Richard’s Constitution was severely criticised by the nationalists, because it was imposed on Nigerians without any prior consultation. In order to express the criticisms, the nationalists of the Herbert Macaulay and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe toured important towns in the country, educating the people on the political issues at stake and collecting donations to send a protest delegation to London. It was partly because of this protest that the Richard’s Constitution which originally was intended to last for nine years was replaced in 1951 by MacPherson’s constitution. Its author, Sir John MacPherson, who succeeded Sir Authur Richards as Governor, was sensitive to the criticism that the Richard’s Constitution had not been based on prior consultation with the Nigerians. He therefore allowed three years from 1948 to 1951, for public opinion on his proposals to be expressed at district, provincial and regional levels. After the operation of Richard Constitution, MacPherson Constitution was introduced in 1951. The Macpherson Constitution established a central legislative council and a central executive council for the country. The central legislative council known as the House of Representatives consisted of:
- A President
- Six ex-official members
- One hundred and thirty-six representative members elected from the Regional House
- Six special members appointed by the Governor to represent interests not adequately represented in the House.
The Constitution divided the country into three uneven regions – Northern Region, Western Region and Eastern Region, and in each region existed a Regional Legislature and an Executive Council. The various recommendations were considered and many of them included in the final version of the constitution.
The main features were:
- Election to any post must be by direct and indirect methods.
- The Central legislative body is known as “house of representative” it was a single chamber legislative.
- The Central Executive is made up of the president, 6 ex-officials members and 12 ministers
- Only male tax payers voted in the north. But males and females voted in the east and west.
- In the three regions, some members were elected while others were not.
- The Eastern region had a single chamber – the House of Assembly, there was no House Of Chiefs
- The constitution established bicameral legislature for the northern and western regions, i.e., House of chiefs and House of Assembly for each and unicameral legislature for eastern region, i.e. a House of Assembly.
- A public service commission for the appointment, dismissal and other disciplinary control of public officers was established for Nigeria.
- The constitution also established ‘central executive council known as “council of ministers” and regional executive council” respectively.
- The regional executive council is head by lieutenant governor and member of the regional legislature appointed by lieutenant governor.
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- In both central and regional, executive council decisions were by majority vote.
- The central executive council of each region had four ministers who were Nigerians.
- The governor could act in some cases without the advice of the council of ministers.
The constitution established a public service commission, whose function was for appointment, dismissal and other disciplinary control of public officers.
The regional legislature could only legislate on all subjects and could vote on regional legislations.
THE REGIONAL LEGISLATURES:
The Northern House of Chiefs – It consisted of the Lieutenant Governor who presided, all first class chiefs, 37 other chief, 3 official members and an adviser on Moslem Laws.
The Northern House of Assembly – It consisted of the President, 90 indirectly elected members, 4 official members and not more than 10 members nominated by the Governor to represent interests not adequately represented.
The Eastern House of Assembly – It consisted of the Lieutenant Governor as President, 80 elected members, 5 official members and 3 members nominated to represent interests and communities not adequately represented.
The Western House of Assembly – It comprised a President, 80 elected members, 4 official members and 3 members to represent interests and communities not adequately represented. The Western House of Chiefs was made up of the Lieutenant Governor as President, 50 chiefs, 3 official members and not more than 3 special members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor