, but with full representation and participation of Nigeria political leaders.

The conferences resolved several contentious issues and agreement was reached on;

a. new fiscal (revenue sharing) arrangement

b. regionalization of rhe public service

c. regionalization of the judiciary

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d. Creation of a separate region of Southern Cameroon.

The Lyttleton Constitution, 1954

The lyttleton Constitution was an embodiment of the decision and agreement of the London and Lagos constitutional Conferences. The Features:

1. The Governor became known as the Governor General. Lieutenant Governors became Governors in the regions.

2. The posts of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker were created to preside over the legislatures except in the North.

3. Regional premiers were created to preside over the regional executive council and appoint ministers who headed government departments.

4. The judiciary and publix service became regionalized.

5. The powers of government were divided between the central and regional governments.

6. There was increase in the number of elected members over appointed members in the regional legislatures.

Merits Of The Lyttleton Constitution

1. This constitution launched the federal system of government in Nigeria by sharing power in a defined and clear manner, between the central and regional governments.

2. It introduced direct elections to both the federal and regional legislatures.

3. It appointed premiers to head government in the regions.

4. Speakers and Deputy Speakers were appointed to head the legislatures except in the North.

5. It facilitated the process and demand for independence.

Constitutional Development, 1957-1959

Two constitutional conferences took place between 1957 and 1959. In 1957, a London Conference was attended by Nigeria Political Leaders. Decisions reached were:

a. Self government for the Eastern and Western Regions with effect from August 8, 1957. Self government for the North was put off till 1959.

b. House of Chiefs for the Easter Region with powers similar to those of the West and the North.

c. Autonomy to Southern Cameroon with provision for a premier.

d. Creation of the Senate, upper legislative house at the centre.

e. Adoption of the Universal Adult Suffrage( right to vote by eligible adults) for the federal legislative election and the legislative elections in the Eastern and Western Regions.

f. Creation of the office of Federal Prime Minister and the abolition of the office of Governor General.

These changes and decisions were embodied in the 1957 constitution.

In 1958, another constitutional conference was held with the following decisions reached;

a. Self government was granted to the Northern Region, effective date, March 1959.

b. Nigeria to become an independent nation in October 1, 1960.

c. Environment of fundamental human rights in the Nigeria constitution.

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