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When the regions were autonomous and free – Part 2 


In the Constitution of Northern Nigeria, Section 6—1and 2 states that the Adviser on Moslem law shall be appointed by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier; (2) A person holding the office of adviser on Moslem law may be removed from office by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier.

Section 23 of the same constitution states that the business of the Legislative Houses of the Region shall be conducted in English and Hausa: provided that all bills introduced in either House and all laws made by the Legislature of the Region shall be printed in English and, if any such bill or law is also printed in Hausa, the English text shall prevail in the case of a conflict between the two texts.

Section 35 (1) of the Constitution of Eastern Nigeria states that the Governor acting on the advice of the Premier may appoint Provincial Commissioners from among the members of the Legislative Houses of the Region while Section 80 further states that notwithstanding any other provisions of this Constitution including in particular section 16 of this Constitution, no chieftaincy question shall be entertained by any court in the Region.


Section 2(5) of the Constitution of the Mid-Western Nigeria states that (1) without prejudice to the provisions of section 9 of this Constitution, the House of Chiefs shall consist of —- (a) the Oba of Benin, the Olu of Warri and the persons for the time being holding such other chieftaincies as may be prescribed by the Governor, who shall be ex-officio members of the House (b) fifty-one Chiefs having such qualifications and selected in such manner as may be prescribed by the Governor, who shall be ex-officio members of the House; (b) fifty-one Chiefs having such qualification and selected in such manner as may be prescribed by the legislature of the Region; (c) such Special Members, being Chiefs, as may be selected by the Governor, acting in accordance with advice of the Premier and (d) four members selected by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier, to represent the interests of groups of persons resident in the special area within the meaning of sub section (4) of section 14 of the Constitution, being groups whose interests, in the opinion of the Governor acting as aforesaid, are not represented by members of the House of Assembly for constituencies in those areas.

(2) A person shall not be a member of the House of Chief by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section during any period when he holds office as Governor: and the number of persons who are for the time being members of that House by virtue of that paragraph or paragraph (c) of that subsection shall not in the aggregate exceed ten. (3) The seat of a member of the House of Chiefs shall become vacant —— (a) in the case of a member other than the Oba of Benin, the Olu of Warri or a Special Member, in such circumstances as may be prescribed by the Legislature of the Region; and in the case of a Special Member, if he is removed from office as such a member by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier. (4) In this section “Chief” means any person who is for the time being recognized as a Chief under any law in force in the Region.

All these goes to confirm that although the regions were within the same country but their constitutions were not the same. The various constitutions reflected at that time their different challenges.


But above all Section 123 of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria states that the Constitution shall have the force of law throughout Nigeria, and, subject to the provisions of section 4 of this Constitution, if any other law (including the constitution of a region) is inconsistent with this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and the other law shall, to the extent of the ‘inconsistency, be void. 2. Nigeria shall be a Federation comprising Regions and a Federal territory, and shall be a Republic by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 3—-(1) There shall be four Regions, that is to say, Northern Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria, Western Nigeria and Mid-Western Nigeria. (2)The Regions and the Federal territory shall consist of the areas comprised in those territories respectively on the thirtieth day of September, 1963.

In his book titled “NATION BUILDING”, Professor Andreas Wimmer, the Lieber Professor of Sociology and Political Philosophy at Columbia University asked a pertinent question “Why do some countries fall apart, often along their ethnic fault lines, while others have held together over decades and centuries, despite governing a diverse population as well? Why is it, in other words, that nation-building succeeded in some places while it failed in others? The current tragedy in Syria illustrates the possibly murderous consequences of failed nation-building. Outside of the media spotlight, South Sudan and the Central African Republic went through similar experiences in recent years. In some rich and democratic countries in Western Europe, such as Spain, Belgium and the United Kingdom, longstanding secessionist movements have regained momentum. Within our lifetimes, they might well succeed in breaking apart these states. On the other hand, there is no secessionist movement among the Cantonese speakers of southern China or among the Tamils of India. And why has no serious politician ever questioned national unity in such diverse countries as Switzerland or Burkina Faso?


Before answering these questions, it is necessary to define nation-building more precisely. It goes beyond the mere existence of an independent country with a flag, an anthem and an army. Some old countries (such as Belgium) haven’t come together as a nation, while other more recently founded states (such as India) have done so. There are two sides to the nation-building coin: the extension of political alliances across the terrain of a country, and the identification with and loyalty to the institutions of the state, independent of who currently governs. The former is the political-integration aspect, the latter the political-identity aspect of nation-building. To foster both, political ties between citizens and the state should reach across ethnic divides.

Such ties of alliance connect national governments with individual citizens, sometimes through intermediary political organisations such as voluntary associations, parties, professional groups, etc. Ideally, these ties link all citizens into networks of alliances centred on the state. In such countries, all citizens see themselves represented at the centre of power, even if their preferred party or political patron is not currently occupying one of the seats of government. Intellectuals, political elites, as well as the average individual will eventually see all citizens, irrespective of their racial or ethnic background, as equal members of the national community.”I need not remind Mr. Malami that National identity is a collective phenomenon irrespective of tribe and region.
Teniola wrote from Lagos.


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