Constitutional Developments in Nigeria: An Analytical Study of Nigeria's Constitution-Making Developments and the Historical and Political Factors That Affected Constitutional Change

By Kalu Ezera | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE RICHARDS CONSTITUTION OF 1946

BACKGROUND ATTEMPTS TO BRING THE NORTH INTO THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

Sir Bernard Bourdillon1 was Governor of Nigeria during the years 1935-1943. Indeed, he laid the groundwork for the constitutional proposals which his successor Sir Arthur Richards (now Lord Milverton) later submitted in 1944. He succeeded in convincing the Northern Emirs of the advisability of coming to join with the southerners in the Legislative Council of the country.2 Hitherto, under the Clifford Constitution of 1922, the Governor alone with the advice of the Executive Council legislated for the Northern Provinces while the Legislative Council passed its financial estimates. The Northern Administration was isolationist in outlook. Sir Donald Cameron, a former Governor of Nigeria, spoke of the north's isolation in these terms:

The policy accepted for some considerable time that the Moslem Administrations should be sheltered . . . from contact with the outside world was due, no doubt, to a feeling, however unformulated, that an unreformed feudal autocracy would not be expected to stand up against the natural forces of Western civilization that was gradually but perceptibly creeping further and further north in Nigeria; a curtain being drawn between the Native Administration of the north and the outside world, so far as it was possible to maintain the integrity of that curtain. But we have advanced to the stage that the curtain is being gradually withdrawn and . . . will be fully withdrawn within a comparatively brief period.3

Sir Bernard Bourdillon decided to draw this 'curtain', which meant, in effect, shattering the isolationist ideas of the Northern

____________________
1
Sir Bernard Bourdillon ( 1883- 1949): Indian Civil Service, 1908-17; Iraq Civil Service, 1921-27; Acting High Commissioner, Iraq, 1925-26; Colonial and Chief Secretary, Ceylon, 1929-32; Governor, Uganda, 1932-35; Governor of Nigeria, 1935-43.
2
Sir Bernard Bourdillon, "'Nigeria's New Constitution'", United Empire, vol. 36, no. 2, p. 78.
3
Cameron, p. 13.

-64-

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