Macpherson constitution; Why did the Macpherson constitution of 1951 break down?

  • The Constitution was Quasi – Federal: The 1951 constitution could not be described as truly federal It had federal and unitary features.
  • No Provision for the Office of Prime Minister and Premier:While the constitution created the office of council of ministers there was no office of the prime minister. Also, at the Regional levels, there were executive councils without premiers.
  • Different Electoral System:There was no uniform system of voting for members into the Regional houses of Assembly. Both the west and east had the same electoral system, the North had a different system.
  • The Ministers had no Responsibilities:There were no specific ministerial functions for the ministers They had no decisive say on any issue that affected their departments.
  • Dual membership in the Regional Legislatures and the House of Representatives Some officials, like the lieutenant governors of the region were  members of the regional houses of assembly and the house of representatives.
  • Regionally based political parties: The three main political parties at the time, namely the NCNC the AG and NPG were a!i regional parties.
  • The Motion for self Government: In 1953, chief Anthony Enahoro of the AG moved a motion requesting the British government to grant self-government to Nigeria in 1957. This was rejected by the Northern leaders. It  caused disaffection between Northern and Southern politicians and later led to kano riot of 1953.
  • The crisis within the NCNCE: In 1953 the NCNC witnessed a crisis within the party. The crisis led to the expulsion of some members of the party. Those expelled later formed their own party named united independent party.


  1. There is a change in the central legislative council which now have representatives with a large number of Nigerian for the first time from 46 to 49
  2. The executive council became known as the council of ministers presided over by the governor which consists of 6 ex officials members and twelve ministers each coming from the region
  3. The constitutional so create two chamber regional legislature that is bicameral legislature and in the northern and western regionand the unicameral legislature in the eastern with house of assembly only.
  4. There exist 90 elected and 14 un-elected members in the Northern house of assembly with equal share from
    each region
  5. The constitutional so provided the public service commission so as to check the abuse of office by official
  6. There exist wider consultation and participation of Nigerian in decision making


  1. The minister were appointed without portfolio (office), this however means that they are just figure head and they have no full control
  2. There exist regional and sectional consciousness rather than national interest thereby bringing friction and bone of contention among Nigerians
  3. There is heavy dependent of the regional governor to depend on the central body for any decision
  4. There is too much excess of power by the central governor which make him dictator over his subject
  5. Non participation were made visible by the northern region as a result of heavy tax impose on them
  6. The constitution fails to make provision for the position of prime minister

In conclusion Macpherson constitution failed due to its inability to unite the three region especially the northern region and the threat made by NPC (Northern people congress) which led to the crisis in the eastern region, Kano also share in the crisis. All these and more led to the motion for self government by Anthony Enahoro in 1953.

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