First Nigerian Republic
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politics and government of
Although Nigeria gained independence from Britain on October 1st, 1960, the nation remained a Commonwealth Realm with Elizabeth II as titular head of state until the adoption of a new constitution in 1963 declaring the nation a republic.
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 kilometres, 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, 1st 1960, and became a republic in 1963. The journey to independence started with some constitutional developments in Nigeria, these constitutional developments saw the country attaining self-rule in some quarters in 1957 and total independence on Oct. 1st 1960.
|Nnamdi Azikiwe||October 1, 1963 - January 16, 1966||NCNC|
Note: Nnamdi Azikiwe resigned from NCNC to become the First Governor-General of Nigeria from October 1, 1960 - September 30, 1963.
|Abubakar Tafawa Balewa||October 1, 1963 - January 16, 1966||NPC|
- Action Group (AG)
- Borno Youth Movement (BYM)
- Democratic Party of Nigeria and Cameroon (DPNC)
- Dynamic Party (DP)
- Igala Union (IU)
- Igbira Tribal Union (ITU)
- Midwest Democratic Front (MDF)
- National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons/National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC)
- National Independence Party (NIP)
- Niger Delta Congress (NDC)
- Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP)
- Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU)
- Northern People's Congress (NPC)
- Northern Progressive Front (NPF)
- Republican Party (RP)
- United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC)
- United National Independence Party (UNIP)
- Zamfara Commoners Party (ZCP)
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. The National Independence Party (NIP) formed by Professor Eyo Ita became the second political party in the old Eastern Region. 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, was accused of attempting to overthrow the government. This followed a period of conflict between the AG regional government and the central government. In spite of the flimsiness of the evidence presented by the government's prosecutors, he was convicted. With incarceration of Awolowo, Samuel Akintola took over 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.
Chief S.A Ajayi OFR (Federal Minister of Interior, minister of Forestry(state)
The political unrest during the mid-1960s culminated into Nigeria's first military coup d'état. On 15 January 1966, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and his fellow rebel soldiers (most of who were of southern extraction) and were led by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna of the Nigerian Army, executed a bloody takeover of all institutions of government. Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, was assassinated along with the premier of Northern Nigeria, strong-man Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto, Samuel Akintola, premier of the West and Festus Okotie-Eboh, the Finance Minister. [permanent dead link]. It is not clear whether President Azikiwe's life was spared because he was out of the country at the time, or whether he had been informed about the impending coup and was out of the country so that his life could be spared. Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi took control as the first Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria on January 16, 1966.
Civil war and beyond: 1966–79
The republic would be torn by the secession of Biafra and the ensuing civil war from 1966–70. 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.
- Nigerian Civil War
- Nigerian Second Republic (1979–83)
- Nigerian Third Republic (1993)
- Nigerian Fourth Republic (1999–present)
- https://www.dawodu.com/const63.pdf The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1963)
- John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War (Hodder and Stroughto Publishers: London, 1972, p. 30
- John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War (Hodder and Stoughton Publishers: London, 1972) p. 30.
- John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 30.
- John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 30.
- John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War p. 36.
- John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 35
- John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 39.
- THE FIRST REPUBLIC
- Nigeria - US State Department Profile
- The History of Nigeria
- Media Accountability and Democracy in Nigeria
- The inside story of Nigeria's first military coup (1)