LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT
BUILD UP TO LYTTLETON CONSTITUTION SSS 2
In the build up to the Lyttleton constitution, the Macpherson constitution of 1951 was reviewed through constitutional conferences. Those conferences were London constitutional conference of 1953 and the Lagos constitutional conference of 1954. The revised constitution gave birth to Lyttleton constitution enacted in 1954. The constitution established the federal principle and paved the way for independence.
CONCENSUS AT THE LONDON CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE – 1953
- Governor of Nigeria to be retitled, Governor-General while the Lieutenant-Governors were to be known as Governors.
- Establishment of a fully federal system for the state.
- Lagos to become the Federal Capital and separated from the west.
- The regional legislature should no longer serve as Electoral College for the central legislature.
- Self-government was recommended for the regions.
- A separate regional administration was proposed for Cameroon subject to a second constitution and a referendum by the people.
CONCENSUS AT THE LAGOS CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE – 1954
- Derivation principles to be followed in allocating financial resources to the federal and the regional government.
- Autonomy to be granted southern Cameroon as a separate region while northern Cameroon remains part of the northern region.
- Separate public services and judiciary for the regions based on the principle of federalism.
LYTTLETON CONSTITUTION – 1954
Mr. Oliver Lyttleton had been coordinating the constitutional review efforts which culminated in Lyttleton Constitution enacted in 1954.
FEATURE OF LYTTLETON CONSTITUTION
- Introduction of a federal system of government.
- The governor became known as Governor-General while the Lt-governors became known as Governors.
- Regions were given residual power to legislate with approval from the central government.
- The central and the regional legislature shared some functions which were on the concurrent list.
- Regional judiciaries were established.
- Regional civil services were established.
- Leaders of the political parties with majority in the regional Houses of Assembly became designated as the Premiers of the regions. Nnamdi Azikwe – East; Ahmadu Bello – North; and Obafemi Awolowo – West.
- A supreme court was established for the whole federation.
- Autonomy was given to southern Cameroon to have its own legislature though it was still part of Nigeria.
- Lagos was separated from the southern region and made the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
WEAKNESSESS OF THE LYTTLETON CONSTITUTION
- There was no provision for the office of the Prime Minister as the Head of the government.
- The Governor-General still retained veto power as the Head of State who can reject bills and advice.
- There was no specific plan for independence.
- The central government was weak since it has no substantive civil service.
- It ignored the call for the creation of more regions.
- The Supreme Court was not functional as either the highest court or appellate court for the country.
- The regions had different electoral systems. Adult male suffrage in the north but universal suffrage in the other regions.
Constitutional Development in Nigeria
Clifford Constitution – 1922
Richard Constitution – 1946
Macpherson Constitution – 1951
Independence Constitution – 1960
Post Independence Constitutions – 1963, 1979, 1989, 1999