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The reasons why Nigeria opted for a republican state in 1963

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When Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960, the constitution still had some elements of dependency since the Queen of England was still the ceremonial Head of State, represented by the Governor-General. In order to change this structure and make the country a republic, there was a need for an entirely new constitution. Some of the other reasons why there was a need to change to a republic are discussed below.

Need for a Nigerian constitution
The 1960 independent constitution of Nigeria was largely drawn by their colonial master, the British and handed over to them. Nigeria wanted a constitution that was made in Nigeria by Nigerians. Apart from that, Nigeria wanted to allocate more powers to the Prime Minister of the nation, Nigeria wanted to create new regions and needed constitutional clarification to do so. Under the 1960 constitution, this could not be easily done, hence the need for a new constitution.

Remove the last vestige of colonialism
Another reason why Nigeria opted for a republican constitution was to remove the Queen as their Head of State. The 1960 independent constitution, crafted by the British, provided for a bicephalous executive where the Queen of England remained the Head of State. Since the Queen could not be physically present in Nigeria, a Governor-General was appointed to replace her in Lagos. The Nigerians felt that since they had attained independence, it was not good enough for the Queen to remain the Head of State.

Highest Court of Appeal to be in Nigeria
Another reason why Nigeria decided to become a republic was that they wanted to remove the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council based in London from remaining the highest Court of Appeal for Nigeria in judicial matters. Under the 1960 independent constitution of Nigeria, a Supreme Court was provided for but anybody who was not satisfied with a ruling of the Supreme court in Nigeria could still appeal the decision at the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council sitting in London for a final redress. Nigeria felt there was the need to remove this and make the Supreme Court in Nigeria the highest Court of Appeal in judicial matters.

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Response to the wind of political change
Also, Nigeria could have been reacting to the wind of political change blowing in the sub-region and elsewhere in former British colonies. Ghana had already attained a republican status about three years earlier. Long before Ghana opted for a republican status and had gotten it, Burma (Myanmar), India and Pakistan had already become republics. Nigeria may just have been responding to the political changes that were going on in the former colonies of Britain.

Membership of the Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations was one of the major sources of funding for the newly independent colonies in West Africa. The Nigerians soon realized that the attainment of a republican status was not going to affect their membership of the Commonwealth or the flow of financial assistance thereof. They must have looked at Ghana and seen that their attainment of republican status did not affect them in any negative way as far as their membership of the Commonwealth was concerned. This must have gingered them to call for republican status.

1.Highlight the reasons why Nigeria opted for a republican constitution

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