The Eastern Nigerian Regional Crisis of 1953
The Eastern Nigerian regional crisis of 1953 started on January 30, 1953, and ended on May 6, 1953. The National Council of Nigerian and Cameroon (NCNC) majority turned itself into opposition and as such killed the bills that were brought to it including the appropriation bill.
The governor had to use his reserve powers to decree appropriation for the running of the government. The crisis arose because of the internal split and power struggle within NCNC.
Causes of the Eastern Nigerian Regional Crisis
In the first place, the party members from Lagos failed to elect their party leader Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe into the House of Representatives in Lagos.
In the second place, the party leaders did not agree on whether or not they should continue to support the MacPherson Constitution. The party members who were holding ministerial positions supported it while others did not.
Later, the party central ministers were expelled. But some regional ministers did not support the expulsion and there were moves to reshuffle the posts of the regional ministers with a view to replacing the six expelled ministers at the center.
This brought about ‘the Eastern Nigerian regional crisis of 1953′ when the six withdrew their original letters of resignation to make the reshuffling possible. When it became impossible to carry on the business of the house, the House was dissolved on May 6, 1953.
The Question of British Southern Cameroons’ Autonomy
The Aftereffect of Eastern Nigerian Regional Crisis
The connection of Southern Cameroons to the Nigerian Federation by Britain after the First World War worked to the disadvantage of Southern Cameroons’ sovereignty and political ambitions.
With her international status as a Trust Territory, Southern Cameroons was marginalized by the colonial administration which failed to recognize her as a separate territory within the Nigerian Federation.
Under such dispensation, Southern Cameroonians felt that for such a Nigerian connection to be of any benefit to the territory, it should be granted autonomous regional status in line with the existing regions in Nigeria.
This strain of relations caused Cameroonians to animate Nigeria’s political scene with a series of events that became very instrumental in influencing the direction and nature of the evolution of the Nigerian federation.
This feud for regional autonomy which dominated Nigerian politics was undertaken by pressures groups, political parties, and at individual levels through vocal voices, petitions, conferences and walkouts which expressed their grievances.
The paper argues that the granting of quasi and full regional status in 1954 and 1959 respectively to Southern Cameroons was a consequence of their demonstrations. On this score, Nigeria rose from three to four regions under colonial rule.
From this paradigm, we conclude that the history of the evolution of the Nigerian federation can never be complete without the Southern Cameroons factor. Archival data and analyses of the existing literature have provided evidence for this conclusion.
The aftereffect of the Eastern Nigerian regional crisis:
On February 23, 1953, the National Independent Party (NIP) was formed in the Eastern Region by the expelled regional and central ministers and their supporters outside. In the new government that was elected in 1953, the NCNC formed the government and the NIP the opposition.
Secondly, the efforts of Cameroon’s representatives in the Eastern Region for Cameroon’s autonomy from the East were intensified.
Finally, the third effect of the crisis is the general loss of confidence in democratic institutions, not only in the East but also in the whole country. People generally became disillusioned about these institutions.