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Differences Between 1960 and 1963 Constitution of Nigeria

Most times, it is difficult to highlight the differences between 1960 and 1963 constitution of Nigeria because they both have similar features and came into force almost at the same time. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the 1960 constitution and 1963 constitution are similar, there are some significant differences amongst the two. The differences between 1960 and 1963 constitution of Nigeria are what I will be sharing with you in this article.

Consequently, if you have been searching the internet to know the differences between 1960 and 1963 constitution, you are in the right place. This article discusses the 1960 and 1963 constitution of Nigeria, their features and differences. I enjoin you to read painstakingly so that you will be equipped with every information contained in this page. Here we go!

differences between 1960 and 1963 constitution of Nigeria

differences between the 1960 and 1963 constitution of Nigeria

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1960 Independence Constitution of Nigeria

After Nigeria was given independence in October 1st, 1960, a new constitution needed to be drafted for the ushering in of a new dawn. Prior to the 1960 constitution, there were other constitutions that were enacted by the governor generals namely; the 1914 constitution named after Lord Federick Lugard since he formulated it, the 1922 constitution by Sir Hugh Clifford, the 1946 constitution by Sir Arthur Richards, the  1951 constitution formulated by Sir Macpherson and  the 1954 formulated by Sir Oliver Lyttleton. These constitutions are also part of the historical constitutional development of Nigeria.

The 1960 Constitution was the first constitution Nigeria made as an independent state, although Queen Elizabeth II was still retained as head of state. It was made as a result of the dissatisfaction nationalists expressed towards the Lyttleton constitution and in 1957 a conference was held to discuss the proposals advanced by the nationalists.

It was in this conference that a decision was made for Nigeria to become an independent nation on October 1st, 1960. The constitution wasn’t far from the Lyttleton constitution and only a few modifications were made.

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Features of the 1960 constitution

The 1960 constitution had the following features;

  • It introduced a parliamentary system of government.
  • It had the governor general as a ceremonial head of state.
  • It laid out conditions for being a citizen in Nigeria.
  • It reserved powers for the federal legislature to make laws during emergency periods.
  • It also provided for the fundamental rights of its citizens.
  • Empowered the governor to remove the premier if he has lost confidence in him.
  • Establishment of the office of the prime minister.
  • The senate was to make decision concerning budgets and finance.
  • Provided for a rigid constitution which meant that amendments would require two-third of the members of both houses of the legislature i.e senate and house of representative.
  • Creation of a judicial service commission to regulate and appoint judges of the supreme and high court of Nigeria.
  • The regions had residual powers.
  • It provided for a full self government in the east, west and northern regions.
  • Bicameralism in the federal legislature i.e the senate and house of Representatives.
  • The southern Cameroon became a distinct region 
  • The establishment of house of Chiefs in the eastern region 
  • The house of representatives would constitute of three hundred and twenty members, each form different zones in the country.
  • The police force would be under the control of the federal government.
  • Universal adult sufferage would be used in the other regions (southern Cameroon inclusive) excluding the northern region which operated adult male suffrage.
  • The highest court of appeal was the Judicial committee of the privy council.
  • Made provisions for the creation of more regions.

For a better explanation of the above features, i enjoin you check my article on the features of the 1960 Independence Constitution HERE. 

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The 1963 Republican constitution of Nigeria

A republic is an independent and sovereign state with a president as its leader to rule for a fixed tenure. It is a democratic form of government and its leaders are elected into the offices. In a republican system, power resides in the hands of the people.

The 1963 constitution of Nigeria which ushered the first republic, came into force on the 1st of June 1963 and continued till the first military coup in Nigeria took place, in 1966, headed by Major General Aguiyi Ironsi.

The constitution was as a result of the conference held in Lagos on the 25th and 26th of July 1963 where certain issues were laid out.  The need for the creation of the 1963 constitution was due to so many reasons;

The 1960 independence constitution retained the queen as head of state although she was represented by Dr Nnamdi Azikwe who was governor general while Tafawa Balewa was prime minister, and as an independent country, it was high time she was replaced by another. That is, a citizen of the state.

Other factors that led to the introduction of the 1963 constitution includes:

The need to change from a state under the monarch of the queen of England to a republican constitution.

Facilitation of the powers of the Prime minister in order to make him more effective.

Change within the governmental organs to provide more power and responsibility

The need to establish a court of appeal.

The need to remove the British privy council from being the highest court of appeal in Nigeria.

The need for Increment of seats at the federal legislature

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Features of the 1963 constitution of Nigeria

  • Formerly, the British parliament was charged with promulgation of acts. However, the Nigerian parliament was then charged with passing acts.
  • The head of state ceased to be the queen of England but the President of Nigeria who performed both ceremonial and executive roles.
  • The constitution also introduced secret ballot system . Hence election of the president was made through secret balloting.
  • Provision for the impeachment of the president by the legislature.
  • The Supreme court became the highest court of appeal in Nigeria.
  • During the absence of the president, the parliament had the right to act in his stead.
  • The entrenchment of fundamental human right.
  • It abolished the judicial advisory committee.
  • The number of seats in the parliament was increased and that of the house of representatives increased  from  44 to 56 and 305 to 312, respectively.

Differences between the 1960 independence constitution and the 1963 republican constitution of Nigeria

differences between 1960 Independence Constitution and 1963 republican constitution of Nigeria

differences between 1960 Independence Constitution and 1963 republican constitution of Nigeria

1. The 1960 constitution provided for a parliamentary system where the head of state and head of government were two different persons; the president and the prime minister.

2. The 1960 constitution was under a monarchial head (the queen) while the 1963 constitution ushered in republicanism. It was a republican constitution and had the head of state as a Nigerian.

3. The number of seats in the parliament were increased in the republican constitution.

4. The 1960 constitution provided for the existence of the judicial advisory committee which was abolished in the 1963 republican constitution.

5. The 1960 independence constitution allowed for the British Privy council to be the highest appeal court in Nigeria. This was changed in the 1963 Republican constitution which replaced the British Privy Council with the supreme court. Thus making the supreme court the highest appeal court in Nigeria.

6. The British parliament could pass acts in the 1960 independence constitution. The 1963 republican constitution however replaced the British parliament with the Nigerian parliament.

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Wrapping up:

Nigeria’s indeperndence was no small feat; It’s the same for every country that fought for their independence. With the coming of independence, which came earlier than expected, the people were still at a loss at how to govern a country and the reforms to be made in the constitution. The 1960 constitution being the first constitution made by Nigeria as an independent and sovereign nation, was bound to house  some imperfections.

However, after a few years, the people discovered a few loopholes and a conference was organized to make certain alteration in the new constitution and for Nigeria to become a republican country which became a reality in 1963.

Hope this article helped you to understand the features and differences between the 1963 and 1963 constitution of Nigeria? If it did, don’t hesitate to let me know using the comment section below. I will be glad to hear from you!

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