An Essay on the Constitution - After gaining ..
In 1948, the colonial government granted a number of concessions – the “turning point” towards decolonization. It reformed the Richards Constitution and announced measures to Nigerianize the civil service, democratize the Native Authorities, and expand higher education. Political reforms were introduced. Emerging leaders began to call for greater regional autonomy, creating associations to fight for this. The problems of ethnic politics that would consume Nigeria for the rest of the century had begun. Among the causes of ethnicity were the regional disparities created by colonialism, the competition in the urban environment for limited resources, and the instrumentalization of ethnicity by emerging politicians seeking the fastest means to mobilize support. Regional feelings eventually led to the emergence of regionally-based political parties. The Action Group (AG), based in the west, was led by Obafemi Awolowo, who used the Yoruba creation myth and the importance of the ancestral town of Ile-Ife to create a cultural organization, the Egbe Omo Oduduwa — “the descendants of Oduduwa” — that was transformed into a political party in 1951. The Northern People’s Congress (NPC), established in 1949, revived the memory of the Caliphate of the nineteenth century and used Islam to create a solid party for the north. A second major party emerged in the north, the left-wing Northern Elements Progressive Union ( NEPU), led by Aminu Kano. The NCNC, which had started as a national party, became the party of the east, controlled by the Igbo. Things would never be the same again as the leaders abandoned pan-Nigerian issues and focused more and more on regional concerns. Within one generation, nationalists became tribalists, interested in independence for narrow gains. Regional Houses of Assembly and a central Federal Parliament were established.
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“Preamble of the Free African Society,” in William Douglass, Annals of the First African Church, in the United States of America, Now Styled the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1862).
The issues disputed are outlined and explored in the Federalist Papers, an assortment of letters and essays, often published under pseudonyms, which emerged in a variety of publications after the Constitution was presented to the public.
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Some crucial developments that occurred during this period include the alliance that the colonial state struck with the remnants of the Caliphate rulers. Based on that alliance, the latter sustained the view that their empire was still intact and with high prospects of continuing its Southward expansion. This was so in spite of the absence of an army under their command and control. They believed that the alliance between themselves and the colonial state implied the protection of their interests by the latter. It was in the course of this period that most Southern cities and urban centers became cradles of nationalism and anti-colonial activism. But if conventional wisdom were to hold true, older cities in the North ought to have served this end. That the reverse was the case is not only symbolic in this essay, it underscores an earlier point that unlike in the North, the colonial state could not find the grounds for any meaningful interaction and exchange with the Southern groups who sustained their resistance to it. Another development that took place in the course of this period is that the colonial state was unable to find or create a basis to facilitate any meaningful interaction and exchange with the Southern groups who sustained their resistance to it through riots, other acts of open insubordination, and subsequently by way of nationalism.
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The only other means through which it could sustain its dominance over them was through the continued reliance on the instruments of colonial coercion – the army and police. The result was that it remained unentrenched and untransformed down in the South. And the manifest consequence of that failure remained political instability in the land.