First Nigerian Republic

Last updated
Federal Republic of Nigeria

Motto: "Peace, Unity, Freedom" [1]
Nigeria (orthographic projection).svg
Capital Lagos
Common languages English  · Hausa  · Igbo  · Yoruba and other regional languages
Christianity  · Islam  · Traditional beliefs
Government Federal presidential republic
Nnamdi Azikiwe
Prime Minister  
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Legislature Parliament [2]
 Upper house
 Lower house
House of Representatives
Historical era Cold War
1 October 1963
15 January 1966
1963 [3] 923,768 km2 (356,669 sq mi)
 1963 [3]
Currency Nigerian pound
Time zone UTC+1 (WAT)
Driving side left
ISO 3166 code NG
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Nigeria.svg Federation of Nigeria
Nigerian military junta Flag of Nigeria.svg
Today part ofFlag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon a
Coat of arms of Nigeria.svg
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The First Republic was the republican government of Nigeria between 1963 and 1966 governed by the first republican constitution.

Republicanism is a representative form of government organization. It is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state organized as a republic. Historically, it ranges from the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy to popular sovereignty. It has had different definitions and interpretations which vary significantly based on historical context and methodological approach.

Nigeria Federal republic in West Africa

Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa, bordering Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Its coast in the south is located on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The federation comprises 36 states and 1 Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja, is located. The constitution defines Nigeria as a democratic secular state.

Constitution of Nigeria

The Constitution of Nigeria is the supreme law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.


Founded (1963)

Although Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom on October 1, 1960, the nation retained the British monarch, Elizabeth II, as titular head of state until the adoption of a new constitution in 1963 declaring the nation a republic. [4]

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Elizabeth II Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms

Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.

The name "Nigeria" is derived from the word "Niger" – the name of the river that constitutes the most remarkable geographical feature of the country. Nigeria is a country of 923,768 square kilometres (356,669 sq mi), bound to the west by Benin, to the north by the Niger and Chad Republic, east by the Republic of Cameroon, and south by the Gulf of Guinea. The country gained independence from the British government on October 1, 1960, and became a republic in 1963. The journey to independence started with some constitutional developments in Nigeria, these constitutional developments saw the country attaining self-rule in some quarters in 1957 and total independence on October 1, 1960.


Presidents during the Nigerian First Republic
Nnamdi Azikiwe October 1, 1963 - January 16, 1966 NCNC

Note: Nnamdi Azikiwe resigned from NCNC to become the First Governor-General of Nigeria from November 16, 1960 [5] - September 30, 1963.

Prime ministers

Prime Ministers during the Nigerian First Republic
Prime MinisterTermParty
Alh. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa October 1, 1963 - January 16, 1966NPC

Political parties

The Action Group (AG) was a Nigerian political party established in Ibadan on 21 March 1951, by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The party was founded to serve as the platform for realizing his preliminary objective of mobilizing Western Nigerians to forestall the NCNC control of the Western Region and the subsequent aim of cooperating with other nationalist parties to win independence for Nigeria. It benefited immensely from the relationships developed in the Egbe Omo Oduduwa formed in Awolowo's days in London as a student.

Borno Youth Movement (BYM) was a Nigerian political party founded on June 26, 1954. The party was founded by young radicals of Kanuri heritage who were indignant with the administrative course of native authorities in Borno and wanted to reform the authority.

Dynamic Party was a Nigerian political party headed by the mathematician and erudite scholar Chike Obi. It was inaugurated in Ibadan on April 7, 1951. The party embraced Kemalism, and was cautious about the early movement towards self-government.


The country was split into three geopolitical regions—Western Region, Eastern Region and Northern Region—and its political parties took on the identities and ideologies of each region. The Nigerian People's Congress (NPC) represented the interests of the predominantly Hausa/Fulani Northern Region, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC)] (later renamed to "National Council of Nigerian Citizens") represented the predominantly Igbo Eastern Region, and the Action Group (AG) dominated the Yoruba Western Region. The NPC took control of the federal parliament, and formed a coalition government with the NCNC. The National Independence Party (NIP) formed by Professor Eyo Ita became the second political party in the old Eastern Region. Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, leader of the NPC, was poised to become the Prime Minister, but instead he chose to become the Premier of the Northern Region, and supported his deputy Tafawa Balewa's candidacy for Prime Minister. This raised suspicions amongst the southern politicians, who resented the idea of a federal government controlled by a regional leader through his designated proxy. In the end, Tafawa Balewa of NPC was named Prime Minister and Head of Government, and Nnamdi Azikiwe of NCNC was named President.

The Eastern Region was an administrative region in Nigeria, dating back originally from the division of the colony Southern Nigeria in 1954. Its first capital was Calabar. The capital was later moved to Enugu and the second capital was Umuahia. The region was officially divided in 1967 into three new states, the East-Central State, Rivers State and South-Eastern State. East-Central State had its capital at Enugu, which is now part of Enugu State.

Northern Region, Nigeria former autonomous division within Nigeria

Northern Nigeria was an autonomous division within Nigeria, distinctly different from the southern part of the country, with independent customs, foreign relations and security structures. In 1962 it acquired the territory of the British Northern Cameroons, which voted to become a province within Northern Nigeria.

Hausa people Nationality and Ethnic Group in West Africa

The Hausa are the largest ethnic group in Africa and the second largest language after Arabic in the Afroasiatic family of languages. The Hausa are a diverse but culturally homogeneous people based primarily in the Sahelian and the sparse savanna areas of southern Niger and northern Nigeria respectively, numbering over 70 million people with significant indegenized populations in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Chad, Togo, Ghana, Sudan, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Senegal and the Gambia.

At Nigeria's independence, the Northern Region gained more seats in parliament than both Eastern and Western regions combined—this would cement Northern dominance in Nigerian politics for years to come. Resentment amongst southern politicians precipitated into political chaos in the country. Obafemi Awolowo, Premier of Western Region, was accused of attempting to overthrow the government. This followed a period of conflict between the AG regional government and the central government. In spite of the flimsiness of the evidence presented by the government's prosecutors, he was convicted. With incarceration of Awolowo, Samuel Akintola took over as the Premier of Western Region. Because Akintola was an ally of Ahmadu Bello, the undisputed strong man of Nigeria, Akintola was criticized as being a tool of the North. [6] As premier of the West, Akintola presided over the most chaotic era in Western Region—one which earned it the nickname "the Wild-Wild West". However, as late as Thursday, January 13, 1966, Balewa had announced that the federal government was not going to intervene in the West. [7] However, the very next day, Akintola, premier of the West met with his ally Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, premier of the North and party boss of NPC party to which Balewa belonged. [8] At the same time a top-level security conference in Lagos was taking place which was attended by most of the country's senior army officiers. All of this activity created rumors that the Balewa government would be forced to crack down on lawlessness in the West using military might. [9]

Obafemi Awolowo Nigerian politician

Chief Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo, GCFR, was a Nigerian nationalist and statesman who played a key role in Nigeria's independence movement, the First and Second Republics and the Civil War. The son of a Yoruba farmer, he was one of the truly self-made men among his contemporaries in Nigeria. As a young man he was an active journalist, editing publications such as the Nigerian worker, on top of others as well. After receiving his bachelors of commerce degree in Nigeria, he traveled to London to pursue his degree in law.Obafemi Awolowo was the first premier of the Western Region and later federal commissioner for finance, and vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council during the Iranian Civil War. He was thrice a major contender for his country's highest office. A native of Ikenne in Ogun State of south-western Nigeria, he started his career, like some of his well-known contemporaries, as a nationalist in the Nigerian Youth Movement in which he rose to become Western Provincial Secretary. Awolowo was responsible for much of the progressive social legislation that has made Nigeria a modern nation. Awolowo was the first Leader of Government Business and Minister of Local Government and Finance, and first Premier of the Western Region under Nigeria's parliamentary system, from 1952 to 1959. He was the official Leader of the Opposition in the federal parliament to the Balewa government from 1959 to 1963. In 1963 he was imprisoned under the accusations of sedition and was not pardoned by the government until 1967, after which he assumed the role as Minister of Finance. In recognition of all these, Awolowo was the first individual in the modern era to be named Leader of the Yorubas.

Samuel Akintola Nigerian politician

Chief Samuel Ládòkè Akíntọ́lá or "S.L.A."(July 6, 1910 – January 15, 1966) was a Nigerian politician, lawyer, aristocrat and orator who was born in Ogbomosho, of the then Western Region. In addition to serving as one of the founding fathers of modern Nigeria, he was also elevated to the position of Oloye Aare Ona Kakanfo XIII of the Yoruba.

Notable politicians

Chief S.A Ajayi (Federal minister of Forestry(state)parliamentary secretary to Sadauna of sokoto, member house of Representative, NPC Chairman Kwara State.

The coup

The political unrest during the mid-1960s culminated into Nigeria's first military coup d'état. On 15 January 1966, Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and his fellow rebel soldiers (most of who were of southern extraction) and were led by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna of the Nigerian Army, executed a bloody takeover of all institutions of government. Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa, was assassinated along with the premier of Northern Nigeria, strong-man Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto, [10] Samuel Akintola, premier of the West [11] and Festus Okotie-Eboh, the Finance Minister. . It is not clear whether President Azikiwe's life was spared because he was out of the country at the time, or whether he had been informed about the impending coup and was out of the country so that his life could be spared. Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi took control as the first Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria on January 16, 1966. [12]

Civil war and beyond: 1966–79

The republic would be torn by the secession of Biafra and the ensuing civil war from 1966–70. After the end of the war,the nation re-unified and military rule continued for another nine years, implementing Nigerianization of foreign businesses. Eventually, elections were held in 1979 leading the way to the Nigerian Second Republic.

See also

Related Research Articles

The history of Nigeria can be traced to prehistoric settlers (Nigerians) living in the area as early as 1100 BC. Numerous ancient African civilizations settled in the region that is today Nigeria, such as the Kingdom of Nri, the Benin Empire, and the Oyo Empire. Islam reached Nigeria through the Borno Empire between and Hausa States around during the 11th century, while Christianity came to Nigeria in the 15th century through Augustinian and Capuchin monks from Portugal. The Songhai Empire also occupied part of the region.

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Nigerian politician

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, KBE was a Nigerian politician, and the first prime minister of an independent Nigeria.

The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), was a Nigerian political party from 1944 to 1966, during the period leading up to independence and immediately following independence.

Prince Abyssinia Akweke Nwafor Orizu. was a Nigerian of Igbo origin and Nigeria's second Senate President from 16 November 1960 to 15 January 1966, during the Nigerian First Republic. Orizu was also Acting President of Nigeria from late 1965 until the military coup of January 1966. He was a member of the Nnewi Royal family. His nephew Igwe Kenneth Onyeneke Orizu III is the current Igwe (King) of Nnewi Kingdom. Nwafor Orizu College of Education in Nsugbe, Anambra State, is named after him.

The Lancaster House Conferences in London 1957 and 1958 were meetings where the federal constitution for an independent Nigeria was prepared. The meetings were presided over by the British Colonial Secretary, and Nigerian delegates were selected to represent each region and to reflect various shades of opinion. The delegation was led by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the Northern People's Congress (NPC), and included party leaders Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group, Nnamdi Azikiwe of the NCNC, Eyo Ita of the NIP and Ahmadu Bello of the NPC – as well as the premiers of the Western, Eastern, and Northern regions. The Chiefs of the Northern Region, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi, Emir of Kano and Alhaji Usman Nagogo, Emir of Katsina' Chiefs of the Western Region, Sir Adesoji Aderemi and Oba Aladesanmi; and Chiefs of the Eastern Region Chief Nyong Essien of Uyo and Chief S. E. Onukogu

Ahmadu Bello Nigerian politician

Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello KBE was a Nigerian politician who was the first and only premier of the Northern Nigeria region. He also held the title of the Sardauna of Sokoto. Bello and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa were major figures in Northern Nigeria pre-independence politics and both men played major roles in negotiations about the region's place in an independent Nigeria. As leader of the Northern People's Congress, he was a dominant personality in Nigerian politics throughout the early Nigerian Federation and the First Nigerian Republic.

Colonial Nigeria Former British colony and protectorate in West Africa

Colonial Nigeria was the area of West Africa that later evolved into modern-day Nigeria, during the time of British rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. British influence in the region began with the prohibition of slave trade to British subjects in 1807. Britain annexed Lagos in 1861 and established the Oil River Protectorate in 1884. British influence in the Niger area increased gradually over the 19th century, but Britain did not effectively occupy the area until 1885. Other European powers acknowledged Britain's dominance over the area in the 1885 Berlin Conference.

Muhammadu Ribadu was a Nigerian politician, who was the first Minister of Defence after independence. The son of a district head from Adamawa's Balala district, he was educated early on at a Koranic school before proceeding to the middle school at Yola.

This article is about the particular significance of the year 1966 to Nigeria and its people. See also: Timeline of Nigerian history.

The Kano riot of 1953 refers to the riot, which broke out in the ancient city of Kano, located in Northern Nigeria, in May 1953. The nature of the riot were clashes between Northerners who were opposed to Nigeria's Independence and Southerners made up of mainly the Yorubas and the Igbos who supported immediate independence for Nigeria. The riot that lasted for four days claimed many lives of the Southerners and Northerners and many others were wounded.

Remi Fani-Kayode Nigerian politician, statesman and lawyer

Chief Victor Babaremilekun Adetokunboh Fani-Kayode, Q.C., SAN, CON (1921–1995) was a leading Nigerian politician, aristocrat, nationalist, statesman and lawyer. He was elected deputy premier of the Western Region of Nigeria in 1963 and he played a major role in Nigeria's legal history and politics from the late 1940s until 1995.

Northern People's Congress (NPC) is a political party in Nigeria. Formed in June 1949, the party held considerable influence in the Northern Region from the 1950s until the military coup of 1966.

William Walbe, was a colonel in the Nigerian Army who served as the military aide-de-camp (ADC) to General Yakubu Gowon, the third Nigerian Head of State.

The 1966 Nigerian coup d'état began on 15 January 1966, when mutinous Nigerian soldiers led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna killed 22 people including the Prime Minister of Nigeria, many senior politicians, many senior Army officers, and sentinels on protective duty. The coup plotters attacked the cities of Kaduna, Ibadan, and Lagos while also blockading the Niger and Benue River within a two-day span of time before the coup plotters were subdued. The General Officer Commanding, of the Nigerian Army, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi then used the coup as a pretext to annex power, ending Nigeria's nascent democracy. It was one of the events that led to the Nigerian Civil War.

Cabinet of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa

The Cabinet of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the government of Nigeria, headed by Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, in the years leading up to and following independence. There were three cabinets. The first was established in 1957 when Balewa was appointed Prime Minister by the British Governor-General. The second was formed after the general elections of December 1959, just before independence, in a coalition government. The third was formed after the disputed general elections of December 1964, and was dissolved after the military coup of 15 January 1966.

Alhaji Yahaya Madawaki, MFR, OBE, DLL and holder of the Coronation medal of King George VI was a prominent Nigerian politician, former Minister of Health, the Madawaki of Ilorin and the Atunluse of Erin-Ile, Kwara State.

Aliyu Makama Bida (1905–1980), MHA, CMG, CFR, OBE, was a Nigerian politician. He was the first Northern Minister of Education and Social Welfare, and later Minister of Finance and Treasurer of the NPC.


  1. 1 2 Ugorji, Basil (2012). From Cultural Justice to Inter-Ethnic Mediation: A Reflection on the Possibility of Ethno-Religious Mediation in Africa. Outskirts Press. p. 183. ISBN   9781432788353.
  2. "The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1963)" (PDF). p. 26.
  3. 1 2 Oshungade, I. O. (1995). "The Nigerian Population Statistics" (PDF). 1995 Directory of Nigerian Statisticians. 2: 58. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2013.
  4. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1963)
  5., retrieved August 9, 2017
  6. John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War (Hodder and Stroughto Publishers: London, 1972, p. 30
  7. John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War (Hodder and Stoughton Publishers: London, 1972) p. 30.
  8. John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 30.
  9. John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 30.
  10. John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War p. 36.
  11. John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 35
  12. John de St. Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War, p. 39.