Who Formed the First Political Party in Nigeria and What Was It?

The first political party in Nigeria was the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). The party was formed by Herbert Macaulay in 1923.

The history of Nigerian political parties dates back to 1923 long before the country gained its independence from Britain. Before then, Nigeria was still undergoing struggles over ratification of the federal Constitution of 1787. Today, there are more than 60 political parties in Nigeria even though just a few of them are popular and successful when it comes to elections.

Who Formed the First Political Party in Nigeria?

The first major Nigerian political party was formed by Olayinka Herbert Samuel Heelas Badmus Macaulay. He was a Nigerian politician, surveyor, architect, engineer, and journalist regarded as the founder of Nigerian Nationalism.

Herbert Macaulay traveled to England in 1890 with the help of the colonial administration to further his studies. He studied Civil Engineering in Plymouth, England, and graduated in 1894. Upon returning to Nigeria, he started working as a surveyor of Crown Lands with the colonial service. However, he began to grow a lot of distaste for the British rule and so decided to leave the colonial service.

Herbert started forming some anti-colonial government movements. He ventured into Nigerian politics in the early 1900s and became very popular as a result of his outspokenness.

Herbert Macaulay
Herbert Macaulay image source

Circumstances that Necessitated His Creation of NNDP

Many African countries went through a lot of struggles under the imperial rule of the British government. Hence, the formation of the first political parties in Africa came in order for citizens to free themselves and participate more in governing their national affairs. So, the NNDP was one among many the political parties and politically inclined organizations that were formed across the African continent.

The first president of the Nigerian National Democratic Party was Egerton Shyngle, a Gambian-born barrister. T. H. Jackson was the first honorary secretary and J. C. Zizer was the first solicitor. The funding of the party was done by party members. The party which was mainly based in Lagos dominated Lagos politics between 1923 and 1933 and did not have a national outlook.

What was the First Political Party in Nigeria?

Herbert Macaulay founded the first political party in Nigeria on the 24th of June 1923 to take advantage of the new Clifford constitution which succeeded the 1914 Nigerian Council. His major aim behind forming the party was to sponsor people for elections on a legislative council and as well obtain local self-government for Lagos.

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The party successfully organized various Lagos interest individuals and groups into a single group that was ready to compete politically. It also had the responsibility of increasing the participation of Nigerians in the social, economic, and educational development of the country and promoting democracy in Nigeria.

The party dominated politics in Lagos until 1938 when it lost most of its seats to the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) in elections. The party’s name was finally adopted by Samuel Akintola in 1964 as part of the process of unseating the Action Group which was led by Obafemi Awolowo in the western region.

Nigerian political parties
image source

Herbert Macaulay died on 7th May 1946 and since he formed the first political party, lots of political parties have come and gone in Nigeria. Today, there are many of them even though it is a few that are popular and function well

Some of the Achievements of NNDP

Below are highlights of some of the notable achievements of NNDP, the first political party established in Nigeria.

  • NNDP won all the three seats allocated to Lagos in the legislative council elections in the 1923, 1928, and 1933 elections
  • It was the most strategized and organized political party within the period of 1923 and 1933
  • The party provided a platform for testing true representatives
  • It largely contributed to the fight for independence
  • NNDP fostered political consciousness in the people of Lagos
  • It played a crucial role in the return of the Eleko to power after he was deposed and deported by the British Colonial Administration
  • In 1925, Nigerian National Democratic Party founded the first daily newspaper in British West Africa, Lagos Daily News, an arm of the party that helped in encouraging political activities in Nigeria, especially in Lagos.


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