Virtual Kollage: The main features of the 1947 Hubert Craddock Stevenson constitution of Sierra Leone

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The main features of the 1947 Hubert Craddock Stevenson constitution of Sierra Leone


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THE MAIN FEATURES OF THE 1947 STEVENSON CONSTITUTION OF SIERRA LEONE
Introduction
Hubert Craddock Stevenson became the Governor of Sierra Leone on 5th July 1941 and remained as the Governor until September 1947. It was during his tenure that the 1947 constitution was introduced.

THE MAIN FEATURES OF THE CONSTITUTION
Legislative Council
The new constitution provided for a Legislative Council. This time, the membership was increased to thirty-five. There were seven government officials and seven appointed Europeans. Fourteen of the members of the Legislative Council were from the Protectorate. Out of these, ten came from the District Council and the rest four came from the Protectorate Assembly. The final seven members were Africans who were elected directly from the colony.

Executive Council
There was no marked change in the composition of the Executive Council under the 1947 constitution of Sierra Leone. The Council continued to consist of the Governor, the Chief Justice, Attorney-General, Colonial Secretary and the Commander of the Troops. Earlier in 1943, for the first time in the history of Sierra Leone, two Sierra Leonians were nominated to the Executive Council.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CONSTITUTION
Increased African membership
One significant improvements of the 1947 constitution over the 1924 constitution was the increase in the number of Africans in the Legislative Council. At this point, the African membership on the Council increased to 21. There were 14 Africans from the Protectorate and 7 more were directly elected from the colony.

The elective principle
Another significant element of the constitution was that the elective principle was maintained. Seven constituencies were created for Africans to put themselves forward for office. In the end, candidates in two of the constituencies stood unopposed and the rest five had to slug it out at the polls.

Sierra Leonians in the Executive Council
Another significance of the constitution was that there were Sierra Leonians in the Executive Council. This did not come as a result of the introduction of the new constitution. The two Sierra Leonians were nominated to serve on the Executive in 1943. Even then, it was significant because their presence was maintained by the new constitution.

DISADVANTAGES OF THE 1947 CONSTITUTION
Limited franchise
One of the criticisms against the constitution was that, though the elective principle was maintained, it was still limited to just a few qualified people. Universal Adult Suffrage had still not been introduced.

Governor’s veto power
Another criticism against the constitution was that the Governor still maintained his powers of veto with which he could prevent bills from being passed into law by the Legislative Council. He also continued to wield the powers of Certification with which he could force a bill to be passed into law even if the majority of members thought otherwise.

Too much power to the Chief
Again the new constitution was opposed because it granted too much power to the local chiefs. The educated elite were of the view that the chiefs were not educated and therefore to grant them such powers was detrimental.

Exclusion of protectorate intellectuals
The intellectuals from the protectorate felt left out of the deal because they were not given any representation in any of the institutions created at the time.

Opposition from the Creoles
The Creoles in the colony opposed the constitution. They were of the opinion that the constitution had granted powers to less advanced people and they were being forced to be ruled by such people.

SAMPLE QUESTION(S)
1. a. What were the features of the 1947 constitution of Sierra Leone?
    b. How significant were the provisions of the constitution?
    c. Highlight four limitations of the constitution.


ALSO READ:
The main features of the 1924 Slater constitution of Sierra Leone

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