Although Nigeria gained partial independence from Britain on October 1 1960, it was not totally independent until 1963 when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The name “Nigeria” is derived from the word “Niger” – the name of the river that constitutes the most remarkable geographical feature of the country. Nigeria is a country of 923,768 square kilometers, bound to the west by Benin, to the north by the Niger and Chad Republic, east by the Republic of Cameroon, and south by the Gulf of Guinea. The country gained independence from the British government on Oct. first 1960, and became a republic in 1963. The journey to independence started with some constitutional developments, these constitutional developments saw the country attaining self-rule in some quarters in 1957 and total liberation on Oct. 1st 1960.
The country was split into three geopolitical regions—Western Region, Eastern Region and Northern Region—and its political parties took on the identities and ideologies of each region. The Northern People's Party (NPC) represented the interests of the predominantly Hausa/Fulani Northern Region], the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)] (later renamed to "National Council of Nigerian Citizens") represented the predominantly Igbo Eastern Region, and the Action Group (AG) dominated the Yoruba Western Region. The NPC took control of the federal parliament, and formed a coalition government with the NCNC. Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, leader of the NPC, was poised to become the Prime Minister, but instead he chose to become the Premier of the Northern Region, and supported his deputy Tafawa Balewa's candidacy for Prime Minister. This raised suspicions amongst the southern politicians, who resented the idea of a federal government controlled by a regional leader through his designated proxy. In the end, Tafawa Balewa of NPC was named Prime Minister and Head of Government, and Nnamdi Azikiwe of NCNC was named President.
At Nigeria's independence, the Northern Region gained more seats in parliament than both Eastern and Western regions combined—this would cement Northern dominance in Nigerian politics for years to come. Resentment amongst southern politicians precipitated into political chaos in the country. Obafemi Awolowo, Premier of Western Region, attempted to overthrow the government but was arrested and convicted. With incarceration of Awolowo, Samuel Akintola was elected as the Premier of Western Region. Because Akintola was an ally of Ahmadu Bello, the undisputed strong man of Nigeria, Akintola was criticized as being a tool of the North. As premier of the West, Akintola presided over the most chaotic era in Western Region—one which earned it the nickname "the Wild-Wild West". However, as late as Thursday, January 13, 1966, Balewa had announced that the federal government was not going to intervene in the West. However, the very next day, Akintola, premier of the West met with his ally Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, premier of the North and party boss of NPC party to which Balewa belonged. At the same time a top-level security conference in Lagos was taking place which was attended by most of the country's senior army officiers. All of this activity created rumors that the Balewa government would be forced to crack down on lawlessness in the West using military might.
The republic would be torn by the secession of Biafra and the ensuing civil war from 1966-1970. After Biafra was overrun and the nation re-unified, military rule continued for another nine years, implementing Nigerianization of foreign businesses. Eventually, elections were held in 1979 leading the way to the Nigerian Second Republic.
This is a list of Nigerian region governors and premiers in the First Republic (1960 - 1966).
Nigeria became independent on 1 October 1960 and became a republic on 1 October 1963. On 16 January 1966 a military coup brought Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi to power, terminating the first period of democratic rule. During this period an appointed governor was nominal head of state while an elected premier led the government.