The Clifford Constitution of 1922 was a pivotal document in Nigeria’s colonial history, shaping the country’s political landscape during the British colonial period. In this article, we examine the merits, demerits, and significant features of the Clifford Constitution, shedding light on its impact on the Nigerian society of that time.
After some time, Nigerians also expressed disapproval for Clifford Constitution because of so many reasons. One of the reasons was because, the governor retained the power to legislate for the North. As we continue, i will discuss the merits, demerits and features of Clifford Constitution of 1922.
Features Of The Clifford Constitution
1. Elective principle was Introduced though it was restricted to Lagos and Calabar.
2. The Legislative council was increased to 46 (forthy six).
3. The East and the West all had representative. The North was the only region that lacked representatives and continued to be ruled by Proclamations from the Governor.
4. The Mass Media began to gain wide circulation with the formation of indigenous newspapers like the The West African Daily Pilot.
5. Political Parties began to spring up like the NNDP by Herbert Macaulay and NYM.
Merits Of the Clifford Constitution
1. The Clifford constitution brought the elective principle into Nigeria which paved way for elective representation of Nigerians.
2. It spurred the formation of parties with the interests of Nigerians and increased Nationalism.
3. It created room for the development of the mass media to circulate information.
4. It increased the Legislative Council to 46.
Demerits of the Clifford Constitution
1. The constitution isolated the northern province of Nigeria
2. The constitution was a reflection of the British policy of the divide and rule by isolating northern province in spite of the 1914 amalgamation.
3. By allowing only male adults earning £100 per annum to vote, the constitution disenfranchised majority of Nigerians.
4. The constitution allowed the legislative council to be dominated by Europeans.
5. Majority of Nigerian unofficial members that were nominated in the Legislative Council were illiterates.
6. The constitution excluded Nigerian officials or non-official in the executive council.
7. The constitution made the legislative council subordinate to the European monopolized and controlled executive council.
8. The constitution did not extend elective principle to the executive council.
9. The constitution vested too much political political power on the governor including the power to legislate for the North.
10. Finally, the constitution served as the first official polarization of Nigeria into North and South thereby fanning the embers of sectional ism in Nigeria.