Virtual Kollage: The merits of the 1946 Richards Constitution of Nigeria

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The merits of the 1946 Richards Constitution of Nigeria



THE MERITS AND DEMERITS OF THE 1946 RICHARDS CONSTITUTION OF NIGERIA
Removal of sectionalism
One of the criticisms leveled against the Clifford constitution is the fact that it brought sectionalism into the politics of Nigeria. The Richard constitution which immediately followed the Clifford constitution sought to correct this. The constitution therefore sought to promote the unity of Nigeria.

Introduction of federalism
The Richard constitution is credited to have introduced the federal idea into the Nigerian body politics. This is because the constitution made provision for the creation of three regions, each with its Regional Legislative Council. This gave the indication that Nigeria may become a federal state in the future.

More consultative than Clifford constitution
There was more consultation with the Nigerians in the introduction of the Richard constitution. Though this was the case, the Richard constitution is also criticized for not engaging in enough consultation with the broad masses of Nigerians before its promulgation.

PROBLEMS WITH THE 1946 RICHARD CONSTITUTION OF NIGERIA
Constitution was a flop
The Richard constitution was considered as a flop because it did not allow the Nigerians the power to run their own government. For example, there was still the position of a Governor who held the power of veto and there were still Europeans who were in charge of the departments in the state.

Europeans in the Legislative Council
Another drawback of the Richard constitution is that there were still Europeans in the legislative Council. The presence of European interests in the Legislative Council was still very strong. One would have thought that the Council would be made up of only Nigerians but this was not so and it was one of the reasons why it was vehemently opposed by the Nigerians.

Early collapse
The Richard constitution did not last as an instrument for running the colony of Nigeria. While the 1922 Clifford constitution lasted from 1922 to 1946, the Richard constitution lasted only for three years. This has been attributed to the fact that many Nigerians were not satisfied with its provisions.

Little or no consultation
One of the problems with the Richard constitution is that there was not enough consultation with the broad masses of Nigerians before it was promulgated. Consequently, it did not feel like it was owned by them as it was realized that not all their misgivings were addressed by the new constitution.

Limitation of the elective principle
Though the constitution maintained the elective principle as in the Clifford constitution, it was still limited to only a few cities such as Lagos and Calabar. It was also tied to other forms of qualifications. For example, to qualify to vote, one must be a British subject and must an annual income of a predetermined amount or property valued to that tune.

Governor’s veto power
The Governor continued to exercise veto powers under the new constitution as in the Clifford 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.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS
1. Highlight six problems associated with the Richard constitution of 1946 in Nigeria.

2. Highlight three advantages and three disadvantages of the 1946 Richard constitution of Nigeria.

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