Government Notes

Lyttleton Constitution Of 1954


  1. Features.
  2. Important Provision of the Constitution.
  3. Achievements and Weakness.


The resultant defects of MacPherson’s constitution gave rise to two constitutional conferences in 1953 and 1954, the first in London and the other in Lagos. Far reaching conclusions were agreed on concerning the structuring of Nigeria federation, the status of Lagos as a Natural Federal Unit.

In October 1954 Lyttleton’s Constitution came into effect and the main features and important changes made by it were as follows;

  • It was the first federal constitution adopted by Nigeria.
  • The lieutenant governors of the various regions became known as Governors.
  • The governor was known as Governor-General of the federation of Nigeria.
  • Establishment of the office of the speakers and Deputy speaker of the regional legislatures except the North.
  • Regionalization of the public service, marketing boards and the judiciary.
  • Establishment of the office of the regional premier.
  • Regional legislatures were given law making powers.
  • Reduction in numbers of both officials and appointed members in both central and regional legislatures and the executive council.
  • No provision was made for the office of the prime minister.
  • Division of powers between the central and the regions.
  • Revision of revenue sharing formula.
  • Southern Cameroon granted both administrative and legislative provision.


  • Federal House of Representative: A central legislative body of 184 directly elected on the basis of single member constituency with the north providing 92, the east and west 42 each. Southern

had 6 and Lagos had 2.

  • Federal Council of Ministers: It was composed of the Governor General, 3 official members, 3 ministers from each region, 1 from Southern Cameroon. The Governor General picked the ministers from the Federal House of Representatives on the advice of the regional executive.
  • Regional Executive Councils: The Governor appointed the leaders of the party with the majority as the regions premiers. Regional Governors presided over the regional executive meetings, with ministers appointed on the advice of the premiers.
  • Regional Legislatures: It retained bi-cameral feature for the Northern and Western Assemblies and unicameral legislature for the east.
  • Division of Powers: The constitution divided powers between the central and the regional government of the federation exclusive power list granted the central government control over- mining, railways, custom, foreign relations etc. Concurrent list was for the federal and regional governments. Residual list was meant for the regions.


  1. What were the important provisions made by the Lyttleton constitution?
  2. Explain the composition of the federal house of representative under the Lyttleton’s constitution.


  • It made no provision for the office of the prime minister, still imposing the Governor-General as President of Council of Ministers.
  • It did not provide for a second chamber at the Federal Legislative House.
  • None of the leaders of the major political parties was in the council of ministers, which means those appointed into it would continue to take instruction from the regions. Where their party leaders were stationed.
  • It did not address the imbalance created by Richard’s Constitution, which made the north twice as the size of the whole south. The effect of this structure is still a political problem stalking the country still date.
  • It did not provide for uniform electoral system for the country.
  • The constitution still vested veto power on the Governor General and the regional Governors.
  • It regionalized the public service thereby making the regions stronger than the central.


  • It introduced federal structure in Nigeria.
  • It established the offices of the speaker and deputy speaker.
  • It introduced direct election into federal and regional legislatures.
  • Ministers were made heads of departments.
  • It created posts of permanent secretaries and parliamentary secretaries at the federal and regional civil service administration.
  • It separated Lagos and South Cameroon from the west and east respectively.
  • It raised the status of Governor to Governor General, Lieutenant to Governors.
  • The constitution effectively prepared Nigeria for Independence.
  • The regional legislatures were granted real law making [powers.
  • Clear-cut division of powers between central and regional government.
  • It created dual civil service and judicial administration.


  • Mention the five merits of the Lyttleton’s constitution.
  • What were the failures of the Lyttleton’s constitution?


  1. Who is a premier?
  2. Explain the composition of the federal executive council under the Lyttleton constitution.
  3. Explain the composition of the regional executive council under the Lyttleton constitution.
  4. What were the limitations of the Lyttleton constitution?
  5. State 5 features of Hausa/Fulani pre-colonial administration.


  1. The Governor General of Nigeria in 1954 was  (a) NnamdiAzikiwe (b) Oliver Lyttleton (c) Sir Bourdillon (d) Sir Lord Lugard
  2. The following were the main provision of the Lyttleton’s constitution except (a) Elective principle (b) Establishment of federalism (c) Division of power(d) establishment of the office of the regional premier
  3. The 1953 Constitutional Conference was held in (a) Calabar (b) Lagos (c) London (d) Ghana
  4. One of the failures of the Lyttleton’s Constitution was that (a) no provision was made for the office of the prime minister (b) it introduced federal structure (c) it made ministers heads of departments
  5. —– is regarded as the first Federal Constitution of Nigeria  (a) Clifford’s constitution (b) Macpherson’s constitution (c) Lyttleton’s constitution


  1. Explain the major important provisions of the Lyttleton constitution.
  2. Explain the composition of the federal house of representative under the Lyttleton constitution.


Comprehensive Government Pages 160-162

Essential Government Pages 176-178

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