The Clifford Constitution Of 1922: Main Features, Merits And Demerits

Table Of Contents

1. Reasons For The Establishment Of Clifford Constitution
2. Main Features Of The 1922 Constitution
3. Merits Of The 1922 Constitution
4. Demerits Of The 1922 Constitution

The Clifford constitution of 1922 was among the first major attempts at running of government of Nigeria through formal constitution. It was by Sir Hugh Clifford with the introduction of a constitution in Nigeria in 1922.

The following are the reasons for the establishment of Clifford constitution:

1. Sir Hugh Clifford wanted to fully incorporate the Southern Protectorate and the colony of Lagos.

2. Clifford appreciated the need to have a constitution that will respond to the needs and aspirations of Nigerians.

3. He desired to remove some of the major problems that led to the failure of Lugard, his predecessor.

4. He wanted an effective and more inclusive legislative council.

5. Clifford wanted a vibrant legislative council to make law capable of impacting on the lives of its subjects.

6. He wanted to calm fray the nerves of the National Congress of British West Africa by bringing them into the legislative council.

Main Features Of The 1922 Constitution

1. One of the major provisions was the introduction of the first elective principles in Nigeria, African (Nigerian) were elected into the legislative council. The introduction of the elective principles also led to the formation of the first political party in Nigeria in 1923. The Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) led by Herbert Macaulay.

2. The legislative council was made of 46 members comprising 27 unofficial members and 19 official members.

3. The Legislative councils legislated only for the Southern Provinces, laws for the North where made by Governor’s proclamation and orders.

4. There was an executive council still dominated by whites. It had no African official or unofficial representation until 1942.

5. It introduced limited adult male suffrage.

Merits Of The 1922 Constitution

1. It introduced the first elective principle into Nigeria, which was an improvement to political activity especially in Lagos and Calabar.

2. It led to the introduction and formation of the first political consciousness of Nigerians.

3. It expanded the legislative council from what it was after the amalgamation of 46 members and increased the number of Nigerians in the new legislative council to 10.

Defects/Demerits Of The 1922 Constitution

1. One of the major defects of the 1922 constitution was the isolation of the North from the legislative council.

2. Despite the introduction of the elective principle by the constitution, only adult males who had an annual income of 100 pounds were allowed to vote. And such persons were expected to have resided within Lagos and Calabar for at least 12 months. The outrageous income was fixed at a time when an average worker earned about 25 pounds a day.

3. The introduction of the British Divide and Rule policy laid the foundation for the birth and development of ethnicity and tribalism in Nigeria.

4. The exclusion of Africans from the Executive Council until 1942.

5. It provided for an unelected majority.

6. Most of the educated Nigerians were still sidelined in the political scheme of things. This made the legislative council a mere rubber stamp of the colonial government.

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