Shortly after the arrival of sir Hugh Clifford in Nigeria as a governor in 1920, the national congress of British west Africa (NCBWA) was formed in Ghana and a branch was later established in Nigeria. The congress sent a delegation to London in 1920 with a petition to the secretary of the stat for the colonies presenting certain demands for each Britain colony in west Africa. Some of the demands includes the followings;
Establishment of a legislative council with 50 elected member and 50% nominated others
- Establishment of a university for west Africa
- Abolition of racial discrimination in civil service and social life
- Separate of the executive from the judicial branch of government
- Establish of an appeal court for west Africa
- Appointment and deposition of chiefs to be left, to the people
Though the above demands were rejected by the colonial office and the government of gold cost and Nigerian, yet the demands none-the less in ceased the urgency for a constitution in Nigeria and in fact, influenced the contents of the Clifford constitution.
The main provisions and after effects of the constitution
The Clifford constitution abolished the 1862 legislative council and lugards Nigerian council of 1914 and established new legislative council of 46 members out of which 27 were official members, including the governor. There were 15 nominated unofficial members and 4 directly elected UN-official members 3 were from Lagos and 1 from caliber.
The new legislative council was empowered to legislate on peace, order and god governance of the colony of Lagos and the southern provinces, the northern province were legislated for the governor, by proclamations.
The constitution introduced the elective principle, which for the first time, appeared to be preapering Nigerians (through very few) for democratic government. this particular provision, with its elective principle brought about the following effects:
- It triggered off political activities in lagos and caliber
- It gave more change to the educated nationalistic minded Nigerian who started organizing political parties, this particular provision, with its elective principle brought about the following effects:
- It triggered off political activities in Lagos and caliber
- It gave more change to the educated nationalistic minded Nigerian who started organizing political parties, eg Nigerian national democratic party formed by Herbert Macaulay, was a result of the elective provision. This party was formed in 1922 and it won the three seats for lagos at the first election to the legislative council. There was also the peoples union founded by j.k randle.
- For the first time, some local newspaper began to spring up e.g the “Lagos daily” founded by Herbert Macaulay in 1925 and the “ Nigerian record” founded by Jackson.
There was increase in political awareness in country, in the urban areas in particular e.g Lagos and caliber. The constitution also provided voting right (privilege to only male adults who were British protected citizen or subjects who had been resident in Lagos or caliber for one year and had an income of 100 naira per annual, there where no Nigeria in the executive council which served as an advisory organs to the governor. The constitution lasted up to 1946 (24 years). Subsequent governor after Clifford applied the constitution with some amendments. It was used last by sir Bernard bourdillon who was a governor between 1935 and 1943.
The history and development of constitution in Nigeria
Lord lugard who associated with the political history of amalgamation the north and southern protectorates of Nigeria and who became the first governor of the amalgamated territory of what we come to know as Nigeria today ruled the country without any constitution in the real sense of the term. He ruled the large territory by conventions and precedents, and according to directive from the secretary of state for colonies.
It was lord lugard’s successor sir Hugh Clifford, who took over as governor in 1920, who introduced what can be called a constitution and thus began the history and development of constitution in Nigeria in 1992: or rather the beginning of a written constitution in the country.
The establishment of the Nigerian council marked the first stage of constitutional development in Nigeria. This council was established in 1914 by lord Fredric lugard after the amalgamation of the southern and northern Nigerian; this council was to assist lord lugard in the administration of the large territory of Nigeria. The Nigeria council war purely an advisory as it has no power to make law, it also has no control over finance, the government was the one entrusted with the power to make law for the protectorate.
The major function of the council was to discuss the governors annual administrative proposals and policies.
The council consists of thirty six (36) members. Twenty three (23) were European officials and thirteen (13) were non officials. Seven (7) Europeans and six (6) Nigerians were appointed to represent commercial, mining and chieftaincy interest. However, the council was describe as ineffective in carrying out its functions olusanya (1980:520) due to communication problems, the proceedings of the council were boring to traditional rulers who were members. These traditional rulers rarely attends it meetings as a result of its boring nature.
The significance of the council lay in the fact that it was first council that was set up to discuss the affairs of the whole of Nigeria, note that tis council existed side by side with the legislative council of Lagos colony until the Lagos colony was abolished in 1922
The Clifford constitution of 1922
Sir Hugh Clifford succeed lord lugard as the governor of Nigeria in 1919. He occupied this position until 1925. Clifford established a new legislative council in 1922 and its jurisdiction covered the whole of the southern protectorate. The north was governed by proclamation emanating from the governor.
Distinction between the federal constitution and unitary constitution
- A federal constitution is not easily amended while a unitary constitution is easily amended.
- In federal constitution, there are three levels of government, (the federal, state and local government) while in a unitary constitution there is only one level of government-the center government
- A federal constitution has provision for a supreme court to settle constitution conflict, while a unitary constitution has no provision for a supreme court to settle constitution conflict
- A federal constitution is supreme, while a unitary constitution is not supreme
- A federal constitution is written and rigid, while a unitary constitution could be unwritten and flexible
- A federal constitution concentrate power at the federal and its components states while a unitary constitution concentrate power only on the central government.