HC Deb 16 February 1955 vol 537 cc53-4W
81. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the present constitutional position in Nigeria.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The new constitution came into operation on 1st October, 1954, in accordance with Orders in Council made on 30th August and laid before Parliament on 3rd September. The Governor-General of the Federation and the Governors of the Regions were duly appointed, and the new Regional Ministries with their Premiers took office. Two of the three Regional legislatures and the legislature of the Southern Cameroons have already met. The Northern Regional legislature is expected to meet next month.

Fresh elections were required to the federal legislature, the House of Representatives, and these were completed by the end of December. No party obtained a majority over all other parties, but the Northern People's Congress (N.P.C.), which won 79* of the 92 seats allocated to the Northern Region, has emerged as the strongest single party in the new House. The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (N.C.N.C.), which won 58 seats in all, gained a majority of seats in both the Eastern and Western Regions.

This meant that the N.C.N.C. was entitled to propose the names of the six Ministers from the Eastern and Western Regions; the N.P.C. whose greater numerical strength was concentrated in the Northern Region, was entitled to propose the three Ministers from that Region; and the Kamerun National Congress, having won five of the six seats allocated to the Southern Cameroons, proposed the remaining Minister in the Federal Council of Ministers. The various Ministerial appointments were made shortly before the new House of Representatives met and the new Council of Ministers is now functioning.

The new House met for the first time from 12th to 18th January. It was fortunate in having secured the services of Sir Frederic Metcalfe, formerly Clerk of this House, as Speaker. I was particularly glad to be invited to address the House in session during my recent tour of Nigeria and to be able to convey the good wishes which I am sure that all Members of this House would wish to extend to all in Nigeria as they start their progress under the new constitution. *The figures in this paragraph, which are based on the latest information, differ slightly from and supersede those given in the reply to a question from the hon. Member for Rugby, printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT on the 2nd February.

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