Clifford Constitution of 1922

Clifford constitution of 1922 was enacted after Sir Hugh Clifford was appointed Governor of Nigeria in 1921. Sir Clifford complained of the ineffectiveness of the Nigeria Council and thus abolished both the Nigeria Council and Executive Council.

Sir Hugh Clifford later setup a legislative council of his own conception in 1922, the legislative council included the whole of Southern Nigeria, as had been the case in1914. The constitution of the new legislative council enlarged the total membership to forty-six.

Members of the council were made of the governor, twenty six official members, four elected members and fifteen nominated members. The elected members were from Lagos (three from Lagos and one from Calabar) and Calabar. The council was empowered by law to legislate for the colony and protectorate of Southern Nigeria.

Clifford constitution of 1922 was important in the political development of Nigeria in many aspects. The constitution introduced the elective principle, which gave rise to four elected representatives of the people of Southern Nigeria. The four elected members were the first Africans elected to the legislative council in British West Africa.

Also the legislative council legislated for the colony and protectorate of Southern Nigeria. The Northern Province thus legislated for Northern Nigeria and Cameroon by proclamation. The legislative council approved the annual budget of the whole country. There was a strong body of educated Africans who criticized the powers of the council and demanded for increase in African representation and delay in obtaining self rule.

The Clifford constitution of 1922 affirmed the elective principle of representation and this influenced the formation of political parties in Nigeria. Herbert Macaulay formed the first Nigeria political part – the Nigeria National Democratic Party in 1923 to contest for Lagos town council.

The executive council created in 1923 composed of entirely British officials responsible to the governor. The governor exercised his power in consultation with the executive council though he was not bound to accept the advice of the council. The governor presides over the council and he’s the only person competent to propose matter of discussion.

There was no African unofficial member of the executive council. The Clifford constitution of 1922 was in practice for twenty five years. It was criticized on many grounds by both Africans and Europeans. The franchise which followed the introduction of elective principle was limited to British adults or protected person who satisfied resident qualification of twelve months with gross annual income of 100 British Pounds.

Northern Nigeria was not represented in the council; the governor legislated for Northern Nigeria by proclamation. The aim of the council was not to involve Nigerians in the government of their country but to enable British officials get much local advice and opinion that could be used in the exercise of government authority.

As a result of these problems and the fear of the British interest in delaying self rule, a strong body of educated Africans both at home and abroad criticized the power of the legislative council and demanded an increase in African representation.

Sir Graeme Thomson succeeded Sir Clifford in 1925 as the colonial governor. In 1931, Sir Donald Cameron was made the governor. He made serious marks in the administration of Nigeria. Some administrative changes were made to enhance political development, separation of powers and establishment of judicial departments.

Donald Cameron retired in 1935 and Sir Bernard Bourdillon succeeded him as governor. Sir Donald is by far remembered for his interest in shaping local administration, judicial system and solving economic depression. Bernard Bourdillon continued with the administrative changes initiated by Donald Cameron. He expressed his profound dissatisfaction with the 1922 constitution and made effort to introduce changes.

A new development was created in 1942 with the appointment of two Africans and one European into the Executive council. He was succeeded by Sir Arthur Richards in 1943.

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