National Convention Of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) – National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons
The NCNC emerged in the early 1940s to fill the void created by the collapse of the NNDP and NYM. It was formed through one of the meetings organized by the Nigerian Union of Students, an offshoot of the West African Students Union (WASU). The party was formally inaugurated on 6th August, 1944.
Organizational Structure of the Party
The NCNC began as a movement (rather than a political party) established to “weld the heterogeneous mass of Nigerians into one solid block”. As such, it was like a loose federation of diverse organizations between 1944 and 1951. Membership in the party was initially based on membership in its affiliate organizations such as trade unions, professional associations, tribal unions, political groups, social clubs and literary societies. Thus there was no individual membership of the NCNC at the onset. Individual membership was introduced in 1951 in response to the challenge of the Action Group, a new party which allowed individual membership.
By 1951, the leadership of the party was for the first time elected. The party had fifteen branches with more than 50,000 members in 1951 .
The Annual Convention was the party’s highest decision-making organ. Below the Annual Conventien was the National Executive Committee (NEC). The NEC conducted the aifairs of the party between two conventions. The Central Working Committee (CWC) made up of the party’s national officers reported to the NEC though it could act on its behalf during emergency. At lower levels, each region had a Regional Working Committee.
Lgadership and Support
The first president of the party was Herbert Macaulay. He was succeeded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1946. Other prominent leaders of the party were A.B. Olorun-Nimbe, Dr. Chike Obi, Dr. Michael Okpara and Dr. K. 0. Mbadiwe.
The party had widespread national appeal but its strongest support came from Eastern Nigeria.
Aims and Objectives of NCNC
The NCNC had the following objectives:
- To promote democratic principles and enhance the interest of the people of Nigeria.
- To organize and collaborate with all its branches throughout the country.
- To educate and sensitize Nigerians on the struggle to achieve self-government.
- To promote respect for the rights of Nigerians.
Sources of Income
The party’s main sources of revenue included:
- Fees from membership cards (two shillings for each)
- Membership dues (six shillings yearly by a member)
- Contribution by party’s legislators and board members who paid five percent of their salaries into the party’s coffers.
Before 1951, the NCNC was the only national party in Nigeria. It won the Eastern Regional elections in 1951 and won the five Lagos seats in the Western Regional House of Assembly in the same 1951 elections.
The party retained its control of the Eastern Regional House of Assembly in the 1954 and 1959 elections. Its leader, Dr. Azikiwe, became the Premier of the Region in 1954 and was succeeded by Dr. Michael Okpara in 1959. In the coalition government formed between the Northern People’s Congess (NPC) and the NCNC in 1959, the leader of the party, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was appointed the Governor General of Nigeria in January 1960 and President on lst October, 1963.
In a dramatic change of political direction, the NCNC formed another alliance with the Action Group, Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) in 1964 in order to contest the 1964 federal elections. The new political alliance was known as the United Progressives Grand Alliance (UPGA). The alliance of strange bedfellows was defeated by the NNA in the elections.
The greatest problem of the party ironically was indiscipline. In 1951, five members of the party in the Western Regional House of Assembly defected en-masse to the Action Group and this denied Dr. Azikiwe the opportunity of entering the House of Representatives through the Western Region. Similarly, the 1953 crisis in the Eastern Regional, House of Assembly almost led to the collapse of the party.
Moreover, the party lacked organization and any definite manifesto. The name of the party was changed from the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons to National Convention of Nigerian Citizens after Southern Cameroon joined Cameroon Republic in 1960.
The deterioration of the NCNC from being a National Party to a regional one by the time of the first military coup of 1966 was a sad reminder of the rise and fall of state institutions in the country. They usually set out with lofty goals only to recline into a narrow parochial cocoon after being outmaneuvered by their political rivals.