The 1922 constitution was named after the then governor of Nigeria, Sir Hugh Clifford. It seemed to be a response to the 1920 NCBWA demand for elective principles in West Africa.
Features of Clifford Constitution
- There was an executive council for the whole country.
- There was a legislative council composed of forty-six members, with twenty seven of them (including the governor) being British and regarded as official members, nineteen others non-official, out of whom were ten Nigerians including three elected to represent Lagos and one to represent Calabar. Fifteen of these non-officials were Nigerians and non-Nigerians nominated by the governor to represent various commercial and mining interests.
- Only male adults who earned up to £100 per annum and had resided in the area for at least a year could vote during elections.
- Except on finance, the jurisdiction of the new legislative council was limited to the southern provinces, including the colony of Lagos. It was not extended to the northern province. The governor could, at his own discretion, apply to the northern province any of the legislative council’s decisions or ordinances.
Merits of Clifford Constitution
- The constitution abolished the Nigerian council which was non-elective and ineffective.
- It established a new executive council for the whole country.
- It gave Nigerians the opportunity for the first time to vote for their representatives and have a say in national government.
- It was the first constitution in Nigeria, forming a basis for future constitutions.
- It allowed more representation of Nigerians than there were in the Nigerian council.
- It encouraged political activities in the southern protectorate and Lagos colony, resulting in the formation of parties.
- It encouraged the establishment of newspapers such as the Lagos Daily News and West African Pilot.
- It is to date, the longest lasting constitution in Nigeria.
Demerits of Clifford Constitution
- The constitution vested too much power in the governor, including the power to single-handedly legislate for the North.
- It allowed the legislative council to be dominated by Europeans.
- The constitution isolated northern Nigeria, and thus formalised a north-south dichotomy which is still present in the country.
- The constitution disenfranchised majority of Nigerians by limiting voting rights only to male adults earning at least £100 per annum.
- It limited Nigerians to being only non-officials, as a result of which they could not be in the executive council.
- Majority of members were British, and so the council was not truly representative of the governed