Posted by / Monday 5 December 2016 / No comments

What were the limitations of the Clifford Constitution of Nigeria?

The Sir Hugh Clifford constitution was introduced in Nigeria in 1922 by Sir Hugh Clifford, the Governor who was appointed after Lord Luggard.

Legislative Council
The constitution made provision for a Legislative Council. There were 46 members in the Council, 27 of whom were officials and 19 were unofficial.

Executive Council
The constitution also made provision for an Executive Council who were official members. There were 12 members in this Executive Council and all of them were Europeans. At this stage, no Nigerians were included in the Council. The main duty of the Executive Council was to advise the Governor.

The Governor
The constitution made a provision for the position of a Governor. The Governor was appointed by the Monarch on the recommendations of the Secretary of State for the colonies. He was in charge of the administration of the entire country.

Introduction of elective principle
One of the strong points of the Sir Hugh Clifford constitution was introduction of the elective principle for the first time in British Colonial West Africa. The constitution allowed the Africans to directly to elect their representatives. Thus, three people were elected from Lagos and one was elected from Calabar.

Single Legislative Council
Another positive side of the constitution was that again for the first time a single Legislative Council was established for both the Lagos colony and the protectorate area of Southern Nigeria. Hitherto, they were administered separately.

Set the grounds for political party activities
Also the introduction of the first constitution later became the premise upon which the very first political party in Nigeria was formed. The Nigerian National Democratic Party was formed in 1923 led by Mr. Herbert Macaulay.

Limitation of the elective principle
Though the constitution was touted to have introduced the elective principle for the first time in Nigeria, it was 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 be able to boast of an annual income of N20.00

Exclusion of Africans from the Executive Council
Another limitation of the constitution of 1922 was that it did not include any Africans in the Executive Council. This was bad because this was the place where policies were formulated so why should Africans be excluded from the Executive Council when they are the people who are going to experience the effects of the Executive policies.

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. He also had a casting vote so that whenever there was a deadlock in decision, the Governor casts a final vote.

Exclusion of the North
Though it was good that a single Legislative Council was established for the Lagos colony and the protectorate areas on the South, it did not cover the entire Nigeria. The Governor continued to administer the Northern territories as a separate entity. The North was also not included in the Legislative Council.

Infrequency of Legislative Council meetings
One of the other down sides of the constitution was the fact that the Council did not meet as often as should have been the case. This did not help very much. The Council met only about eight days in an entire year on the average.

1. Highlight six reasons why the 1922 constitution of Sir Hugh Clifford was criticized.

2. a. Explain three features of the of the Clifford constitution.
    b. Give three reasons why you will not recommend the Clifford constitution for adoption.    

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