History of Political Crises in Nigeria

History of Political Crises in Nigeria is briefly explained in this article. Reading it will avail you with the necessary information.

History of Political Crises in Nigeria

History of Political Crises in Nigeria
History of Political Crises in Nigeria – Photo Source: https://www.brookings.edu

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The origin of this violence was essentially political. According to Remi Anifowose, it was the first outbreak of violence between the major political parties namely the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and the Action Group on one side and the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) on the other side.

These political crises were due to the struggle for political power at the center. This made violence break out between the Northerners and Southerners in May 1953.

After the four days of rioting from May 16 to May 19, 36 people were killed which were 15 Northerners and 21 Southerners including 241 people wounded.

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The remote cause of this crisis can be traced to the Anthony Enahoro motion in the House of Representatives in March 1953.

In his motion, Enahoro moved that Nigeria should become self-government by 1956 NPC members rejected this motion because self-government in 1956 was not an official policy of the NPC and its legislators refused to support the motion without their party’s consent.

An amendment by Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, to replace the 1956 date with the phrase as soon as practicable was rejected by the Action Group and the NCNC.

The disagreement over the self-government issue between Northern and Southern politicians became very bitter and soon became a major crisis.

Southern politicians accused Northern leaders of colluding with the British to perpetuate colonial rule. Northerners on their part accused southerners of being motivated by the selfish desire to acquire political power and control the country at the expense of other sections of the country.

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The disagreement which led to the indefinite adjournment of the House of Representatives continued outside the House.

The event after the adjournment has been described by James S Coleman. According to him, northern representatives were subjected to insult by Lagos crowds and bitterly criticized by the southern press.

After their return to the north, Northerners’ leaders met and agreed on an eight-point program which, if implemented, would have meant the secession of the north from the rest of Nigeria.

This action provoked even more bitter criticism from the action group and the N.C.N.C and their newspapers.

Believing that the northern leaders were not representative of their people on the self-government issue, the action group and the N.C.N.C decided to send a delegation to the north to try to win the support of northerners for their proposal of self-government in 1956.

One such delegation, led by Chief S. L. Akintola of the action group was met with rioting in Kano leading to Nigeria’s first major outbreak of political violence.

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Thus the belief of the action group and N.C.N.C.that northern leaders were not representative of their people on the self-government Issue and their decision to send a delegation to the north on the issue were the immediate causes of the Kano riots of 1953.

Commenting on the pattern of ethnic conflict in Nigeria, Okwudibia Nnoli observes that although the supporters of the action group in Kano were the Yoruba settlers, once the violence began, it turned out to be a confrontation between the Hausa and the Igbo settlers. Nnoli believes that two primary reasons were responsible for this development.

First, the Igbo were the most numerous of the southern group in the north.

Second, there was a traditional hostility against the Igbo in the north because of their commercial activities. An official inquiry of the colonial government into the crisis reported that tribal tension, especially the persistent criticism of northern leaders by southerners led to the riot.

Some observers, however, believe that the causes of the Kano riots were more fundamental than an inter-ethnic conflict between Hausa and Igbo communities in Kano.

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For example, Remi Anifowose believes that the violence intensified the continuation of the national conflict between Nigeria’s major political parties.

According to Remi Anifowose, northerners rioted because they felt that they would be disadvantaged by the distribution of power and wealth in an independent Nigeria in 1956.

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