Posted by / Wednesday 7 December 2016 / No comments

The weaknesses of the 1951 Macpheson Constitution of Nigeria

The Macpherson constitution of Nigeria became effective in 1951 in response to the agitations of the political elements in Nigeria at the time led by Herbert Macaulay and Nnamdi Azikiwe.

No clarity on  type of Legislature
One of the weaknesses of the Macpherson constitution is that it was not able to clearly determine whether the country was to have a bicameral Legislature or a unicameral Legislature. This is because while the Northern and the Western Regions were given a bicameral Legislature, the Eastern Region on the hand was given a unicameral Legislature. Apart from that, the constitution did not make room for a Second Chamber at the national level.

The position of a Prime Minister
Another flaw in the Macpherson constitution is the fact that it did not provide for the post of a Prime Minister at the centre. The drawback of this lack of provision was that it affected national cohesion in a country with diverse ethnic groups, languages and cultures.

It was divisive
The Macpherson has also been criticized on the grounds that it did not allow for team work in the Cabinet that it created. For one thing, the members of the cabinet were chosen from the three regions into which the country had been divided and received instructions from their respective regions and therefore tend to owe allegiance to the regions.

It did not decide the federal question
Another demerit of the Macpherson constitution is that it was not decisive on whether the country should be a federal state or a unitary state. Consequently, the two systems were employed in the running of the country.

Semi-responsible government
The Macpherson constitution was also criticized for its inability to grant a full responsible government to the people of Nigeria. This was so because the British were still in charge of External Affairs and Defense, for example.

Governor to decide constitutional questions
Another flaw in the Macpherson constitution is that it did not create a constitutional court to which conflicts arising out of the provisions of the constitution could be referred. Rather it gave the Governor the powers to determine constitutional questions that may arise.

1. Highlight six disadvantages of the Macpherson constitution of Nigeria.

2. What were the disadvantages of any pre-independent constitution in your country?

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