The Richard's constitution of 1946
Sir Arthur Richard introduced the Richard's constitution of 1946. The main essence of Richard's constitution was to promote unity in Nigeria and to ensure greater participation of Nigerians in the discussion of their own affairs. The Constitution came into operation on 1 January 1947.
Features of the Richard constitution of 1946
- The Richards constitution of 1946 brought regionalism to Nigeria- Eastern, Western and Northern regions.
- Apart from the Governor, there were forty-four members. The 28 unofficial members formed the majority in the Legislative Council.
- Only four of the unofficial members were directly elected, three from Lagos and one from Calabar.
- Bi-cameral legislature: The constitution granted the Northern region a bi-cameral legislature- Regional Assembly and the Regional House of Chiefs.
- In each House of Assembly, the unofficial members were in the majority. In the Northern House of Chiefs, there were only twelve second class chiefs, while the rest of members were first class chiefs.
- The Chief Commissioner was the President of the House of Chiefs, while the Senior Resident was the President of the House of Assembly in the Northern Region. In the Eastern and Western Regions, the Chief Commissioner was the President of the House of Assembly.
- The regional houses had no independent legislative power. A law concerning a particular region was sent to the legislature of that region from the Legislative Council in Lagos, for consideration and advice. The Governor could reject the advice of the regional legislature.
- The Governor had reserved powers to act if the Legislative Council refused what he proposed to do. The Secretary of State for the Colonies must however, approves such proposals of the Governor.
- One other Nigerian was added in 1949 to the only one appointed in 1943 as member of the Executive Council.
Merits of Richard constitution of 1946
- It was an improvement of Clifford constitution of 1922
- Greater consideration was given to Nigerian opinion in the making of laws than under the 1922 Constitution.
- It gave the division of the country into East, North and West the force of Law.
- The Federal idea was the most popular feature.
Demerits of Richard constitution of 1946
- The constitution failed by not giving Nigerians responsibility in the actual administration of their country
- The governor still retained his veto powers thereby making a mockery of the legislative council.
- The elective principle was still as restrictive as under the 1922 constitution.
- There was widespread dissatisfaction with the constitution which led to its collapse in 1949.
- The right to vote was limited to people with high income or property.
- European interests were still represented in the Legislative Council.
- The constitution was promulgated with the least possible consultation with the Nigerian people.