The Richard Constitution Of 1946: Objective And Features

Table of Contents

  • The Objective And Principles Of The Constitution
  • Features Of The 1946 Constitution

The new constitution was announced in March 1945 and came into force in 1946. Nigeria by this time had become politically active through the activities of new generation of Nationalists supported by a radical nationalist press, active trade union leaders and the emergence of a modern political party, the N.C.NC.
The Objective And Principles Of The Richard Constitution
The clifford constitution came under criticism. The people protested against the constitution that it disinfranchised the people from exercising their voting. Therefore, Arthur Richard was posted to replace Clifford in 1946.
The constitution drawn up by Sir Arthur Richards (Lord Milverton), had the following objectives and principles:
1. To promote the unity in Nigeria.
2. To secure greater participation by Africa in the discussion of their own affairs.
3. To provide a constitutional framework covering the whole of Nigeria and legislative council on which all sections of Nigeria would be represented.
4. To create regional councils in the three main sections in which Nigeria is naturally divided into: North, West, and East under their respective Chief commissioners.
5. To forge political and constitutional links between the native authority and the legislative council by means of a chain of representation through the house of Assembly in the regions to central Legislative council.
6. To provide for an African majority in the house of Assembly. The constitution was to last for nine years but to be reviewed after three years and later six years.
Features Of The 1946 Constitution
1. The Administrative division of Nigeria into 3 regions North, West and East under a Chief Commissioner (replacing the title lieutenant Governor).
2. An executive council of officials to assist the governor.
3. A legislative council dominated by unofficial nominees of the governor. The 4 representative of Lagos and Calabar remain to be elected.
4. A bicameral legislature in the North and a house of assembly in each of the other two regions of West and East.
5. Regional assemblies were to function as electoral colleges for the indirect elections of members of the legislative council. In the Northern, the house of Chiefs was presided over by the senior resident but in both the East and the West, the chief commissioner presided over each House of Assembly.
The constitution did not last more than two years before the new Governor Sir John MacPherson announced the plan for a constitutional reform. He learnt from the criticism of the past constitution by making this one participatory through preliminary consultations and deliberation of his proposal at the village, divisional, provincial, regional and central levels.
The constitution was finally drawn up and approved by the legislative council in 1950, but became operative in 1951.
A central legislature and a central executive were established.
1. A unicameral legislature (called the House of Representatives) whose members were indirectly elected from the house of Assembly in the regions was established.
2. The executive (called the council of Ministers) consisted of the Governor as president and twelve ministers and six ex-official members from each region appointed by the Prime minister on the recommendation of the lieutenant governor and approval of the governor, to serve in the council of ministers.
3. A lieutenant governor administered each of the regions.
4. Each region had a legislature and an executive council.
5. The northern and western regions had a bicameral legislature.
6. Members of the House of Assembly for the North, West and East were indirectly elected with the divisional councils, native authorities, and the provinces acting as the electoral colleges.
7. The office of the Prime Minister was for the first time created. He was the leader of the Federal government.

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