Clifford’s Constitution of 1922


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In today’s class, we will be talking about Clifford’s constitution of 1922. Enjoy the class!

Clifford’s Constitution of 1922

The Clifford Constitution of 1922 |


  1. Secretary of State for Colonies: This was a Cabinet minister in Britain and the Secretary of State for Colonies. All the colonial Governors report him.
  2. Head of State: This was Governor Hugh Clifford. He represented the Queen of England.
  3. The Executive Council: It was an all-European Council. No Nigerian was a member
  4. The Legislative Council: Membership was 46, 27 were officials, 19 were unofficial members. 10 out of the 19 were Nigerians. Out of the 10, 4 were elected, 3 from Lagos, 1 from Calabar. The remaining 6 were appointed by the governor to represent other parts of the country. The Northern Protectorate was not part of this council.
  5. Proclamation: The North was governed by a proclamation from the Governor.
  6. Elective Principle: For the first time elections were to be conducted into the Legislative Council
  7. Political Activities: There were political activities and formation of political parties especially in Lagos and Calabar e.g. The NNDP of Herbert Macaulay.
  1. The constitution allowed political activities and formation of political parties in Lagos and Calabar e.g. NNDP.
  2. Newspapers were established to boost political activities.
  3. The introduction of the elective principle allowed Nigerians to elect representatives for the first time into the legislative council.
  4. The constitution established a new Legislative Council for the colony and Protectorate of southern Nigeria except the Northern Protectorate.
  5. The constitution gave inspiration to nationalist activities in the country and this prepared the ground for self-government.
  6. It served as the first ever constitution in Nigeria.
  1. The constitution disenfranchised the majority of Nigerians. The four unofficial members elected into the legislative council were elected by Adult Male Suffrage with residential qualification of one year and a gross income of E100 per annum.
  2. Only Europeans dominated the Legislative Council.
  3. The executive council was also dominated by the Europeans.
  4. The elective principle applied only in the legislative council. The franchise was not extended to the executive council.
  5. The unofficial members elected into the legislative council were illiterates.
  6. The governor had veto power over issues in the executive and legislative council.
  7. Clifford’s Constitution brought about sectionalism, it was a constitution for the South only, and the North was excluded.


During the Second World War (1939-44), Sir Bourdillon was governor of Nigeria. When he retired in 1944, he had almost concluded the constitution where he proposed regionalism. His successor Sir Arthur Richard used his proposals to draft his constitution. He presented it to the legislative council of Nigeria on March 6, 1946; it became a constitution on August 2, 1946, and came into force on January 1, 1947. The new constitution was meant for the unity of Nigeria and encourages greater participation of Nigerians in their own affairs.

  1. To create a regional council for the three regions of north, west, and east i.e. regionalism.
  2. To promote the unity of Nigeria.
  3. To allow greater participate of Nigeria in their own affairs.
  4. The legislative council was introduced to accommodate every section of the Nigerian.
  5. To divide the country three administrative units of north, east, and west.
  6. To create constitutional and political links between the native authorities and the legislative council.
  • The Executive Council: The central executive council had Richard as the president of the council and was dominated by Europeans.
  • The Legislative Council: The government was the president and was based in Lagos. The council allowed a wider representation of Nigerian interest. It had 44 members made up of 28 majority non-officials and 16 minority officials. The composition was
  1. The North had 9-non official members
  2. The West had 6-non official members
  3. 4 non- official members were nominated to represent commercial banking and mining.
  4. 4 non- official members were elected directly from Lagos and Calabar.
  5. 16 official members, 13 of whom were ex-official and 3 nominated.
  • The qualification to vote was restricted to male adults who resided in the area for 12 months with a gross income of E50 per annum.
  • House of Assembly or Regional House of Assembly: Assembly members were to be elected by the native authorities while the regional assembly members were to elect members of the Central Legislative council (through electoral colleges).
  • The elective principle: The constitution still retained the elective principle with a limited franchise of 3 representatives from Lagos and 1 from Calabar.
  • Legislature: It brought the North and South together under one legislature
  • Dual Membership: Members of the Central Legislative Council were also members of the Regional Council.
  • Nigerians were in the minority in Nigeria or the Central Executive Council.
  • Regionalism: Regions were created out of the former three provinces -Eastern, Western and Northern regions.
  1. The constitution brought the North and South together and this laid the foundation for national unity.
  2. Nigeria’s formed the majority in the legislature though in an unofficial capacity. Members were in majority for the first time.
  3. The constitution introduced bi-cameral legislature in the North, thus it introduced bi-cameralism in Nigeria.
  4. Regionalism was introduced in Nigeria and this was a good achievement of Richard’s constitution.
  5. The constitution laid the foundation for Federalism and Federal Constitution in Nigerian political structure.
  6. The North and South were integrated together for the first time since 1923 for registration and unity purposes.
  1. The executive council was still dominated by European just as in Clifford’s Constitution.
  2. The constitution divided the country into three unequal parts by making the northern region larger than western and eastern regions put together.
  3. The three regions created along the three major ethnic groups fanned the members of tribalism and sectionalism in Nigeria.
  4. The E50 and the male adult suffrage disenfranchised many Nigeria.
  5. The constitution introduced regionalism into Nigeria politics and it has been a problem till today.
  6. By giving veto power to the governor, the constitution made a mockery of the non-official majority of Nigeria in the legislative council.
  7. The constitution limited franchise to Lagos and Calabar while other bigger towns were disenfranchised.
  8. Nationalists rejected the constitution because Nigerians were not consulted during the drafting.
  9. The constitution gave the government power over the legislative and executive councils thereby making him autocratic and dictatorial.
  10. The nationalists referred to the traditional chiefs who were unofficial members as puppets of the colonial government because the constitution re-enforced the system of indirect rule.
  1. Explain the composition of the legislative council of Clifford’s Constitution.
  2. Why was Clifford’s constitution criticized?
  3. Explain the composition of the legislative council of the Richard’s Constitution.
  4. Explain the achievements of the Richards constitution. (a) Define Public Corporation (b) Give 5 reasons for setting up Public Corporation.
  5. Differentiate between Civil Service and Public Corporation.


In our next class, we will be talking about Macpherson’s Constitution of 1951.  We hope you enjoyed the class.

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