Posted by / Thursday 19 April 2018 / No comments

What were the functions of the Governor-General under the 1960 independent constitution of Nigeria?

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When the 1960 independent constitution of Nigeria came into effect on 1st October, 1960, it made provision for the position of a Governor-General. Under the provisions of the constitution, the Queen of England was still the Head of State of Nigeria as under previous constitutions. Since she was permanently domiciled in the metropolis of London, she was represented by the Governor-General in the person of Nnamdi Azikiwe. The Head of Government or the one who really administered the country was Tafawa Balewa.

Acted as the ceremonial head
The Governor-General, acting as the ceremonial Head of State was responsible for ceremonial functions like, opening parliamentary sessions, inspecting guards of honour, receiving credentials from ambassadors and High commissioners. He was representing the Queen of England who was resident in London.

Gave assent to bills
Another function of the Governor-General was to give assent to bills that had been passed in the National Assembly. Though the major duty of passing laws was that of the National Assembly, after the bills are passed, it needs the signature of the Governor-General before it can become binding on the citizens.

Appointed the Prime Minister
Under a parliamentary system of government, the party which controls the majority seats in parliament gets its leader appointed as the Prime Minister. It was one of the functions of the Governor-General to carry out this appointment. Until his official appointment, the Prime Minister cannot start to perform his duties.

Power of prerogative
The Governor-General had the power to grant pardon to prisoners who had been sentenced into various terms of imprisonment for breaching the laws of the land. He could commit a death penalty to life imprisonment. He could pardon prisoners and get them freed on grounds of ill-health.

Prorogued the National Assembly
To prorogue is a language that is used to describe the coming to an end of a parliamentary session. This is usually associated with a ceremony in the National Assembly. One of the functions of the Governor-General was to draw the curtains on the parliamentary proceedings for that particular session.

Power to remove Prime Minister
The Governor-General under the 1960 constitution had the power to remove the Prime Minister from office. This could however happen only when the Prime Minister losses the confidence of the members of the House of Representatives.

Power to dismiss ministers
The Governor-General also had the power to dismiss a minister of government when that minister misbehaves or goes contrary to the provisions of his position. This was however, done based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

1. a. Describe the position of the Governor-General under the 1960 independent constitution of Nigeria.
    b. Highlight five of the functions performed by the Governor-General under the constitution.

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