The Legislative Council

Posted by on 10/12/2005 8:50:22 PM
Post Comment The Legislative Council Nigeria

This was a product of the Clifford Constitution of 1922. This Council comprised 30 official members, 15 unofficial ones nominated by government, and three unofficial members representing the municipal areas of Lagos and Calabar. The Council had a limited number of elected members and African members selected to represent the interest of those parts of the Colony and Southern Protectorate not represented by elected members. But the franchise was restrictive and limited to males who were British subjects or natives of the Protectorate with 12 months residential qualification and an income of not less than 100 a year. The first elections in Nigerian history were held in September 1923 and the Council was inaugurated in October, of the same year.

The Clifford Constitution was significant in the following respects: It introduced the elective principle and stimulated the formation of political organi- sations notably, Herbert Macaulay's Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) in 1923 and the Lagos Youth Movement (LYM) in 1934, founded by H. 0. Davies, Dr J. C. Vaughan, Dr Kofo Abayomi, Ernest Ikoli, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo which later transformed into the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) in 1936. The colonial administration was not responsive to Nigerian public opinion as a means of vetting arbitrary actions.

The NNDP - which was formed to contest the 1923 elections - dominated Lagos politics and Herbert Macaulay's approach was rather too conservative for comfort, as he attacked only specific isolated policies of the colonial administration and not the colonial system itself. His political goal of a self-governing Nigeria within the British Commonwealth was unattractive to the new breed of more radical Nigerians in the 1930s (Herskovits, 1982). Consequently, there emerged the need for a more territorially widespread organisation other than the NNDP. This, along with the need for organised resistance to colonial rule in its entirety, rather than to isolated policies, culminated in the decline of the NNDP and the emergence of the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM).

The NYM contested the 1938 elections with the NNDP and won the three Lagos seats. The British colonial administration branded the Movement a southern-based party and the Northern Emirs sup- ported the British despite the mixed composition of the Jos Branch comprising members from both the North and South. The NYM had been critical of colonial methods of governing Northern Nigeria by proclamations emanating from the Governor rather than through direct elections. In the North, organ- ised opposition came from the Jos Tribal League.

The NYM disintegrated over issues of leadership and representation. Nnamdi Azikiwe resigned from the Movement and all the lbo members followed suit thus inaugurating the process of the formation of political parties. The resultant political parties were the National Council for Nigeria and the Camerouns (NCNC) in 1944, the Action Group (AG) in 1950 and the Northern People's Congress (NPC) in 1951.

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