The Macpherson constitution of 1951
Sir John Macpherson was responsible for creating this constitution and its main highlight was the reported wide consultations with the different strata of the Nigerian society before the constitution was created in 1951.
FEATURES OF MACPHERSON CONSTITUTION OF 1951
- Creation of a House of Representatives which comprised the governor, 136 members elected from the regional assemblies and 6 special members appointed by the governor.
- The establishment of a central executive council known as the Council of Ministers - its membership included the governor as president, 6 official members and 12 Nigerian ministers; 4 from each of the regions.
- The ministers were without portfolios and were appointed by the governor on the recommendations of the 3 regional assemblies
- Each of the regions was to establish an executive council consisting of Lt-Governor as president, 5 official members and 9 ministers each.
- Election was both by direct and indirect methods.
- Only male tax payers voted in the North, whereas both males and females voted in the East and West.
- The responsibility of House was to legislate for the whole country and its laws could override any regional legislation.
MERITS OF MACPHERSON CONSTITUTION OF 1951
- It introduced legislative principles
- It made provision for offices of ministers
- It introduced a revenue allocation formula in Nigeria
- The constitution had a national outlook, as it covered all parts of Nigeria.
DEMERITS OF MACPHERSON CONSTITUTION OF 1951
- Three constitutional crises of 1953 led to the collapse of the 1951 constitution.
- The first Crisis in the Eastern Region which arose as a result of the failure of the party to elect their Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe into the House of Representatives in Lagos and as a result of the expulsion of some party’s ministers because of the party’s unwillingness to continue to support the constitution.
- The second Crisis was due to the motion moved by Chief Anthony Enahoro in 1953 at the House of Representatives for self-government. The North opposed the motion on the grounds that Nigeria was not ripe enough and the date 1956 should be changed to “as soon as possible”.
- The third was a riot in Kano in 1953 which was precipitated by second crisis the northerners’ attempt to revenge the disgrace meted out to Sardauna of Sokoto when motion was by southern delegates in House.
- These three crises exposed the defects of the Macpherson constitution and led to its collapse.