Nigeria’s First Elections – The Road to Independence


These videos are classics and chronicle Nigeria’s first elections – hotly contested by the Northern People’s Congress, National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, the Action Group and Northern Elements Progressive Union.  There is some wonderful archive footage here and interviews with the Sardauna of Sokoto Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Maitama Sule and a young Aminu Kano.





Even though 50+years old, the issues it highlights (cultural and religious differences between north and south) are still relevant today. The things that struck me most:


*The Sardauna’s complete disinterest in federal politics and focus on preserving the customs and integrity of the north. When asked whether he would become Nigeria’s Prime Minister or Governor-General, the Sardauna replied: “I would rather live here amongst my people and carry my traditional title than an imported one.” 


*Azikiwe’s lack of partisan political ambition – saying it did not matter which of he, Balewa and Awolowo became Prime Minister.*The Sardauna’s irritation with Awolowo’s brash campaigning and desecration of northern traditions by hovering over/dropping leaflets on the Emir’s palace.




This is a must view. Enjoy!


8 responses

  1. “I would rather live here amongst my people and carry my traditional title than an imported one.” – Analysing the above in isolation is misleading. The Sardauna knew that vacating his traditional seat will rob him of all dominance; essentially: he could eat his cake and eat it too. And, certainly, a position at the centre was considered by the Sardauna (and then, possibly by Awolowo) as inferior to being head of the region; the Sardauna was then the substantive head of his region. Balewa was seen no more than one who had to take instructions from Sokoto.

    Azikiwe’s comment would either be naive or misleading. As president, he did want exercise powers he was later advised were reserved for the prime minister. The statement credited to him also symbolises a lackadaisical attitude to the leadership of the country (either that, or, he was attempting to the clever by half by deceiving with words).

    The problem there for Awolowo was a failure to be smart enough to engage peoples on their own terms. The Northern elite has been adept at this; pushing ‘reform’ (the bold campaigns in the North – not just the dropping of leaflets on the Emir’s home – certain to anger the ‘owners’ of a territory deemed inviolable) the way he did showed a contempt for customs and culture; that’s never a way to win over an ‘enemy’.


    1. Dr. Ekuson Debango | Reply

      Your analysis is so very absurd that I don’t even know where to begin deconstructing this gibberish. You drooled on about how the Sardauna was right without actually paying close attention to the divisive tone of his language.He used words such as “amongst my people”, “I will return the prime minister” and the rest of the puffed-up arrogance that was his divisive trademark in those heady days of post- independence.Here was a man who vehemently kicked against and postponed Nigerian independence until Ghana clenched thatcoverted trophy from Nigera, here was a man who threatened secession if things didn’t go the North’s way and then turned around to grab it all from the center. The man surely was steeped in nothing but selfish Northern preservation and very anti Nigeria in proclivity and orientation. He was only for Nigeria for what Nigeria can afford him but against Nigeria if there was nothing for the taking.This, my friend, is certainly not the hallmark of nationhood. I am certain that you are aware that his animus against Awolowo for campaigning in what you call his “inviolable” territory is very anti democratic in principle. I got news for you: The people of the Niger Delta can equally argue that the presence of all manner of pretenders of national unity who show up at their doorsteps for what they can take amounts to a violation of their territory too. How about that for an argument?The same Sardauna also had a thing or two against the Igbo. And you wonder why the year 2015 is fast approaching with nothing to be done about it?Stay tuned my friend. Stay tuned.You saw the revelation of Boko Haram that they all along have been sponsored by Northern governors for years to the tune of millions of naira. Now do you wonder why the North has been so silent about Boko Haram, pretending not to know what on earth the group is all about? Every now and then you hear a Northern governor, senator(eg Ali Ndume), or official mouth the vacuous nonsense that President Jonathan should sit down and negotiate with Boko Haram. This is absurd and plain silly thinking. You simply do not negotiate a darn thing with a terrorist group. Nobody ever does something this stupid. The good thing about Boko Haram is that some day soon, this group,given it’s stupidity, will take us all to the promised land sooner than I had imagined. This ,my friend, will give me a better high than anything I will ever snort.

      1. <<<>>> <<<<>>>>>

        Dr. Ekuson, This selfish act of Saduana, is that not enough for Azikiwe to liberate and celebrate the southern or Eastern independence which they gained in 1957 and let saduana and his Bokoharam people dwelt violently in their Nothern Hell ? To me I admired Saduana’s actions through out their time. He clearlly asked for what he wanted in favour of his fellow notherners and careless about this so called Nigeria, but he aggreed to be part of Nigeria if other regions could kiss their nothern dried ass which was baptised today as “Born To Rule” or else they Bomb the whole Nation.
        During the counter coup of 1966, the Nothern agenda was to Bomb and destroy Lagos and and other southern cities before seceeding from Nigeria. Southerners can not be living with this destructive minded people as one Nation. That’s very awful.

        1. Dr. Ekuson Debango | Reply

          @ Charles King: I understand your sentiments as expressed here. Prior to independence and then shortly after independence every Southerners hinged their bet on a united proaperous new country, ignoring the scheming and arrogance of the Northern hegemonists who eyed power at the center or no Nigeria. The British reading this tea leaf massively rigged the election in their favour. It is no accident that till date all important military institutins are located in the North, as a back up in the event that their favoured ethnic group(the North) is dislodged from power.Thes events were all worked out by the Brits right from the beginning.Notice that whenever it seems that a Southerner would take the helm at the center something odd happens. Take a close look at Ironsi (assasinated), Abiola (annulment and then assasination), Obasanjo(political sharia and tension), Jonathan (misguided protests or sabotage and mass Boko Haram targeted killings with the imprimatur of Northern politicians) and the list goes on. You are also right about Zik whose politics I could neither understand nor agree with.Zik obvoiusly failed to see behind his nose in delving into this lopsided arrangement.We now live under the consequences of such arrangement. I often hear people say Nigeria will be great, but honestly, given the amount of resources so far washed down the drain, I don’t see it happening. The great late prime minister of Rhodesia, Ian Smith, once opined that the black race needed at least a good 1000years of poliitcal tutelage under the white race before they(the blacks) can be granted political independence. I am afraid Ian Smith was quite right. The evidence is the country called Nigeria, a failed state by any measure of the imagination.

  2. you got it all wrong my friends all your statements are biased and selfish but any way thats your opinion and you can think what you want to think

    1. Dear aar,
      Your statement had no base, try to be specific ” Opposing other peoples opinion (as you labelled it) while proposing nothing is quite irresponsible”

  3. […] Nigeria’s First Elections – The Road to Independence […]

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