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THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE OF 1957

February 5, 2014

The Constitutional Conference of 1957 met in London from May 23 till June 1957, under the distinguished chairmanship of the Colonial Secretary. Membership of the Conference was made up of ten delegates and five advisers from each of the Regions and five delegates and three advisers from the Southern Cameroons.
In addition, the Federal Government was represented by the Governor-General, the Regional Governors, the Commissioner of the Cameroons, two Federal Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. Two delegates represented the Federal Capital. The United Kingdom Government was represented by ten delegates, nine experts and a legal adviser.

MAJOR DECISIONS OF THE CONFERENCE:

The Western and Eastern Regions to become self-governing at an early date after the Conference but certain conditions were attached to it. The regions must ensure the independence of the Judiciary and Public Service.
The Governor was required, acting in his own discretion, to reserve for Her Majesty’s pleasure any bill which in his opinion might have the effect of impending or prejudicing the performance of Federal Government of any of its functions or endangering the continuance of Federal Government in Nigeria.

Secondly, the Governor, in his discretion should appoint as Premier the person appearing to him to command a majority in the House of Assembly and, on the Premier’s recommendation should appoint other ministers. The Governor would no longer preside in the executive council, though he would be kept informed of executive council business and to invite the Premier to call the executive council together to discuss any matter.

Thirdly, a Regional Governor would continue to be appointed by the Queen on the advice of the United Kingdom Ministers. The Governor would continue to appoint a Deputy-Governor in the Western and Eastern Regions. The Queen’s power to disallow regional legislation would remain in case of bill which appeared to Her Majesty’s Government to alter, to the disadvantage of stockholders, any provisions affecting the stock or loans raised on behalf of a region or two involved in a departure from the original contract in regard to the stock, Nigerian Government should pay compensation for property acquired for public purposes with rights of appeal to the Courts.

Fourthly, the Eastern Region to have a House of Chiefs and the Southern Cameroons was to be raised to the status of a region and provision made for the appointment of a Premier. The Northern Region to become self-governing in 1959. Also the present Federal Legislature should run its full course until about the end of 1959.

After that it should consist of 320 members elected on the basis of one member for approximately 100,000 of the population of Nigeria. A second chamber to be known as Senate to be established in the Centre and to consist of twelve members from each region, the Southern Cameroons to have 12 members, four members from the Federal Territory of Lagos, and four special members.

The method of election to the new Federal Legislature would be by universal adult suffrage in the Western and Eastern Regions, Lagos and the Southern Cameroons, and by adult male suffrage in the Northern Region.

Fifthly, the Governor-Genneral to appoint an ad hoc delimitation commission to make recommendations for the division of the country into 320 single-member electoral constituencies and to appoint a permanent electoral commission to supervise preparation of the Federal Electoral Register and to conduct all Federal elections.

The Conference also agreed for the provision of the office of Prime Minister of the Federation. Police to continue to be a Federal function. A maximum of N18,000 to be payable to overseas pensionable officer who expressed the desire to leave when the Regions become self-governing. The constitutional position of Lagos should not undergo any major change except that Lagos should be entitled to be represented in the same manner as a region on all Statutory Boards, Corporations or Committees established by the Federal Government.
Source: ngex.com
Nigeria Regions -1963-1967

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