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The features of the Nkrumah Constitution of 1954

The Legislature
One of the main features of the 1954 Nkrumah constitution was that it made provision for a Legislature which was referred to as the National Assembly. The Legislature was made up of 104 members which was an increment from 85 in the previous constitution.

Composition of the Legislature
Of the 104 members in the National Assembly, 26 of them represented the Northern territories and Northern Togoland. 19 of them represented Ashanti. 13 members represented Trans-Volta and Southern Togoland. 39 members represented the Gold Coast area, that is, the three Provinces of Western, Eastern and Central. Finally, 7 members represented the four Municipalities of Accra, Cape Coast, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takoradi. One of the main functions of the House of Assembly was to debate bills and give approval or reject where necessary.

The Speaker of the House
The constitution also made provision for the position of a Speaker of the National Assembly. The Speaker was elected from within the National Assembly by the members. The main function of the Speaker of the House was to steer the deliberations in the house and maintain general order and proper behaviour.

The Executive
The constitution also made provision for an executive which was called the Cabinet. It allowed for eight ministers and created the office of a Prime Minister. All the members of the cabinet were Ghanaians. The main function of the cabinet was to formulate and implement policies of the government.

Collective responsibility
The constitution introduced the concept of collective responsibility as was then practiced in colonial metropolis of London. This means the cabinet was collectively responsible to the National Assembly for their actions or in-actions.

Internal self-government
One of the positive aspects on the Nkrumah 1954 constitution was the attainment of internal self-control over the reign of affairs of the Gold Coast. In other words, the political administration of the entire country had been handed over to the Africans.

Removal of British members from the Legislature and Executive
The other positive side of the constitution was that it led to the removal of the British official members from the Legislature and the Cabinet. This means the Legislature and the Executive was now full of only Africans.

Abolishing of the Electoral College
Under the 1951 constitution, there was an Electoral College which elected some of the members of the Legislative Assembly. However, in the 1954 constitution, the Electoral Colleges were abolished.

Increased membership of the Legislative Assembly
It is also worthy of mention that under the 1954 constitution, the membership of the Legislative Assembly was increased from 85 to 104. This was good because it afforded a lot more people to be represented from the constituencies.

All-African Cabinet
Another good side of the constitution is that it created an all-African Cabinet. All the members of this cabinet were elected directly by the people. Apart from that, all the African Cabinet members were given ministerial positions.

The Governor
The constitution continued to reserve the position of the Governor in the Gold Coast. The Governor was given responsibility over areas like External Affairs and defense.

Governor still to preside over Cabinet meetings
One of the shot-comings of the 1954 constitution is that it made provision for the Governor to continue to preside over the meetings of the all-African Cabinet.

Governor retained his reserved power
The Governor continued to exercise his veto powers under the new constitution. The Governor was given the power to reject any Ordinance that was passed by the Legislative Council. The Governor also had the power of Certification where he could force a law to be passed even if the majority of the members of the Legislative Council thought otherwise. He also had a casting vote so that whenever there was a deadlock in decision, the Governor casts a final vote.

Issue of Trans-Volta
Another down side of the constitution is that it was unable to bring Trans-Volta under the direct rule of the Gold Coast. In other words, it continued to be administered by the Gold Coast on behalf of the United Nations Organization.

It did not bring full independence
The 1954 constitution was criticized for the fact that in spite of the great improvement over previous constitutions, it could not bring the independence that the Gold Coasters were clamouring for. They, therefore, had to make do with the little concession that they got.

1. a. What were the main features of the Nkrumah constitution of 1954?
    b. Highlight four outstanding benefits of the constitution.

2. Highlight three advantages and three disadvantages of the Nkrumah constitution of 1954.

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