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The politics of the formation of alliance governments in multi-ethnic states: a case study of the Nigerian first alliance government, 1954-57.

I. Introduction

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic state; its approximately three-hundred and seventy-four ethnic groups make it a multi-ethnic state par excellence. (1) This multi-ethnicity qualifies it for what Tordoff calls "the linguistic crossroads of Africa." (2) One prominent hallmark of democracy in multi-ethnic states is the absence of nationally acknowledged leaders and the emergence or existence of what can be rightly termed national or nationwide political organizations is a rarity, if not an absolute impossibility. (3) Since deep-seated ethnicity almost always prevent one single party or candidate from obtaining enough parliamentary seats or votes to be able to form the centre government alone, the formation of alliances become inevitable. Indeed, the formation of alliances is the hallmark of the democratic processes of most plural states and more often than not, the stability or otherwise of the democratic processes of plural states depends on the relationship between/among alliance partners.

Alliance, in the context of this article, refers to any formal commitment of two or more political parties for political objectives, particularly winning elections and thereby control what Post and Vickers term "systems of rewards." Alliance is used in this article in the same sense as coalition defined by Lester and Cary as "explicit [political] working relationships among groups for the purpose of achieving a public policy." (5) There are two types of alliances--electoral and governing. While the former are formed for the primary purpose of winning elections, the latter are formed for the purposes of achieving and realizing policy objectives (after elections are won). This article deals with the latter. The purpose of this article is two-fold. One, it seeks to attempt a critical analysis of the factors that informed the formation of the NPC-NCNC (Northern People's Congress-National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons') alliance at the conclusion of the 1954 federal election; and two, it attempts to examine, in historical perspective, the consequences of the NPC-NCNC alliance on the Nigerian democratic process. 1954 is an important date in the political history of Nigeria. Apart from the fact that the first federal election in the country was held in that year, it was in that year that what can be properly referred to as alliance-government was first formed in Nigeria. However, for a lucid and meaningful treatment of the subject-matter of this article, a fairly detailed examination of the nature and impact of British colonial administration in Nigeria is indispensable. In doing this, the circumstances that later compelled the formation of alliances in Nigeria are clearly brought to the fore.

II. Nigerian Colonial Constitutions and their Centrifugal Tendencies
   The old treaties are dead, you have killed them. Now, these are the
   words which I, the High Commissioner, have to say for the future.
   The Fulani, in old times, under Dan Fodio conquered this country.
   They took the right to rule over it, to levy taxes, depose kings
   and create kings. They in turn, have by defeat, lost their rule
   which has come into the hands of the British ... Every Sultan and
   Emir and the principal officers of state will be appointed by the
   High Commissioner, throughout all this country. (6)


With the above speech by Sir Fredrick Lugard while appointing Mohammed Attahiru II as the Emir of Sokoto, the imposition of British rule on Nigeria, or what Afigbo describes as the "overthrow of indigenous authority" was completed, though pockets of resistance to the imposition of British colonial rule over the entire entity later known as Nigeria continued well beyond 1914. (7) The factors responsible for the imposition of colonial rule on Nigeria (and on Africa generally) had been analyzed by many authors and scholars, and they need not be repeated here. (8) It is instructive to begin our analysis with the quotation below:
   Sixty years ago, there was no country called Nigeria. What is now
   Nigeria consisted of a number of large and small communities all of
   which were different in their outlooks and beliefs. The advent of
   the British and of Western education has not materially altered the
   situation and those many and varied communities have not knit
   themselves into a composite unit. (9)


When the NPC leader, Sir Ahmadu Bello, said these words on the floor of the Federal House of Representatives in March 1953 in his counter motion to Chief Anthony Enahoro's celebrated Self-Government Motion, not a few Southerners booed him; yet the Sardauna was probably making a valid and objective assessment of the factors that were responsible for the deep-rooted distrust and acrimony among Nigerian peoples and politicians. There was no geographical entity known as Nigeria until the middle of January 1897. In a famous (or infamous) article in the London Times of 8 January of that year, its Colonial correspondent, Flora Shaw, suggested that the aggregate of all the towns and villages or the protectorate consisting of many ethnic nationalities in the Niger area should be called "Nigeria." The aggregation of these varied and disparate empires, kingdoms, nations and tribes is what is now known as Nigeria. (10) This implies that at the beginning of the nineteen century, the geographical entity which later became Nigeria consisted of several independent indigenous states such as the Old Oyo Empire, the Benin Kingdom, the Ekiti Kingdoms, the Borno Empire, the Hausa States (later the Sokoto Caliphate), the smaller territorial units of the Igbo and the Ibiobio, etc. But on 1 January 1914, all these "independent" nations lost their autonomy and were incorporated into the newly created geographical entity called Nigeria. (11)

It must be emphasized, however, that the welding together of the various Nigerian nations into a single geographical and "political" entity under the Governor-Generalship of Sir Frederick (later Lord) Lugard was not informed by any desire on the part of the British colonial administration to create a strong and united Nigerian nation. As a scholar has rightly observed, "if the amalgamation of 1914 was aimed at the political fusion of the North and South, it did not have the objective of building a unified state nor did the British envisage, by the remotest stroke of imagination, that a "nation" would emerge from the "geopolity." (12) Although, Isawa's view may not be absolutely correct, it is also not entirely wrong. It is therefore not surprising that in spite of the amalgamation, the South and North of Nigeria were preserved as separate political entities with little or no political interaction between them. The only thing the North and South of Nigeria had in common was the personality of Fredrick Lugard. In one of his reports to the Colonial Office, Sir Lugard pointed out that "Nigeria is a country divided into two by an arbitrary line of latitude." (13) The amalgamation was meant to remove this "line of latitude," but it never really did that effectively because of what Omoniyi describes as "mental reservation" on the part of the British colonial administration about treating the North and South of Nigeria as a single political entity." Indeed, Ade Ajayi has argued that "the imbalance in the political power equation in the Nigerian polity was not accidental but deliberately planned and defended by the Colonial officials." (15)

As Nwabugbuogu has pointed out, through his policies, Lugard laid the foundation of ethnicity and disunity in Nigeria. Lugard's centrifugal activities would probably have been reversed with his departure from Nigeria in 1919 and the appointment of Sir Hugh Clifford as Governor had the Colonial Office had allowed the implementation of Clifford's "unity proposal." (16) On assuming office, Clifford found to his chagrin that ethnicity and disunity were the hallmarks of the newly created country. According to Nwabugbuogu, Clifford criticized his predecessor for failing to unite the country and pointed out that amalgamation should "normally imply some attempt to merge into a single whole." Clifford contended that what happened in Nigeria in 1914 was not amalgamation, but "placing of a single man at the head of two separate colonial ... territories." Indeed, in a confidential memorandum to Lord Milner, the Colonial Secretary, Clifford demonstrated his resolve to unite Nigeria. Among other things, he wrote,
   ... the ideal at which we should aim, as I hope ... [is] the
   eventual evolution, not only of an amalgamated but an [sic] united
   Nigeria. It is essential that the coordination of all
   administrative work, political and non-political alike should be
   directed from a single centre from which alone a comprehensive view
   of all the component and interdependent parts Of the machine can be
   obtained. (17)


However, the Colonial Office frowned on these proposals and dismissed them as revolutionary. Officials of the Colonial Office who were essentially Lurgadian in temperament and outlook saw Clifford's proposal as anti-Lugard in content and prevented its acceptance by the Colonial Office. Indeed, A.J. Harding and G.M. Clauson protested vehemently against Clifford's proposals which they dismissed as "anti-Northern Nigeria, written in haste and destructive of all the "good work" Lugard had done in Nigeria." (18) The Colonial Office advised Clifford to jettison the idea of Nigerian unity and concentrate instead on improving communications and harbours and building houses for British officials. Nwabugbuogu argues that "had Clifford's "unity proposal" been accepted and implemented by the Colonial Office, they would no doubt have brought about a unified Nigerian nation and the various searches for this unity today would have been a thing of the past." (19)

To retain his job, Clifford abandoned his unity proposal and reversed his position on Nigerian unity. Thus, in his address to the Nigerian Council on 19 December 1920, he poured unrestrained invective on the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA) for dreaming of a "West African Nation" which he dismissed as an absurdity. (20) He particularly spurned the concept of Nigerian unity which he said was unrealistic and unachievable. According to him,
   Assuming ... that this collection of self-contained and mutually
   independent Native States, separated from one another, as many of
   them are, by great distances, by differences of history and
   traditions and by ethnological, racial, tribal, political, social
   and religious barriers, were capable of being welded into a single
   homogenous nation--a deadly blow would therefore be struck at the
   very root of national self-government in Nigeria, which secures to
   each separate people the right to maintain its identity. (21)


In what could be regarded as a rejoinder to Clifford's scathing remarks, the NCBWA wrote,
   The Congress ... desires it to be placed on record that, apart from
   the fact that the National Congress of British West Africa
   represents the intelligentsia and the advanced thought of British
   West Africa, the principles it stands for are some of those
   fundamental ones that have actuated communities ... It also
   represents the bulk of the inhabitants of the various indigenous
   communities and with their claim, as the sons of the soil, the
   inherent right to make representation for necessary reforms. (22)


According to Clifford, the thrust of British colonial policy in Nigeria was not to press for a Nigerian nation but to maintain and support "local tribal institutions" and their individual forms of government. Thus, following the rejection of his "unity proposal" by the Colonial Office, Clifford discarded the possibility of "an amalgamated [and] ... united Nigeria" and began to build on the centrifugal policies of his predecessor. It is therefore not surprising that the Constitution named after him provided for a Legislative Council whose competence was limited to the Southern Protectorate. Clifford argued that he had to limit the competence of the Legislative Council to the South because of practical difficulties posed by the sheer size of the country, but particularly because "a [Christian] Council sitting in Lagos could not be properly entrusted with the responsibility of legislating for the Muslim emirates" of the North. (23) What this meant, in effect, was that since the Muslim North was not represented on the Legislative Council, the Christian South could and should not legislate for it. The questions one should ask are: what prevented the North from being represented on the Council? Could or should Muslims and Christians not cooperate politically, economically and indeed in every facet of national life for the purposes of building a politically united and economically viable nation? This underscores Coleman's submission that the British colonial administration seized every available opportunity to spread the myth and propaganda that the peoples of Nigeria were "separated from one another by great distances, by distances of history and traditions, and by ethnological, racial, tribal, political, social and religious barriers." (24) Hence, the British colonial administration was concerned more with the preservation of the separate identity of each nation than welding them together in a strong nation-state.

The fact that the peoples of Nigeria had certain peculiar social, political, cultural, and religious institutions is incontestable. These differences would most probably have petered out had the British colonial officials insisted on and encouraged forging a sense of oneness, unity and harmony amongst Nigerian peoples. Had the people been made to see the importance of oneness and unity in a nation's quest for socio-economic development and political stability, the peoples of Nigeria would probably had risen above whatever differences that existed between them. But rather than bridge these (real and imagined) differences, the British officials continually magnified them. As Falola has rightly pointed out, "during colonial rule, the various ethnic groups were not only disunited; they were set against one another by colonial governments that deliberately promoted the differences that separated them." (25) For example, after paying a short visit to Nigeria in 1945, the Colonial Secretary, Oliver Stanley, told an American audience that
   The Hausa, the Ibo and the Yoruba, three groups which have nothing
   in common, neither race, religion, language, customs nor
   constitution; indeed, in the olden days, the only connexion [sic]
   between them was when they raided each other. (26)


This Euro-centric view of African history was re-echoed as late as 1979 by Akintunde who insisted that "prior to the coming of the British there was no tradition of co-operation among the tribes, rather, it was a history of inter-tribal war and slave raids. It took the presence of the British to put an end to this chaotic condition." (27) Today, however, it is incontrovertible that "African history, before the advent of the Europeans, redounded with great kingdoms and glittered with brilliant works of arts." (28) Indeed, today, no one except those Uya refers to as the "hopelessly uninformed" would still insist on justifying the above Euro-centric view of African history. (29)

The above is however not an attempt to deny the fact that the peoples of Nigeria had certain peculiar social, political, cultural, and religious institutions but, as Arifalo has argued, "all human groupings and associations are artificial since they are man-made." (30) Since nations are made and not born, one can hardly think of any nation that did not begin as a geographical expression. For example, in one of his works, Vile describes the USA as an artificial creation. According to him "the United States is, in a real sense, an artificial creation fashioned out of the wilderness within the past 350 years." (31) It is therefore preposterous to say that the only connection between Nigeria's ethnic groups in the pre-colonial period was when they raided one another. The various ethnic groups in Nigeria did not live in self-sufficient islands. Apart from the various legends of origin, the various ethnic groups co-existed and peacefully engaged in inter-ethnic commerce and did mutual cultural borrowings.

The political dichotomy between the North and South of Nigeria continued until 1946 when the Richards Constitution was introduced. It was under this constitution that politicians from the North and South of the country sat side by side for the first time on the same Legislative Council to discuss the country's political affairs. Summing up the importance of the Richards Constitution to Nigeria and the North in particular, Sir Ahmadu Bello said "The great day came with the introduction of the Richards Constitution in 1947, when for the first time in our history, indigenous citizens of the North sat side by side with the South to legislate for one Nigeria and share in the discussion of Nigerian affairs." (32) However, the role of this constitution in the political unification of Nigeria can be over-stressed because the same constitution introduced what Nnoli calls "constitutionalised regionalism." (33)

On assuming office, Sir Arthur Richards said that all the constitutional arrangements made since 1914 had failed to produce the desired result. He said unity did not and could not exist in Nigeria and that, in any case, the constitution he met did not provide for it. (34) Indeed, Richards insisted that "Nigeria falls naturally into three regions, the North, the West and the East and the people of these regions differed widely in race, in customs, in outlook and in traditional systems of government." (35) One of the three reasons for the introduction of the Richards Constitution which came into operation on 1 January 1947 was to "provide adequately [at the expense of Nigerian unity] for the diverse elements which make up the country." (36) To "provide adequately" for these diverse elements, the constitution broke the country into three regions--North, West, and East--corresponding to the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Igbo thus accentuating ethnic politics in Nigeria. Summarizing the importance of the Richards Constitution to the political history of Nigeria, Kenneth Dike wrote,
   ... the Richards Constitution is a dividing line in Nigerian
   constitutional development. Before it, the keynote in Nigerian
   politics was unification towards a centralised state and the
   realisation of a common nationality ... But with the Richards
   constitution, this tendency towards unification was on the whole
   arrested. (37)


The above submission is not entirely correct. While the assertion that the Richards Constitution "arrested" Nigerian unity cannot be disputed; both on the path of British colonial officials and Nigerian political elite, there was obviously no philosophy like "unification towards a centralised state and the realisation of a common nationality" in Nigeria before the introduction of the Richards Constitution. As pointed out above, Lugard and his aides were vehemently opposed to "unification towards a centralised state and the realisation of a common nationality" in Nigeria while the Colonial Office ensured that Hugh Clifford, who initially had sympathy for "unification towards a centralised state and the realisation of a common nationality" in Nigeria, was prevented from actualising his "unity proposal." Indeed, as Olomola has so pertinently pointed out, "... there were two Nigerias up to December 1913." (38)

On the part of Nigerians themselves, no reasonable or conscious effort was made towards unification and the realization of a common nationality before 1947. For example, between 1918 and 1947, more than twenty tribal unions were formed in Nigeria. Some of these are Egba Society, Union of Ijebu Young Men, Yoruba Union, Egbado Union, Ekiti National Union, Owerri Improvement Union, Ijaye National Society, Offa Descendants' Union, Ogbomoso Progressive Union, Owo Progressive Union, Oyo Progressive Union, Onitsha Improvement Union, Calabar Improvement League, Igbirra Progressive Union, Urhobo Renascent Convention and the Ibo State Union." Indeed, as if to demonstrate that there was no "unification towards a centralised state and the realisation of a common nationality" in Nigeria, the Daily Service wrote in an editorial,
   We anticipate, in the immediate future, an era of wholesome rivalry
   among principal tribes of Nigeria. Therefore, while not being
   chauvinistic and rabidly tribalistic, the great Yoruba people must
   strive to preserve their individuality. (40)


Even in post-independence Nigeria, the centrifugal tendencies of tribal unions did not abate. Indeed, in 1964, the NPC requested its Chief Whip in the Federal Parliament to move a motion calling for the imposition of a ban on all tribal organizations in the Federation because, according to the Party, "the practise of tribalism is worse than the South African apartheid policy.'"' On the other hand, Dr. Azikiwe argued that tribalism was a pragmatic instrument for national unity. According to him, "... tribalism can become a pragmatic instrument for national unity; without an individual, there can be no community, without communities, there can be no tribe; without tribes, there can be no nation. It takes individuals to form a community; it takes communities to form a tribe; it takes tribes to form a nation." (42) Akintunde shares Dr. Azikiwe's view though not without qualification. Writing in 1974, he posited:
   That tribalism is rampant in Nigeria should surprise no one given
   the fact that Nigeria has only recently been created by the British
   from a bewildering diversity of tribes the number of which has been
   put by some as high as 400.... Tribalism need not be an obstacle to
   national unity. But if its spirit is such as is illustrated in
   Zik's presidential address delivered at the Ibo state assembly on
   June 25, 1949 in which he eulogised the lbo to the high heavens, it
   must be an obstacle to national unity.... But tribalism can be put
   at the service of nationality. (43)


For H.O. Davies, tribalism can never be a tool in nation building since it is synonymous with selfishness and subjectivity. According to him,
   Tribalism is to make a fetish of one's own tribe at all times
   whether they are right or wrong. It follows that the tribalist is
   the fellow who sees nothing but good in his tribe's people, who
   supports, defends, and encourages his tribesmen even if he is [sic]
   palpable wrong, who joins in a fight for no reason than that
   someone is fighting a member of his tribe who as a Minister, Board
   Chairman, or Manager awards jobs, contracts, or scholarships on the
   basis of tribal origin and not on merit, efficiency or entitlement.
   Such a one is a tribalist. To him, the highest slogan is 'my
   tribe,' right or wrong. (44)


Olusanya has argued that the Richards Constitution united rather than divided Nigeria. According to him, all that the constitution sought to do was to provide unity in diversity. He contends that the "constitution deliberately promoted the unity of Nigeria" because, "for the first time since the dissolution of the lifeless Nigerian Council, the two halves of the country were brought together in a legislative council whose competence was nationwide." Olusanya contends further that the regions established by the Richards Constitution were purely for administrative and not political reasons and that it was "Nigerians themselves who turned the administrative regions into political and permanent regions when they were called upon to fashion a constitution for their country in 1950/51." (45)

While the fact that the Richards Constitution ended decades of North-South political separation cannot be contested, it is obvious that whatever the constitution offered the country in political unification, it took from it in extreme regionalisation. Although, the British declared that the regions were created for administrative purposes, it was most probably part of the British divide and rule tactics. The argument that it was Nigerians who turned the administrative regions into "political and permanent" regions is not convincing because it was the British creating the regions in the first instance that enabled Nigerians to make them political and permanent. On the whole however, the Richards constitution was an important watershed in the political history of Nigeria because, as a scholar has rightly noted, "if the year 1914 marked the birth of colonial Nigeria, 1946 was the beginning of effective horizontal relations among Nigerian groups." (46)

The so-called "home made constitution" of 1951 dealt even more severe blows to Nigerian unity. Under the MacPherson Constitution, the regions referred to above ceased to be administrative and became "political regions with power to pass legislation which would be effective within their boundaries." (47) It is interesting to note, without any fear of contradiction, that the 1951 constitution made some efforts towards the political unification of the country even though the regions became "political and permanent" under it. First, the constitution established a central legislature whose competence was nationwide. Second, it established a Council of Ministers made up of four ministers from each of the regions, even though the ministers were not political or executive heads of government departments as they merely acted as spokesmen on departmental affairs in the Legislature or Council of Ministers where they were charged, when a decision had been taken, to ensure that effect was given to such a decision. Thus, the MacPherson Constitution provided at least two channels through which northern and southern politicians could work hand-in-hand. Ironically however," it was this constitution that attempted to provide some semblance of unity that had the shortest lifespan.

The constitution, which became operational in 1952, was expected to be operated for five years. It however broke down (after barely a year) over the crisis precipitated by the 31 March 1953 self-government motion moved by Chief Enahoro. (48) The motion was opposed by a. majority of northern members of parliament who were in turn booed by Lagosians. (49) The AG then decided to embark on an ill-timed "educational tour" of the North to educate the people of Northern Nigeria on why Nigeria should be self-governing in 1956. In a speech to Kano Native Authority workers, the Information Officer, Inuwa Wada, said "having abused us in the south, these very southerners have decided to come over to the north to abuse us, but we have determined to retaliate the treatment given us in the south." (50) Thus, the arrival of the Chief Ladoke Akintola-led delegation in Kano led to series of riots which lasted three days and which resulted in the death of about fifty people while about two hundred others were injured and property estimated at about 10,400 pounds destroyed. (51)

These riots led to the demise of the MacPherson Constitution. Consequently, on 21 May 1953, the Colonial Secretary, Oliver Lyttleton, informed the British House of Commons that events in Nigeria had clearly shown that it was not possible for the three regions to work effectively together in a federation so closely knit as provided under the 1951 constitution. Thus, in 1954, the MacPherson Constitution was replaced by the Lyttleton Constitution.

The political and educational imbalance between the South and North of Nigeria was obviously one of the causes of the crisis that trailed the self-government motion. Up till 1946, as clearly pointed out above, the North and South of Nigeria were governed, for almost all practical purposes, as two separate countries. Indeed, free personal integration between the Emirs and their children or relations on the one hand and educated Southerners on the other was not tolerated by the British officials in the North. A visit to any part of the South by any educated Northemer was not allowed unless it took place under the close guidance and supervision of British Officers from the North: It is therefore not surprising that by 1953, the two halves of the country could not operate on the same political wavelengths. In an attempt to preserve the Islamic purity of the North and insulate it from "southern radicalism," the British colonial administration prevented Christian missionaries (the agents of western education) from operating as freely as they (the missionaries) did in the South. This has been succinctly expressed by Olaniwun,
   Another unwholesome effect of Lugard's administration in Nigeria
   was the closure of the North to Christian missionary influences.
   Lugard remained adamant and stood by his pledge to keep away
   Christians from Muslim areas and his successors, particularly Percy
   Giround and C.L.Temple were more opposed to Christians even than
   Lugard ... this attitude of Lugard and his successors in office had
   considerable adverse effect on education in Northern Nigeria:


Thus, while Southern Nigeria was being opened up to western education and its attendant benefits, Northern Nigeria was soaked in Islamic/Quaranic education with its attendant limitations. In non-Moslem areas, education was the key to change because mission schools were encouraged and supported but in the Muslim areas of the North, the reverse was the case. A scholar has estimated that by 1914, the number of Quaranic schools in Nigeria was about 24,756 with about 218,615 pupils and 15,000 mallams as teachers:' Thus, so strongly entrenched was the islamic system of education in Northern Nigeria that for many years the people showed no enthusiasm for the western form of education: Many of the emirs neither encouraged nor supported the development and spread of western education in their respective emirates probably out of the fear that "a new educated elite outside the malam class would challenge their political and religious authority." (56) Many of the emirs thus dismissed western education as unnecessary and dangerous; consequently, many of them and their Muslim subjects refused to send their children to mission schools where they thought they could be converted to Christianity since each emir was "the defensor fide in his emirate ... he could not willingly welcome the missionaries [so as not to] ... sponsor Christian proselytization unless he could plead a force majeure." (57) In other words, the emirs were under a religious obligation not to tolerate the establishment or encourage the expansion and growth of mission schools. This obviously informed the submission that ..." in those great Emirates ... both religion and custom are an obstacle [sic] to rapid education." (58)

The above created a serious educational imbalance between the North and South of Nigeria. Sir Ahmadu Bello himself confirmed that Southern Nigeria had about seventy years of educational advancement over the North. (59) A brief highlight of the "unwholesome effect of Lugard's administration in Nigeria" is in order at this juncture. As reported by Lugard himself, there were between 40,000 and 50,000 primary school pupils in Southern Nigeria by 1913; whereas it was not until 1900 that "Mr. Hans Vischer was able to form a small class of pupils in Kano whose ages varied from 6 to 60.... Towards the end of 1913, I was able to create two new schools at Sokoto and Katsina so that when amalgamation took place, there were, in all, three Government Schools with an average of 354 pupils." (60)

Furthermore, in 1937, there was only one Northerner at the Yaba Higher College; in 1947, only 251 Northern students were attending secondary school representing 2.5 per cent of the total for the whole country even though Northern Nigeria constituted about 54 per cent of the country's total population. (61) In 1957, while there were well over 2.3 million primary school pupils and about 176 secondary schools in the South, the figures for the North were 18,484 and 18 respectively. (62) As late as 1951, the 16 million people in Northern Nigeria could point to only one of their number who had obtained a full university degree--A.R.B. Dikko, a Zaria Fulani convert to Christianity educated in England by Walter Miller. (63) Moreover, the first northerner to earn a Ph.D degree did so in 1962. (64) On the eve of independence, despite the NPC's control of many federal ministries at the top, only 1 per cent of federal civil servants were Northerners and of these, the majority were in lower cadres. (65) In March 1961, of the 40,000 employees of the federal civil service, only 400 were Northerners and of these, fewer than thirty were in senior posts while the Department of Customs and Excise, which generated about 75 per cent of the total revenue for the Federation, had only two Northerners in its service. (66)

The above contrasted very sharply with the situation in Southern Nigeria where, in 1884, Obadia Johnson (a Yoruba), qualified as doctor of medicine. In 1898, John Randle also qualified as a medical doctor while Sapara Williams and Herbert Macaulay qualified as a lawyer and engineer in 1888 and 1893 respectively. The first Igbo medical doctor and lawyer qualified in 1935 and 1937 respectively while Abdul-Razak, the first Northerner to qualify as lawyer came on board in 1955. (67) Thus, as Tibenderana has pointed out "that northern Nigeria lags behind southern Nigeria in Western educational development ... is a truism which requires no qualification." (68) However, from about 1955, the Northern situation improved appreciably. (69) For example, the numbers of trained teachers in the region in 1955 and 1960 were 588 and 1,100 respectively. Also, the number of students of northern origin attending the University College, Ibadan, had reached 48 (out of a total of 930 students) as against only five in 1952/53. (70) Indeed, following the launch of the Universal Primary Education Programme by the Sardauna in February 1960, pupils enrolment increased from 1,760 to 3,600 1960. (71)

Since western education has always been a visa into occupational roles in the civil service, inequality in its possession by members of the various ethnic groups in a given nation could have far-reaching implications. It was this "tyranny of skills" (72) that Alhaji Ahmadu Bello was referring to when, in his counter-motion to Chief Enahoro's self-government motion, he said "with things in their present state in Nigeria, the Northern Region does not intend to accept the invitation to commit suicide." (73) Indeed, the Sardauna hit the nail squally on the head when he said,
   As things were at that time, if the gates to the departments were
   to be opened, the southern Regions had a huge pool from which they
   could find suitable people, while we had hardly anyone. In the
   resulting scramble it would, we were convinced, be inevitable that
   the Southern applicants would get almost all the posts available.
   Once you get a Government post you are hard indeed to shift and,
   providing there is no misconduct, the line of promotion to higher
   posts must, so far as possible, follow seniority. The answer was
   clearly that in these circumstances the
   Northerner's chance of getting anywhere in the Government
   service would be exactly nil. (74)


In his contribution to the debate on the self-government motion, Yahaya Gasau, one of the Northern members of the Federal Legislature, asked rhetorically "Is it not madness for the North to ask for self-government at a time when the majority of the Junior Service in the North are filled entirely by non-Northerners?" (75) From the above, it is clear that the North lagged behind the South politically, educationally and indeed in every province of development including that of the press. For instance, virtually all the fifty-one newspapers published in Nigeria between 1880 and 1937 were based in the South. (76) In fact, while at the 1957 London Constitutional Conference, Sir Ahmadu Bello addressed a group of Northern students studying in the United Kingdom. Among other things, he said ..." we are now paying the penalty for the reluctance of our forebears to accept modern [western] education methods. But it has been a good lesson for us ..." (77) This imbalance has persisted because only recently, a World Bank report indicated that "Northern Nigeria remains and represents the only place in the world that has the highest number of children that are not going to school." (78)

The above imbalance always made the South dismiss the North as backward while the North often dismissed the South as being "too exuberant, vociferous, volatile and ill-mannered." (79) Given the above political and educational imbalance, it should not be surprising that the Northern members of the Federal Parliament feared that should Nigeria become independent in 1956, the Northerners would be drawers of water and hewers of wood. Consequently, Sir Ahmadu Bello described the attainment of independence in 1956 as "invitation to commit suicide;" (80) Sani Dangyadi dismissed it as "unplanned responsibility" (81) while Alhaji Tafawa Balewa saw it as a "too early [and] mad demand." (82) The Northern Region thus opposed and killed the self-government motion by their overwhelming majority in the Federal House of Representatives. (83)

From the above analysis, it is fairly clear that Nigerian colonial constitutions and policies contributed immensely to the nurturing of ethnicity in Nigeria. Thus, Onunaiju contended that
   ... Nigeria is more of a well calculated art of British imperial
   perfidy than an innocent error in political engineering. The
   British segregated administrative structure of colonial Nigeria was
   not necessarily an expression of respect for the various indigenous
   people and their cultures, but rather, a well orchestrated
   political design to divide and rule, aimed at destroying any unity
   of purpose that would have followed from colonial oppression and
   dispossession. (84)


Having attempted a fairly detailed analysis of the thrust of the British colonial policies in Nigeria and the resultant political fragmentation of the country, we can now go on to discuss the circumstances that compelled and the politics that underlined the formation of Nigeria's first alliance government.

III. Background to the 1954 Federal Election

The MacPherson Constitution was expected to be operated for five years. However, it broke down over the crisis precipitated by the self-government motion moved by Chief Anthony Enahoro on 31 March 1953 on the floor of the newly-constituted Federal House of Representatives. The motion was opposed and killed by the northern members of the federal parliament who were subsequently booed by Lagosians. The Action Group then embarked on what it described as the "educational tour of the north" to "educate" northerners on why Nigeria should become self-governing in 1956. In a speech to Kano Native Authority workers, the Information Officer, Inuwa Wada, said "having abused us in the south, these very southerners have decided to come over to the north to abuse us, but we have determined to retaliate the treatment given us in the south." (85)

The arrival of the Chief Ladoke Akintola-led delegation in Kano led to a series of riots which lasted three days resulting in the death of about fifty people with about two hundred others wounded while property estimated at about 10,400 pounds was destroyed. This incident worsened the not-too-smooth North-South relation. It also made the smooth running of the McPherson Constitution impossible. Consequently, the Colonial Secretary, Oliver Lyttleton, informed the British House of Commons on 20 May 1953 that "recent events in Nigeria had shown that it was impossible for the three regions of Nigeria to work effectively in a federation so closely knit as the existing one." (86) This marked the end of the so-called "homemade constitution" and the introduction of the Lyttleton Constitution. The latter, with a federal structure, became operational on I October 1954. Thus, the Federation of Nigeria was officially inaugurated on that date. (87)

The 1954 election was the first federal election in Nigeria. The three major political parties--the Northern People's Congress (NPC), the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (later the National Council of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC) and the Achon Group (AG) with their allies--competed for parliamentary seats. The campaign that preceded the election was rigorous. According to Ademoyega, "throughout the country, the campaign was heated ... short [and] vigorous ... Party slogans, badges, songs and speed--in the form of party cars--set the country astir. Microphones and megaphones boomed. It was hard-fought, thrilling...." (88) At the conclusion of the election, the NPC won a total of 84 seats (79 from the Northern Region plus 5 won by its allies); the NCNC got 61 seats (23 in the West, 32 in the East, 1 from Lagos while its ally in Southern Camoroons, the National Congress, won 5 seats) while the AG obtained 24 seats (18 in the West, 3 in the East, 2 in the North and 1 in Lagos). (89) The above result shows that the major surprise came from the Western Region where the NCNC won more seats than the AG. The question then is: what factors were responsible for the defeat of the Action Group by the NCNC in Western Nigeria in 1954?

IV. Why the Action Group lost the Election in its Base

The NCNC was no doubt the leading political party in each of the urban cities, provincial and district headquarters in Western Nigeria before 1951. Thus, the newly formed AG was no match for the relatively older and popular NCNC in the 1954 election but as Williams has pointed out "... the table slowly began to turn ... as Awolowo's outstanding organisational ability and power of grassroots mobilization began to yield practical fruits, the Yoruba began to buy into the "Life More Abundant" mantra of a native son...." (90)

The AG claimed that it lost the 1954 election because of what Ige describes as NCNC's "vicious campaign against the Action Group." In 1953, the AG faced acute financial problems. A rescue fund-launch of C 150,000 was organized, but the exercise was a colossal failure. To make up the cost, the AG Government in Western Nigeria increased capitation tax from fifteen to thirty shillings, an increase of 100 per cent. This was so unprecedented and astronomical that it was paid in three equal instalments. The implication was that the people of Western Nigeria, the electorates in the 1954 election, paid tax every four months. (91) Ironically, while the masses were groaning under the AG government's tax burden, leading AG leaders and traditional rulers lived in opulence and splendour. Thus, the AG's slogan of "Life More Abundant" was seen as having practical and positive reality for the politicians and traditional rulers while impoverishing the poor peasants. This alienated the electorates. Thus, at the time of the 1954 federal elections, anti-tax feelings ran high in several parts of Western Nigeria. (92)

It must be emphasized however that the AG-controlled Western Regional Government did not increase taxes merely for the sake of it. The AG government said it wanted to introduce free and compulsory education for all school age children as well as free medical treatment for all children under the age of eighteen in Western Nigeria. (93) In one of the interview sessions this author had with Samuel Aluko, the latter argued that although the health and educational programmes were free to the recipients, they were not free to the economy. Consequently, to foot the bill of the programmes, the AG introduced a "capitation tax" of 10/6 (ten shillings and six pence). Adegoke Adelabu of the NCNC-Mabolaje Alliance then went to town and began what Ige calls "the most virulent and mischievous campaign" against the AG. (94) Adelabu's campaign went thus:
   The Action Group wants to deprive you parents of the services of
   your children in the farms and in the homes. You fathers, when all
   your children go to school, who will help you make your farm heaps
   or harvest crops for you? You mothers, when all your children go to
   school, who will help you in hawking your petty wares? ... The
   Action Group wants to kidnap your children. They say whether you
   like it or not, your children must go to school. They say they will
   force your children to go to school even if the children say they
   want to help you at home. They say that you will no longer have
   control over your children; they will teach the children to
   disrespect you ... And, our dear people, any father or mother who
   keeps even only one child at home out of as many as he has will be
   sent to jail ... Do you not see that the Action Group is evil? ...
   But that is not all; they want to impose on you the payment of a
   tax which nobody has paid in Nigeria, and which nobody is paying.
   They want you to pay 10/6d a head ... Where can any farmer or poor
   man find 10/6d. How much tax do you pay now? ... The Action Group
   people say that anybody who does not pay this tax--whether man or
   woman--will be sent to jail for a year! (95)


Adelabu's message was timely and popular. The result was a devastating defeat for the AG in the 1954 federal election.

Religious factors also contributed to the defeat of the AG in the election. The party was viewed by many Muslims as a Christian party, championing the cause of Christianity at the expense of Islam. Many Muslims saw the AG as an upshot of the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) which was western in orientation and Christian in outlook. The most cursory glance at the initial membership and executive members of the AG appears to confirm and reinforce the Muslims' fears and allegations. As Sklar has convincingly demonstrated, there were only two Muslims in a list Of sixty-one inaugural and executive members of the AG between March 1950 and December 1953. As late as 1958, there were only three Muslims in the party's thirty-three-member Executive Council. Twelve years after its existence as a political party, there was only one Muslim minister out of the regional twelve ministers while there were only five Muslims out of seventy-five constituency leaders. (96) The Muslims also accused the AG government of excluding the Arabic language from the curricula of most elementary schools and claimed that very few scholarships were awarded to Muslim students. (97) Be that as it may, the AG lost the election. (98) At the conclusion of the election, the NPC and NCNC, with a total of 145 seats, formed a governing alliance and formed Nigeria's first federal government. Since history is a study of causes, a brief analysis of some of the factors that favoured the formation of the NPC-NCNC alliance rather than an alliance of the two main Southern parties is apposite. This becomes imperative in the light of the fact that the two southern parties, in the previous year (1953), came close to forming an alliance.

It would be recalled that AG and NCNC ministers had resigned from the Council of Ministers because of the opposition of Northern members of the Federal Parliament to the self-government motion while Chief Awolowo and Dr. Azikiwe, who witnessed the debate from the gallery, embraced and shook hands. (99) To further cement their fledging political rapport, two days after the motion referred to above was moved (2 April), Dr. Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo met in Lagos. This was the first time the two political rivals had met for discussions since early 1950, when they attended the meeting of the National Emergency Committee established after the shooting of coal miners at Enugu in late 1949. (100)

Nigerian political leaders had been unanimous in their condemnation of the above incident. It particularly helped to bridge, even if temporarily, the political gulf between Dr. Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo as the duo featured prominently in the meetings of the National Emergency Committee established after the shooting incident. Thus, at the first meeting between them in Lagos after the meetings of the National Emergency Committee, Dr. Azikiwe and Chief Awolowo made plans for future collaboration in the Federal Parliament. Indeed, they insisted that the self-government motion should be re-listed and that Parliament be summoned to debate it as soon as possible. (101) Three paragraphs of the twenty-paragraph agreement are worth quoting here particularly in view of the fact that the NCNC and the AG could not form an alliance at the conclusion of the 1954 federal elections.

Paragraph 10:

If the demand for a bicameral legislature at the Centre should fail, it is agreed that the Alliance (i.e. Action Group and N.C.N.C.) should insist on representation at the Centre Legislature based on the ratio of North 40; East 30; and West 30. (102)

Paragraph 11:

It is agreed that if the North should oppose the ratio and insist on 50 per cent representation, it would constitute an unmistakable intention of the North to dominate the South, and it must therefore be resisted WITHOUT COMPROMISE. (103)

Paragraph 17:

On the question of the position of Lagos as part of the Western Region, the Alliance agrees to press that the matter be not discussed as part of the present revision, but should be deferred for consideration when the instrument for a self-governing Nigeria is to be drafted. (104)

Probably to demonstrate the importance the parties attached to the agreement and their resolve to ensure its execution, AG and NCNC leaders went back to their respective regions to mobilise public opinion. For example, addressing a rally in Port Harcourt on 28 April 1953, Dr. Azikiwe warned that "We wish to make a solemn warning that if the British officials continue supporting the minority to flout the will of the majority, we shall not be blamed if we consider the advisability of carrying out the measures undertaken by those who organised civil disobedience and passive resistance in order to make the minority respect the wishes of the majority." (105) Dr. Azikiwe was however not known for organizing "civil disobedience and passive resistance." It would be re-called that in the Presidential Address he delivered on his election as the NCNC president, Dr. Azikiwe said, inter alia
   I want you [members and leaders of the NCNC] to make it plain to me
   that you are ready for the type of militant leadership I
   envisaged--a leadership that will not accept the crumbs of
   nationalism in order to compromise issues ... today, I might be
   with you, but that is no guarantee that I would not be prepared to
   suffer heavy blows from the enemy; you must be prepared to make
   sacrifices in order to guarantee for Nigeria a nobler heritage ...
   as from today, under my leadership, you must be prepared for the
   worst. (106)


The above was a mere a pen and paper battle. Dr. Azikiwe never gave the NCNC or the nation at large an iota of militant leadership throughout his stay on the Nigerian political scene. Indeed, he was not only always reluctant to identify with the Zikists--a Movement named after him which could have forced him to tilt towards militant leadership--he poured unrestrained invectives on the Movement in several public fora. Having probably come to the conclusion that their political hero was a coward, the Zikists did not inform him of the 1948 revolution programme because they were sure he would oppose it.

On 27 October of that year, Osita Agwuna, the Deputy President of the Zikist Movement delivered an address admonishing the nationalists to endure torture, even death, for the sake of freedom. He advocated progressive revolution beginning with civil disobedience without violence. The Movement proclaimed the NCNC as the new People's Provisional Government and demanded that taxes be paid to it. (107) Agwuna was subsequently arrested for sedition but the NCNC Executive Council .resolved to stand by the Zikists and approved a mass meeting on November 7. (108) However, all members of the NCNC, save three Zikists, stayed away from the mass meeting. At the meeting, Malam Habib Abdullah, president of the Zikist Movement, declared himself a free citizen of Nigeria with no allegiance to any foreign government and bound by no law other than Nigerian native laws and the law of nations. He also reiterated Agwuna's position that "pay no more tax to this [British] Government because if you do, they use that money to perpetuate their domination over you." (109) Demonstrating the sharp contrast between the Zikists and Dr. Azikiwe at the mass meeting, Abdullah declared:
   We have passed the age of petition. We have passed the age of
   resolution. This is the age of action--plain, blunt and positive
   action ... This ubiquitous British Government is determined to keep
   us slaves forever and the only way out, as I see it and as I know
   it, is for every one of us to declare himself free and independent
   and be resolved to stand by that declaration and damn the
   consequences ... I hate the Crown of Britain with all my heart
   because ... it is a symbol of oppression, a symbol of persecution,
   and, in short, a material manifestation of iniquity ... I hate the
   Union Jack because, save in Britain, far from uniting, it creates a
   division. It feeds and flourishes on confusion and dissension. We
   must therefore have no place for it in our hearts--this ugly
   representation of that satanic institution--colonialism. (110)


Dr. Azikiwe disassociated himself from the Zikists and dismissed their conduct as irresponsible. While The West African Pilot defended the right of the Movement to pursue its own policy, it criticized that policy very bitterly.'" In turn, the Zikist-controlled African Echo attacked Azikiwe for disappointing the Movement. (112) Indeed, at the Second Annual Convention of the NCNC in April 1949, Dr. Azikiwe made several critical remarks on the conduct of the Movement. Dr. Azikiwe may have been a persuasive speaker and teacher, an accomplished journalist and effective propagandist, an able formulator of policies, an astute political tactician, a rugged antagonist, an inspiring personality and an erudite orator; he disappointed several of his political followers who expected him to match his paper and pen battle with the Zikists' brand of "positive action."

Be that as it may, the self-government motion referred to above at least forced Dr. Azikiwe to assume a vein of radical posture even if only in his 28 April 1953 Port Harcourt speech partly quoted above. Chief Awolowo also addressed a "Freedom Rally" in Lagos under the auspices of the Action Group Youths' Association on 15 April 1953 where AG leaders declared their "... irrevocable stand that Nigeria be free from foreign rule and political bondage in 1956." (113) Indeed, to underline the seemingly deep political rapport between the AG and the NCNC, the duo rejected the invitation to attend the 1953 constitutional conference in London. In separate but identical letters to the Governor, the parties said that it was a "sheer waste of our time to go to London on such a futile mission as a mere exchange of views on the method by which the work of the revision of the constitution could be undertaken." (114)

From the above, it is immediately clear that following the 1953 self-government motion, a transient alliance brought the AG and NCNC together. Indeed, in the address he presented at a Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) rally in Kano on 12 April 1953, the Secretary General of NEPU, Bello Ijumu, expressed strong optimism that "... the unity now achieved by the leaders of the South will continue and that there will be no dissension as was the case with the National Emergency Committee in 1949." (115) Contrary to Ijumu's expectation however, the friendship and unity was not to continue. Given their political rapport following the self-government motion; the signing of the agreement quoted above and the optimism expressed by Ijumu, what then prevented the NCNC and AG from forming an alliance at the end of the 1954 federal election?

V. Why the NCNC and the AG could not form an alliance

The inability of the two southern parties to team up in 1954 was one of the outcomes of long-standing Yoruba-Igbo hostilities. This therefore implies that an examination of Yoruba-Igbo relationship long before 1954 is indispensable to any meaningful discussion of why it was impossible for the NCNC and the AG to form an alliance in 1954. One of the reasons for the not-too-warm relationship between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Azikiwe was the Ikoli-Akinsanya crisis which had occurred in the Nigerian Youth Movement in February 1941. (116) The immediate cause of the crisis was the scramble by the Movement's leading chieftains for nomination to contest a legislative seat vacated by one of its members, Dr. Kofo Abayomi, who left for further studies in Britain. Two candidates struggled for the party's nomination: its President, Ernest Sissei Ikoli (an Ijaw) and the Vice President, Samuel Akinsanya (an Ijebu). The Movement was thereupon split into two factions --while Chief Awolowo supported Ikoli, Dr. Azikiwe backed Akinsanya. Although, Akinsanya eventually won the party's primary, the Movement decided to give the ticket to Ernest Ikoli. This angered Samuel Akinsanya who went ahead and contested as independent candidate and lost to Ikoli. This incident created much bad blood between Chief Awolowo and Dr. Azikiwe.

One of the striking features of Nigerian politics between July and September 1948 was Igbo-Yoruba hostility. At the height of the tension, radicals on both sides descended upon Lagos markets and bought up all available machetes. At a well-attended meeting in Lagos, the Igbos declared that any attacks on the person of Dr. Azikiwe would be interpreted as attacks on the Igbo nation because "if a hen [Azikiwe] were killed, the chickens [Igbos] would be exposed to danger." (117) Indeed, Dr. Azikiwe virtually declared war on the Yoruba nation when he declared,
   ... the time has come for real action ... Henceforth, the cry must
   be one of battle against Egbe Omo Oduduwa, its leaders at home
   and abroad, uphill and down dale in the streets of Nigeria and
   in the residences of its advocates ... It is the enemy of Nigeria;
   it must be crushed to the earth ... There is no going back, until
   the Fascist Organization of Sir Adeyemo has been dismembered."


The 1951-52 political manoeuvrings which prevented Dr. Azikiwe from becoming the Leader of Government Business in the Western House of Assembly as well as from being elected to the Federal Legislature from the Western House of Assembly was another reason for Dr. Azikiwe's un-wiliness to collaborate with the Action Group. The first general elections under the McPherson Constitution were held in the Western Region between August and September 1951. Being a far older party

116 The Lagos Youth Movement was formed in 1934 by Ernest Ikoli, H.O. Davies, J.C. Vaughan and Samuel Akinsanya. In 1936, the name of the Movement was changed to Nigerian Youth Movement obviously to make it a national movement. Dr. Azikiwe joined the Movement in 1938. See Oyeleye Oyediran, Nigerian Constitutional Development (Lagos, 2007), p. 9. than the AG, Dr. Azikiwe predicted that "of the eighty people to go to the House of Assembly, not less than fifty candidates of the NCNC would be successful in the final election." (119)

The result of the elections sparked off an unprecedented row between the AG and the NCNC. As election unofficial results were announced, there were claims and counter-claims as to which of the parties won the largest number of parliamentary seats. While the Daily Service announced that the AG won 41 seats, NCNC 13, Independents 12 and Ibadan Peoples Party 6; the results published by the West African Pilot reads: NCNC 32, AG 27, Independents 8 with 5 results being awaited. (120) This was followed by a great deal of confusion as to which party had won the largest number of parliamentary seats in the election. This was the position until 7 January 1952 when the newly constituted House first met.

Before the House met however, with the support of traditional rulers and the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, the AG did some behind-the-screen manoeuvrings by "working" on many independent candidates, the six members who won their election on the platform of the Ibadan People's Party and those who were probably not fully decided on which side of the House to belong. On 6 December 1951, the AG published a copy of a pledge of loyalty and party membership signed by many of the newly elected members of the House. Now confident of an overwhelming majority, before the meeting of the House of Assembly, the AG indicated that it was going to insist that sitting arrangement in the House be on party basis so as to show which party actually had the majority. (121) Thus, when the House met on 7 January 1952, members of the AG wore party badges and sat together as members of the majority party in the House. Consequently, Chief Awolowo emerged as the Leader of Government Business in the Western Region. Chief Awolowo was severally criticised for "buying over" a number of "NCNC candidates" who were successful in the election. The NCNC probably depended on a pledge of cooperation which was said to have been signed by some members of the Ibadan People's Party with it. (122) Only Adegoke Adelabu was said to have stood by the pledge which the other members of the IPP claimed they never signed. (123)

Chief M.A. Akinloye gave insight into what may have happened between the IPP and the NCNC. According to him, when the NCNC sought what could be described as a cooperative arrangement with the Ibadan People's Party, the latter felt reluctant to make an Easterner (Dr. Azikiwe) the leader of Government Business/Premier in Western Nigeria. According to Akinloye, the IPP said it would only support the NCNC if it got one of its Yoruba stalwarts like Chief T.O.S. Benson to lead the party in Western Nigeria but that the NCNC insisted on having Dr. Azikiwe. Therefore, the IPP supported the AG. (124) In addition, available evidence indicates that a vocal faction in the Executive Committee of the AG favoured and actually canvassed "buying over" some of the successful NCNC candidates but Chief Awolowo was said to have adamantly opposed the idea. His position was that "when you have done your best and things go against you, then your belief in God counts." (125) Adelabu however insisted,
   As the opening of the new legislature drew near, speculations were
   rife and excitement ran high. When the Tribune's signatures were
   published, we had life-long NCNCers among the thirty-eight that
   signed as AG candidates. As such, we could safely count on
   forty-five men of our faith ... in a House of eighty if principle
   had won the battle over interest. Every new corner (to the AG fold)
   was promised either Ministry (appointment as Minister) or central
   representation besides other forms of more immediate and alluring
   inducements. We (NCNCers) were daily progressively reduced to 42,
   35, 30, 25. (126)


On the other hand, Chief Awolowo made the following declaration on 2 June 1956:
   The Action Group came out of the 1951 election with 44 elected
   members. On the eve of the 1951 election, we published a list
   of our candidates. The NCNC refused to publish a list of theirs;
   but as soon as the results were declared, the NCNC professed to
   claim most of our members as theirs and to claim a majority. To
   counter this we procured the signatures of our 44 members on a
   declaration form and published them in photostate [sic] forms.
   The NCNC described the signatures as forgeries. (127)


Following the victory of his party in the 1956 regional election, Chief Awolowo declared that "we have never induced and will never induce any member of the NCNC to cross to our side. It is grossly immoral to do so." (128)

Since representation in the House of Representatives was based on the Electoral College system, the political party in power in each of the regions elected its own representatives from its base. This implied that only members of the majority party could be elected into the House of Representatives. However, the NCNC, the minority party in the Western House of Assembly, won all the five Lagos seats. This implied that the AG-dominated House must elect two NCNC members to represent Lagos in the Federal Parliament. Three candidates--Dr. Azikiwe, Adeleke Adedoyin and Dr. Olorun-Nimbe--scrambled for the two Lagos seats. Although, Olorun-Nimbe was not nominated by the NCNC Executive Committee, he insisted on representing his party in Lagos. To make matters worse, both Olorun-Nimbe and Adedoyin bluntly refused to step down for Dr. Azikiwe, their party's National President. (129) Since the NCNC could not get either of the other two Lagos members to step down for Dr. Azikiwe, the party had no option but to send the names of all the five Lagos members to the Western House of Assembly. As should be expected, when the votes were taken, Dr. Olorun-Nimbe and Adedoyin were elected and neither of them declined in favour of their leader. Thus,
   Azikiwe's ambition and political strategy of becoming the
   Leader of Government Business and Deputy Chairman of the
   Western Regional Executive Council, also as a member of the
   House of Representatives representing Lagos and a spokesman
   for, and leader of the NCNC party in the House of Representative
   [sic], which was hoped would be the national theatre for agitation
   for Nigerian independence was heavily thwarted. (130)


Many scholars have attributed the episode described above to ethnicity. Delivering his presidential address to the Annual Congress of the Historical Society of Nigeria at Nsukka on 1 May 1985, Obaro Ikime said, inter alia: "An Igbo man (Zik) resident in Lagos contested elections there and swept the polls, Ethnic chauvinism prevented him [from] being elected from the Western House of Assembly to the Federal House of Representatives." (131) Also, K.O. Mbadiwe wrote:
   Dr. Azikiwe and his party won the majority of seats in the Western
   House of Assembly. He was to be elected the leader of Government
   Business when overnight the A.G. introduced the
   notorious carpet-crossing. By this manipulation, members who
   won under the NCNC crossed over to the A.G. building it to become
   the majority party in the West. As a result of this, Chief
   Awolowo was elected leader of Government Business and Dr.
   Azikiwe had to resign. (132)


Indeed, Achebe accused Chief Awolowo of "stealing" the government of Western Nigeria from Dr. Azikiwe in 1951. (133) At this juncture, it should be pointed out that the NCNC was the architect of Dr. Azikiwe's misfortune in the episodes described above. First, while the Action Group published a complete list of all its candidates on the eve of the election, the NCNC did not, thereby giving room for speculation and confusion about the authenticity of several NCNC "candidates." It is very doubtful if the NCNC knew the exact number of candidates it was fielding on the eve of the election.

Indeed, the situation was so chaotic that it was suggested that the disputed candidates should publicly declare their party allegiance through press statements. (134) A careful and objective analysis of these episodes would reveal that party indiscipline, rather than ethnicity, prevented Dr. Azikiwe from being elected from the Western House of Assembly to the Federal Parliament in 1952. Had the NCNC put its house in order and forwarded only two names to the AG-dominated Western House of Assembly, the latter would have had no choice other than to send them to the House of Representatives. But, because of indiscipline, which was the hallmark of the NCNC, it played into the hands of the A.G. Dr. Azikiwe himself realised this, hence in his Presidential address to the third Convention of the party in Kano in September 1951, he admitted that his party had been crippled by, among other things, inertia, internal factions, leadership tussles and the "problem of putting our house in order." (135) Indeed, Azikiwe declared categorically that "it is a tragedy when you are made a prisoner by those that should defend you. The AG was not responsible for the tragedy." (136) It can therefore be argued that it was the NCNC itself that produced Dr. Azikiwe's political coffin in the 1952 episode and the AG was only very happy to drive the final nails into it. Although, as an individual, Dr. Azikiwe may not have held the above episode against the AG; a great number of NCNC members and leaders probably did.

The NPC-NCNC alliance lasted four years. In 1957, the Prime Minister, Alhaji Balewa, appealed to the AG to join the NPC-NCNC alliance to form a National Government. The Prime Minister urged the AG to "come into the Council and share with us in carrying the burden of piloting Nigeria to independence." (137) Alhaji Balewa said "I have given this matter of National Government very careful thought and I now feel confident that if Nigeria is to achieve independence on April 2 1960, it is essential that the three major political parties should work together in close co-operation on matters of policy and planning." (138)

It should be stressed that Alhaji Balewa's invitation to the AG was born out of political expediency rather than political affection; although Gambari has argued that throughout the time he was Prime Minister, Balewa preferred an all-party coalition government because he (Balewa) felt that Nigeria was not "ripe for a system of government in which there is a fully-fledged [sic] Opposition." (139) Indeed, after the 1959 federal elections (before the number of parliamentary seats won by each party was known), Alhaji Balewa told Chief Ayo Rosiji of the AG that "whatever the results of the election may be, I'd like us to continue the national government." (140)

According to Ibrahim Gambari, coalition politics was Balewa's answer to problems of workable Nigerian democracy. Balewa was also probably impressed and influenced by the unanimity of the Ghanaian Parliament on Ghana's self-government motion. It would be recalled that Ghana's independence motion was moved by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on 11 July 1951 and carried unanimously in the National Assembly. (141) Apparently, Chief Awolowo did not favour the idea of his party joining in the formation of a National Government as "it was capable of spelling the doom of the opposition and of parliamentary democracy." (142) Indeed, when Alhaji Balewa informed Chief Ayo Rosiji that he (Balewa) would want the national government to continue the outcome of the 1959 federal elections notwithstanding, Chief Awolowo was reported to have said "it's up to you [Shonibare, Lanlehin, Gbadamosi and other AG leaders who were present at Chief Awolowo's Ikenne residence when the possibility of forming an all-party national government was discussed] but if you decide to form a national government, count me out." (143) Indeed, according to Chief Akintola, one of the reasons why Chief Awolowo fell out with him was his (Akintola's) support for national government which Chief Awolowo opposed. (144)

However, in 1957, Chief Awolowo bowed to the majority opinion of his party's leaders and supporters who felt that Alhaji Balewa's invitation to the Action Group could not be lightly and decently turned down. (145) Consequently, the AG accepted the invitation and an all Party National Government was formed on 30 August 1957 with ministers from the NPC, NCNC, AG and the KNC (Kamerun National Congress). The Nigerian political elite knew that independence could only be hastened if members of the political elite were united in their demand for independence. Indeed, in a letter to Chief Rotimi Williams of the AG, Alhaji Balewa said,
   I expect that all of us are really serious about the independence
   of the Federation on the date we have fixed ... If so, I think all
   of us should regard the interim period as a time of national
   emergency--the time in which we can show the United Kingdom and
   the rest of the world that we are united together for our common
   good. (146)


The AG accepted the invitation for the same reason: the fear that unless the motion for the attainment of independence by Nigeria was moved, passed and unanimously supported by the country's three major political parties, the United Kingdom might postpone the grant of independence to Nigeria beyond 1960. Therefore, in order not to be seen as a clog in the wheel of Nigeria's progress to independence, Chief Awolowo accepted Balewa's invitation. (147) As independence drew near however, the National Government was dissolved. In a proclamation issued on 28 October 1959, the Governor-General announced the dissolution of the 184-member Federal House of Representatives with effect from 1 November, thus paving the way for the "independence election."

VI. Conclusion

In this article, an attempt has been made at analyzing the politics behind the formation of the NPC-NCNC alliance-government at the conclusion of the 1954 federal elections. Although, ideally, alliance-governments are supposed to be anchored in ideological compatibility, none of the alliance-governments ever formed in Nigeria was a product of ideological compatibility. They were formed, first and foremost, to enable the various ethnic groups and political parties to control the structural frame.

Since the acquisition of political power was generally seen as the best form of insurance against domination by other ethnic groups, the various political parties, many of which were associated with distinct ethnic groups, were ready to turn a blind eye on their ideologies (where they existed) and form alliances with other parties in so far as this made it possible for them to control the structural frame thereby placing them at the fountain of wealth. As Ess Momoh rightly observed, the various groups were "... aware that the higher the office captured by their sons, the bigger the national cake that they would consume ... the various tribes, in recognition of this fact, scout around for alliances ... with the purpose of capturing the state or federal centres." (148) This was the motivating factor for all the alliance-governments that were formed in Nigeria. The most important consequence of the 1954 NPC-NCNC alliance was probably the fact that it created a solid basis for the corridor of understanding and cooperation that existed between the two parties and their reincarnations down to the Second Republic.

(1) See International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Democracy in Nigeria: Continuing Dialogue(s) for Nation Building (Stockholm, Sweden, 2000), p. 90. Otite estimates that there are 389 ethnic groups in Nigeria. For the names of these ethnic groups and their states of domicile, see Onigu Otite, Ethnic Pluralism Ethnicity and Ethnic Conflicts in Nigeria (Ibadan, 1990), Appendix II 'Nigeria's 389 Ethnic Groups at a Glance," pp. 221-31. The "big three" are the Igbo, the Hausa-Fulani, and the Yoruba who, according to Coleman, are the three largest ethnic nationalities in Africa. Nigerian politics, since independence, has been conceived largely as a trade off within this trio. The other nationalities, whose contribution to the national economy, sports and provision of skilled manpower can in no way be dismissed as inconsequential or marginal, have tended to be treated as mere pawns in the game of national politics. Indeed, WAZOBIA as a concept ignores the importance of these other nationalities. [WA means "come" in Yoruba; ZO means "come" in Hausa; and BIA means "come" in Igbo: languagaes of the three main tribes in Nigeria.] Abdulrahim Sallau makes this point very clearly in an article entitled "1983 Election, the Minorities and a One Party State." He wrote "The history of the First Republic was dominated by the three big tribes operating in the defunct three regions. Such was the acrimonious battle for political supremacy between these three tribes that the minorities in their midst got caught helplessly in the struggle for survival," Nigerian Guardian, 9 (February 1983). Only recently, Mordecai Sunday, the National Publicity Officer of the Southern Kaduna People's Union said, among other things ..." the foundation of this country was laid on a faulty ground ... we have a tripod in Nigeria ... the Igbos, the Hausa and the Yorubas. These are the three major ethnic groups that control the affairs of this country ... They have refused to recognize that there are other ethnic groups ... who have equal stake holding in the project called Nigeria ..." Quoted from The Nation Newspaper (22 February 2009).

(2) William Tordoff, Government and Politics in Africa (Basingstoke, 1997), p. 2. Eckstein defines a plural or multi-ethnic society as "society divided by segmental cleavages." These segmental cleavages may be religious, ideological, linguistic, regional, cultural or ethnic in nature. Eckstein's "segmental cleavages" are what Geertz calls "primordial loyalties" which may be based on language, religion, custom, race or assumed blood ties. In his own contribution, Furnivall argues that in a plural society, "different sections of the community live side by side but separately within the same political unit." For these views, see Arend Lijphart, Democracy in Plural Societies (New Haven, 1977), pp. 1-20 and Harry Eckstein Division and Cohesion in Democracy: A Study of Norway (Princeton, 1966), p. 34. For another comprehensive and authoritative discussion of the nature, structure and features of plural societies, see Richard Joseph, Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria. The Rise and Fall of the Second Republic (Cambridge, 1991).

(3) Gambari makes this point very clearly when he writes "... the pluralist nature of Nigerian society militated against the development of any truly national party." Thus as Ikime puts it "Nigeria ... moved into independence with no national leaders, no national ideology, no concept of national goals." I.A.Gambari, Party Politics and Foreign Policy: Nigeria under the First Republic (Zaria, Nigeria, 1980), p.8; Obaro Ikime, History, the Historian and the Nation: the Voice of a Nigerian Historian, (London, 2006), p. 129.

(4) Kenneth W.J. Post and Michael Vickers, Structure and Conflict in Nigeria, 1960-1966 (London, 1973).

(5) Lester Seligman and Cary Covington, The Coalitional Presidency (Chicago, 1989), p.8.

(6) Quoted from Rex Akpofure and Michael Crowder, Nigeria: A Modern History for Schools (Lon don, 1966), p. 181.

(7) Ibid.

(8) See, among others, John Carland, The Colonial Office and Nigeria, 1898-1914 (New York, 1985); Richard Sklar, Nigerian Political Parties. Power in an Emergent African Nation (New York, 1963); F.A.O. Schwarz Jn., Nigeria: The Tribes, the Nation or the Race--The Politics of Independence (Boston, 1965); James Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (Los Angeles, 1971); D.K. Fieldhouse, The Colonial Empires: A Comparative Survey from the Eighteen Century. (New York, 1982; 2nd edn.); Obaro Ikime (ed.), Groundwork of Nigerian History (London, 1980); Obaro Ikime, The Niger Delta Rivalry--Itsekiri-Urhobo Relations and the European Presence, 1884-1936 (London, 1969); Obaro Ikime, The Fall of Nigeria: The British Conquest (London, 1977); Deji Ogunremi and Biodun Adediran (eds.), Culture and Society in Yorubaland (Ibadan, Nigeria, 1998); Rex Akpofure and Michael Crowder, Nigeria: A Modern History for Schools (London, 1966); Isola Olomola, "The Genesis of British Rule Among the Ekitiparapo, 1893-1912," Department of History Seminar Series, University of Ife; A.F.C. Ryder, Benin and the Europeans 1485-1897 (London, 1969); S.W. Nwabara, Iboland: A Century of Contact with Britain, 1860-1960 (London, 1977); M.E. Noah, "The Establishment of British Rule Among the Ibiobio, 1885-1910: Part One, The Military Approach," Nigeria Magazine, 148, (1984), pp. 38-51; Michael Crowder, West Africa under Colonial Rule (London, 1968) and A. Anjorin "The Background to Colonial Rule," in A. Fajana and A.O. Anjorin (eds.), From Colony to Sovereign State: An Introduction to the History of West Africa Since 1900 (Nashville, 1979), pp. 1-20. For a detailed analysis of the factors that made the imposition of British colonial rule on Nigeria possible, see Alkasum Abba, The Northern Elements Progressive Union and the Politics of Radical Nationalism in Nigeria, 1938-1960 (Zaria, Nigeria, 2004), pp. 10-14.

(9) Ahmadu Bello, Federal House of Representatives Debates, 31 March 1953.

(10) See Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Nigeria: Africa "s Failed Asset? (Salt Lake City, 2009), p. xvii.

(11) The British policy of amalgamation did not begin, but climaxed in 1914. The policy began in 1898. See T.N. Tamuno, "British Colonial Administration in Nigeria in the Twentieth Century" in Obaro Ikime (ed.), Groundwork of Nigerian History (London, 1980), pp. 393-94.

(12) J.I. Isawa, "Nation Building and Political Development in Nigeria. The Challenge of Unity in a Heterogeneous Society," in J.A. Atanda and A.Y. Aliyu (eds.), History Since Independence History Project (Lagos, 1983), p. 464. See also, Gambari, Party Politics, p.7, and G.J. Idang, Nigeria: Internal Politics and Foreign Policy, 1960-1966 (Ibadan, 1973), p. 37.

(13) Nwaokocha Odigwe Augustine "Federalism in Nigeria, 1960-1983: A Study in Political Expediency," M.A. Thesis in the Department of History, University of Ibadan, (1990), p. 24.

(14) Ibid.

(15) J.F. Ade-Ajayi, "First Foreword" to Sir Olaniwun Ajayi's Nigeria: Africa "s Failed Asset?, p. ix.

(16) H.I.Tijani describes the Colonial Office as "the official powerhouse for British colonial administration, in "A Reassessment of British Administrative Plans and Socio-Political Policies in Nigeria," Journal of History and Diplomatic Studies, 3 (2006), p. 33.

(17) Anthony Nwabugbuogu, "Unitarism Versus Federalism: A British Dilemma," in J.I. Elaigwu and G.N. Nzoigwe (eds.) Foundations of Nigerian Federalism, 1900-1960 (National Council on Intergovernmental Relations: Abuga, Nigeria, 1996), p. 43.

(18) Ibid., p. 45.

(19) Ibid., p. 44.

(20) The inaugural meeting of the NCBWA was held in Accra between 11 and 29 March 1920. All the four British African Colonies were represented--there were six delegates from Nigeria (Patriarch Campbell, Prince Ephrain Bassey Duke, P. Deniga, Chief Essien Offiong Essien, Adeniyi Olugbade and J.E. Shyngle); three delegates from Sierra Leone; one delegate from the Gambian; and forty-two delegates from the Gold Coast. See Alkasum Abba, The Northern Elements Progressive Union, p.22. Olufemi Omosini says that Ghana was represented by forty delegates. See his "Nationalist Movements in French and British West Africa, 1900-1939" in A. Fajana and A.O. Anjorin (eds.) From Colony to Sovereign State. An Introduction to the History of West Africa since 1900 (Nashville, 1979), p. 140.

(21) Fred Omu, "Ethnicity, Nationalism and Federalism," in Elaigwu and Nzoigwe (eds.), Foundations, p. 81. For another authoritative and in-depth analysis of the impact of the British colonial administration on Nigerian unity, see C.C. Jacobs, "British Colonial Administrative Policies with Reference to Wukari and their Effects on Tiv-Jukun Relations, 1900-1960," Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, Vol. 1 No. 1 (special edition), October (2004), pp. 88-98.

(22) Quoted from West Africa, 24 February 1923.

(23) Quoted from G.O. Olusanya, "Constitutional Developments in Nigeria, 1861-1960" in Obaro Ikime (ed.) Groundwork p. 521.

(24) Quoted from N. Nnoli, Ethnic Politics in Nigeria (Enugu, Nigeria, 1978), p. 11.

(25) Toyin Falola, Key Events in African History: A Reference Guide (Santa Barbara, California, 2002), p. 236.

(26) Quoted from West Africa, 10 February 1945.

(27) J.O. Atdntunde, "Nigerian National Character: A Political Science Perspective." Odu, A Journal of West African Studies, 9 (1974), p. 100.

(28) Quoted from L. Markovitz, "Africa's Dual Heritage: Imperialism and Pre-Colonial Greatness" in I.L. Markovitz (ed.), African Politics and Society: Basic Issues and Problems of Government and Development (New York, 1970), p. 2.

(29) Okon Edet Uya, African History: Some Problems of Methodology and Perspective (Calabar, Nigeria, 2004), p. 15.

(30) S.O. Arifalo, The Egbe Omo Oduduwa: A Study in Ethnic Nationalism (Akure, Nigeria, 2001), p. 81.

(31) M.J.C. Vile, Politics in the USA (New York, 1976), p. 1.

(32) Quoted from Bola Ige, People, Politics and Politicians of Nigeria (1940-1979) (London, 1995), p. 127.

(33) Nnoli, Ethnic Politics, p. 123.

(34) Nwabugbuogu, "Unitarism Versus Federalism," p. 50.

(35) Ahmadu Kurfi, The Nigerian General Elections, 1959 and 1979 and the Aftermath (London, 1983), p. 3.

(36) Quoted from Michael Crowder, The Story of Nigeria (London, 1973), p. 224.

(37) Ibid.

(38) G.O.I. Olomola, "West Africa and the First World War" in A. Fajana and A.O. Anjorin (eds.) From Colony to Sovereign State. An Introduction to the History of West Africa Since 1900 (Nashville, 1979), p. 62

(39) See Fred Omu, "Ethnicity," p. 172. Summing-up the positive impact of tribal unions on Nigeria's political, socio-economic and cultural reawakening, Akintunde wrote ..." I think it is correct to say that by and large ... they have been concerned with improving their areas, granting scholarships, building schools, hospitals, health centres, roads, markets and other self-help projects. They have been the instruments through which modernizing ideas have percolated into the fortresses of traditionalism in the hinterlands. They were a strong link between the new and old, rural and urban, the modernising and traditional elements in Nigerian society." Quoted from J.O. Akintunde, "Nigerian National Character: A Political Science Perspective," Odu: A Journal of West African Studies, 9 (1974), p. 101.

(40) Nigerian Daily Service, 17 October 1944.

(41) Quoted from Nigerian Daily Express, 13 April 1964. See also, 8 April 1964.

(42) Nnamdi Azikiwe, "Tribalism: A Pragmatic Instrument for Nation Building." Text of lecture delivered to the Students of University of Nigeria, Nsukka on 15 May 1964, p. 25. There are three copies of the lecture at Sopolu Library (Chief Obafemi Awolowo's residence), Ikenne, Ogun State, Nigeria. The full text of the lecture is also available in Sunday Times, 17 May 1964.

(43) J.O. Akintunde, "Nigerian National Character ...," p. 100.

(44) Quoted from O. Ohonbamu, The Psychology of the Nigerian Revolution (Ilfracombe, UK, 1969), p. 114.

(45) Olusanya, "Constitutional Developments," pp. 527-28.

(46) J. Isawa Elaigwu, "The Nigerian Federation: Its Foundation and Future Prospects," in Omafume F. Onoge (ed.), Nigeria: The Way Forward. Proceedings and Policy Recommendations of the First Obafemi Awolowo Foundation Dialogue (Ibadau, Nigeria, 1993), p. 29.

(47) Ibid., p. 530.

(48) Chief Anthony Enahoro was born into the family of Uromi in Ishan Division on 22 July 1923. His great grand-father was killed by the British, while his father spent over twenty years in exile. As a boy, he nursed great hatred for the British. He attended King's College where he became chairman of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Union of Students. In 1942, he joined the West African Pilot as a reporter and in 1944, he became the editor of the Southern Nigeria Defender at Warri. In December 1945, he was convicted by Sir Bernard Bourdillon for publishing an article that was considered seditious, and sentenced to nine months imprisonment. In 1947, he made a speech at Warri advising African policemen to disobey orders to shoot African strikers. Consequently, he was charged for sedition and convicted by an African judge and sentenced to three years imprisonment. This was later reduced to eighteen months by the West African Court of Appeal. He served twelve months during which he developed interests in gardening, stone-breaking, and reading. In 1948, he attended a Zikist meeting where O.C. Agwuna delivered his famous address 'A Call for Revolution." Although, he was himself not a Zikist, his participation in that meeting resulted in his being sent back to jail for six months. Anthony Enahoro was one of the eighteen AG leaders charged with treason in 1962. In September (1962), he escaped from detention and fled the country two months before he was due to appear in court and was later arrested by Sergeant George Bisley at No. 6, Style Hall Mansions, Wellesley Road, Chiswick, London for entering Britain "in an unorthodox way." He died on 15 December 2010. See Richard Sklar, Nigerian Political Parties, pp. 125-26; West Africa, 5 October 1963 and The Nation 16 December 2010.

(49) Alhaji Ahmadu Bello dismissed them as "bands of hooligans who were organised by unscrupulous politicians to abuse anyone seen to be wearing Northern dress who appeared to be a member Of the Federal House of RepresEntatives." Quoted from Nigerian Daily Times, 6 April 1953.

(50) B.J. Dudley, Parties and Politics in Northern Nigeria (London, 1968), pp. 24-25.

(51) G.O. Olusanya, "Constitutional Developments," p. 536. Michael Crowder, The Story of Nigeria, p. 234 estimates that thirty-six persons died and about two-hundred and seventy-seven were wounded while B.J. Dudley Parties and Politics, p. 25 puts the number of the dead at thirty-six and the number of the wounded at two-hundred and forty-one. The Daily Times put the number of the dead at 46. See "Death Roll Reaches 46," Daily Times, 20 May 1953. Indeed, Macpherson confirmed that "the causalities have been grievously heavy." Ibid., 21 May 1953.

(52) Obafemi Awolowo, Path to Nigerian Freedom (London, 1947), p. 52.

(53) Quoted from Olaniwun Ajayi, Nigeria, p. 20.

(54) A. Fajana, "Educational and Social Development" in A. Fajana and A.O. Anjorin (eds.), From Colony to Sovereign State, p. 102.

(55) Ibid, p. 103.

(56) P.K. Tibenderana, "The Emirs and the Spread of Western Education in Northern Nigeria, 1910-1946," Journal of African History (1983), p.517.

(57) Ibid.

(58) West African Review, January 1958, p. 167.

(59) See Ahmadu Bello, My Life. The Autobiography of Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto (Cambridge, 1962), pp. 110, 146.

(60) Quoted from Olaniwun Ajayi, Nigeria, p. 194.

(61) Ibid, p. 18.

(62) See O. Nnoli, Ethnic Politics, but particularly pp. 117-120.

(63) Richard SEar, Nigerian Political Parties, p. 90, fn. 10.

(64) Mallam Iya Abubakar was awarded a Ph.D degree in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics by the Cambridge University, England in March 1962. See Daily Times, 31 March 1962. For a detailed analysis of the emergence and development of western education in Northern Nigeria, see Mustaphar Mohammed Inuwa "The Development of Western Type Education in Northern Nigeria and the Northemisation Policy, 1951-1965," M.A. Thesis in the Department of History, University of Ibadan (1987), particularly pp. 4-33.

(65) See F.A.O. Schwarz Jn., Nigeria: The Tribes, p. 115.

(66) John Paden, Ahmadu Bello. Sardauna of Sokoto. Values and Leadership in Nigeria (Hudahuda Publishing Company: 1986), p. 420.

(67) Olaniwun Ajayi, Nigeria, p. 194.

(68) Peter K. Tibenderana, "The Emirs and the Spread of Western Education in Northern Nigeria, 1910-1946" Journal of African History, (1983), p. 517.

(69) One of the reasons for this was the Northernisation policy. For a detailed analysis of the introduction, implementation, and effects of the programme, see Olawale Albert, "Federalism, Inter-Ethnic Conflicts and the Northemisation Policy of the 1950s and 1960s" in Kunle Amuwo et. al. (eds.), Federalism and Political Restructuring in Nigeria (Ibadan, Nigeria, 1998), pp. 50-63.

(70) John Paden, Ahmadu Bello, p. 260.

(71) Ibid, p. 261.

(72) This phrase is that of J. Isawa Elaigwu. See his "The Nigerian Federation: Its Foundation and Future Prospects" in Omafume F. Onoge (ed.), Nigeria: The Way Forward, p. 33.

(73) My Life, p. 119.

(74) Ahmadu Bello, Ibid., pp. 110-11.

(75) Ibid., p.139.

(76) I.A. Omu, Press and Politics in Nigeria (London, 1978), p. 26. These comprised eleven dailies, thirty-three weeklies, three fortnightlies and four monthlies.

(77) Quoted from Nigerian Citizen, 1 June 1957.

(78) Shamsuddeen Usman, ex-president Yar'Adua's finance minister. See This Day Newspaper & Nigerian Tribune, 7 October 2008.

(79) F.A.O. Schwarz, Nigeria: The Tribes, p. 114. The British also shared this view. For example, as Premier of Western Region, any time Chief Awolowo went to see Sir John Rakings (the Governor), he would simply shake hands with him and sit down beside him; whereas any time Sir Ahmadu Bello went to see the Governor of Northern Nigeria, Sir Robert Peal, he would sit on the floor in front of the Governor. This often made the British dismiss Southerners as "aggressive, assertive and arrogant." Interview with Chief Wumi Adegbonmire, (75) No. 16, Wumi Adegbonmire Street, off Ala Estate, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria, 30 November 2010.

(80) Ahmadu Bello, My Life, p. 119.

(81) Ibid., p. 123.

(82) Trevor Clark, A Right Honourable Gentleman: The Life and Times of Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (Zaria, Nigeria, 1991), p. 109. See also Balewa's statement on this issue in the Federal House of Representatives Debates, vol. ii, 1957-58, cols. 728-41.

(83) It must be noted that some northerners supported the motion. For example, Mallam Mohammed Jaan, the President-General of the NEPU chided the NPC for opposing the motion and declared that "if self-government was explained to the youngest blindman in the North, he would demand it immediately." Daily Times, 16 May 1953.

(84) Charles Onunaiju "The British Truth," Nigerian Tribune, 15 April, 2002.

(85) B.J. Dudley, Parties and Politics, pp. 24-25.

(86) G.O. Olusanya, "Constitutional Developments in Nigeria" in O. lkime (ed.) Groundwork, p. 536.

(87) Wale Ademoyega, The Federation of Nigeria (London, 1964), p. 153.

(88) Ibid.

(89) Chuba Okadigbo, "Party Politics and Elections in Nigeria" in J.A. Atanda and A.Y. Aliyu (eds.) Political Development 1, p. 528. For a slightly different results of the elections, see Ahmadu Kurfi, "General Elections 2003: Whither Nigeria?" at htpp:/dawodu.com./kurfi. This site was assessed on 7th October 2010.

(90) Quoted from The Nation (Lagos) 13 April 2009.

(91) See P.C. Lloyd, "The Development of Political Parties in Western Nigeria" American Political Science Review (1955), pp. 694-95.

(92) Interview with Samuel Aluko, No. 5, Ijapo Estate, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria, 15/01/2010. Aluko is a renowned professor of economics, an active leader of the Action Group and a foundation member of the Unity Party of Nigeria.

(93) Free medical treatment for children under the age of eighteen began on 1 January 1955 while free (though not compulsory) education commenced on 16 January 1955 in the Western Region. See R.E. Crookall "Western Nigeria Makes Great Progress," West African Review (1958), p. 699.

(94) Popularly known as the "Lion of the West," Adegoke Adelabu was born on 3 September 1915 in Ibadan. He was converted to Christianity at an early age, baptized and christened Joseph, a name he later renounced when he became a Muslim. He performed the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1957. After his elementary school at Mapo Central School Ibadan, he entered Ibadan Government College in 193 Ion a government scholarship where he graduated with distinction in 1935. In the same year, he proceeded to the Yaba Higher College where he became the first Nigerian recipient of the United Africa Company's scholarship. In 1951, he joined the NCNC and became the party's Assistant Secretary in Western Nigeria. In 1952, he organised the lbadan Tax-Payers Association and the Maiyegun League of Ibadan Cocoa Farmers. Later, he became the NCNC Leader of Opposition in the Western House of Assembly and in 1954 he was elected to the Federal House of Representatives and was appointed Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services in the Balewa-led National Government. In 1957, he led Western Nigeria's NCNC delegation to the London Constitutional Conference. Adelabu used every available opportunity to exploit the Ijebu-Ibadan traditional antagonism to oppose and frustrate the Action Group. He died in a road accident on 23 March 1958. See Makers of Modern Africa. Profiles in History compiled by Raph Uwechue (London, 1991), pp. 24-25.

(95) Quoted from Bola Ige, People, Politics and Politicians of Nigeria (1940-1979) (London, 1995), p. 86.

(96) See Richard Sklar, Nigerian Political Parties. pp. 248-52.

(97) This was probably one of the reasons why Chief Awolowo, the presidential candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria in the 1979 general elections, promised that ..." Islamic studies would be given adequate and equal encouragement with western education." Daily Times, 22 June 1979.

(98) The Action Group lost all the federal elections it contested throughout the period covered by this study--1954, 1959 and 1964 (as a member of the United Progressive Grand Alliance, UPGA). Its reincarnation, the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, also lost the 1979 and 1983 general elections.

(99) See The Nigerian Daily Times, 1 April 1953.

(100) Space does not permit a discussion of the causes and consequences of this incident here. For a detailed analysis of the incident, see A. Akpala "The Background to the Colliery Shooting Incident of 1949," Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, III, 1965.

(101) This agreement was secretly signed by the leaders of the NCNC and AG. The document was however released to the press by the Action Group when it felt that the NCNC betrayed the terms of the agreement. See "Text of Broken Pact is Made Public," Daily Times, 25 November 1953.

(102) Daily Times, 25 November 1953.

(103) Ibid.

(104) Ibid.

(105) Quoted from Daily Times, 29 April 1953.

(106) Nnamdi Azikiwe, "Before Us Lies An Open Grave" West African Pilot, 8 and 13 May 1947.

(107) Osita C. Agwuna, "A Call for Revolution." For the full text of the address, see West African Pilot, 8 October 1948.

(108) West African Pilot, 6 November 1948.

(109) Ibid.

(110) Ibid., 10 February 1949.

(111) Ibid., 13 February 1949.

(112) See, for example, Ibid., 15, 17 and 18 February 1949 editions.

(113) Quoted from ibid., 17 April 1953.

(114) For the full text of the letter, see Daily Times, 15 June 1953.

(115) Quoted from ibid., 16 April 1953.

(117) West African Pilot, 30 August 1948.

(118) Quoted from ibid., 9 September 1948. Sir Adeyemo Alakija was the first President of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa (from 1948 to 1952).

(119) Daily Times, 20 September 1951.

(120) West Africa, 6 January 1951.

(121) See Ganiyu Dawodu, "Mbadiwe and 195 l Western Elections" The Guardian, 20 October 1989.

(122) For this view, see Afolayan Olukemi Kikelomo "The Western House of Assembly, 1952-1961: A Study in the Politics of Development." M.A. thesis, University of Ibadan, 1997, p. 37.

(123) Ibid.

(124) Daily Times, 5 October 1996.

(125) For this view, see ibid., 3 December 1954.

(126) Quoted from Afolayan Olukemi, Kikelomo, "The Western House of Assembly," p. 39.

(127) Quoted from Oyeleye Oyediran, Nigerian Constitutional Development, p. 30.

(128) Daily Times 3 June 1956.

(129) See Kalu Ezera, Constitutional Developments in Nigeria (Cambridge, 1964; 2nd edn), pp. 156-57.

(130) Quoted from Oyediran, Nigerian Constitutional Development, op. cit., p. 23.

(131) Obaro lkime "In Search of Nigerians: Changing Patterns of Inter-Group Relations in an Evolving Nation State," Presidential Address Delivered at the 30th Congress of the Historical Society of Nigeria at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on 1 May 1985, p.23.

(132) Quoted from K.O. Nbadiwe "Vision of the Third Republic," The Guardian, 21 September 1989.

(133) Chinua Achebe, The Trouble with Nigeria (Enugu, Nigeria, 1983), p. 58.

(134) Daily Service, 1 October 1951.

(135) West Africa, 15 September 1951.

(136) Nnamdi Azikiwe, "The Price of Liberty," West African Pilot, 4 January 1952. See also West Africa, 16 January 1952.

(137) Quoted from West Africa, 7 September 195 7.

(138) Ibid.

(139) Ibrahim Gambari, Party Politics, p. 23.

(140) Quoted from Ebenezer Babatope "Mbazulike Amechi's Political Slips on Awo," Nigerian Tribune, 12 March 2010.

(141) See Ronald Segal, African Profiles (Harlow, UK, 1962), p.222.

(142) For details, see Obafemi Awolowo, My March Through Prison (London, 1983), p. 117.

(143) Quoted from Ebenezer Babatope "Mbazulike Amechi's Political Slips on Awo II."

(144) Quoted from Nigerian Daily Expresss, 4 April 1964.

(145) Interview with Samuel Aluko. See ftn. 92. This view tallies with that of Gambari, Party Politics, p. 23.

(146) Quoted from Sam Epelle, The Promise of Nigeria (Harlow, UK, 1960), p. 120.

(147) Interview with S.O. Arifalo, c 78, No. 22 Ondo Road, Akure. Ondo State, Nigeria, 18 August 2009. Arifalo is a professor of cultural history and the author of Egbe Omo Oduduwa: A Study in Ethnic and Cultural Nationalism (Skure, Nigeria, 1977).

(148) Ess Momoh, "Wazobia and Nigeria's Junior Tribes: Sharing the National Cake" Sunday Times, 1 April 1982.

Emmanuel Oladipo Ojo is a Lecturer in the Department of History & International Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ado-Ekiti, P.M.B. 5363, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, NIGERIA. His research interests include Nigerian history and European history.
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