MAJOR POLITICAL CRISIS IN NIGERIA
GOVERNMENT

MAJOR POLITICAL CRISIS IN NIGERIA

THE KANO RIOT OF 1953

Causes: In march 1953, a member of Action Group (AG) in the House of Representatives, Chief Anthony Enahoro, moved a motion, requesting that Nigeria should be granted self-government in 1956. The leader of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), Sir Ahmadu Bello, moved a counter motion. He proposed an amendment that self- government should be granted “as soon as practicable”. This led to disagreements over the motion and equally resulted in a strained relationship between the Northern and Southern leaders. In the House of Representatives, the NPC members were in majority, the proposed amendment was likely to be in their favour. In anticipation therefore, the NCNC and A.G. members in the House of Representatives walked out of the House. The meeting of the House was adjourned and members of the NPC met very unfriendly crowd in Lagos. They were called all sorts of names before they left for the North. A retaliatory move by Northerners to counter the booing and jeering of Northern leaders in Lagos after the adjournment on March 31, 1953. self-government motion, was the tour of the Northern Region by Action Group (AG) led by Chief S.L.Akintola viewed by Northerners as an invasion of another man’s territory. It was while Akintola and his group were in Kano, that a riot broke out. Several people lost their lives while many were wounded. After the crisis, the NPC members issued an “eight-point-programme”, to the colonial government that effect until their demands were met, they would not return to the House in Lagos.

 

POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE KANO RIOT

  1. The riot worsened the relationship between the Northern leaders and Southern leaders.
  2. Federal system of government: The riot also showed that only a federal system of government where Regions are allowed to develop at their own pace could hold Nigeria together.
  3. London constitutional conference of 1953: The riot ushered in the London Constitutional Conference of 1953 and consequently brought about the 1954 Constitution.
  4. Temporary working alliance: The riot also brought about a temporary working alliance between the NCNC and the Action Group.

 

THE CENSUS CRISIS OF 1962/63

A population census was conducted in Nigeria in 1962, but a volley of criticisms followed the outcome of the result. Some people claimed it was rigged and should be cancelled. The government had to cancel it and another one was proposed in 1963. A Census Board was set up under the authority of the prime minister, to handle the 1963 population census. The census was conducted in November 1963 and in February 1964, the census figures put the population of Nigeria at 55,653,821. The breakdown gave the regions the following figures: Northern Region with 29,777,968; Eastern Region with 12,388,646; Western Region with 10,278,500; Mid-West Region with 2,533,337 and Lagos with 675,352. Similarly, these figures were criticised and it equally generated a lot of controversy. However, it was accepted by the federal government, so also the Northern and Western Regions.

The Eastern and Mid-Western Regions rejected the figures outright claiming that they were inflated and characterised by gross irregularities and inadequacies. Eastern Region went to the Supreme Court challenging the authenticity and the federal government’s acceptance of the results. The court ruled in favour of the federal government, stating that Eastern Region did not have a locus standing to sue on the issue. These figures, therefore, remained the official figures used as base figures for projections for all developmental matters, constituency delimitations, allocation of seats to the parliament, boundary adjustments,etc.

 

ACTION GROUP CRISIS OF 1962

The Action Group crisis broke out in 1962 as a result of the serious conflicts within the party The following factors contributed to the crisis.

  1. Personality clash: There were differences of opinion and personality clash between Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the party leader and chief S.L. Akintola, his deputy.
  2. Factions: Later two factions sprang up from the party. One faction led by chief Awolowo and the other by chief S.L. Akintola.
  3. Alliances: Awo’s faction sought to form a progressive alliance with NCNC in order to get the conservative NPC out of power Akintola’s faction on the other hand; sought to cooperate with the NPC.
  4. Consultations: Another source of conflict was the allegation that chief Awolowo, leader of opposition in the federal or central legislature (House of Representatives), wanted to be consulted before any important policy decisions were taken in the western regional government headed by Chief S.L. Akintola The idea did not go down well with Akintola’s government.
  5. Adoption of a new ideology: A.G. as a party later adopted a new ideology-democratic socialism, prescribing a mixed economy whereby it would combine elements of public and private enterprise within the framework of a national economic plan. Akintola’s supporters did not receive this new ideology.
  6. Expulsion motion: Attempt to reconcile both factions did not produce any fruitful result and so at the Jos conference of the party, it was decided that, chief Akintola should be expelled from the party.
  7. Vote of no confidence: The majority of the party members supported the expulsion motion and so, a vote of no confidence, was passed on him, and the governor, Sir Adesoj Aderemi was advised to remove him (Akintola) as premier and Alhaji D.S Adegbenro was appointed in his place.
  8. Tension: The tension and confusion in the region continued to grow wider and wider. The police were called in to stop the attempt by Akintola’s supporters to disrupt the proceedings of the House.
  9. State of Emergency: The federal government declared a state of emergency in Western Region and appointed Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi, as the administrator of the region.
  10. Reinstatement: The state of emergency lasted for six months after which Akintola was reinstated as the premier, However, at this time, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was charged with plotting to overthrow the federal government and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
  11. Formation of new parties: On his return to power, Chief Akintola formed a new party known as the United Progressive Party (UPP) and with some members of NCNC, a new government was formed in January 1963. Later, the United Progressive Party (UPP) and some members of the NCNC formed the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP).
  12. Creation of Mid-West Region: This was a crisis because A.G. did not support the creation of Mid- West from Western Region but Akintola’s government supported it.

 

THE CONSEQUENCE OF THE ACTION GROUP CRISIS OF 1962 ON NIGERIA

  1. Dismissal of the deputy leader: The dismissal of the deputy leader of the Action Group and his subsequent dismissal as the premier of Western Region led to an outbreak of violence on the floor of the western regional House of Assembly.
  2. State of Emergency: The crisis resulted in the breakdown of law and order in the Western House of Assembly. Consequently, the federal government declared a state of emergency in the region.
  3. Appointment of an administrator: The federal government dismissed the government of Western Region and an administrator was appointed.
  4. Formation of a new party: The dismissed deputy leader of the party, Chief S.L. Akintola formed a new political party named United Progressive Party (UPP).
  5. A coalition government: Formation ofa coalition government took place between the United Progressive Party (UPP) and National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC).
  6. The collapse of the coalition government: It resulted in the formation of a new political party NNDP. The new party controlled the government of Western Region till end of the First Republic.
  7. The Action Group crisis: This crisis weakened the power of official opposition at the Federal House of Representatives. This made a mockery of the parliamentary system of government.
  8. Two major alliances: Formation of the two major alliances to contest 1964 federal elections, N.N.A and U.P.G.A.
  9. Remote causes: The Action Group crisis of 1962 was one of the remote causes of the outbreak of violence and civil disorder in Western Region in 1965.
  10. The eventual overthrow of the federal government in January 1966: This could also be said to be partly a result of the Action Group crisis of 1962.
  11. Weakness of the constitution: This crisis brought into light the weakness of the constitution e.g. the governor was unable to remove the premier.

 

THE FEDERAL ELECTION CRISIS OF 1964

  1. This federal election witnessed: the formation of alliances by both the major and minor political parties.
  2. For example, factions of A.G. and NCNC together with the Northern Progressive Front: (made up of NEPU-Northern Elements Progressive Union Middle Belt Congress) joined together to form the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA).
  3. Equally, the Northern People’s Congress (NPC),NNDP, the Mid-West Democratic Front: the Niger Delta Congress in Eastern Nigeria and the Dynamic Party formed the Nigeria National Alliance (NNA) in August 1964.
  4. The results of these alliances produced: Two major parties – UPGA and NNA. They had to contest the election for power at the federal level.
  5. The leader of UPGA was Micheal Okpara and NNA was Sir Ahmadu Bello.
  6. In the allocation of parliamentary seats for the election: Northern Region was given 167 seats out of312, Eastern Region 70 seats, Western Region 57 seats, Midwest Region 14 seats and Lagos 4 seats.
  7. UPGA candidates complained of their inability: to file nomination papers in the Northern and Western Regions controlled by the NPC and NNDP.
  8. The reported absence of electoral officers when: UPGA candidates wanted to file their nomination papers.
  9. A delegation of UPGA: met with the president protesting their grievances and that if not redressed, they would boycott the election.
  10. The president, Nnamdi Azikiwe requested: the prime minister , Tafawa Balewa, to postpone the election. However, the request was rejected by the prime minister.
  11. The election still took place on December 30, 1964: Members of UPGA in different parts of the country boycotted the election. Elections took place in Northern and Western Regions, some parts of Mid West and Lagos, but it did not take place at all in the Eastern Regions.
  12. The outcome of the election was favourable to NNA: but there was a stalemate, because the president could not exercise his constitutional rights by calling the party that won the election to form the government until the intervention of some eminent Nigerians.
  13. At last, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa: was called to form the government. He decided to form a broad based government (National government), but most of the parties were not ready to cooperate. Some members ofNCNC, NNDP agreed to join but A.G. was not invited.

 

WESTERN NIGERIA ELECTION OF 1965

With the emergence of United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) and the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) as the two dominant parties through coaltions, the rivalry between them at the national level shifted base to the Western Nigeria elections of 1965. The A.G. represented (UPGA) and NNDP(NNA). Both of them saw this election as very important and should not be under-estimated. Before the commencement of the election, the party in power in Western Nigeria, the NNDP imposed a curfew and some other stringent measures aimed at crippling the efforts of UPGA members in some parts of the region. At the dissolution of Western House of Assembly, preparatory to the elections, the irregularities that featured at the federal elections manifested. For example, UPGA candidates were not privileged or opportuned to collect nomination forms and in most cases electoral officers would be absent at their duty posts. It was further claimed that, in areas where UPGA candidates were able to file in their papers, NNDP candidates were returned unopposed. The electioneering was fraught with acts of holiganism, killings, arson, etc. At the climax of it all, D.S. Adegbenro, the leader of UPGA petitioned the governor, Sir Odeleye Fadahunsi over the alleged malpractices, but nothing positive came out of it.

Nevertheless, the election still took place on October 11, 1965 in a frenzy and disturbed atmosphere with wide spread results of malpractices as in burning of ballot boxes, abnormal counting of votes, etc. At the conclusion of the election, the result of the election showed-NNDP 88 out of98 seats. At a press conference in Ibadan, UPGA leader announced that UPGA won 68 seats.

He made himself the premier of the region and subsequently appointed 8 ministers. Later, ChiefS.L. Akintola was sworn in as the premier and Adegbenro was arrested. His arrest sparked off violent demonstration, rioting, chaos and anarchy in Western Region. Thousands oflives were lost in the wake of the disturbances that followed Adegbenro’s arrest, and many houses were burnt down. This election crisis gave rise to the popular operation wet’e. The violence was so severe that it lasted until the military coup of January 15 1966.

 

GENERAL ELECTIONS OF 1979: SECOND REPUBLIC

The Second Republic in Nigeria witnessed anew system entirely different from what it was in the First Republic (1963-66). It was the presidential system of government. The election which was conducted to usher in a multi-party civilian rule was contested by five registered political parties after about 52 political groups bidded for registration. The registered parties were; National party of Nigeria (NPN), Unity party of Nigeria (UPN), the Nigeria people’s party (NPP), Great Nigeria People’s party (GNPP) and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). Some of these parties fielded the same person as both the chairman as well as the presidential candidate. For example, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the leader and presidential candidate of UPN. Ibrahim Waziri was leader and presidential candidate for GNPP and Aminu Kano was the leader and Presidential candidate for PRP. Chief M.A. Akinloye, was the chairman for NPN, while shagari was the presidential candidate. NPP was chaired by chief Adeniran Ogunsanya and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the presidential candidate.

Elections into different positions or offices in government came at different dates. E.g. five different elections took place between July 7 and August 8, 1979. The elections were; Senate July 7; House of Representatives July 14, State Assemblies July 27; Governorship July 28 and the Presidential election August 11, 1979. The election results showed that out of the 95 seats for the senate, NPN got 36 seats, UPN 29 seats, NPP 16 seats, GNPP 8 seats and PRP 7 seats. Also, out of the 449 seats for the House of Representatives NPN won 168, UPN 111, NPP 78, PRP 49 and GNPP 43. At the Gubernatorial ( Governorship) election for the 19 states; NPN won 7 states, UPN 5, NPP 3, GNPP 2 and PRP 2. The presidential election was the most controversial of all the elections.

None of the candidates was able to win 25% in 2/3 of the states of the federation. Shehu Shagari who was declared the winner won 25% of the votes cast in 12 states of the federation. The problem that arose was how to interprete 2/3 of 19. Different people came with different definitions, interpretations and meaning of 25% in 2/3 of the states of the federation. A case in point was the then Justice minister, chief R. Akinjide, who came with the 12 2/3 formula and at the end it was accepted by FEDECO, the then electoral Commission, headed by Mr. Micheal Ani. Consequently, Shehu Shagari was declared the winner of the presidential election.

The UPN challenged it at the election Tribunal headed by Justice B.O. Kazeem and later the issue was refered to the Supreme Court which was presided over by Chief Justice of the federation, Justice Atanda Williams who upheld the verdict of the election tribunal, maintaining that the election of Shagari was justifiable and not out of place.

 

GENERAL ELECTIONS OF 1983

At the end of president Shehu Shagari’s first term in office (4 years), another election was conducted. . The 1983 general election was to be conducted by the civilian government in place. In 1979, five registered political parties participated in that election, but this time an additional one had been added to the already existing five. The election commission (FEDECO) before the election, registered Nigeria Advanced Party formed by Mr. Tunji

Braithwaite, bringing the total number of parties for the elections to six. Not much changes were however envisaged this time, in the composition of candidates especially in presidential election.

The presidential candidates were still the same, only the death of Mallam Aminu Kano, effected a change in the PRP structure. Hassan Yusuf had to come in as the party’s new presidential aspirant. The arrangement for this general election by the government controlled electoral body, FEDECO, under the chairmanship of Justice Ovie Whisky, took a different shape from what it was in 1979. This time, the presidential election was to come up first, followed by governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and finally state legislative assemblies. It was argued in some quarters that, this new arrangement was mainly to favour the party in power. Alhaji Shehu Shagari was declared the winner after the August 6 presidential elections. Massive rigging, falsification of election figures were alleged in many centres. Similarly, the NPN controlled states now increased from 7 to 10 states . The party in government was accused of having masterminded the act of rigging, possibly to remain in government. There were reports of rioting, looting, arson, violent demonstrations in some areas etc. The outcome of this ugly scene was the military intervention of December 31, 1983.

 

GENERAL ELECTIONS OF 1993

As many would recall, the constitution of the Third Republic was drafted in 1989 as Babangida promised to terminate military rule by 1990- a date which was subsequently pushed forward to 1993.IBB lifted the ban on political activity in the spring of 1989, and his government established two political parties (NRC) National Republican Convention and (SDP) Social Democratic Party.

The military government of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida which started August 1986 was to come to an end in August 1993 after he was been forced to move the country to a democratic process.As a result,the electoral body charged to midwife the process known as the National Electoral Commission (NEC) headed by Professor Humphrey Nwosu was put in place.

The Presidential election which was contested by Alhaji Tofa who represented NRC and Moshood Abiola who represented SDP. The election was held and the results were already pouring in, with the late Moshood Abiola of the Social Democratic Party in the lead, when the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) annulled the entire exercise. The announcement came via a hurriedly written statement read out to State House Correspondents by Nduka Irabor, Press Secretary to the Chief of General staff and second-in- command, Vice Admiral Augustus Aikhomu. Thereafter, IBB annulled the election on June 23, 1993 but eventually bowed to pressures from office on 23 August, 1993.

The announcement threw the country into a state of disbelief, anger, anarchy and confusion. There were indications that over 90 percent of the votes had been counted, with Abiola clearly in the lead. He was therefore the acclaimed winner of the poll by his supporters. The public pressure forced Babangida out of power in 1993 but not before he had instituted an Interim National Government (ING) with former UAC chairman, Ernest Shonekan, as head and serving member of the AFRC, Gen. Sani Abacha, as member.

Abacha was soon to send Shonekan packing from Aso Rock, assuming power as military leader. Thus, the elaborate transition programme crashedlikeapackof cards.Abiola’s attempt to force Abacha to recognize his electoral victory and mandate led to his imprisonment by the Abacha’s regime.

Thus, the country was back again to military rule until 1999 when it was returned to democratic government following Obasanjo’s victory at the 1999 general election.

 

KADUNA STATE EXECUTIVE LEGISLATIVE CRISIS OF 1981

Main features

  1. Kaduna State had an NPN controlled legislature but Alhaji Balarabe Musa won the governorship election in 1979 under the platform of the PRP.
  2. PRP as a party did not have the majority seats in the state assembly.
  3. The NPN was in the majority and it produced both the speaker and the majority leader. NPN was more than 2/3 in the House of Assembly.
  4. In accordance with the provisions of the constitution, the governor of the state has the power to present nominated candidates as commissioners to the state House of Assembly for approval.
  5. The Assembly rejected the nominated candidates after the presentation of the list to them for three consecutive times and so the governor decided to rule Kaduna state between 1979 and 1981 without commissioners.
  6. In the interim, the relationship between the executive and the legislature got worse and so problems set in.
  7. The NPN controlled legislature were bent on removing the governor through the process known as impeachment. Impeachment is a constitutional means of removing a public officer in a presidential system of government.
  8. Different charges and accusations of different proportions were levelled against the governor, so as to create enough reasons for his impeachment or removal.
  9. Some state assemblies in the country came in to mediate but all to no avail. The legislators were determined to remove the governor.
  10. The report of the committee set up to investigate the allegations was adopted and the speaker of the House, Alhaji Mamman Dan Musa served the impeachment notice on the governor. He was subsequently removed as the governor of Kaduna state.

 

THE NIGERIA CIVIL WAR HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

The war started on July 6, 1967 and came to an end on January 15, 1970.Major-General Philip Effiong, the Chief of Defence Staff of the Republic of Biafra, formally renounced the existence ofa state called Biafra. This exercise took place at Dodan Barracks Lagos on January 15, 1970.

 

CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR

There were remote and immediate causes of the war and some of them were.

Immediate Causes

  1. Mass killings of the Igbos in the North: This killing was seen as a reaction to the January 15,1966 coup where some of the Northern leaders were killed e.g. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello. The governor of Eastern Region, Lt.Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu asked non-Easterners living in the East to leave and at the same time, asked all the Igbos living in other parts of the country to return home. This was a prelude to civil war.
  2. Head of state: Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon took over as the Head of state instead of Brigadier Ogundipe the then most senior military officer. Ojukwu saw this as unjustifiable, noting the fact that Gowon was not his senior in the army and so refused to take instructions from him.
  3. War: Both characters-Ojukwu and Gowon saw war as the only justifiable means of resolving the conflict.
  4. Secession: The declaration of the Eastern Region as the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967 after the federal government had created 12 states out of the former 4 Regions.
  5. Aburi declaration: The failure of General Gowon to implement his own side of the agreement reached with Ojukwu at Aburi, Ghana, was another cause of the civil war that started on July 6,1967. This meeting was at the instance of the Ghanaian Head of state, General Ankrah, held between January 4th and 5th 1967.

 

Remote Causes

6. Politicisation of the army: There was the marriage between the army and politics. The army was politicised, ethnic sentiment took over and promotion was based on that line and not on seniority.

7. Killing of political leaders: The killing of civilian political leaders by the 1966 coup plotters and General Aguiyi Ironsi’s refusal to try them. The killing of some of them e.g. Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, S.L. Akintola, etc, was seen as tribal. They argued that none of those killed was an Igbo person.

8. Unitary form of government: General Aguiyi Ironsi, came to power and introduced unitary form of government in place of federal. Federalism was introduced into the Nigeria system since 1954. Some, therefore, viewed this change from federal to unitary as a way of concentrating powers in the hands of the Igbos only. Decree No. 34 of 1966 was promulgated to back up the abolition of a federal structure.

9. Tribal domination: The fear of one tribe dominating the army was another remote cause. They saw the Igbos as dominating the army, they staged the coup, the Head of state was an Igbo man and none of the civilian politicians killed was an Igbo man. The counter coup of July 29, 1966 by the Northern army officers was a pointer to that fact.

 

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES OF THE CIVIL WAR

Positive consequences

  1. Territorial Integrity: The territorial integrity and unity of Nigeria was maintained.
  2. Secession: The civil war reduced the possibility of a secession by any ethnic groups or states.
  3. Central government became more powerful: The conflict enabled the central government to become more powerful. The states of the federation depended on the central government for survival unlike before.
  4. Creation of more states: The war enabled the federal government to create more states in the then Northern, Eastern and Western Regions. This helped minority groups to have their own states.
  5. The confidence of the federal government in OAU: The war enhanced the confidence of the federal government in OAU, as there were only four countries, that recognised the State of Biafra.
  6. Technology: The civil war enabled Nigerians to look inwards technologically.

 

Negative consequences

  1. Cost: The war costs the nation a lot of money. Property investments and an unestimated number of lives were lost.
  2. Displacement of families: Families were displaced and innocent citizens suffered untold hardship.
  3. Currency policy: The currency policy of the federal government made some sections of the country poorer.
  4. Disruption in the educational sector: There was a disruption in the education of students in some parts of the country. Many institutions of learning were destroyed while others were closed. The war caused an academic setback in the country.
  5. Economic standstill: Economic activities in the country were almost at a stand still. Many factories and industries stopped production because of the war.
  6. Nigeria’s image abroad dented: The image of the country was adversely affected because of the war propaganda. Some foreign countries regarded the war as one between christians and muslims.
  7. Increased crime wave: There was increased crime wave in the country as discharged soldiers were not fully demobilised.
  8. Growth of urban areas: There was mass exodus of people from the rural setting to towns and cities in search of jobs and other means of livelihood. This had given rise to growth of towns and cities in Nigeria. The result also was an increase in crime wave.

 

Political Development in Nigeria from 1966 to 1979

  1. January, 15 1966 – There was a bloody military coup d’e’tat in Nigeria during which some politicians and some senior military officers were assassinated.
  2. January 16, 1966- The President of the Senate Dr. Nwafor Orizu, handed over the government of Nigeria to the Nigerian Armed Forces through the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Nigerian Army Major-General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi.
  3. A supreme military Council was formed and headed by General J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi.
  4. The Government had to suspend the 1963 constitution and banned all political parties,
  5. The military government appointed some military personnel to govern the regions.
  6. January, 1966 – The Legislative Houses of the federation and those of the regions were dissolved. Decrees and Edicts replaced Acts of Parliament at federal and regional levels respectively.
  7. May 24, 1966 – A change from the federal system/structure to unitary system of government in Nigeria by the Military government.
  8. July 29, 1966 – A bloody counter – coup took place which overthrew Aguiyi Ironsi and brought in Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon as the new Head of State.
  9. The federal system/structure was restored by the administration of Yakubu Gowon.
  10. May 27, 1967 – Nigeria was divided into twelve states structure,
  11. May, 30, 1967 – The Eastern Region seceded from Nigeria and declared itself the ?Republic of Biafra which led to a civil war.
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