CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA. “Nigeria” is derived from the word “Niger”, which is the name of the river that constitutes the most remarkable geographical feature of the country. Nigeria is a country that has a land mass of “923,768 square kilometers”. Benin Republic bound her in the east, south by the Niger and Chad Republic, west by the Republic of Cameroon, and north by the Gulf of Guinea. The country gained independent from the British government on Oct. first 1960, and became a republic in 1963. The journey to independent started with some constitutional developments, these constitutional developments saw the country attaining self-rule in some quarters in 1957 and the total liberation on Oct. 1st 1960.
The occupation of Lagos in 1861 and the formation of the Niger Coast Protectorate in 1893, could be seen as the formation of real government by the Britons. The withdrawal of the chatter given to the Royal Niger Company in 1900, and the inclusion of the Colony of Lagos into the southern protectorate in 1906, as well as the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorate of Nigeria in 1914 resulted in the complete control of the British government administering Nigeria as a colony of the British empire.
The first constitutional development started in 1946 with the Sir Arthur Richard constitution, which provided for a central legislature for the whole country, and three Regional house of Assembly. The next constitution that follows was the Macpherson constitution of 1952, it increases regional autonomy and allows Nigerians the opportunity to have say in the executive actions.
The demand for a greater autonomy for Nigerians in the government of the country lead to a constitutional conference in London in 1953 and Lagos in 1954, this conference gave the Federal government exclusive jurisdiction on aviation, census, police, custom, defence, money, immigration, menials, shipping, transport, trade & commerce, communication, etc. while residual matters that are not included in the exclusive or concurrent list are left for the regional legislature.
In 1957, a conference was held in London, with the arrangement for any region that want self rule to go ahead, the eastern and western regions attained self rule living the northern region that was not ready as at the time. This conference also produced the appointment of the prime minister on August 1957, and created a bi-cameral legislative house for the eastern region (the northern and western house are already bi-cameral). It also saw the dissolution of the federal house of representative in 1959 and proposed a bi-cameral legislative house for the federal government. The house of representative with 312 elected members and the senate with 44 nominated members.
In 1958 there was once more a constitutional conference in London where it was agreed that the northern region should attain self-government in March 1959, it was so stated that if the federal house passed a resolution for independence the British government would recognized it and grant Nigeria independence. On Oct. 1st 1960 self government was granted to Nigeria by the British government.