Nigerian Youth Movement

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The Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) was Nigeria's first genuine nationalist organization, founded in Lagos in 1933 with Professor Eyo Ita as the founding father and many others including Samuel Akisanya.[1] Ernest Ikoli, the first editor of the Daily Times of Nigeria, which was launched in June 1926, was another founding member.[2] Immediate concerns included the supposedly inferior status of Yaba College, appointments of Africans to senior positions in the civil service and discrimination against African truck drivers. However, the Lagos-based organization at first had generally moderate views and pledged to support and cooperate with the governor.[1] The president was Dr Kofo Abayomi. Ernest Ikoli was vice president and H.O. Davies was the secretary. It was the first multi-ethnic organization in Nigeria and its programme was to foster political advancement of the country and enhance the socio-economic status of the Nigerian citizens.[citation needed] Adeyemo Alakija later became President of the NYM.[3]

The movement acquired national outlook and became a strong national movement when Nnamdi Azikiwe and H.O. Davies returned to Nigeria in 1937 and 1938 respectively and consequently joined the movement. N.Y.M became the first authentic Nigerian nationalist organisation to be formed, Obafemi Awolowo and Samuel Akintola were other prominent members of the movement which membership was open to all Nigerians especially those resident in Lagos.

Growing militancy[edit]

When Nnamdi Azikiwe ("Zik") launched his West African Pilot in 1937, dedicated to fighting for independence from British colonial rule, the newspaper was an immediate success.[4] Zik, an Ibo, found a ready-audience in the non-Yoruba people of Nigeria, including many in Lagos. He introduced Pan-African consciousness to the NYM, and expanded its membership with large numbers of people who had previously been excluded. H.O. Davies returned to Nigeria in 1938 from a spell at the London School of Economics (LSE), becoming a leading figure in the movement until he resigned in 1951. At the LSE, Davies had roomed with Jomo Kenyatta and had absorbed the socialist views of Harold Laski.[5]

In October 1938 the NYM fought and won elections for the Lagos Town Council, ending the dominance of Herbert Macaulay and the National Democratic Party.[6] The newly self-confident members of the Nigerian Youth Movement objected to the system of indirect rule through traditional tribal leaders. The Youth Charter published in 1938 said: "We are opposed to the term "Indirect Rule" literally as well as in principle. Honest trusteeship implies direct British Rule with a view to ultimate self-government...".[7] The Charter set out goals of unifying the tribes of Nigeria to work towards a common ideal, and educating public opinion to develop the national consciousness needed to reach this ideal. The goal was spelled out as complete autonomy within the British Empire on a basis of equal partnership with the other member states.[6]


  1. ^ a b Coleman 1971, pp. 218.
  2. ^ Coleman 1971, pp. 191.
  3. ^ Sklar 2004, pp. 114.
  4. ^ Uche 1989, pp. 94-96.
  5. ^ Coleman 1971, pp. 224.
  6. ^ a b Coleman 1971, pp. 225.
  7. ^ Coleman 1971, pp. 165-166.