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ACTION GROUP (AG) Nigeria Political Party 1950
The Action Group (AG) was founded in 1950 but was formally launched in April 1951. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Secretary-Generel of ‘Egbe Omo Oduduwa’ was the leader of the party, which emerged from the Yoruba cultural association.
The Action Group had an elaborate organizational structure. The Annual Congress was the highest decision-making organ of the party. It fomulated general policy guidelines for the party and reviewed government policies.
The Federal Executive Council of the party conducted the routine affairs of the party. The council comprised the national officers of the party, political appointees, twelve shadow ministers and twelve regional representatives. The Regional Executive Committee administered the party at regional level. The party also had local party organization. Individual membership was encouraged.
The President and Secretary of the Action Group administered the party. Lagos was the headquarters of the party.
Leadership and Support
Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the President of the Action Group. Other leaders of the party were Chief Bode Thomas, Chief S.L. Akintola, Chief S.O. Awokoya, Chief Alfred Rewane, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Dr. Maja and Dr. Akanni Doherty. The party had 285 branches and 50,000 members in 1952.
Aims and Objectives of Action Group
The basic objectives of the party were:
- To form the government of Western Nigeria under the new 1951 Macpherson Constitution.
- To work with other nationalists for the purpose of achieving political independence;
- To ensure the protection of the rights of the citizens;
- To introduce welfare programmes which will improve the lot of the people and
- To establish federalism as an essential instrument for fostering the unity of Nigeria.
Sources of Revenue
The party’s main sources of revenue were:
- Membership dues
- Registration fees
- Profit from investment
The Action Group was a well-organized political unit. It had a clear programme dealing with education, health, agriculture and local government. The party had an efficient organization and applied modern techniques for political campaigns. The manifesto of the party was widely distributed, the party’s leaflets were dropped everywhere and Chief Awolowo was fond of using helicopters in his campaigns. These activities made the party popular especially in Western Nigeria. The party was also renowned for the discipline it exhibited in its organisation.
This effective party organization led to the success of the AG in the Western Regional elections held in 1951, 1956 and 1961. While in government, the party translated its programme into action. The government introduced free and compulsory primary education, established farm settlements, built the first television station in Nigeria, constructed the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan and established the Ikeja Industrial Estate. It was essentially a political party that had clear-cut programmes to improve the living condition of the masses.
The success of the party at the regional level could not, however, be replicated at the national level. The party was defeated by the NCNC in the Western Region in elections held to elect members of the House of Representatives in 1954.
In the December 1959 federal elections, it came third behind the NPC and NCNC. The leader of the party, Chief Awolowo became the official Leader of Opposition in the House.
The party was often accused of narrow nationalism. The allegation was often made against the backdrop of the antecedents of the party as a cultural association and the role played by the founder of the party, Chief Awolowo in the association. This was, however, a criticism that could be made against all the three major parties. Each of them was dominant in a region dominated by a particular tribe.
The intra-party crisis that dogged the Action Group in the early 1960s eventually whittled down its effectiveness as a grassroot party. Following the military coup of January 1966, the political parties including the Action Group were banned. The fact that successor parties of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), the Alliance for Democarcy (AD) and, to a lesser extent, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) claim to be offshoots of the Action Group demonstrated the relative political success of the party.