The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was formed in September 1978. The party developed out of a body known as the Northern Movement, a group of old and young politicians from the Northern part of the country. One thing that bound together members of the Northern Movement was their belief that political elites of the North should provide leadership in any national government.
In order to achieve this objective and give the Northern Movement the appearance of a national party, some prominent politicians were recruited from the southern parts of the country. Moreover, the organization changed its name to the National Movement in July 1978. The movement promoted formal equality among the states by authorizing each of the states to send five representatives to its meetings.
It was this movement that metamorphosed into the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The founding leaders of the party included Inua Wada, SuleGaya, Shehu Shagari, Nuhu Bamali, Aliyu Makama Bida, Shettima Ali Monguno, Aminu Kano, Joseph Tarka, A.M.A. Akinloye, Anthony Enahoro, K.O. Mbadiwe, Joseph Wayas and Maitama Sule.
Aims and Objectives of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
The National Party of Nigeria – NPN hoped to achieve the following objectives.
A nation where government and public life would be run in accordance with provisions of the constitution;
A strong. united nation of contended citizens living in peace and harmony with one another;
A land where security of life and property would be guaranteed;
A prosperous and self-reliant Nigeria based on a strong agricultural sector and rapid industrialization with opportunities for all citizens mthout discrimination as to age, sex, religion or ethnic group;
A nation where the welfare of every citizen would be a prime concern of the state while private enterprise and initiatives are fully recognized;
A country where the general awareness and patriotic commitment of the citizens will be enhanced through adequate and sound education based on high moral principles and indigenous African values;
An open society based on the fullest recognition of the democratic rights of every citizen;
A land where full respect and recognition is accorded to the traditional rulers and institutions;
A nation whose standing and respect shall be promoted through a foreign policy based on the pursuit of enlightened national interest and commitment to the principles and charters of ECOWAS, the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations;
A commitment to adhere to the provisions of the constitution and to pursue all Fundamental Objectives and Directive principles of State Policy.
Achievement of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
The National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was able to bring together Nigerians from all part of the country. It was like a rainbow coalition which accommodated the major players on the Nigerian political scene.
It was therefore not a surprise that the party won the 1979 elections at all levels. In the presidential election, the party’s candidate, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, was declared president. In the gubernatorial elections, the NPN won in seven states, namely, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Kwara, Niger, Rivers and Sokoto.
The NPN also won 36 of the 95 Senate seats and 168 of the 449 seats in the House of Representatives. In elections to State Houses of Assembly the NPN had majority of the seats in Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Kaduna, Niger, Rivers and Sokoto states.
There was a striking consistency throughout the five elections with the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) winning about 34 to 37 percent of the total votes and elective positions in all the elections. But the failure of the party to win key states like Lagos, Oyo, Kaduna etc and two-thirds of the seats in the National Assembly was always a pain in its neck.
In the 1983 elections, the table was upturned with the NPN winning “landslide” victories in all the elections which were marred by large scale violence and vote rigging. In the presidential election, AlhajiShehu Shagari, was easily re-elected as president. His vote of 12,037,648 doubled the 1979 total figure even when there was no observable increase in the party’s popular rating.
The party also won gubernatorial elections in 13 states, almost (doubling its 1979 total of seven. It also secured absolute majorities in the National Assembly and most State Houses of Assembly.
Problems of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
Apart from lacking a clear programme for the transformation of the Nigerian society (e.g. the party’s “qualitative” education was unclear), the party completely seized the state machinery in the wake of the 1983 general elections and rigged the elections in its favour.
The victory of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was total and humiliating to the other parties. In reaction to the NPN’s landslide victory and routing of the opposition, Awolowo had prophetically predicted that the victory “will only last for a short time”.
It was, however the GNPP led by AlhajiWaziri Ibrahim that could muster the courage to challenge the NPN’s victory in court. But predictably, the action was dismissed by the Supreme Court on technical grounds. Less than three months after capturing power, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) government was sacked by the military.