Constitution is defined as a body of principle rules and regulations by which a state is governed. The rights and duties of citizens are enshrined in the constitution.
            No country in the world can function without constitution. A constitution can be written or unwritten, rigid or flexible, unitary or federal.

            In Nigeria, our constitutional developments are in two phases. The first phase was the period of colonial rule (British rule) and the second phase was when Nigerians gained independence (post independence era).
Nigeria falls under British rule in 1861 with the British occupation of Lagos. Lagos was made a crown colony. It was regarded as British territory and was directly controlled from Britain. The Nigerian Coast Protectorate was formed in 1893 and this marked the formation of real government by the British.
            The Royal Nigerian Company was given a chatter to trade and administer this area. The chatter was withdrawn in 1900. Lagos colony was added to the Niger Coast Protectorate. In 1914, the Northern and Southern protectorate were joined together and the name Nigeria was given and Lord Lugard became the first Governor General. Nigeria gained independence from the British government on October 1st 1960 and became a republic in 1963.
            The council was made up of thirty six (36) members, made up of twenty three official members who were European and thirteen non-official members, seven of them were illiterate chiefs. The Nigerian council was the first body established to discuss the affairs of Nigerian and Nigerians could freely express their views on matters of interest they could not achieve much because it was dominated by British people.
            This constitution which was named after the governor of Nigeria at the time called Sir Hugh Clifford who succeeded Lord Lugard, was adopted in 1922.
Features of Clifford constitution
1)        There was an executive council for the whole country.
2)        There was a legislative council composed of forty six members, with twenty seven of them (including the governor) being British and regarded as official members2)  There was a legislative council composed of forty six members, with twenty seven of them (including the governor) being British and regarded as official members nineteen others non-official, out of whom were ten Nigerians including three elected to represent Lagos and one to represent Calabar. Fifteen of these non-officials were Nigerians and non-Nigerians nominated by the governor represent various commercial and mining interest.
3)        Only male adults who earned up to £100 per annum and had resided in he area for at least a year could vote during election.
            It is to date, that Clifford constitution is the longest lasting constitution in Nigeria.
            The Richards constitution of 1946 cam into existence as a result of the defects in the Clifford constitution of 1922, which was greatly criticized by the nationalist. Bernard Bourdillon, the governor of Nigeria between 1935 and 1943, prepared room for the constitution. He appealed to the northern leaders to join the southern leaders in the legislative council in Lagos. He left Nigeria in 1943, and it was his successor, Arthur Richards who continued the work and presented a new constitution in 1946 which took effect from January 1947.
1)        It created a central legislative council for the while of Nigeria.
2)        Nigeria was divided into 3 regions namely the northern region, the eastern region, and the western region.
3)        The constitution provided for a bicameral legislature of two chambers of house of chief.
4)        Two Nigerians, instead of only one appointed in 1943, became members of the executive council.
            John MacPherson succeeded Arthur Richard in 1948 as governor of Nigeria. Consultations were made at various level and the draft of the new constitution was approved by regional assemblies and central legislative council before final submission to the governor. The new constitution came into effect in 1951.
1)        There was a central legislature made up of 148 members to be called the House of Representatives.
2)        Voting rights were extended to the regions for election of members of the regional assemblies.
3)        The constitution introduced the federal system of government in Nigeria

            The Lyttleton constitution emerged from the decisions taken at the 1953 London and 1954 Lagos constitutional conferences. Theses decisions made up most of the new constitution which came into effect in October 1954.
1)        Nigeria formally became a federation with the federal government and three regional governments
2)        Each governmental whether federal or regional was granted specific powers.
3)       The constitution created posts of permanent secretaries’
4)       The constitution also made provisions for the office of the speaker and deputy speaker.
     A constitutional conference was scheduled in 1956 to review the success of the lyttleton constitution.  The conference took place in London between May 23 and June 26, 1957 and came out with the following resolutions.
- The western and eastern regions were granted self government status in 1957, while that of the northern regions was shifted to march 1959.
-  The house of chiefs was also recommended for the eastern region as it existed on the west and north.
-  A second chamber called the senate was recommended for the federal legislature.
   Nigeria became independent and a sovereign nation on October 1, 1960.
      The independence constitution of 1960, though still a colonial constitution put Nigerians in charge of their own government
   Feature of the independence constitution of 1960
1.         The constitution introduced a parliamentary system of government
2.         It established two legislative houses at the federal and regional levels
3.         It retained the federal structure with the regions having residual powers
4.         The governor – general was made the ceremonial head of state
5.         It included fundamental human right in lime with decisions at the 1958 constitution conference.
6.         The 1960 independence constitution made Nigeria an independent state
8.         Her majesty, the Queen of England remained the Head of state but was represented by Nigerian Governor General while the prime minister was head of government.
          The Republican Constitution of 1963 on 19 September 1963, the Republican constitution was passed into law by the federal parliament and became operational on 1october 1st, 196, the government in Nigeria was a constitution monarchy (government under a king or queen according to constitution and not tradition).  The Queen of England was the recognized Head of state of Nigeria.
-           The supreme court of Nigeria assumed position as the final court of appeal rather than the Privy Council in Britain
-           The issue of fundamental human rights was included in the constitution.
-           The office of governor a new office titled president was created.  The president was the head of state and the commander in chief of the armed forces
-           The constitution wiped out all traces of colonialism.
-           The constitution provided for universal suffrage.
-           It provided for police service commission 1979 presidential constitution of the second Republic of Nigeria.
         After the military took over governance in 1966 and the 1963 Republic.  Constitution was set aside there were many steps taken towards the drafting of a new constitution for Nigeria.  It was the Murtala- Obasango regime which came in 1975 that established a 49 members constitution drafting committee chaired by F. R. A.  Williams.  It was completed by 1976 and approved by Obasanjo regime. It was adopted as the constitution of the second republic on the 1st of October 1979, the same day the military handed overpower to the civilians.
1)        The introduction of an executive president who would be the head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
2)        The president is to be directly elected in general election.
3)        The tenure of the president, governors and legislators was four years.
4)        It declared military coup unconstitutional.
5)        The president and the governors with their running mates cold be removed from office by impeachment.
            After General Muhammed Buhari Government was overthrown by Babangida in 1985 and in 1987, the 1979 constitution was reviewed and was approved by the Armed Forces Ruling Council in 1989. The 1989 constitution adopted the 1979 constitution with some amendment.
Main features of 1989 presidential constitution.
1)       The constitution retained a presidential system of government as in the 1979 constitution.
2)        A two-party system was entrenched in the constitution.
3)        The federal capital territory, Abuja will not be regarded as a state.
4)        It defined the three forms of Nigeria citizenship via citizenship by birth, citizenship by registration and by naturalization.
5)        The people could withdraw any legislator who no longer enjoyed the confidence of the electorate.
Main features of 1999 constitution
1)        The presidential system of government was retained as in the 1979 constitution.
2)        The constitution makes provisions for an independent judiciary.
3)        A Multi-party system was reintroduced in the constitution.
4)        The right to vote (franchise) was limited to those who were up to the age 18yers and above.
Features of post independence constitution in Nigeria.
            Independent Nigeria has so far experimented with five constitution, the 1960, 1963, 1979, and 1999 constitutions. The 1999 constitution has given birth to the fourth republic the first to of these constitutions were drawing up during civilian regimes while the last three were made or promulgated during military regime.
-           All the constitutions retained the federal system of government
-           All post independence constitutions entrenched the presidential system of government except the republican constitution of 1963 that allowed parliamentary system.
-           The post independence constitution is indigenous. They were all written by Nigerians, in Nigeria and for Nigeria people.
-           All the constitutions are written constitutions
-           The fundamental human rights are entrenched in all the constitution
Supremacy of the constitution
            The constitution is said to be supreme in other words it is above all individual and government it is the source and final authority in a country.
            In Nigeria, the constitution is the highest authority that determines the constitution also means that the provisions apply to all states and all individuals. The federal states and local government abide by the provisions of the constitution and are subject to it. No Citizen of Nigeria. Is above the constitution no matter his ethnic, origin, religion, status, age or connections.
            Everybody is equal and subject to the constitution. No one is superior to others before the law of the land.
-           No citizen is exempted from its application.
Supremacy of the constitution
Why the constitution is supreme
1)        The supremacy of the constitution assures citizens of a country of their fundamental human rights
2)        Constitution prevents oppression and dictatorship.
3)        It is a symbol of unity. The supremacy of the constitution is binding force on all persons in the country.
4)        It will also serve as a symbol of our nation hood. Our constitution is a mark of identification as a sovereign nation.
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