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The Clifford Constitution of 1922 – Features, Merits & Demerits

Clifford Constitution of 1922
Sir Hugh Clifford

Introduction to the Clifford Constitution of 1922

The Clifford Constitution of 1922 disposed the Nigerian Council of Lord Lugard (1914) and set up a new legislative council for the Southern Protectorate.

The membership of the Clifford legislative council was forty-six (46). Twenty-seven (27) out of the forty-six 46 members were officials while nineteen (19) were unofficial members. Ten (10) out of the nineteen (19) unofficial members were Nigerians and out of the ten (10) unofficial Nigerians, four (4) were elected, three (3) from Lagos and one (1) from Calabar. The remaining six (6) were appointed by the Governor.

The Northern protectorate was excluded from the council. The governor continued to govern the North by proclamation.

Establishment of the Elective Principle by Clifford in 1922

The Clifford constitution of 1922 established the elective principle for the first time in Nigeria. However, the elective principle was limited to male adults that have resided in Nigeria for over 12 months and have a gross annual income of 100 pounds.

The Clifford constitution of 1922 also gave way to the establishment of political parties in Nigeria. In 1923, Herbert Macaulay founded the first political party in Nigeria, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) and also established a newspaper called the West African Pilot. The Clifford constitution gave room for more participation and representation in the government than the 1914 constitution.

Main Features of the Clifford Constitution Of 1922

  1. Elective principle to elect the desired person into the Legislative council. NB:- Only an individual earning £100 annually can vote and be voted for. NCBWA struggled for the granting of the elective principle in Nigeria.
  2. All colonial governors were to report to the Secretary of State for colonies who was a cabinet minister in Britain.
  3. The Executive council was an all- European council. No Nigerian was included i.e Nigerians were not part of the decision-making body.
  4. The Legislative council consists of 46 members of which 27 were official and 19 were unofficial.
  5. The North was ruled by proclamation coming from the governor.
  6. Formation of political parties e.g NNDP of Herbert Macaulay.
  7. Establishment of Newspapers e.g The West African Pilot and Lagos Daily News.

Advantages or Merits of the Clifford Constitution

  1. Elective Principle – The Clifford constitution brought the elective principle into Nigeria which paved way for elective representation of Nigerians into the Legislative council.
  2. Political Activities for Nigerians – The Clifford constitution permitted the formation of political parties in Nigeria so as to ensure greater participation of Nigerians in their government. E.g. The Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) of Herbert Macaulay.
  3. New Legislative Council– The constitution created a new legislative council which consists of 46 members of which 27 were official and 19 were unofficial.
  4. Nationalism – The constitution geared up Nationalism among Nigerians
  5. Establishment of Newspapers – Newspapers were established to promote more political activities in Nigeria.

Disadvantages or Demerits

  1. Sectionalism – The Clifford Constitution of 1922 brought sectionalism into Nigeria as the constitution was meant for the Southern protectorate alone. The Legislative council was also created for the south excluding the North.
  2. The Legislative council was dominated by Europeans
  3. Partial representation – The elective principle introduced by the Clifford Constitution of 1922 works only for the legislative council. The executive council is not elective.
  4. Imposition – The people claimed that the constitution was imposed on them
  5. The Governor-General had veto powers on issues discussed in the legislative and executive council
  6. Partial Elective principle – Only Nigerians with resident qualification and have a gross income of £100 per annum which as at then was a very huge sum.


  1. C. C. Dibie; Essential Government for Senior Secondary Schools; Tonad Publishers; August 2008
  2. Constitutional Development In Nigeria – Teslim Opemipo Omipidan, OldNaija
  3. The Nigerian Constitution: History and Development; Oluwole I Odumosu; London, Sweet & Maxwell, 1963
Cite this article as: Teslim Omipidan. (May 4, 2019). The Clifford Constitution of 1922 – Features, Merits & Demerits. OldNaija. Retrieved from


  1. Thanks for your question, Mr. Agba John.
    There are many reasons behind it.
    1. It is the first constitution Nigeria ever had
    2. The constitution contained some important features like the elective principle
    3. Gov. Bernard Bourdillon wasn’t able to finish his constitution before he left office in 1944

  2. why was Clifford constitution replaced with Richard constitution of 1946 since Clifford Constitution brought about important features in Nigeria

    1. the Clifford constitution was replaced with Richard constitution because not every body was allowed to vote(disenfranchisement). and attention was not given to the northerns I.e they were ruled by proclamation

  3. Thank you for your question, Mr. Michael. The Richard constitution of 1946 replaced the Clifford constitution of 1922 because it came with a lot of improvement (e.g on the elective principle) and better features like ‘regionalism’ (which enhances easy and effective administration) and so on.

      1. Clifford constitution was the best constitution ever why because it came with hole lot of features eg elective principle and nationalism etc it still the best, even although rechard constitution came with it own features too that some how favoured some people.

  4. I’m very pleasure in this page because i get somes idea about contitutional development of nigeria, deu to our lecturer gave us assignment about it thats why.

  5. this is a very welcomed progress
    for me a magnum opus
    this is an exceptional contribution to Nigeria’s history

    1. going through this article gave me an insight into constitutional development in Nigeria, am pleased to inform u that I like the page and I expect more….

  6. what do you feel between the retirement of Clifford (1922) and the over throw of government by Richard (1946)

  7. To what extent can the remarkable achievements of the 1922(Clifford) constitution be viewed as the first constitutional move in Nigeria

  8. When was mid-west region created?
    and By whose constitution?
    A, Clifford constantly.
    C. Macpherson’s
    D, independence const.

  9. What were the major issue that the colonial press highlighted apart from the constitution that was made and operated by them

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