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lyttteton constitution of 1954-The background features merit and demerit

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Certain political development in early 1950s were responsible for the introduction of lytteton constitution, first, there was the crisis of opinion among the three major political leaders as the question of Nigerians independence in 1956.

Secondly, the resignations of certain group from the council of ministers, these crises were compounded by the Kano riot in 1953. The Kano riot leads to north south dichotomy. However, and in order to resolve the political tension, mr. Oliver lytteton proposed the meeting of the three major political parties as represented by the political leaders in London.

Unfortunately, rather than lytteton understanding the political crises in term of sharp ethnic rivalry for economic power, he rather saw the problem as providing more regional power to each of them, i.e. to regional autonomy, rather than economic power. By January 1954, the political leaders re-assembled at Lagos conference to effect constitution reform.

The reform includes:

  1. The establishment of public service both at the federal and regional level
  2. The establishment of judiciary at both the federal and regional level
  3. Southern Cameroon was granted quasi-federal status
  4. The introduction of fiscal and monetary policies for local interest all these laid down the formation of October 1954 lytteton constitution

Features of lytteton constitution of 1954

  1. The governor now became governor general of the federation while lieutenant general became the governor
  2. The constitution created the office of the speaker and the deputy speaker to preside over regional legislatives with the exception of the north
  3. The constitution established regional premiers to head regional executive council and appointment ministers to take charge of government department 
  4. The enlargement of the member of the federal house of representative-the north had 92, east and west 42 respectively, southern Cameroon 6 and federal capital territory 2 (Lagos) definitely there was a federal unicameral legislation. 
  5. There was no provision for the office of the prime minister 
  6. There no provision for the house of representative 
  7. The federal power exercise direct influence on Lagos and southern Cameroon 
  8. Northern Cameroon was administered as part and parcel of northern Nigeria administration.
  9. There was clear division of power between the federal and regional administration. 

Merit of lytteton constitution of 1954

There was clear division of power for the first time between the two levels of government (i.e.) the federal and the regional government in which each was autonomous in its own area of jurisdiction, this was the beginning of federal system of government in Nigeria.

This constitution began the ideal of direct election to both the federal and regional legislature in Nigeria.
Nigerians were appointed ministers for the first time with portfolio
The introduction of permanent secretaries and parliamentary secretaries.

Demerit of lytteton constitution of 1954 

There was the absence of bi-cameral legislature, the constitution did not make room for two chambers and hence there was no check and balances
The constitution created a system of divide and rule, the constitution favoured the north more than the east

The constitution do not provide for the office of the prime minister at the federal level.

This means that the absence of the governor general who is the president of the federal executive council: there was no other substitute leader to lead the council in its deliberation this made the council inactive.Ministers were appointed base on the three major political parties which were appointed base on the three major political parties which were regional based. This made the central executive ineffective due to the fact the loyalty of the ministers belongs to their respective region.

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