Posted by / Sunday 4 December 2016 / No comments

The features of Clifford Constitution of 1916

The Clifford constitution was introduced by Governor Clifford in 1916 to inject some reforms into colonial administration.

The Legislative Council
The Clifford constitution of 1916 made provision for the creation of a Legislative Council. It consisted of twenty one members including the Governor of the colony. There were eleven official members and nine unofficial members, nominated by the governor and there was the governor, making up the number twenty-one. 

Out of the nine unofficial members, three were Europeans who represented the commercial, mining and banking sector. The others were Paramount Chiefs who represented the chiefs and the rest three represented the educated members of the society.

The Executive Council
The constitution also made provision for an Executive Council. There were five official members of the Legislative Council. The Council helped in the formulation and implementation of colonial policy. It also advised the governor on critical issues.

The Governor
There was also a Governor, whose position was provided for under the constitution. The Governor was the one presided over the deliberations of both the Legislative and the Executive Council.

No African representative in the Executive Council
One of the problems with the Clifford constitution was that there were no Africans in the Executive Council even though that was where policies were formulated to administer the colony.

African outnumbered in the Legislative Council
Another problem was that there were fewer Africans in the Legislative Council. It was the duty of the Council to make laws for the colony so the colonial officials were able to pass ordinance even if the Africans were not in support of the Ordinance. The simple reason was that the white outnumbered the Africans.

Absence of the elective principle
Another ground on which the Clifford constitution was that the elective principle was not applied in the selection of representatives into the both the Legislative and Executive Council of the Gold Coast. The democratic principle, where people who are ruled must choose their leaders was not applied.

Influence of the Governor
The Clifford constitution was also criticized on the grounds that the Governor had too much influence over them in the discharge of their duties. This was because all the members of the Legislative Council were nominated by the Governor so it was easy for the Governor to manipulate them to achieve a personal goal.

Governor’s veto powers
Under the 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 members of the Legislative Council thought otherwise.

Limited coverage
Finally, the jurisdiction of the constitution only extended to areas around the coastal areas. It did not include the Ashanti and the Northern parts of the Gold Coast.

1. a. Describe the features of the Clifford constitution of 1916. [3 marks]
    b. Highlight four short-comings of the Clifford constitution. [12 marks] 

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