Virtual Kollage: The main features and problems of the Sir Gordon Guggisberg Constitution of 1925

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The main features and problems of the Sir Gordon Guggisberg Constitution of 1925



THE SIR GORDON GUGGISBERG CONSTITUTION OF 1925
Introduction
The Sir Gordon Guggisberg constitution of 1925 was the brain child of the Governor, Sir Gordon Guggisberg. It was a response to nationalist agitations of the period.

Legislative Council
The 1925 constitution of the Gold Coast made provision for a legislative Council. The governor was the President of the Council in addition to 29 other members. Of the 29, 15 were official members and 14 were unofficial members.
Of the 14 unofficial members, there were six paramount Chiefs representing the western, Central and eastern Provinces in the colony. There were three elected Africans who were elected to represent Accra, Cape Coast and Secondi-Takoradi. The rest were Europeans representing the Chamber of Commerce, mining and nominations of the Governor.

Provincial Council of Chiefs
The constitution made a provision for the creation of a Provincial Council of Chiefs. The Provincial Council was to serve as an electoral college to elect chiefs into the Legislative Council. Under the provision, three chiefs were elected to represent the Eastern Province, two members to represent the Central Province and one to represent the Western Province, a total of six Paramount Chiefs.

The Executive Council
The 1925 constitution also made provision for an Executive Council. There were five members, who were all Europeans, in addition to the Governor. However, in 1942, Nana Ofori Atta and Sir Arku Korsah were added to the Council. Also in 1943, Nana Tsibu Darko was added making the African representation three.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE 1925 CONSTITUTION
Expanded the membership of the Legislative Council
One of the significant elements of the 1925 constitution was that it expanded the membership of the Legislative Council from twenty-one to thirty.

Introduced the elective principle for the first time
Another significant point in the 1925 constitution was that for the first time the Africans were allowed to vote to elect their representatives. Using this elective principle, three Africans were elected to represent Accra, Cape Coast and Secondi-Takoradi.

Creation of the Provincial Council of Chiefs
The 1925 constitution was also important for the fact that it created the Provincial Council of Chiefs and gave the traditional chiefs the opportunity to play a part in the administration of the colony.

PROBLEMS WITH THE GUGGISBERG CONSTITUTION
Exclusion of African from the Executive Council
Like the Clifford constitution before it, the Guggisberg constitution excluded the African from the Executive Council. This was, however, corrected in 1942 and 1943 when Nana Ofori Atta, Sir Arku Korsah and Nana Tsibu Darko were appointed to the join the Executive Council.

Governor’s veto power
The Governor exercised 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.

Exclusion of Ashanti, northern and Trans-Volta Togoland
This 1925 constitution excluded representatives from the Ashanti, northern and Trans-Volta Togoland from the Legislative Council. The Governor was assigned the duty of administering these areas with separate laws.

Limitation of the elective principle
Though the constitution was touted to have introduced the elective principle for the first time in the Gold Coast, it was limited to the big towns and cities. It was only used in Cape Coast. Accra and Secondi-Takoradi and only people who had property valued at a set amount were allowed to exercise the franchise.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. a. Describe the main features of the 1925 Guggisberg constitution. [6 marks]
    b. Highlight three weaknesses of the constitution. [6 marks]
 2. Discuss three strengths and three weaknesses of the 1925 constitution of the Gold Coast. [12 marks]
3. a. What were the main features of the 1925 Guggisberg constitution? [4 marks]
    b. Give four reasons why the people were not satisfied with the provisions of the constitution. [8 marks]

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