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achievements of the colonial administration in Nigeria between 1920 and 1950-Clifford’s Constitution-The Richard’s Constitution

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1920-1950

The founding colonial Sole Administrator of Nigeria between 1911 and 1919, Lord Fredrick Lugard could not see to the full implementation of his policies when in 1919 Sir Hugh Clifford was appointed the second Colonial Sole Administrator and Governor of Nigeria. The Clifford constitution of 1922 emanated as a result of the pressures from Casely Hayford’s West African Congress. This constitution was meant to make some reforms in the constitutional and administration setting in the country.

The Clifford Constitution of 1922 marked a watershed in the constitutional development of Nigeria for it introduced a formal document to Nigeria as a constitution.

Clifford’s Constitution

The Clifford’s Constitution took its name after Sir Hugh Clifford who under pressure from the West African Congress led by Casely Hayford was forced to make some reforms in the political and administrative system of the country. It was under this constitution that the first electoral system emerged which brought about the first elections in 1923. It also saw the emergence of the legislative council of four members-three for Lagos and one for Calabar.

The Legislative Council had jurisdiction on the Southern Provinces and the Colony of Lagos. In respect of the Northern protectorate, legislative power was vested in the Governor. There were other members of the legislative council who were the nominees of the Governor. These were the Chief Secretary, the Lieutenant –Governor, Administrator of the Colony of Lagos, the Attorney-General, and the Commandant of the Nigeria Regiment, Director of Medical Services, Controller of Customs and the Secretary for Native Affairs.

There was no indigenous representation on this council and this gave  rise to political agitation among Nigerian elite resulting in the emergence of both the National Democratic Party and the Nigerian Youth Movement which was succeeded by the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon. [NCNC].

A memorandum submitted in 1924 by the West African Students Union in London to the Governor of Nigeria demanding a federal constitution for Nigeria yielded fruit and resulted in the Richard’s Constitution. In spite of the lack of indigenous representation under the Clifford’s Constitution, it took the credit of being the first constitution for a unified Nigeria.

The Richard’s Constitution

The Richard’s Constitution of 1946 came as a result of proposals which aimed at promoting the unity of the country and ensuring more participation of Nigerians in their affairs. It incorporated three Regions. The Northern, Eastern and Western Regions, each having a House of Assembly with the North having a House of Chiefs as well. The powers of these Houses were only consultative. There was also the legislative council in Lagos which legislated for the whole country.

The Executive Council in Lagos had for the first time indigenous representative in Sir Adeyemo Alakija and Mr. S.B. Rhodes. It is noteworthy that under this constitution, there emerged a sort of a representative government and regionalization. The Regional Houses of Assembly were advisory and not legislative by any means. Thus, there were still more reasons for the Nationalists to press for participation by Nigerians in their affairs.

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