The Post-Independence Period in Nigeria and Ghana

Three years after Nigeria and Ghana had achieved their independence, the two countries modified their constitutions. Among other changes, they introduced republican forms of government. Nigeria undertook another important constitutional change in creating a fourth Region the Mid-West State, carved from the Western region of Nigeria. 


The Cameroons Constitutional Amendment Act. The first constitutional amendment Act passed by the federal parliament, after independence had been achieved on October 1st, 1960, was the Cameroons Constitutional Amendment Act. This arose from the plebiscites held on February 11th and 12th, 1961, and supervised by the United Nations, to decide whether the Northern and Southern Cameroons, which were Trust Territories, wished to join the Federation of Nigeria or the Republic of Cameron. The people of the Northern Cameroons voted to remain part of Nigeria and became part of Northern Nigeria with effect from June 1st, 1961. The area was later renamed Sardauna Province and was represented by seven NPC members in the House of Representatives. The Southern Cameroons, on the other hand, voted by majority of four to one to join the Republic of Cameroon, and thereafter ceased to be administered as part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as soon as it was incorporated into the Republic of Cameroon on October 1st, 1961. 

The Mid-Western Region. This Region, which had formerly been part of the Western Region, was brought into existence on August 9th, 1963, following the procedure laid down in the constitution for the creation of new Region. The Federal Parliament gave it own constitution, which took effect on January 9th, 1964. During the intervening months, it was governed by an Administrator sitting with administrative council, federally appointed. The Administrator was chief D.C Osadebay, leader of the Mid-west state movement. 

The 1963 Republican Constitution. In 1963, after agreement had been reached by an All-Party Conference, it was decided that Nigeria should become a Republic. Accordingly, Parliament enacted a new constitution of the Federation, following the prescribed amendment procedure, to replace the 1960 one, and each Regional Legislature enacted a new Regional Constitution. They were virtually the same as the 1960 ones except in the respects mentioned above. A complicated procedure was provided for the appointment and removal of the president. 


In 1960, Ghana became a republic within the Commonwealth – the first African country to adopt this status. The Government prepared a draft of the proposed Republican Constitution, circulated it in the form of a white paper, and then held a plebiscite so that the electorate could vote on it. After an overwhelming vote in favour, it was enacted by the Assembly and became law, replacing the 1957 constitution. 

The procedure for selecting the Ghanaian president was complicated. He held office until;

  • The National Assembly was dissolved
  • He died
  • He resigned

As the maximum life of the Assembly was five years, it followed that the president could not hold office for more than five years. If his office became vacant due to reason that he died or resigned, the National Assembly elected a successor. But if it became vacant because of the dissolution of the Assembly, then the electorate voted for a president at the same time voting for a member of the National Assembly.

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