Arthur Richards Constitution (1946)
The Richards Constitution of 1946 replaced the defective Clifford Constitution of 1922. It was as a result of the weakness of the Clifford Constitution that the Nigerian nationalists began to pressurise Sir Bernard Bourdillon, the Governor of Nigeria from 1935 to 1943, to give them a new befitting constitution. It was Sir Bernard Bourdillon who split Nigeria into three (3) regions: North, East, and West in 1939.
FEATURES OF THE RICHARDS CONSTITUTION
- Integration of Nigeria under one (1) council.
- Each region had its own regional council.
- Bi-cameral legislature in the North but uni-cameral for the East and West.
- An executive council of official to assist the governor.
- Regional Assemblies functioned as electoral colleges for the indirect election of members of the legislative council.
MERITS OF THE RICHARDS CONSTITUTION
- North and South, for the first time, were legislatively integrated (i.e. had one all-Nigerian legislative council).
- Nigerians were offered greater participation in the central legislative council.
- Various interests and sections were adequately represented.
- It recognised the diversity of the country.
- Indirect rule system was carefully incorporated into the constitution.
DEMERITS OF THE RICHARDS CONSTITUTION
- Regional Assemblies merely acted as advisory and consultative bodies.
- Impression of unofficial majority in the council was false because majority were chiefs or government nominees.
- Constitution was arbitrarily imposed, thus, undemocratic.
- The elective principle was not extended beyond Lagos and Calabar.
- Regionalism was introduced unintentionally and thus, caused political division into Nigeria.