Major Political Crisis In Nigeria

Kano Riot Of 1953 On May 16, 1953, a significant disturbance erupted in the historic city of Kano in Northern Nigeria. The catalyst for this event was a motion presented by Chief Anthony Enahoro, a member of the Action Group (AG) in the House of Representatives, proposing that Nigeria be granted self-government by 1956. In […]

Kano Riot Of 1953

On May 16, 1953, a significant disturbance erupted in the historic city of Kano in Northern Nigeria. The catalyst for this event was a motion presented by Chief Anthony Enahoro, a member of the Action Group (AG) in the House of Representatives, proposing that Nigeria be granted self-government by 1956. In response, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the leader of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), suggested an amendment advocating self-government at the earliest feasible opportunity. The ensuing disagreement over the motion strained relations between northern and southern leaders, leading to a walkout by AG and NCNC members in protest of the adjournment motion.


Upon leaving the house, northern delegates faced hostility in Lagos, where they were insulted and jeered by crowds. This embittered the northern delegation, prompting them to seek secession in their Eight Point Programme presented in the Northern Regional Legislative House. The Kano riot was ultimately triggered by a tour conducted by a delegation led by Chief S.L. Akintola, representing the AG and NCNC, advocating for self-government.


Political Ramifications of the Kano Riot:

  1. The riot exacerbated the already strained relationship between northern and southern leaders.
  2. It underscored the notion that only a federal system of government could effectively unify Nigeria.
  3. The riot precipitated the London Constitutional Conference of 1953.
  4. It led to a temporary working alliance between the NCNC and the Action Group.


The Census Crisis Of 1962/63

In 1962, a population census in Nigeria faced widespread criticism, with allegations of rigging prompting the government to annul the results. Subsequently, a new census was proposed for 1963, overseen by a census board under the prime minister’s authority. The November 1963 census results, published in February 1964, indicated a population of 55.7 million, with regional breakdowns of 29.8 million in the North, 12.4 million in the East, 10.3 million in the West, 2.5 million in the Mid-West, and 0.7 million in Lagos. While the federal government, Northern, and Western Regions accepted these figures, the Eastern and Mid-Western Regions rejected them, citing inflation, irregularities, and inadequacies.


In response, the Eastern Region challenged the census results in the Supreme Court, contesting their authenticity and the federal government’s acceptance. The court ruled in favor of the Federal Government, asserting that the Eastern Region lacked standing to sue on the matter. Consequently, these figures became the official base for developmental projections, constituency delimitations, parliamentary seat allocations, boundary adjustments, and other relevant matters.


The 1962 Action Group Crisis

The turmoil within the Action Group in 1962 arose from a profound conflict within the party, with various factors contributing to the crisis.

  1. Personality Clash: Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the party leader, clashed with Chief Akintola, the party’s deputy leader.
  2. Factions: The party split into two main factions, one led by Chief Awolowo and the other by Chief Akintola.
  3. Adoption of New Ideology: The party adopted a new ideology of democratic socialism, advocating a mixed economy. Akintola’s supporters did not embrace this new direction.
  4. Expulsion Motion: Chief Akintola was dismissed from the position of Premier by the Governor, leading to further tensions.
  5. Alliances: Awolowo’s faction aimed for a progressive alliance with NCNC, while Akintola’s faction sought cooperation with the conservative NPC.
  6. Tension: The region experienced growing tension, resulting in police intervention to prevent disruption of the House proceedings by Akintola’s supporters.
  7. State of Emergency: The federal government declared a state of emergency in the Western Region, appointing Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi as the administrator.
  8. Formation of New Parties: Akintola and his supporters formed the United Progressive Party, later forming a coalition government called the Nigerian National Democratic Party.
  9. Creation of Mid-West Region: A.G. did not support the creation of the Mid-West Region, causing further division.


Consequences Of The 1962 Action Group Crisis On Nigeria

  1. State of Emergency: The Western House of Chiefs and House of Assembly were dissolved.
  2. Temporary Administration: Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi served as a sole administrator.
  3. Legal Action: Awolowo and his followers were charged with plotting to overthrow the government, received various prison sentences.
  4. New Political Party: Akintola formed the United Progressive Party.
  5. Coalition Government: UPP and NCNC formed a coalition government.
  6. Formation of Alliances: N.N.A. and U.P.G.A. alliances were established for the 1964 federal elections.
  7. Overthrow of Government: The crisis contributed to the federal government’s overthrow in January 1966.
  8. Constitutional Weakness: The crisis revealed weaknesses in the constitution regarding the removal of a premier by the governor.


The 1964 Federal Election Crises

The 1964 federal election crisis posed a significant threat to Nigeria’s unity, stemming from alliances formed by major and minor political parties.

  1. Alliances Formation: A.G. and NCNC factions, along with the Northern progressive front, formed UPGA. NPC, NNDP, MDF, and Dynamic Party formed NNA.
  2. Campaign Strategies: Crude methods were employed during the campaign, with reported obstacles for UPGA candidates in filing nomination papers.
  3. Boycott Threat: UPGA threatened to boycott the election, leading to a failed request by President Azikiwe to postpone it.
  4. Election Outcome: NNA emerged victorious, but a deadlock ensued, delaying the formation of a new government for three days.
  5. Government Formation: Eventually, the outgoing Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, formed a government without any Action Group members.

These crises had far-reaching consequences, impacting the political landscape and revealing weaknesses in the country’s governance structure.


Western Nigeria Election Crisis Of 1965

In 1965, the political landscape of Western Nigeria witnessed a significant confrontation between the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) and the Nigeria National Alliance (NNA). As these two dominant parties engaged in coalitions at the national level, their rivalry intensified during the Western Nigeria elections.


Representing UPGA, the A.G. faced off against NNDP, the representative of NNA. Both parties recognized the crucial importance of this election and sought to maximize their influence. Prior to the election, the ruling NNDP in Western Nigeria implemented measures such as curfews to impede UPGA’s efforts in certain regions.


The dissolution of the Western House of Assembly preceding the elections mirrored the irregularities observed at the federal level. UPGA candidates faced challenges such as the denial of nomination forms, absentee electoral officers, and a campaign marred by thuggery, hooliganism, violence, arson, and looting.


Despite a petition from Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro, the UPGA leader, reporting malpractices to Governor Sir Odeleye Fadahunsi, no corrective action was taken. The October 11, 1965, election unfolded amidst numerous malpractices, including the smuggling and burning of ballot boxes, as well as unfair vote counting.


The official results declared NNDP as the winner of 88 out of the 98 contested seats. In response, Alhaji Adegbenro, in a press conference at Chief Awolowo’s residence in Ibadan, declared UPGA’s victory with 68 out of 98 seats. He proclaimed himself as the premier and appointed ministers, leading to a dual-government situation and triggering a severe political crisis.


Ultimately, Chief Akintola was sworn in as the premier, Alhaji Adegbenro was arrested, and violent demonstrations erupted, resulting in around 1,000 casualties and 5,000 houses destroyed. The political crisis persisted until the January 15, 1966 coup d’état, putting an end to the turmoil.


General Election Crisis Of 1979

The 1979 general elections marked a unique transition to Nigeria’s second republic after 13 years of military rule, operating under a newly introduced federal system. The Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO), led by Chief Michael Ani, registered five political parties out of numerous associations. The parties included the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Nigeria People’s Party (NPP), Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), and People’s Redemption Party (PRP).


With Chief A.M.A. Akinloye as NPN’s chairman and Alhaji Shehu Shagari as its presidential candidate, Chief Obafemi Awolowo led UPN, while Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya chaired NPP with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as the presidential candidate. The elections spanned five Saturdays, covering the senate, House of Representatives, State Assemblies, Governorship, and presidential positions.


The most contentious was the presidential election, where Alhaji Shehu Shagari emerged the winner without securing 25% in two-thirds of the federation. Despite legal challenges, the controversial formula of 122/3 was accepted, leading to Shagari’s declaration as the winner. The crisis persisted through the Presidential Election Tribunal and the Supreme Court, affirming Shagari’s victory.


General Elections Of 1983

In 1983, the transition to the third republic culminated in the general elections at the end of President Shehu Shagari’s first term. Six political parties participated, with the newly registered Nigeria Advanced Party. The election commission (FEDECO), chaired by Justice Ovie Whiskey, altered the sequence, favoring the presidential election, followed by other positions.


The August 6 presidential election resulted in Shagari’s victory amid allegations of massive rigging and falsification of figures. The NPN’s control increased to 10 states, and accusations of rigging fueled riots, looting, and arson. The military intervention of December 31, 1983, ensued as a response to the chaotic aftermath of the elections.


The 1981 crisis in Kaduna State marked a pivotal moment in the state’s political landscape.

In the 1979 gubernatorial election, the PRP emerged victorious, securing Alhaji Balarabe Musa as the governor on October 1, 1979. Despite this, the PRP did not hold the majority of seats in the state assembly.

With the NPN claiming the majority in the House, they controlled key positions such as the speaker and majority leader. According to constitutional provisions, the governor was required to present his nominated candidates as commissioners to the State House of Assembly.


Alhaji Balarabe Musa encountered resistance as the House rejected his nominated commissioners three times, leading to escalating tensions between the executive and legislative branches. The NPN-controlled legislature sought to oust the governor through impeachment.

In pursuit of this goal, various charges and accusations were leveled against the governor, creating a backdrop for his potential removal. Despite intervention attempts by some state assemblies, the legislators remained steadfast in their determination to remove the governor.

A committee was established to investigate the allegations, and its report was subsequently adopted. The impeachment notice was served by the speaker of the House, Alhaji Mamman Dan Musa, officially marking the commencement of the process to remove Alhaji Balarabe Musa as the governor of Kaduna State.

Related Posts:

Political Parties In The Second Republic

The Development Of Political Parties In Nigeria | NNDP, UMBC, NYM, NCNC

Nigerian Federalism | Meaning, Factors, Structure, Features & Problems

The Second Republican Constitution Of 1979

The First Republican Constitution Of 1963

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top