Wednesday, 11 January 2017

NIGERIA BEFORE JANUARY 1966 - history we must not forget:

Prime Minister Balewa with some of his Cabinet ministers

Most great events happen by chance. Man’s best plans to attain certain height or goal in live are all in the end a calculated error. For “… the race is not for the swift, but time and chance happened to them all”. Those who by fame or fortune ruled Nigeria without asking for it were products of chance for instance, the first military head of State, General Aguiyi-Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo both as military and as civilian, Ernest Shonekan, Abdulsalami Abubakr and President Goodluck Jonathan. Nigeria as a country is a product of chance by name and by collective existence as an unfinished experiment; created by the imperial colonizer who united us against our history, culture, religion and geography for the sake of economic exploitation and clothed us in the rag of western “civilization”.  

Nigeria has an estimated area of about 923, 775square kilometers, with over 235 ethnics groups including Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba, Edo, Efik, Fulani, Ijaw, Kanuri, Tiv, Jukun, Gwandara, Kwalla and others. In spite of the diversities in language, culture, religion, ancestral belief, and tribe, Nigeria remains a united and indivisible country, through a network of economic ties and struggle and conviction for a national sovereignty. Nigerian with her geographical and cultural make up is a conglomeration of sub-nations. The first republic politicians preached the “winner takes it all” policy of governance, an approach which endangered the collective oneness at the sea of politics. The result is the presence of sea weeds that prevented easy movement, there by creating a political environment where attitudes and values are inconsistent with democratic percepts.

Chief Awolowo, Sultan Bello and Dr Azikiwe

Dr. Azikiwe in a political campaign 1959

The history of the amalgamated Nigeria, can be dated back to 1914 when Lord Fredrick Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern Protectorates. After then, Sir Hugh Clifford the next Colonial Governor General in 1929, dropped an octopus in the Nigerian political deep sea, the Octopus up till today is still producing offspring in the country. Clifford had then stated unequivocally that,” the British Government is going to secure to each separate people, the right to maintain its identity, its individuality and its nationality. Its chosen form of government and peculiar political and social institutions which have been evolved for it by the wisdom and the accumulated experience of generation of its forebears.” This statement was further characterized by indirect rule and regional system of structural administration.

Sir John Macpherson 1951, came up with a constitution that increased regional autonomy in Nigeria. Thereafter there was the emergence of regional political parties like the Obafemi Awolowo led Action Group which from all ramifications was a tribal political party that sprang up from the Egbe Omo Oduduwa cultural group, the organization was initially formed in London by students of Yoruba origin in 1943. The Action Group (AG) was formally launched in Chief Michael Ajasin’s home in Owo. There was also the Ahmadu Bello led Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), an offspring of amalgamated groups like the Jamiyyan… Arwa (ANA), Mutane Arewa a Yau which pulled together in 1951, with one aim and interest, as clearly stated in the party’s Motto “One North, One People.” The National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) later Nigerian Citizens, led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, which commenced initially as a National party and later turned to a tribal party following some misunderstanding with the Action Group after the 1951 elections in Western Nigeria, that was when Zik had his first experience of what is involved in swimming in the Nigerian Political deep sea.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC won the elections in the Western Nigeria House of Assembly in 1952, but he was not sworn in as the Premier of Western Nigeria because the great legend Pa Obafemi Awolowo led the Action Group against him, the Action Group also induced many Yoruba members of the NCNC to cross-carpet to the Action Group. That was the first time an election was stolen in Nigeria and that incident remained green in the mind of Zik until he bowed out of mother earth.

USA President  Dwight Eisenhower with Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar T B

Nigeria gained her independence on October 1, 1960. The granting of independence gave birth to a sovereign and free country. Zik the swimmer, who fought and ran away was alive and he fought again to become the first Governor General, had it been that Zik had gone ahead to declare himself the Premier of Western Nigeria in 1952, it is obvious that the Action Group would have fought with all within their power to frustrate his plans, and he probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become the first Governor General.

On May 19, 1962 in Ibadan a meeting was convened to reconcile Awolowo and Akintola to settle a political dispute between them. The meeting was marked by disorderliness, chaos and riots. On May 29, 1962 a state of emergency was declared in Western Nigeria and an order of restriction was placed on Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the leader of the opposition group. On November 2, 1962, Justice Sodeinde Sowemimo in the High Court of Lagos commenced sitting over the trial of Awolowo and 26 others, who were eventually convicted on charges of treasonable felony and conspiracy to overthrow the Federal Government on September 11, 1963. Awolowo as a lawyer knew his rights, but he also knew that the case on hand was beyond that of knowing one’s right, he was charged of treasonable felony and conspiracy to overthrow the government in power, that was a big case, he played and prayed along for freedom to come his way. Dead men don’t fight, only the living can express themselves.

The result of the 1963 nation-wide census was released on August 29, 1964 but was not nationally accepted. The result showed that Northern Nigeria had a population of 29.8 million while Southern Nigeria had 25.9 million. The South argued then that the result was manipulated to ensure a Northern domination. Before the commencement of the census it was even rumored in some places that lorry-loads of people from Niger Republic were being transported into the Northern region in preparation for the head count.

There was the February 1963, Dockworkers strike in which they demanded for an increases in wages, the Federal Government opposed the increase for fear that it will affect the six year development plan. In September 1963, there was a strike by employees of government and privates owned organization, within the junior cadre. This was followed by the June 1, 1964 general strike led by Michael Imodu, which came as a result of the Federal Government refusal to release the report of the Justice Adeyinka Morgan Commission. A commission set up among other to investigate the need for the introduction of a National minimum wage. There was also the October 11, 1964 election to the Western House of Assembly with chaos and disorderliness and the December 1964 boycott of election in Eastern Nigeria with violent riots and disorders.

Nigeria experienced an increase in the abuse of the code of conduct bureau among politicians and that of the use of Police Aid-De-Camp (ADC). Not only that, the Police in return blatantly took side with the highest bidder and encouraged the control and excessive manipulation of the electoral machinery by some ruling but powerful rich politicians.

The military was forced to take over the affairs of government on January 15, 1966, in accordance with what was happening in other African countries.

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