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Arthur Richards Constitution

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

  1. Integration of Nigeria under one (1) council.
  2. Each region had its own regional council.
  3. Bi-cameral legislature in the North but uni-cameral for the East and West.
  4. An executive council of official to assist the governor.
  5. Regional Assemblies functioned as electoral colleges for the indirect election of members of the legislative council.

MERITS OF THE RICHARDS CONSTITUTION

  1. North and South, for the first time, were legislatively integrated (i.e. had one all-Nigerian legislative council).
  2. Nigerians were offered greater participation in the central legislative council.
  3. Various interests and sections were adequately represented.
  4. It recognised the diversity of the country.
  5. Indirect rule system was carefully incorporated into the constitution.

DEMERITS OF THE RICHARDS CONSTITUTION

  1. Regional Assemblies merely acted as advisory and consultative bodies.
  2. Impression of unofficial majority in the council was false because majority were chiefs or government nominees.
  3. Constitution was arbitrarily imposed, thus, undemocratic.
  4. The elective principle was not extended beyond Lagos and Calabar.
  5. Regionalism was introduced unintentionally and thus, caused political division into Nigeria.

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