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

PREFACE

'Constitutional development' [in the dependent territories], writes Sir Ivor Jennings, 'is always empirical' because these places 'have different origins and different traditions.'1 He further points out that as a result of the reliance placed on 'the man on the spot, usually the Governor', who consults local opinion, 'there is a constant process of experimentation' in which 'the experience of one territory is used in another'.2 This statement was as true of the Asian commonwealth countries amongst which Sir Ivor's experience lay, as it is of the West African dependencies on their penultimate stage of colonial government. Yet there is at least one important difference between the two regions. British policy regarding the process of the transfer of power, particularly in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and in Nigeria, has been officially described as one of 'creative abdication of power'.3 This would imply a far more positive and energetically pursued policy designed to create those conditions which would bring independence more quickly to these West African countries than was the case in Asia.

The independence of Ghana on March 6, 1957, has shown that this policy of 'creative abdication of power', if vigorously applied, can successfully bring nationalism and colonialism4 together in a genuine partnership towards a common goal -- the attainment of independence within or without the Commonwealth as the colonial territory chooses. But Nigeria, which is several times larger

____________________
1
Sir W. Ivor Jennings, T he Approach to Self-Government, Cambridge University Press, 1956, p. 165.
2
Jennings, loc. cit.
3
Time [Magazine], Chicago; cited in West Africa, London, February 28, 1953, p. 169. Colonial Office is said to have given this term to this policy.
4
For a definition of nationalism, see Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism, New York, 1951, pp. 10-11. Professor Kohn describes nationalism as 'a state of mind . . . an idée-fixe, which fills man's brain and heart with new thoughts and new sentiments, and drives him to translate his consciousness into deeds of organized action'. Usually, he says, it is primarily concerned with the independence and unity of the nation, ending, oftentimes, in xenophobia and strong opposition to 'alien' rule. For the definition of colonialism, see Vincent Harlow, '"Colonialism" and the Transfer of Power', Address at the Royal Empire Society Summer School at Oxford, 1956, United Empire, vol. XLVII, no. 5, 1956.

-ix-

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