Constitutional Development In Nigeria From 1914 Till Date
The Federal Republic of Nigeria which gained independence in 1960, after a long period of colonialism by the British government, has a remarkable constitutional development. The constitutional development in Nigeria from 1914 till date can be divided into two generation:
Types of Constitution in Nigeria
- The pre-independence generation and
- The post-independence generation.
The pre-independence generation is made up of 6 constitutional instruments, including :
- The 1914 constitution, the 1922 constitution, the 1946 constitution, the 1951 constitution, the 1954 constitution and the 1960 constitution.
The post-independence generation is however made up of :
- The 1963 constitution, the 1979 constitution and the 1999 constitution.
The idea of one Nigeria, dates back to 1914 with the Frederick Lugard Constitution. This Frederick Lugard’s 1914 Constitution amalgamated the southern Nigeria with the northern Nigeria. The resulting entity was administered under Lord Frederick Lugard’s government.
The Frederick Lugard’s 1914 Constitution was later replaced by the Sir Clifford’s 1922 Constitution. The Sir Clifford’s 1922 Constitution formed a legislative council that was given law making responsibilities for Lagos and the southern provinces.
In 1946, the Sir Clifford’s 1922 Constitution was replaced by the Arthur Richard’s 1946 Constitution which defined Nigeria for the first time. The Arthur Richard’s 1946 Constitution divided Nigeria into the Northern, Western and Eastern
regions. This Arthur Richard’s 1946 Constitution came into effect after the end of World War 2.
Continuation of the constitutional development in Nigeria from 1914 till date …
A chain of events resulted in the formation of a body called the National Council for Nigeria and Cameroons. This body later changed its name into the National council of Nigerian Citizens, (N.C.N.C). This body mobilised indigenous peoples of the country to fight for their political independence.
Just 5 years after the Arthur Richard’s 1946 Constitution came into effect, another constitution took over. The Sir John Macpherson’s 1951 Constitution came into existence. The Sir John Macpherson’s 1951 Constitution was said to widely reached out to the people than the previous constitutions.
In 1953, there was massive loss of lives and property which was as a result of fights between the northerners and southerners. This violence, however, led to the formation of a new constitution known as the Oliver Lyttleton’s 1954 Constitution.
The Oliver Lyttleton’s 1954 Constitution however made regional governments independent of the central government. The regional governments were independent of the central government in the sense that subjects and legislative powers were allocated to the regional governments. The Oliver Lyttleton’s 1954 Constitution is however described as the most instrumental constitution that helped Nigeria gain independence in 1960.
In 1960, Nigeria gained political independence as a sovereign which was also accompanied by a new constitution known as the 1960 Constitution. The 1960 Constitution introduced the parliamentary system of government.
However, some flaws in the 1960 Constitution. led to the birth of another constitution. In 1963, a new constitution known as the 1963 Constitution sprang up. One of the main feature of the 1963 Constitution was the establishment of Nigeria’s 1st republic under a parliamentary system.
The 1963 Constitution was however suspended by 4 violent military coup de tat which lasted between 1966 and 1979. The military rule came to an end when the General Olusegun Obasanjo administration gave way to a 2nd republic.
Owing to the suspension of the 1963 Constitution, the 1979 Constitution came up which lasted for a long time. The 1979 Constitution introduced the presidential system of government. On 27th of May, 1999, a new constitution rose up, which is known as the 1999 Constitution.
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