Merits and demerits of the Richards Constitution: The faulty Clifford Constitution of 1922 was replaced by the Richard Constitution in 1946. Due to the weakness of the Clifford Constitution, Nigerian nationalists, Sir Bernard Bourdillon, the governor of Nigeria from 1935 to 1943, began pressuring them to create a new constitution.The Richards Constitution was named after Sir Arthur Richards.
The main objectives in drafting the new constitution include promoting the unity of Nigeria, promoting diversity by addressing the social and political differences within the unity of the country, and ensuring greater participation of Africans in the discussion of their affairs
In this article we will be outlining the merits and demerits of the Richard Constitution of 1946.
Some Features of Richard Constitution of 1946
1. The established of the executive council; the executive council was established and the governor presided over the council and other executive officials consists of all heads of presidency departments.
2. Creation of Central Legislature; The legislature council was also set up, the council was responsible for making the legal guidelines for the entire country. The president also heads the legislature council.
3. Creation of Regions; Three areas was created particularly the northern region which consists of the Hausa/ Fulani people , the eastern region, which consists of the igbo people and the western region which consists of the Yorubas. And that is the most essential characteristic of the Richard constitution.
4. Regional Legislatures; Regional Assemblies was also set up, Each place had its local council. The North had each the House of Assembly and House of Chiefs at the same time as the Eastern and Western Regions had only the House of Assembly.
Merits of the Richard Constitution
Positive impacts of the Richard Constitution includes:
1. Introduction of federalism; Richard’s Constitution is credited with introducing the federal idea into the policy of the Nigerian body, as the Constitution provided for the creation of three regions, with their respective regional Legislative Council, it suggested that Nigeria could become a federal state in the future. .
2. Promoting National Unity in Nigeria; For the first time in Nigeria’s political history, north and south were legislatively integrated. the constitution promoted unity in Nigeria by uniting north and south in a central legislative council. The constitution promoted the national unity which had been achieved. Clifford’s constitution was meant to embrace all parts of Nigeria
3. Nigerians were offered greater participation in the Central Legislative Council; The regional assemblies provided a forum for Nigerians to participate in the discussion and management of their affairs.
In doing so, the constitution permited the participation of Nigerians in its affairs. The constitution used the local authorities as electoral units for the higher councils. Which contributed to the solving of the problem of integrating the country’s educational elite into the national administrative council.
4. Various interests and sectors were represented adequately; The people were consulted in drafting Richard’s Constitution of 1946. Many Nigerians were represented on the Legislative Council, albeit in an informal capacity.Each of the regions had a council of ministers who acted as advisor to the governor.
it recognized the diversities of the country.
By establishing regional assemblies, the constitution recognizes the diversity of Nigeria and allows these various elements to express their views. This constitution leads to the establishment of the central legislative authority in the country.
5. The indirect system of government was carefully incorporated into the constitution; the indirect rule was cleverly incorporated into the constitution by the government, through linking the local authorities to the regional assemblies and the regional assembly to the central legislative body in Lagos. The government became closer to the people through the establishment of 3 regional governments and a House of Chiefs.
Demerits of the Richard Constitution of 1946
1. It was imposed: The constitution was criticized for lack of adequate popular vote as previously promised, for which it was imposed and viewed as autocratic, and this was the main criticism of the nationalists, particularly the constitution of Richard
2. The official and unofficial representatives were proved ineffective: Most of the officials served only as formalities; they have no legislative power; there was no effective link between the Executive Council and the Legislative Council, as none of the official members of the former was a member of the Legislative Council.
The Legislative Council was selected not elected, meaning that the elected or nominated members owed allegiance to the person who nominated them rather than the people.
3. The electoral principle did not extend beyond Lagos and Calabar: Although the constitution retained the electoral principle as in the Clifford constitution, it was nonetheless limited to a few cities such as Lagos and Calabar.
It was also linked to other forms of qualification. Being wealthy was the main parameters for voting.
4. It promoted tribalism and ethnicism: Regionalism was introduced unintentionally, causing political division in Nigeria, while regionalism introduced in Nigeria created regional rivalry because each region represented one or more ethnic groups.
The northern region represents the Hausa/Fulani people, the eastern region represents the Igbo people and the western region represents the Yoruba people, which has led to ethnic and tribal contradictions in Nigerian politics.
5. The constitution represented colonial interests: Richard’s constitution showed a great deal of interest in the colonist. There were many Europeans on the Legislative Council. Europeans were very interested in the Legislative Council. One would have thought that the council would consist of many Nigerians and fewer Europeans.
This was not the case, however, and it was the main reason Nigerians vehemently opposed Richard’s constitution. Richard’s constitution did not allow nationalist leaders to participate fully in the administration of the country. Hence, the constitution was viewed as a failure because it did not allow Nigerians to fully run their government.
6. The constitution was partial: The constitution has been accused of being partially against the southern region as the chief’s house was deliberately built in the north rather than the south. This was a deliberate colonial statecraft designed to bring the northern region into mainstream of Nigerian politics.
It was vehemently criticized by the more educated and political southern region. The NCNC stood up to the process, but unfortunately the British colonial ruler overruled the protest, which meant that the north continued to remain in mainstream of Nigerian politics.
7. The governor’s right of veto undermined the effectiveness of the legislative and executive branches: The government had a right of veto, which means that it can veto proposals by the Legislative Council.
The governor was not required to accept the recommendations of the Legislative Council. The council only served as an advisory body. there was still the position of a governor who maintained the power of Veto, and also Europeans who were responsible for the departments in the state.
The existence of the region in Nigeria as a result of the Richard Constitution of 1964. This was the most important aspect of the Richard Constitution. But regionalism brought tribalism and ethnicism to the country today because of a conflict of interest between these regions. Richard’s constitution seemed interested in Nigeria’s further development, but the constitution served his interests as Nigerians did not get full power and authority to run their government. Richard’s Constitution was later replaced by the Macpherson Constitution in 1950.