Nigeria’s struggle of self-government and freedom from colonialism and slavery from Western imperialism could be traced back to notable figures that resisted the encroachment of their sovereignty by the British. They include King Masaba of Nupeland, King Jaja of Okpobo, Nana Olomu of Itsekiri-land, Oba Ovonramwem of Benin, etc. However, these pockets of resistance were squashed brutally by the British force. And after consolidating their hold their hold on the various parts of the territory, then came the amalgamation.

Before the amalgamation, the Northern and southern areas were lumped together in 1898 and Christened “NIGERIA”, by a former correspondent of THE TIMES by name Flora Shaw who later became Lord Lugard’s wife. Lord Lugard established a Nigerian Council which was meant to act as an advisory body to the governor general, however, they had no authority and their resolutions had no bidding of the law. The council consisted of 36 members, and 23 of them were Europeans, while the other 13 were referred to as “NON-FFICIAL MEMBERS” (of which 7 of them were Europeans and 6 Nigerians). The 6 Nigerian non-official members were: 2 Emirs from the North, the Alaafin of Oyo and one member each from Calabar, Benin- Warri area. This was the foundation of inequality in Nigeria.

In March, 1920, Joseph Casely-Hayford , a Gold coast lawyer and a Nigerian Physician by name Dr. Akinwade Savage, formed the NATIONAL CONGRESS OF BRITISH WEST AFRICA (NCBWA). At the inaugural conference, delegates from Gambia, Sierra-Leone, and the Gold Coast (now Ghana) were represented. The conference made five demands on the secretary of State for the Colonies:
– That a University be established in west Africa
– The racial discrimination in the territories must be removed
– The judiciary must be independent of colonial influence
– The creation of a legislative council in each British west African territories and half of the council members must be Africans
– The west African chiefs be subject to their people through appointment and removal

However, when their demands were taken to the British by a team of delegation, they were badly treated and snubbed by the Colonial secretary Lord Milner. In 1922 through the Clifford constitution, the legislative council was modified and 4 of the unofficial members were to be elected; 3 from Lagos and 1 representing Calabar.

Despite the scorn at NCBWA’s demand for a University, the persistence of these individuals led to the approval of the establishment of a university college in Ibadan which became the University college of Ibadan in 1948.

The Clifford constitution was established and it made way for the creation of NNDP a political party organized by Herbert Macaulay to contest the Lagos seats. As the leadership of the NNDP got older, they were challenged by the youthful politicians who were led by Dr JC Vaughan, Ernest Ikoli, H. O. Davies and Samuel Akinsanya, this brawl in the party led to the formation of NYM (Nigeria Youth Movement). A year later, the NYM was joined by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who had transferred his journalism business from Ghana to Nigeria. Later on Chief Obafemi Awolowo, joined, then others like Dr. Kofo Abayomi, Hamzat Subair, O. Caxton martins, Jubril Martins, Paul Cardoso, S. l Akintola, sir Bank Anthony, etc joined. It became the first nationalist party.
The NYM was short-lived after another brawl broke out between Okoli and Akinsanya. The brawl began when Dr Kofo Abayomi resigned his seat at the Legislative council; the problem was on finding his successor. The endorsement of Ikoli by NYM’s executive angered a faction of the party who accused them of ANTI-IJEBU schemes among the Lagosian members of the party. This led to the defection of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and many others. Ethnic sentiments began a long time ago.

Herbert Macaulay and Nnamdi Azikiwe teamed up to form the NCNC as a result the colonial ill-treatment of the King’s college boys in 1944 which led to a protest by the students. 75 students were charged to court by the colonialists, 8 of them were forcibly conscripted to join the British army who were battling at the World War. It was this reaction that angered to the formation of the NCNC whose ultimate aim was to raise money for the founding of a national school and set-up a national committee to protect Nigerian students in colonial schools. It was firstly called the national Council of Nigeria but the enrollment of some Cameroonians led to the modification of the name as NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NIGERIA AND THE CAMEROONS (NCNC).

Awolowo and a host of Yorubas formed EGBE OMO ODUDUWA in London, 1945 as a cultural organization. However, it was transformed into a political party, THE ACTION GROUP (AG) in other to contest the regional elections in 1951.

Similarly, the North formed a cultural organization called JAAMAR MUTANEN AREWA, founded by Dr. R.A.B. Dikko and it later became a political party called the Northern People’s Congress (NPC). Ahmadu Bello, Tafewa Balewa were among the founding members. Mallam Aminu Kano equally founded same but left afterwards citing that the party was too “conservative” for his liking. He joined the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), which was founded by eight radically minded northerners.

This was the beginning of the manifestation of sectionalism and regionalism, but it was ignored and given a blind-eye to.


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