Power vs Ideology The Evolution of Party Politics in Nigeria

More than 60 years since independence, little has changed in Nigeria’s political party system when it comes to articulating national objectives for the growth and development of the Nigerian polity.

If it is true that at independence in 1960 Nigeria had no pervading national ideology that unified its citizens, then it should come as no surprise that Nigeria’s earliest political parties were equally devoid of ideology and emerged almost entirely on the basis of sectional interests. According to historian, Max Siollun, ‘Party politics (and political parties) took on the identity and ideology of each of the three geopolitical regions in the north, south-east and south-west.’ At independence, the dominant political party in the Northern region was the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) led by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, while the Action Group led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) led by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe held sway in the West and East respectively.

This essay features in our forthcoming print issue, ‘The Road to 2023’ and is only available to paying subscribers. To subscribe, buy a subscription plan here from $1.99 / month (students) and $5.99 / month (non-students). Already a subscriber? log in.