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Lyttelton Constitution

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The Lyttelton Constitution of 1954 declared Nigeria a federation consisting of three regions, the federal territories of Lagos and the Southern Cameroons. A goal of the constitution was to promote regional autonomy.

It was named after Oliver Lyttelton, the then secretary of the colonies in London.

[edit] Context

The lyttelton constitution became reality as a result of perceived defections in the Macpherson Constitution of 1951. In 1953, a constitutional conference was called in London and later in Lagos, the country sent about 20 delegates mainly representatives of the political parties than won prior elections conducted in the country.

The 1954 constitution can be said to be a text designed to relieve any tension derived from the polarizing effect of a quasi federal political structure by giving regions more powers. It maintained the 50/50 distribution between the North and the South in the federal legislature but members unlike the previous 1951 constitution were to be elected directly from various constituencies in Nigeria.

The constitution delegates a few services, 68 in total to the central government and the House of Representatives under the federal legislative list, these powers included, aviation, banking, census, copyright, currency, customs, defense, external relations, immigration, mining, police, railway, etc. On the concurrent list, the constitution made provision for dual roles between the federal and regional government, (1) and the residual list was awarded to the regional governments. The constitution made provision for the selection of regional ministers from the regional House of Assemblies and the premier being the leader of dominant party in the legislature. The government and individual ministers in the regions maintained power by obtaining the confidence of the majority of members in the regional assembly.

[edit] References

  • (1)Abu Bakarr Bah. Breakdown and Reconstitution: Democracy, The Nation-state, And ethnicity in Nigeria. p 28-29