The crisis started on January 30, 1953 and lasted May 6, 1953. The National Council of Nigerian and Cameroon (NCNC) majority turned itself into an opposition and as such killed the bills that was brought to it including the appropriation bill. The governor had to use his reserve powers to decree appropriation for the running of the government. The crisis arose because the internal split and power struggle within NCNC. In the first place the party members from Lagos failed to elect their party leader Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe into the House of Representatives in Lagos. In the second place, the party leaders did not agree on whether or not they should continue to support the MacPherson Constitution. The party members who were holding ministerial positions supported it while others did not. Later, the party central ministers were expelled. But some regional ministers did not support the expulsion and there were moves to reshuffle the posts of the regional ministers with a view to replacing the six expelled ministers at the centre. This brought about the crisis when the six withdrew their original letters of resignation to make the reshuffling possible. When it became impossible to carry on the business of the house, the House was dissolved on May 6, 1953.
The after effect of the crisis are mainly three:
On February 23, 1953, the National Independent Party (NIP) was formed in the Eastern Region by the expelled regional and central ministers and their supporters outside. In the new government that was elected in 1953, the NCNC formed the government and the NIP the opposition.
Secondly, the efforts of the Cameroon’s representatives in the Eastern Region for Cameroon’s autonomy from the East were intensified.
Finally, the third effect of the crisis is the general loss of confidence in democratic institutions, not only in the East but also in the whole country. People generally became disillutioned about these institutions.
It’s been a year
Not in fear
That you left
The news of your death
South Africans mourn
The world couldn’t smile
At your demise with red eyes
Nelson Madiba Mandela
Role model to aspire
We love you
But God loves you more
Sir Arthur Richard
The isolationist policy pursued by Lord Lugard and continued by the Clifford Constitution of 1922 whereby the North was sheltered from contact with the rest of the country was not making for national unity which the colonial government wanted to foster. As such, Sir Bernard Bourdillon, the Governor of Nigeria, decided yo take more interest in the affairs of the whole country. Their attitude, he wrote should not be “We will not have the southerners interfere in our affairs” but rather “we ought to have at least an equal say with southerners in advising the governor as to the affairs of the whole country”.
When Sir Arthur Richard became Governor of Nigeria he began to work on a constitution which he believed would bring about greater unity in the country. According to him the constitution was to promote the unity of the country, provide adequately within that unity for the diverse elements that made up the country and to secure for the Africans
greater participation in the discussion of their own affair.
Under the constitution, there was a Legislative Council for the whole of Nigeria. It was composed of the governor as President; 16 official members, 13 of whom were ex-officio and 2 nominated; 28 unofficial members, 4 of whom were elected and 24 nominated or indirectly elected members.
By this constitution the Northern Provinces were brought within the legislative competence of the Nigerian Legislative Council. The council had power to make law for the whole country subject of course to the governor’s reserve power.
It is important to note that for the first time in Nigeria unofficial members on the legislative council were in the majority. These nominated unofficial members were indirectly nominated. They were nominated by the regional assemblies which were established under the constitution in the three different groups of provinces- the Northern, Western and Eastern group of provinces
Sir Donald Cameron was previously the governor of Tanganyika in East Africa (1925-1931) and became governor of Nigeria in 1931. He was known to have developed the Indirect Rule in Tanganyika and as such had gained a lot of experience from that country. In Nigeria, his objective was to modernize the system somewhat. In an address to the legislative council, he restated the Lugardian principle of Indirect Rule and went further to clarify certain aspects of it. He especially deplored the tendency to overlook some of the evil practices of the rulers, especially in the North, and he told the administrative officers under him not to neglect their primary duty of educating the native authorities “in their duties as rulers of their people according veto civilized standards.” He then went on to initiate certain policies which he believed would foster Nigerian unity.
He did not believe in the policy set up by Lord Lugard of developing the North and South on separate lines. He also did not like the absence of constitutional link between the central government and the native administrations in both North and South. He therefore abolished the offices of Lieutenant Governors and substituted those of Chief Commissioners. He encouraged Northern rulers and their staff to visit the south and the United Kingdom to broaden their outlook.
Sir Donald Cameron was also remarkable in his reorganization of the judicial system. He abolished the provincial courts where lawyers were not allowed to appear, and replaced them with the High Court and magistrate courts where lawyers could appear. He was also responsible for setting up a system of Native Court to the authority of the Supreme Court.
In spite of his effort to liberalize and put the country on a fairly uniform kind of administrative development, the diversity of the country did not permit such development. The country continued to grapple with the problem of disunity even after he had gone.
The Clifford Constitution of 1922 abolished the Nigerian Council of 1914 as it was replaced by a new Legislative Council through which Nigerians will be given access to power via electoral principles.
Considering the provisions of Clifford Constitution, the Legislative Council was composed of 46 members of which official members including the Governor and 19 Non-official members out of which 15 were nominated by the Governor, 10 of the 19 non-officials were Nigerians. Also, it was established that for the category of male adult who can vote and be voted for must have resided in the country for 12 months and have gross annual income of 100 Pounds per annum. As a matter of fact, the North was not incorporated into the Legislative Council. But the Governor continues to rule by Proclamation in the North. The era also led to the establishment of first political party in Nigeria in 1923 by Herbert Macaulay (NNDP) and the establishment of newspaper like West African Pilot and Lagos Daily News.
More importantly, the Executive Council established by the Constitution was purely an advisory body to the Governor General because of the veto power. It was made up of 10 ex-officio members. Hence, Executive Council was exclusively reserved for the Europeans (it was strictly an European affair).
Finally, the Constitution allows more representation than 1914 Constitution and set the pace for Nationalist agitation by training them for future political activities in spite of some of its shortcomings like restricted franchise, white domination, Governor’s veto power and introduction of sectionalism into Nigerian politics.
With lots of vision
To desperate emergency
In spite of our adversaries
Nigeria stays strong
In Africa’s situation
Without much remuneration
Nigeria must wake up
And rise up
To be at the top
As the nation marks 54
Nigeria must spring forth
And show forth
Happy 54 Independence day
Nigeria makes hay
By the day