Merits and Demerits of Richards Constitution of 1946: The Clifford Constitution of 1922 was repealed in 1946 and replaced with the Richard Constitution. Due to the Clifford Constitution’s weakness, Nigerian nationalists under the leadership of Sir Bernard Bourdillon, the country’s administrator from 1935 to 1943, began urging them to write a new constitution. Sir Arthur Richards was the inspiration for the Richards Constitution.
The new constitution’s primary aims include promoting Nigeria’s unity, fostering diversity by resolving social and political divisions within the country’s unity, and assuring a stronger role for Africans in the debate of their affairs.
This essay will discuss the merits and demerits of the 1946 Richard Constitution.
Some Characteristics of the 1946 Richard Constitution
1. Establishment of the executive council; the executive council was founded, and the governor presided over it, along with other administrative officials, who include the chiefs of all presidential departments.
2. Establishment of the Central Legislature; the legislative council was also established; the council was tasked with the responsibility of establishing the country’s legal principles. Additionally, the president serves as the leader of the legislative council.
3. Establishment of Regions; Three regions were established, including the northern region, which is populated by Hausa/ Fulani people, the eastern region, which is populated by Igbo people, and the western region, which is populated by Yoruba people. And this is the defining feature of the Richard Constitution.
4. Regional legislatures were established; regional assemblies were also established. Each municipality had its own council. The Northern Region had both the House of Assembly and the House of Chiefs, while the Eastern and Western Regions only had the House of Assembly.
This then leads us to the Merits and Demerits of Richards Constitution of 1946
Merits of the Richard Constitution
1. Introduction of federalism; Richard’s Constitution is credited with introducing the federal concept into the Nigerian body’s policy; by providing for the establishment of three regions, each with its own regional Legislative Council, the Constitution implied that Nigeria might eventually become a federal state.
2. Promoting Nigerian National Unity; For the first time in the country’s political history, the north and south were integrated legislatively. By integrating the north and south under a single legislative body, the constitution encouraged Nigerian unity. The constitution emphasized the achievement of national unity. Clifford’s constitution was intended to encompass all of Nigeria.
3. Nigerians were given a stronger say in the Central Legislative Council; regional assemblies provided a venue for Nigerians to engage in the discussion and management of their own concerns.
Thus, the constitution permitted Nigerians to participate in the country’s affairs. Local governments were designated as electoral subdivisions for higher councils in the constitution. Which aided in the resolution of the country’s educational elite’s integration into the national administrative council.
4. Diverse interests and sectors were effectively represented; the people were consulted when Richard’s 1946 Constitution was drafted. Numerous Nigerians, albeit in an informal capacity, were represented in the Legislative Council. Each region had its own council of ministers that advised the governor.It honored the country’s diversity.
By establishing regional assemblies, the constitution recognizes Nigeria’s variety and provides for the expression of these disparate aspects. This constitution results in the foundation of the country’s primary legislative power.
5. The indirect system of governance was subtly inserted into the constitution; the government cleverly incorporated indirect rule into the constitution by connecting local governments to regional assemblies and the regional assemblies to the Lagos central legislative body. Through the introduction of three regional governments and a House of Chiefs, the government became more accessible to the people.
The 1946 Richard Constitution’s merits
1. It was imposed: The constitution was attacked for lacking a sufficient popular vote, as promised previously, for which it was imposed and perceived as authoritarian, and this was the primary complaint leveled against nationalists, particularly at Richard’s constitution.
2. The official and unofficial representatives were found to be ineffective: the majority of officials served merely as formalities; they lack legislative authority; and there was no effective link between the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, as none of the Executive Council’s official members were Legislative Council members.
The Legislative Council was appointed rather than elected, which meant that members who were elected or nominated owed duty to the individual who nominated them rather than to the people.
3. The electoral principle was limited to Lagos and Calabar: While the Clifford constitution kept the electoral idea, it was limited to select cities such as Lagos and Calabar.
Additionally, it was connected to various forms of qualification. The primary criterion for voting was wealth.
4. It facilitated tribalism and ethnicism: Regionalism was introduced inadvertently, resulting in political fragmentation in Nigeria, while regionalism was established in Nigeria engendered regional rivalry since each area represented one or more ethnic groups.
Northern Nigeria represents the Hausa/Fulani people, eastern Nigeria represents the Igbo people, and western Nigeria represents the Yoruba people, resulting in ethnic and tribal tensions in Nigerian politics.
5. The constitution reflected colonial interests: Richard’s constitution reflected a strong commitment to colonial interests. The Legislative Council included a sizable number of Europeans. The Legislative Council piqued European interest. One would assume that the council will be made up of a majority of Nigerians and a minority of Europeans.
This was not the case, and it was the primary reason Nigerians opposed Richard’s constitution vehemently. Richard’s constitution prohibited nationalist leaders from fully participating in the country’s administration. As a result, the constitution has been deemed a failure because it did not give Nigerians complete control over their government.
6. The constitution was partial: The constitution has been accused of being partial against the southern region due to the chief’s residence being purposefully constructed in the north rather than the south. This was purposeful colonial statecraft with the objective of integrating the northern region into Nigerian politics.
READ ALSO: Top 10 Best Side Jobs For Teachers in 2022
It was roundly condemned by the educated and politically active southern region. The NCNC resisted the procedure, but the British colonial authority overturned it, ensuring that the north remained in the mainstream of Nigerian politics.
7. The governor’s veto damaged the legislative and executive branches’ effectiveness: The government possessed a veto power, which allowed it to veto Legislative Council initiatives.
The governor was not compelled to adopt the Legislative Council’s recommendations. The council acted solely as a consultative body. There was still a governor with Veto power, as well as Europeans in charge of the state’s agencies.
The region exists in Nigeria as a result of the 1964 Richard Constitution. This was the crux of the Richard Constitution. However, regionalism has resulted in the emergence of tribalism and ethnicism in the country today as a result of a conflict of interest between different regions. Richard’s constitution appeared to be interested in Nigeria’s continued progress, but it benefited him because Nigerians did not receive complete power and authority to administer their country. In 1950, Richard’s Constitution was superseded by the Macpherson Constitution. So far we have been able to see Merits and Demerits of Richards Constitution of 1946.