THE INDEPENDENCE CONSTITUTION OF 1960
MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INDEPENDENCE CONSTITUTION OF 1960
- Parliamentary system: The constitution provided for a democratic parliamentary system of government.
- Federal system: A federal system of government was retained.
- Head of state: The Governor-General was the ceremonial Head of state, representing the Queen.
- Head of government: The Head of government and administration was the prime minister.
- National parliament: The constitution provided for a bi-cameral legislature at the centre, namely, the Senate and House of Representatives.
- Regional legislature: Each of the three regions had a House of Assembly and a House of chiefs.
- Regional head of government: The 1960 constitution provided for a premier as the Head of the executive for each of the regions. Also, provision was made for a ceremonial governor for each of the regions.
- Fundamental human rights: The fundamental human rights of the citizens were entrenched in the constitution.
- The privy council: The final court of Appeal was the Privy Council in London.
- Citizenship: The constitution defined who a citizen was and how to acquire citizenship.
- Procedure for amendment: The Constitution contained the procedure for amendment. The 1960 Constitution was rigid.
- Creation of regions: It laid down the procedure for creating new regions, e.g. Mid-Western region was created in 1963.
- State of emergency: The federal government was given the power to declare a state of emergency in any part of the country, if there were crises or war. However, resolution would be passed by the House of Representatives with a two-third majority supporting it.
- Division of powers: The constitution divided the legislative powers of government into three – exclusive, concurrent and residual lists. For example, only the central government could make laws (through the parliament)on issues listed under exclusive legislative list: (currency, power, defence, external affairs etc).
- Appointment of judges: Judges of the Supreme and High courts were appointed on the advice of a Judicial Service Commission consisting of judges.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE INDEPENDENCE CONSTITUTION
- Independence for the country: To some extent, colonial rule gave way to a government of Nigerians. The constitution ushered in independence for the country.
- Bi-cameral legislature: The regional and central governments had bi-cameral legislatures, e.g. the Senate and House of Representatives (parliament) for the central government and Houses of Assembly and Chiefs for the regions.
- Human rights: The constitution made provision for the fundamental human rights of citizens.
- Membership of U.N.O: Nigeria became the 99th member of the United Nations noi Organisation(UNO) after her independence.
- Citizenship: It defined citizenship and how it could be acquired.
- Division of powers: It divided the legislative powers of the government into three exclusive, concurrent and residual legislative lists.
- Appointment of judges: Appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges was stipulated in the constitution, with the advice coming from the Judicial Service Commission.
WEAKNESSES OF INDEPENDENCE CONSTITUTION
- Partial independence: The independence of 1960 was a partial one because it did not bring a total sovereignty to the country. The Queen was still the Head of state.
- Final court of appeal: Even though there was a Supreme court in the country, yet, it had no power over appellate cases. Nigerians could only appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.
- Some elements of interference: There was the possibility of Britain still interfering in the internal affairs of the country as long as the Queen remained the Head of state.
Reasons for Political Instability in Nigeria After Independence
- Economic mismanagement: Politicians embarked on prestigious and economically unviable projects which did not benefit the citizens.
- Embezzlement and mismanagement: There was embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds by different regimes.
- Election irregularities: Election rigging and persecution of public opponents remain the order of the day.
- Disregard for the Constitution: There was complete disregard for the constitution and the rule of law.
- Tribalism and nepotism: There was tribalism and nepotism, particularly in the appointment of public officers and in the distribution of amenities.
- Disagreement on revenue sharing: There was always disagreement over the revenue allocation formula and control of resources among the ethnic groups.
- Interference in the military: There was political interference in military affairs.
- Religious intolerance: There was widespread religious intolerance and violence which threatened national unity.
- Bribery and corruption: Politicians engaged in large-scale bribery and corruption.
- Effect of coups: The initial Psychological impact of coups in neighbouring African states also led to instability in Nigeria.
- Sit-tight leaders: The desire of political leaders to stay long in power is also responsible for the instability.
- Census figures: Figures from headcounts were inflated by the component regions or states that make up the country.
- Economic hardship: There was economic hardship caused by inflation and unemployment.
- Foreign interference: External influence from big nations and institutions also promoted instability in the country.