In this post, we shall look briefly into the features of the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954. By the end of this lesson, students should be able enumerate the features of this constitution and its significance to Nigerian political development.
The Lyttleton Constitution of 1954
The Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 was a pivotal milestone in the political development of Nigeria. It marked a crucial turning point in Nigeria’s political history, and promoted greater regional autonomy, democratic representation, and the empowerment of Nigerian leaders. The 1954 Nigerian constitution also laid the groundwork for a more decentralized and inclusive political system.
Features of Lyttleton Constitution
- Introduction of the Federal System of Government: The Lyttleton Constitution introduced the federal system of government in Nigeria. This system established a division of powers between the central (federal) government and regional governments, creating a decentralized governance structure.
- Introduction of Direct Elections: The constitution introduced direct elections into the federal, eastern, and western legislatures, promoting democratic representation. However, in the north, elections were conducted through indirect election by adult male suffrage.
- Full Ministerial Responsibilities for Nigerians: Nigerians were given the opportunity to become ministers with full ministerial responsibilities. This development marked a significant step toward greater self-governance and the inclusion of Nigerian leaders in decision-making processes.
- Establishment of Offices of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker: The constitution established the offices of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the Nigerian legislatures. This solidified democratic principles and provided leadership structures in the parliamentary system.
- Removal of Power of Intervention by the Centre: The Lyttleton Constitution curtailed the power of the central government to intervene in regional affairs. Regional legislatures were granted the authority to legislate on matters that affected their respective regions, enhancing regional autonomy.
- Regionalization of Civil Service and Judiciary: The constitution regionalized both the civil service and the judiciary, allowing each region to have its own administrative and legal systems, tailored to meet the specific needs and circumstances of the region.
- Elevation of Status of Governors and Premier Offices: The constitution raised the status of the Governor to Governor-General and the Lieutenant-Governors to Governors. It also created the office of Premier in each region, giving regional leaders greater prominence and authority.
- Separation of Lagos and Southern Cameroons: The Lyttleton Constitution separated Lagos and Southern Cameroons from the Western and Eastern regions, respectively. This administrative reorganization aimed to address the unique characteristics and interests of these areas.