Freedom for self rule, which Britain granted Nigeria on the 1st October, 1960, could not be regrettably maintained or sustained for long by the sons of the soil, who were privileged to take over the levers of power after the exit of British officials from the country’s corridor of power.
The excitement that marked the granting people Freedom to run the affairs of their country was soon degenerated into a fight in the murky dirty water of political rivalry. Those who were lucky to hold power at the different levels were out to undermine those who were not so lucky. The fortunate ones were eager to run the opposition members out of office, take them to the cleaners, so that they would become jetsam in the realm of politics and power game.
)Unfortunately, Action Group (AG), the party controlling the Western region government, became the first victim of what was described as a Machiavellian manoeuvering game for a cheap advantage over opposition members.
The bubble, however, burst, sending waves of destructive vibration across the country’s landscape. The crisis, which started at the AG’s annual convention in Jos in January 1962, snowballed into a centrifugal explosion that saw the party blown up into two factions.
Earlier, on October 1st, 1960, the Jack flag of Britain was lowered in Lagos, for the last time, in Nigeria and the Green-white-green flag of Nigeria, the then newly independent Africa country, went up in the air confidently fluttering in the winds, literally, as it were, announcing an end to colonialism in Nigeria and, of course, the emergence of a new independent country in the continent called Africa. It was a celebration period as the colonial officials, who had been chaperoning the administration of the country since the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern Directorate and the Southern Directorate, stepped aside and the indigenes, who were the sons of the soil, took the seat to direct and pilot the affairs of their fatherland.
Three major political parties were the beneficiaries of the freedom to rule yourselves agenda that ended the yoke of Britain on Nigeria.. Yes, there were three regions in the country. The Northern region was controlled and administered by the defunct Northern People’s Congress (NPC), led by Sir. Ahamadu Bello, the premier. The Eastern region was in the firm grip of the defunct National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). The Late Professor Eta Iyo was the maiden premier of the region, while the Western region was administered by the AG under the able leadership of the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In the Western region, AG was the masses’ party. Despite its popularity a disagreement among members over personal issues, however, reared its ugly head. It was between the leader of the party, the Late Obafemi Awolowo and the deputy party leader, the Late Chief Ladoke Akintola, who was the premier of the region at the time. Chief Awolowo, who was the leader of the opposition at the federal level in the House of Representatives, had accused Chief Akintola, his deputy in the AG, of disloyalty.
The accusation quickly polarized the ranks and file of the AG. There were members who queued behind Awolowo as Akintola played the card of his premiership to rally others’support, especially those who saw Awolowo as oppressing his successor the premier, Akintola. He, Akintola was in power in the region, he could use government patronage to favour his choice supporters, dangling carrot before them in exchange for support. It was on this division and distrust among the AG members that the party held its 1962 annual convention in Jos. It was held at the African Sports Club. The seating arrangement at the convention ground betrayed the disunity among party members. Unlike the practice before, when there was amity between the party leader, Awolowo and his Deputy, Akintola. They used to sit together at the headtable,, beside each other. The two leaders of the party at the 1962 convention sat at a distance to each other, so were members. They sat based on their camp of loyalty. Immediately the conference took off, a motion was moved against Akintola for disloyalty, requesting him to step down and resign his deputy leadership of the party. Akintola and his supporters could not brook what they regarded an affront on the premier. They countered the motion and protested, storming out of the conference that was still on going. As the crisis deepened, The party General-Secretary, the Late Ayotunde Rosij, resigned his office. It was his mark of protest against removal of Akintola as the deputy leader of the AG. After the pro- Akintola members of the party had left the conference hall, the party filled vacant seats in the party left by Akintola’s supporters. Members of the party, who were rooting for Akintola, accused Awolowo of playing his wife’s game and of not allowing the premier, who succeeded him to have a breathing space in the running of his administration. They alleged that Awolowo wanted to be controlling the Western region government from his seat in the House of Representatives. This, they insisted, was unacceptable to them.
That was how the AG’s factional fight was shifted from convention ground in Jos to the floor of the Western region House of Assembly in Ibadan. The premier, in Ibadan, directed the governor of the region, Sir Adesoji Aderemi, to dissolve the House. To the surprise of the premier, the governor ignored his directive. Besides, Akintola urged the Speaker of the House of Assembly to, pass a vote of confidence on him (Akintola). Regrettably, the speaker ignored the premier. Expectedly, this led to a breakdown of order in the House of Assembly. Members went on rampage as violence was let loose on members who scampered to safety as they were attacking one another. Those who had no lIver trusted their feet. They fled in different directions. They crashed at the exit doors, while some even jumped though windows. It was at that point that Akintola went to court to stop the House from taking any step that could be detrimental to his continuity in office as the premier of Western region
On May 29, the Prime Minister, Sir. Tafawa Balewa, summoned an emergency meeting of the members of the House of Representatives, in Lagos over the brewing crisis in the Western region House of Assembly. He moved a motion imposing a state of emergency on the Western region. The motion was seconded by the then Minister of Finance, Sir. Festus Okotie Eboh. Before the state of emergency was imposed by the prime minister, the Western region House of Assembly had nominated and approved Alhaji Dauda Adegbenro the new premier of Western region. There was, however, an injunction in place that put Adegbnro’s appointment on hold. Immediately after the state of emergency was passed in the House of Representatives despite the protest by Awolowo, Dr. Majekodunmi was appointed the administrator of the region.
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