Posted by / Tuesday 6 December 2016 / No comments

The disadvantages of the 1954 Lyttleton Constitution of Nigeria

The Lyttleton constitution can be described as the particular one that prepared the grounds for the federal structure of Nigeria and the final leap into independence. This constitution was a culmination of a series of constitutional conferences to review the previous Macpherson constitution.

Exclusion of other experience men
Even though the constitution allowed for appointment of Nigerians as Ministers, the minister were appointed only from the three regional based political parties that had been form and were active at the time. This situation excluded other experienced Nigerian men and women who could have contributed to the system but whose services could not be used because they did not belong to the three political parties in existence then.

Problems with loyalty
Though the Central Executive Council was seen as a positive side of the Lyttleton constitution, membership was drawn from the three major regional political parties in existence. The problem with this arrangement was that the ministers were more loyal to their regions than to the national interest.

Room for despotism
Another demerit of the Lyttleton constitution was that it did not allow for a bicameral legislature. This created a room for the possible despotism of the first chamber because there were no checks that a second chamber could provide to prevent an obnoxious law.

Absence of the office of Prime Minister
The Lyttleton constitution did not make any provision for the office of a Prime Minister to deputize for the Governor-General in his absence. This created the situation where fewer meetings of the Federal Executive Council meetings took place because, in the absence of the Governor-General, there was nobody to hold the fort.

The veto power
This constitution maintained the veto powers of the both the Governor-General and the Governors. The veto power allowed the Governor-General and the Governors could reject any Ordinance that was passed by the Central Legislative Council. They could also use their reserved powers to force a law to be passed even if the majority of the members of the Central Legislative Council thought otherwise.

Absence of a uniform electoral process
The constitution was criticized for not allowing for a uniform electoral system for the entire country. In some areas, direct elections were used and in some others indirect election was used. This happened because the Governors of the various regions to make specific electoral processes for their regions.

1. Highlight five disadvantages of the Lyttleton constitution of Nigeria.

2. Discuss five demerits of any pre-independent constitution of your country.

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