FACULTY OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCES
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC
COURSE TITLE: NIGERIA GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS II
Nigeria became independent on October 1, 1960. The period between this date and January 15, 1966, when the first military coup d’tat took place, is generally referred to as the First Republic, although the country only become a republic on October 1, 1963. After a plebiscite in February 1961, the Northern Cameroon’s, which before then was administered separately within Nigeria, voted to join Nigeria. At independence Nigeria had all the trappings of a democratic state and was indeed regarded as a beacon of hope for democracy.It had a federal constitution that guaranteed a large measure of autonomy to three (later four) regions; it operated a parliamentary democracy modeled along British lines that emphasized majority rule; the constitution included an elaborate bill of rights; and, unlike other African states that adopted one-party systems immediately after independence, the country had a functional, albeit regionally based, multiparty system. These democratic trappings were not enough to guarantee the survival of the republic because of certain fundamental and structural weaknesses. Perhaps the most significant weakness was the disproportionate power of the north in the federation. The departing colonial authority had hoped that the development of national politics of a regionalized party system in a country where political power depended on population. The major political parties in the republic had emerged in the late 1940s and early as 1950s as regional parties whose main aim was to control power in their regions. The Northern People’s Congress (NPC) and the Action Group (AG), which controlled the Northern Region and the Western Region, respectively, clearly emerged in this way. The National Council of Nigeria Citizens (NCNC), which controlled the Eastern Region and the Midwestern Region (created in 1963), began), began as a nationalist party but was forced by the pressures of regionalism to become primarily an eastern party, albeit with strong pockets of support elsewhere in the federation. These regional parties were based upon, and derived their main support from, the major groups in their regions: NPC (Hausa/Fulani), AG (Yoruba), and NCNC (Igbo). A notable and more ideologically-based political party that never achieved significant power was Aminu Kano’s radical Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), which opposed the NPC in the north from its kano base. There were also several political movements formed by minority groups to press their demands for separate states. These minority parties also doubled as opposition parties in the regions and usually aligned themselves with the party in power in another region that supported their demands for a separate state. Ethnic minorities therefore enabled the regional parties to extend their influence beyond then regions. In the general election of 1959 to determine which parties would rule in the immediate postcolonial period, the major one won a majority of seats in their regions, but none emerged powerful enough to constitute a national government. A coalition government was formed by the NPC and NCNC, the former having been greatly favored by the departing colonial authority. The coalition provided a measure of north-south consensus that would not have been the case if the NCNC and AG had formed a coalition. Nnamdi Azikwe (NCNC) became the governor general (and president after the country became a republic in 1963), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (NPC) was named prime minister, and Obafefim Awolowo (AG) had to settle for leader of the opposition. The regional premiers were Ahmadu Bello (Northern Region, NPC), Samuel Akintola (Western Region, AG), Michael Okpara (Eastern Region, NCNC), and Dennis Osadebey (Midwestern Region, NCNC). Among the difficulties of the republic were efforts of the NPC, the senior partner in the coalition government, to use the federal government’s increasing power in favor of the Northern Region. The balance rested on the premise that the Northern Region had the political advantage deriving from its preponderant size and population, and the two southern regions (initially the Eastern Region and the Western Region) had the economic advantage as sources of most of the exported agricultural products, in addition to their control of the federal bureaucracy. The NPC south to redress northern economic and bureaucratic disadvantages. Under the First National Development Plan, many of the federal government’s projects and military establishments were allocated to the north. There was a “affirmative action” program by the government to recruit and train northerners, resulting in the appointment of less qualified southerners. Actions such as these served to estrange the NCNC from its coalition partner. The reactions to the fear of northern dominance, and especially the steps taken by the NCNC to counter the political dominance of the north, accelerated the collapse of the young republic. The southern parties, especially the embittered NCNC, had hoped that the regional power balance could be shifted if the 1962 census favored the south. Population determined the allocation of parliamentary seats on which the power of every region was based. Because population figures were also used in allocating revenue to the regions and in determine the viability of any proposed new region, the 1962 census was approached by all regions as a key contest for control of the federation. This contest led to various illegalities: inflated figures, electoral violence, falsification of results, manipulation of population figures, and the like. Although the chief census officer found evidence of more inflated figures in the southern regions, the northern region retained its numerical superiority. As could be expected, southern leaders rejected the results, leading to a cancellation of the census and to the holding of a fresh census in 1963. This population count was finally accepted after a protracted legal battle by the NCNC and gave the Northern Region a population of 29, 758,975 out of the total of 55,620,268. These figures eliminated whatever hope the southerners had of ruling the federation. Since the 1962-63 exercise, the size and distribution of the population have remained volatile political issues (see Population, ch. 2). In fact, the importance and sensitivity of a census count have increased because of the expanded use of population figures for revenue allocations, constituency delineation, allocations under the quota system of admissions into schools and employment, and the sitting of industries and social amenities such as schools, hospitals, and post officers. Another census in 1973 failed, even though it was conducted by a military government that was less politicized than its civilian predecessor. What made the 1973 census particularly over power to civilians. The provisional figures showed an increase for the states that were carved out of the former Northern Region with a combined 51.4 million people out of a total 79.8 million people. Old fears of domination were resurrected, and the stability of the federation was again seriously threatened. The provisional results were finally canceled in 1975. As of late 1990, no other census had been undertaken, although one was scheduled for 1991 as part of the transition to civilian rule. In the interim, Nigeria has relied on population projections based on 1963 census figures. Other events also contributed to the collapse of the First Republic. In 1962, after a split in the leadership of the AG that led to a crisis in the Western Region, a state of emergency was declared in the region, and the federal government invoked its emergency powers to administer the region directly. These actions with other AG leaders, was convicted of treasonable felony. Awolowo’s former deputy and premier of the Western Region formed a new party-the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP)-that took over the government. The federal coalition government also supported agitation of minority groups for a separate state to be excised from the Western Region. In 1963 the Midwestern Region was created. By the time of the 1964 general elections, the first to be conducted solely by Nigerians, the country’s politics had become polarized into a competition between two opposing alliances. One was the Nigerian National Alliance made up of the NPC and NNDC; the other was the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) composed of the NCNC, the AG, and their allies. Each of the regional parties openly intimidated its opponents in the campaigns. When it became clear that the neutrality of the Federal Election Commission could not be guaranteed, calls were unfair to opponents of the regional parties, the NCNC was returned to power in the east and Midwest, while the NPC kept control of the north and was also in a position to form a federal government on its own. The Western Region became the “theater of war” between the NNDP (and the NPC) and the AG-UPGA. The rescheduled regional elections late in 1965 were violent. The federal government refused to declare a state of emergency and the military seized power on January 15, 1966. The First Republic had collapsed. Scholars have made several attempts to explain the collapse. Some attribute it to the inappropriateness of the political institutions and processes and to their not being adequately entrenched under colonial rule, whereas others hold the elite responsible. Lacking a political culture to sustain democracy, politicians failed to play the political game according to established rules. The failure of the elite appears to have been a symptom rather than the cause of the problem. Because members of the elite lacked a material based fro their aspirations, they resorted to control of state other and resource. At the same time uneven take of development among the various groups and regions invested the struggle for state power with a group character. These factors gave importance to group, ethnic, and regional conflicts that eventually contributed to the collapse of the republic. The final explanation is closely related to all the foregoing. It holds that the regionalization of politics and, in particular, of party politics made the stability of the republic dependent on each party retaining control of its regional based. As long as this was so, there was a rough balance between the parties, as well as their respective regions. Once the federal government invoked its emergency powers in 1962 and removed the AG from power in the Western Region, the fragile balance on which the federation rested was disturbed. Attempts by the AG and NCNC to create a new equilibrium, or at least to return the status quo ante, only generated stronger opposition and hastened the collapse of the republic. The first emergency stronger opposition and hastened the collapse of the republic. The first emergency rule in Nigeria was in 1962, when Dr. Moses Majekodunmi was appointed the Sole Administration of the defunct Western Region is a way of resolving the crisis began when the then premier, Chief S. L. A. Akintola, was removed by the Government of Western Nigeria and Chief Dauda Adegbenro was installed as premier instead. The Western House of Assembly had convened to pass a vote of confidence on Chief Adegbenro’s government, when Chief Akintola’s supporter in the House allegedly created an upon forcing the police to disperse members with tear gas. Because of the region, the federal parliament, in exercise of its powers under the Constitution of 1960, declared a state of emergency in Western Nigeria and approved appointment of Majekodunmi as administer of the region since its return to civil rule in 1999, Nigeria’s political history has been topsy-turvy. The country has experienced some security challenges that threatened its peace and unity. Consequently, some of its past leaders have been forced to invoke section 305 of the 1999 Constitution which empowers a sitting president to declare emergency rule whenever the peace of the country is threatened. Before President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of partial emergency rule in some troubled states yesterday, plateau and Ekiti States were the only states that have experienced emergency rule since this democratic dispensation began in 1999. On Tuesday, May 18, 2004, former president Olusegun Obasanjo declared an emergency rule in Plateau State, following a sectarian crisis that claimed hundreds of lives and left many homeless. In an address to the nation, the former president said the decision to impose a state of emergency in Plateau State was based on the collective desire to strengthen the country’s democratic practice, institutions and values. “this decision would without doubt enhance security as well as protect the stability and corporate existence of our nation for which many have died. It is my hope and prayer that this six-month period will be used by the administrator and all peace loving people in and enshrine the values of transparency, accountability, social justice, love, good neighborliness and good governance” Major General Cris Alli, was directed to take over the affairs of the state for a period of six months with a mandate to end the strife and restore order. Ekiti was the next state to experience emergency rule. On Thursday, October 19, 2006, President Olusegun Obasanjo, in an address to the nation, said he was declaring a state of emergency in Ekiti State in order to “ensure that peace and orderliness return to the state.” He said the state House of Assembly had been suspended and retired Major General Tunji Olurin was appointed the Administrator of Ekiti State.
INDEPENDENCE AND INTERNAL CONFLICT
With Nigerian independence scheduled for 1960, elections were held in 1959. No party won a majority, and the NPC combined with the NCNC to form a government. Nigeria attained independence on Oct. 1, 1960, with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the NPC as prime minister and Azikiwe of the NCNC as governor-general; when Nigeria became a republic in 1963, Azikiwe was made president. The first years of independence were characterized by severe conflicts within and between region. In the Western region, a bloc of the Action Group split off (1962) under S. I. Akintola to form the Nigerian National Democratic party (NNDP); 1963 the mid Western region (whose population was mostly I do) was formed from a part of the Western region. National elections late in 1964 were hotly contested; with an NPC-NNDP coalition (called the National Alliance) emerging victorious. In Jan., 1966, Igbo army officers staged a successful coup, which resulted in the deaths of Federal Prime Minister Balewa, Northern Prime Minister Ahmadu bello, and Western Prime Minister S. I. Akintola. Maj. Gen. Johnson T. U. Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo, became head of a military government and suspended the national and regional constitutions; this met with a violent reaction in the north. In July, 1966, a coup led by Hausa army officers ousted Ironsi (who was killed) and placed Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon at the head of a new military regime. In Sept., 1966, many Igbo living who were becoming increasingly fearful of their position within Nigeria. In May, 1967, the Eastern parliament gave Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka O. Ojukwu, the region’s leader, authority to declare the region an independent republic. Gowon proclaimed a state of emergency, and as a gesture to the Igbos, redivided Nigeria into 12 states (including one, the East-Central state that comprised most of the Igbo people). However, on May 30, Ojukwu proclaimed the independent Republic of Biafra, and in July fighting broke out between Biafra and Nigeria Biafra made some advances early in the war, but soon federal forces gained the imitative. After much suffering, Biafra capitulated on Jan. 1970, and the secession ended. The early 1970s were marked by reconstruction in areas that were formerly part of Biafra, by the gradual reintegration of the Igbo into national life, and by a slow return to civilian rule.
Spurred by the booming petroleum industry, the Nigerian economy quickly recovered from the effects of civil war and made impressive advances. Nonetheless, inflation and high unemployment remained, and the oil boom led to government corruption and uneven distribution of wealth. Nigeria joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1971. the prolonged drought that desiccated the Sahel region of Africa in the early 1970s had a profound effect on Nigeria, resulting in a migration of peoples into the less arid areas and into the cities of the south. Gowon’s regime was overthrown in 1975 by Gen: Murtala Muhammad and a group of officers who pledged a return to civilian rule. In the mid – 1970s plans were approved for a new capital to be built at Abuja, a move that drained the nation economy. Muhammad was assassinated in an attempted coup one year after taking office and succeeded by Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. In a crisis brought on by rapidly falling oil revenues, the government restricted public opposition to the regime, controlled union activity and student movements, nationalized land, and increased oil industry regulation. Nigeria sought Western support under Obasanjo while supporting, African nationalist movements. In 19/9 elections were held under a new constitution, bringing Alhaji Shehu Shagari to the presidency. Relations with the United States reached a new high in 1979 with a visit by President Jimmy Carter. The government expelled thousands of foreign laborers in 1983, citing social disturbances as the reason. The same year, Shagari was reelected president but overthrown after only a few months in office. In 1985 a coup led by Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida brought a new regime to power, along with the promise of a return to civilian rule. A new constitution was promulgated in 1990, which set national elections for 1992. Babangida annulled the results of that presidential election, claiming fraud. A new election in 1993 ended in the apparent presidential victory of Moshood Abiola, but Babangida again alleged fraud. Soon unrest led to Babangida’s resignation. Ernest Shonekan, a civilian appointed as interim leader, was forced out after three months by Gen. Sani Abacha, a long-time ally of Babangida, who became president and banned all political institutions and labor unions. In 1994, Abiola was arrested and charged with treason. In 1995, Abacha extended military rule for three more years, while proposing a program for a return to civilian rule after that period; his proposal was rejected by opposition leaders, but five political parties were established in 1996. the Abacha regime drew international condemnation in late 1995 when Ken Saro-Wiwa, a prominent writer, and eights groups and led to Nigeria’s suspension from the Commonwealth of Nations. Also in 1995, a number of army officers, including former head of state General Obasanjo, were arrested in connection with an alleged coup attempt. In 1996, kudirat Abiola, an activist on behalf of her imprisoned husband, was murdered. Abacha died suddenly in June, 1998, and was succeeded by Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, who immediately freed Obasanjo and other political prisoners. Riots followed the announcement that Abiola had also died unexpectedly in July, 1998, while in detention. Abubakar then announced an election timetable leading to a return to civilian rule within a year. All former political parties were disbanded and new ones formed. A series of local, state, and federal elections were held between Dec., 1998, and Feb., 1999, culminating in the presidential contest, won by General Obasanjo. The elections were generally deemed fair by international monitors. The People’s Democratic party (PDP; the centrist party of General Obasanjo) dominated the elections; the other two leading parties were the Alliance for Democracy (a Yoruba party of the southwest, considered to be progressive), and the All People’s party (a conservative party based in the north). Following Obasanjo’s inauguration on May 29, 1999, Nigeria was readmitted to the Commonwealth. The new president said he would combat past and present corruption in the Nigerian government and army and develop the impoverished Niger delta area. Although there was some progress economically, government and political corruption remained a problem. The country also was confronted with renewed ethnic and religious tension. The latter was in part a result of the institution of Islamic law in Nigeria’s northern states, and led to violence that has been an ongoing problem since the return of civilian rule. Army lawlessness was a problem as well in some areas. A small success was achieved in Apr., 2002, when Abacha’s family agreed to return billion to the government; the government had sought an estimated billion in looted Nigerian assets. In Mar., 2003, the Ijaw, accusing the ltsekiri, government; and oil companies of economic and political collusion against them, began militia attacks against itsekiri villages and oil facilities in the Niger delta, leading to a halt in the delta’s oil production for several weeks and military intervention by the government. The presidential and earlier legislative elections in Apr., 2003, were won by President Obasanjo and his party, but the results were married by vote rigging and some violence. The opposition protested the results, and unsuccessfully challenged the presidential election in court. The Ijaw-Itsekiri conflict continued into 2004, but a peace deal was reached in mid-June. The Ijaw backed out the agreement, however, three weeks later. Christian-Muslim tensions also continued to be a problem in 2004, with violent attacks occurring in Kebbi, Kano, and Plateau states. Obasanjo’s government appeared to move more forcefully against government corruption in early 2005. Several government ministers were fired on corruption charges, and the senate speaker resigned after he was accused of taking bribes. A U. S. investigation targeted Nigeria’s vice president the same year, and Obasanjo himself agreed to be investigated by the Nigerian financial crimes commission when he was accused of corruption by Orji Uzor Kalu, the governor of Abia and a target of a corruption investigation. Ijaw militants again threatened Niger delta oil operations in Sept, 2005, and several times in subsequent years, resulting in cuts in Nigeria’s oil production as large as 25% at times. Since early 2006 the Niger delta area has seen an increase in kidnappings of foreign oil facilities allowed criminal gangs to expand their influence in populated much of its foreign debt at a discount, a process that was completed in Apr., 2006. The end of 2005 and early 2006 saw increased contention over whether to amend the constitution to permit the president and state governors to run for more than terms. The idea had been rejected in July, 2005, by a national political reform conference, but senators reviewing the conference’s proposals indicated they supported an end to term limits. The change was opposed by Vic President Atiku Abubakar, but other PDP leaders who objected were removed from their party posts. A census – a contentious event because of ethnic and religious divisions in Nigeria – was taken in May, 2006, but the head count was marred by a lack of resources and a number of violent clashes, and many Nigerians were believed to have been left uncounted. In May the Nigerian legislature ended consideration of a third presidential term when it became clear that there was insufficient support for amending the constitution. Nigeria agreed in June, 2006, to turn over the Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon after a two-year transition period; the region was finally ceded in Ag., 2008. In July the vice president called for the Nigerian senate to remove the vice president from office for fraud, based on an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The senate agreed to investigate the charges, and the PDP suspended the vice president, blocking him from seeking the part’s presidential nomination. Abubakar counter accused Obasanjo of corruption. The EFCC was also investigating most of Nigeria’s state governors, but the commission itself was tainted by charges that it was used for political retaliation by Obasanjo and his allies. Several state governors were impeached by legally unsound proceedings, moves that were seen as an attempt by Obasanjo to tighten his control prior to the 2007 presidential election. When the vice president accepted (Dec., 2006) the presidential nomination of a group of opposition parties, the president accused him of technically resigning and sought to have him removed, an action Abubakar challenged in court; the government backed down the following month, and the courts later sided with Abubakar. In Jan., 2007, the results of the 2006 census were released, and they proved as divisive as previous Nigerian censuses. The census showed that the largely Muslim north had more inhabitants than the south, and many southern political leaders vehemently rejected the results.