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.