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Lord Lugard Constitution Of 1914 In Nigeria
As a result of the acceptance of the Lord Lugard Amalgamation Report by the British Government, the Northern and Southern Provinces were joined together to form Nigeria on 1st January, 1914. The new country was officially known as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria and a constitution was promulgated to provide guidance for the administration of the country.
The reasons for the amalgamation have been discussed at length on this blog (Click Here To Read), but suffice it to say that the principal reason for the amalgamation was the need to protect and advance the economic and commercial interest of the British.
Features of Lord Lugard Constitution In Nigeria
The main features of the constitution were as follows:
- The component units of the new state were the Colony of Lagos, the Northern Provinces and the Southern Provinces. The capital of the country was Lagos.
- The Governor-General (Lord Lugard was the first occupant of the offlce) served as the head of government. Each province was headed by a governor.
- The Lagos Colony had a legislative council, which comprised the Governor (Chairman), six officials and four nominated members, two of were Africans.
- A legislative council styled the “Nigerian Council” was set up to make laws for the whole country. The body comprised the Governor-General as the Chairman, 23 official members and 13 unofficial members – seven of whom were Europeans. The remaining six were Nigerians, most of whom were traditional rulers. The Council met once a year to discuss the governor’s speech and any decision taken could be vetoed by him.
- The indirect rule policy was introduced throughout the country.
Merits of Lord Lugard Constitution In Nigeria
The constitution had the following advantages:
- The constltution provided for the peaceful evolution of the Nigerian state.
- The different and diverse ethnic nationalities which had previously been at each other’s throat were, for the first time, brought together under the same constitutional framework.
- The legislative council and other structures established by the constitution provided a forum for Nigerians to discuss matters affecting them.
- There was decentralization of government through the creation of provinces and introduction of indirect rule.
- It provided a training ground for Nigerians in the art of governance.
Demerits of Lord Lugard Constitution In Nigeria
The disadvantages of the constitution included the following:
- The amalgamation never really resulted in national unity as both the north and the south continued to pursue different policies.
For example, the official language of the Northern Provinces continued to be Hausa while English Language was the official language of the Southern Provinces. So, even in terms of language, they remained divided.
- The two provinces continued to operate as if they were different entities or countries. Each protectorate had separate departments dealing with education, health, police, prisons and public works.
- Apart from senior government officials who met regularly at the annual council meetings, there was little interaction between the people of the North and South.
- The Nigerian Council was neither Nigerian in nature nor was it a true law-making body. It was a mere talkshop, which had no single elected member.
- The Governor General continued to make laws for the North, which had no legislative council of its own.
- The indirect rule policy strengthened the native administration system as an institution of government and this system promoted allegiance to local rather than national institutions.
- The constitution had no role for the educated elites though it must be admitted that there were only a few educated people at the time.