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The major features of the 1963 republican constitution of Nigeria

Nigeria Green Walk Independence People Cro
On the 1st of October, 1963, Nigeria became a federal republic. This was the result of the All-Party Conference held in Lagos in the latter days of the month of July, 1963. With the republican status came a new constitution to reflect the new Nigeria.

Retention of Parliamentary system
The new constitution retained the parliamentary system of government where there was a Head of State and a Head of Government. President Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first Head of Government, that is, president of the new republic and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa became the Head of Government and therefore, the Prime Minister.

Removal of the queen
The Queen of England was removed from her position as the Head of State. In the 1960 independent constitution, she was made the Head of State, represented by the Governor-General in Nigeria. 

National Assembly to elect President
The republic constitution provided that the president of the Republic of Nigeria must be elected by a joint sitting of the National Assembly, voting through the secret ballot. The majority votes of the members of the joint National Assembly must carry the day. Thus, President Nnamdi Azikiwe was elected as the Head of State by the 1963 National Assembly.

Senate President acting as President
The new constitution made provisions for the temporary replacement of the president. The constitution stated that, where the president suddenly dies, is removed from office, resigns him/herself or becomes physically incapacitated and cannot therefore perform the functions of his office, the Senate President must act in his stead. This must only last for a maximum of six months, within which a new president must be elected.

Creation of Mid-western Region
The new constitution made provision for the creation of an additional region. The Mid-western region was created to make the total number of regions in Nigeria, at the time, four. As a direct consequence of the creation of the fourth region, the number of seats in the new Senate increased to 56, from the previous 44.

Appeals Court in Nigeria
Unlike the previous constitution where the Appeals Court was the Privy Council in London, the republican constitution provided that the Supreme Court of Nigeria should become the final court of adjudicature in the land.  

Declaration of state of emergency
The constitution also provided that the federal government could declare a state of emergency in any of the four constituent regions if that could guarantee the interest of the entire federation.

1. Highlight six main features of the 1963 republican constitution of Nigeria.
2. What were the major changes introduced by the republican constitution of Nigeria?
3. What were the main differences between the 1960 independence constitution and the 1963 republican constitution of Nigeria?


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