Kaduna State Executive/Legislative Crises of 1981


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In today’s class, we will be talking about Kaduna state executive/legislative crises of 1981. Enjoy the class!

Kaduna State Executive/Legislative Crises of 1981

Kaduna State Executive/Legislative Crises of 1981 | classnotes.ng


With the emergence of United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA) and the Nigeria National Alliance (NNA) as the two dominant parties through coalitions, the rivalry between them at the national level shifted base to the Western Nigeria election of 1965. The A.G. represented (UPGA) and NNDP (NNA). Both of them saw this election as very important and should not be under-estimated. Before the commencement of the election, the party in power in Western Nigeria, the NNDP imposed a curfew and some other stringent measures aimed at frustrating the efforts of UPGA members in some part of the regions. With the dissolution of the Western House of Assembly, preparatory to the elections, the irregularities that featured at the federal elections manifested. For instance, UPGA candidates were not privileged or opportune to collect nomination forms and in most cases, electoral officers would be absent at their duty posts. The electioneering campaign was also characterized by acts of thuggery, hooliganism, killing, arson and looting.

The petition Alhaji D.S. Adegbenro who was the leader of UPGA sent to the Governor Sir Odeleye Fadahunsi about the malpractices did not yield any result. The election which took place on October 11, 1965, in an atmosphere characterized by many electoral malpractices such as smuggling of ballot boxes and, burning opponents ballot boxes and unfair counting of votes. At the end of the election, it was announced that NNDP won 88 out of the 98 seats contested. In a counter-reaction, Alhaji Adegbenro summoned a press conference at Ibadan in the house of jailed Chief Awolowo in which he announced that UPGA won 68 out of the 98 seats. He pronounced himself as the premier of the region and appointed eight ministers of his cabinet. With two governments in the same region, the stage was therefore set for a serious political crisis. At last, Chief Akintola was sworn in as the Premier of the region while Alhaji Adegbenro was arrested. As a result of all these heavens was let loose for violent demonstrations, chaos, rioting and a complete breakdown of law and order in the Western region. It was reported that about 1,000 people lost their lives and about 5,000 houses were burnt down while the newly elected premier took to his heels and went into hiding. The political crisis continued until the January 15, 1966 coup d’etat that put it to a stop.


The 1979 general elections were unique because they took place under the newly introduced federal system of government. The elections that ushered in Nigeria second republic after 13 solid years of the military government. Before the elections, the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO) headed by Chief Michael Ani had registered five political parties out of about 52 political associations that emerged when the ban on political associations was lifted. The registered political parties were, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Nigeria People’s Party (NPP), Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP) and People’s Redemption Party (PRP).

The chairman of NPN was Chief A.M.A. Akinloye while Alhaji Shehu Shagari was its presidential candidate. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the national leader and the presidential candidate of UPN. The chairman of NPN was Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the presidential candidate. Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri and Mallam Aminu Kano were the leaders and presidential candidates of GNPP and PRP respectively. Five different elections took place between July 7, and August 18, 1979, on different five Saturdays. For the senate, July 7, House of Representatives July 14, State Assemblies July 21, Governorship July 28 and presidential August 11, 1979.

In the election into the senate, out of a total of 95, NPN won 36 seats, UPN 29, NPP 16, GNPP 8 and PRP 7. The most controversial election of all the elections was the presidential election. The controversy arose as a result of the fact that none of the candidates was able to win 25% in two-thirds of the federation. Alhaji Shehu Shagari who was eventually declared the winner won 25% of the votes cast in 12 states of the federation. The mathematical riddle that arose was what should be 12 2/3 of 19. The NPN formula of 12 2/3 was accepted by FEDECO and Alhaji Shehu Shagari was declared the winner. Chief Awolowo who came second took the matter to the Presidential Election Tribunal, headed by Justice B.O. Kazeem and later to the Supreme Court presided over by the then Chief Justice of the federation Justice Atanda Williams and all declared that the election of Alhaji Shehu Shagari was in order.


At the end of President Shehu Shagari’s first term in office (4years), another election was conducted. This was to usher in the third republic. The 1983 general election was to be conducted by the civilian government in place. In 1979, five registered political parties participated in that election, but this time an additional one had been added to the already existing five. The election commission (FEDECO) before the election, registered Nigeria Advanced party formed by MrTunji Braithwaite, bringing the total number of parties for the elections to six. All the five political parties that contested the 1979 elections did not make much changes in the candidates fielded for the 1983 elections. The arrangement for this general election by the government-controlled electoral body, FEDECO, under the chairmanship of Justice Ovie Whiskey, took a different shape from what it was in 1979. This time the presidential election was to come up first, followed by the governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and finally state Legislative assemblies. It was argued that this new arrangement was mainly to favour the party in power. Alhaji Shehu Shagari was declared the winner after the August 6 presidential elections. Massive rigging, falsification of election figures were alleged in many centres. Similarly, the NPN controlled states now increased from 7 to 10 states. The party in government was accused of having masterminded the act of rigging, possibly to remain in government. There were reports of rioting, looting, arson, a violent demonstration in some areas etc. The outcome of this ugly scene was the military intervention of December 31, 1983. 

  1. Account for the causes of the general election crisis of 1979.
  2. State the main provisions made by the Lyttleton constitution.
  3. Discuss 5 defects of the Lyttleton constitution.
  4. Why was the Independence constitution criticized?


In our next class, we will be talking about the Nigeria Civil War.  We hope you enjoyed the class.

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