The Richard’s Constitution Of 1946: Provisions, Merits And Demerits

Table Of Contents
1. Major Provisions Of The Richard’s Constitution
2. Merits Of The 1946 Constitution
3. Demerits Of The 1946 Constitution
Richard’s constitution arose from some of the major criticisms or defects of the 1922 Clifford’s constitution.
The 1946 constitution was known as Richard’s constitution because it was prepared and submitted during the administration of Sir Arthur Richards later known as Lord Milverton.
Major Provisions Of The Richard’s Constitution
1. It established a central and enlarged legislative council, for the first time the North joined their Southern counterparts in the legislative council. The Council comprised of the Governor as President, 16 officials (13 ex-officio and 3 nominated) 3 elected Africans from Lagos, It elected African from Calabar, 9 Northerners chosen from the Regional Assembly, 5 Easterners chosen from the Regional Assembly, 6 Westerners chosen from the Regional Assembly and 4 special members nominated by the Governor.
2. The principle of regionalism was formally entrenched in the constitution with the Eastern, Western and Northern Regions.
3. It introduced bicameralism in the Northern Region. The North had both the House of Assembly and House of Chiefs while the Eastern and Western Regions had only a House of Assembly.
4. Each of the Regions had a council of ministers that acted on advisory capacity to the Governor.
5. The constitution still contained the elective principle initiated in 1922 constitution with some minor changes. The qualification for voting was reduced from 100 pounds to 50 pounds to enable more Nigerians participate in voting.
Merits Of The 1946 Constitution
1. Northern and Southern Regions were united under one legislative council.
2. For the first time, it gave Nigerians a legislative council with an unofficial majority. The implication being that more Nigerians begun to participate in the legislative arm of government.
3. It utilized the native authorities as electoral units to higher councils, the idea helped to solve the problem of how to fit and encourage the educated element in the country into the native administrative system.
4. More Nigerians were enfranchised by reducing the income requirement from 100 pounds to 50 pounds.
5. It brought government nearer to the people by creating 3 Regional governments and a House of Chiefs.
Demerits/Criticisms Of The 1946 Constitution
1. The majority of the members of the legislative council remained the same as in the constitution of 1922. Besides the membership of the legislative council were selected and not elected, which implied that the selected or nominated members owed allegiance to the person who nominated them rather then the people.
2. Only 4 members of the legislation council were elected on limited Franchise, from Lagos and Calabar area. The other unofficial members came indirectly elected from the native authorities.
3. Qualification for voting was still very high, as wealth became the major parameter for voting.
4. Richard’s constitution officially marginized the minority tribes of Nigeria by officially recognizing only three groups in Nigeria, the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo where were given the Northern, Western and Eastern regions respectively.
5. By dividing Nigeria on the basis of regions and ethnic groups, Sir Arthur Richard has been seen as an arch protagonist of Divide and Rule.