The People’s Republic: How they rule


IT must be remarked, in passing, that though the majority of the educated elite in Southern Nigeria wholeheartedly welcomed, and supported Lugard’s administrative arrangements. There was an articulate minority, consisting of professionals based in Lagos, who did not hesitate to raise their voices in outright condemnation of it all. They expressed the view that if the British Government was sincere in its aim of training the people for eventual self-government, the Governor-General should, from the very start, have incorporated educated Nigerians into the business of government at all levels, especially at the divisional level. They condemned the ‘indirect rule’ system and its introduction to Southern Nigeria. But these voices of dissent were not only ignored, but the critics were denounced as ‘agitators’, ‘political adventurers’, and, in Lugard’s own words, as ‘self-styled leaders from the coastal areas’ .

In 1922, the Nigerian Council and the Legislative Council for Lagos were abolished. By the Nigeria (Legislative Council) Order-in-Council of the same year, a Legislative Council for Nigeria was established. Subject to the Governor’s reserved power, this Council had authority to make laws for the Colony of Lagos and the Western and Eastern Provinces of Nigeria; while the Governor alone was empowered to make laws for the Northern Provinces. There were 31 official, and 21 unofficial members of this Council. Of the latter, only 10 were Nigerians. Three and one of them respectively represented Lagos and Calabar and were elected on the basis of a franchise limited by property and income qualifications. The remaining six were nominated by the Governor to represent Egba, Colony, Rivers, Warri-Benin, Oyo, and Ibo divisions, The 11 expatriate of chiefs unofficial members represented banking, shipping, mining, and commercial interests.

Lugard’s Executive Council of 1914 was also abolished in 1922; and in the same year, another body of the same name was set up by Royal Letters Patent. The composition, jurisdiction, functions, and powers of this Council were exactly the same as those of its predecessor, save that the Director of Education was an ‘appointed member’. Two other officials were appointed to the Council in 1941, as well as two European unofficial members representing business interests and one unofficial Nigerian member.

The Nigeria (Legislative Council) Orders-in-Council, 1922, were repealed. and replaced in 1946. The new Order-in-Council made provisions for a Legislative Council powers to make laws for the whole of Nigeria, subject to the usual reserved powers of the Governor. In addition, there were a House of Chiefs and a House of Assembly for the Northern Provinces, and a House of Assembly each for the Western and Eastern Provinces. The Houses of Chiefs and Assembly only had deliberative and advisory jurisdiction vis-a-vis the Nigerian Legislative Council. The principles which governed the provisions of this new constitution were stated in the White Paper introducing it as follows:

to promote the unity of Nigeria; to. provide within that unity for the diverse elements which make up the country; and, to secure greater participation by Africans in the discussion of their own affairs

The President of the Northern House of Chiefs was the Chief Commissioner, Northern Provinces. He had an original and a casting vote. The other members of the House were:

(I) all the First-Class Chiefs – there were 15 of them in 1947;

(2) 10 Second-Class Chiefs nominated by the Chief Commissioner from among a total of29 Second-Class Chiefs;

(3) the Senior Resident;

(4) 11 Residents for the remaining 11 Provinces of Northern Nigeria;

(5) Secretary, Northern Provinces;

(6) Deputy Financial Secretary;

(7) Deputy Director of Education;

(8) Deputy Director of Agriculture;

(9) Deputy Director of Medical Services;

(10) Deputy Director of Public Works;

(11) Crown Counsel.

It will be seen that the House of Chiefs consisted of 25 chiefs and 19 officials.

The composition of each of the Houses of Assembly and of the Nigeria Legislative Council was as follows:



Official members – 19 in all.

(I) The Senior Resident, who was President of the House with original and casting votes;

(2) 18 other officials who were also members of the House of Chiefs, as set out above.

Unofficial members-20 in all.

(1) 14 Provincial members selected by Native Authorities from . their members, other than major Chiefs;

(2) 6 members nominated by the Governor, on the advice of the Chief Commissioner, for the purpose of securing adequate representation of the Pagan Community, smaller Native Authorities, the Sabon Gari communities, industry and commerce or any other important aspects of life not otherwise adequately represented.



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