LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT
MACPHERSON CONSTITUTION 1951
Sir John Stuart Macpherson succeeded Richard as the governor of Nigeria and his main concern was to rectify the issues inherent in the 1946 constitution. He set up a legislative council committee to analyze the issues and recommend ways to address them.
The committee recommended a wide range of consultation with Nigerians including the rural dwellers. This should climax in an all-Nigerian constitutional conference at Ibadan in 1950 to agree on the constitution. The outcome was regarded as the first home-made constitution.
IBADAN CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE – 1950
The conference was held in January 1950, chaired by the attorney-general, Sir Gerald Howe with the aim of producing a durable and acceptable constitution.
RECOMMENDATIONS AT THE CONFERENCE
- A federal system involving the three regions was recommended.
- The regions were to possess full legislative power but subject to approval of the central legislature.
- Any regional legislation conflicting with a central legislation should be set aside.
- The central legislative council should be composed of 148 member where the Northern region should be allocated half of the seats.
FEATURES OF MACPHERSON CONSTITUTION
- The constitution reflected a wide consultation.
- Federal system was introduced.
- A central legislature known as House of Representative was formed with 148 members. The North had 68; the other two regions had 34 members each. 6 members were appointed by the governor to represent the unrepresented minorities and the remaining six were ex-officio.
- The Northern and Western regions had bicameral legislature – House of Assembly and House of Chiefs while the Eastern region was unicameral with the House of Assembly only.
- The regions had legislative power on limited matters local to them.
- The Colony of Lagos was merged with the Western region.
- A Council of Ministers was instituted of which the governor was the head.
- The provinces were formally named regions and the three Provincial/Chief Commissioners were retitled Lieutenant-Governors.
WEAKNESSES OF MACPHERSON CONSTITUTION
- The central government had no responsibility to carry out.
- Advent of ethnic nationalism and regional divisions.
- Provisions of the constitution permitted the situation that led to the Kano riot of 1953.
- Crisis in the Eastern House of Assembly due to the exclusion of Nnamdi Azikwe from the central legislature.
- Crisis in the NCNC.
- Emergence of regional based political parties – National Congress of Nigeria (NCNC) in the East, Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in the North and Action Group (AG) in the West.
- A move of the motion for independence by Chief Anthony Enahoro in 1953 caused rancor in the House of Representative.
- (a) Highlight the recommendations at the constitutional conference prior to Macpherson constitution
- (b) Mention the features of Macpherson constitution
- (c) What are the weaknesses of Macpherson constitution?
Constitutional Development in Nigeria
Clifford Constitution – 1922
Richard Constitution – 1946
Lyttleton Constitution – 1954
Independence Constitution – 1960
Post Independence Constitutions – 1963, 1979, 1989, 1999