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Unik Impact: Evolution of Political ldeology in Nigeria

First, l would want to most profoundly thank and appreciate the Dutse Metropolitan Club for the honour to speak here. And most especially congratulate them for the rare foresight to initiate this critical and timely conversation which hopely shall be first in a series of many more to come. There is obviously a very dare need for a major paradigm shift on the quality and direction of our public exchanges. We shall all encourage the organisers and ourselves to do more in this regards.


As a student of history, l am aware of so many ideological movements that started this way and went ahead to effect the way our world operates today. From Kano to Lagos,  and Johannesburg to Alabama, small but purposeful groups like the Dutse Metropolitan Club challenged the status quo and changed the course of history forever. Those behind this novel idea should therefore be proud of themselves and get ready for the more difficult task of sustaining the momentum. There is no better place to initiate this movement than our State’s Capital.


I have been tasked to speak on a topic that l have neither formal training on nor much practical experience. I am accordingly very nervous to have to share the space with these distinguished personalities. I do sincerely hope that my views would be seen for what they are; just my personal views and attempt to interpret them within the obvious limits of my education and experiences. I shall look at trends and analyse them. Where l appear very critical and harsh shouldn’t be  of any partisan concern to anyone here. All mistakes shall be mine and are already regretted. What eventually is sound and useful shall be to the glory of almighty God.

The Evolution of Political ldeology in Nigeria is a vast topic that touches on both our precolonial, colonial, decolonization, decolonized, independent, military and now democratic epochs


An ideology is a collection of ideas or beliefs shared by a group. It may be a connected set of ideas or a style of thought or world view, especially one that forms the basis of political or economic theory and policy

Ideological movements, in politics and otherwise, can be either for good or for bad causes. What is common to either nonetheless is the fidelity of the group members to those ideas and principles, the clarity of their thoughts, commitment to the cause and willingness to sacrifice


Each generation of any nation most consciously define their realities and challenges, set clear goals and exert specific political actions to advance the cause of their society.


In Nigeria, the earliest of such efforts were the decolonization struggles that first started in Lagos and later in many parts of what today is southern Nigeria.  These struggles, spearheaded by mostly the young western educated elites around the Lagos colony chiefly Herbert McCauley and later Nmandi Azikiwe. Their newly acquired skills and crafts from the Western and American Metropols had liberated and set their minds against the colonial enterprise. They reasoned that it was illegitimate, amoral and even ungodly. These clear thoughts and philosophies were to determine the initial ideological basis for the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) Party.  It was a strong coalition of nationalist groups, trade unions, professional bodies and tribal associations that mobilised around the core values of  extension of democratic principles and advancement of the interest of the people of Nigeria and Cameroons under British mandate. The imparting of political education to the people of Nigeria in order to prepare them for self-government. The provision of medium of expression for members of NCNC through which they would endeavor to secure for Nigeria and the Cameroons, political freedom, social equality, religious toleration and economic activity.


The colonial authorities were to respond in kind. The subversives, as they were then labelled, had to contend with the full wrath of the colonial establishment. They suffered intimidation, torture, imprisonment and sometimes even death and forced disappearances. They however stood their grounds. That consciousness, those clear ideas and world views, that ideological commitment, among other local and global realities set the stage for our independence


Other pre and post independent political parties too were very coherent and consistent in their ideas, style of thoughts, world views and political actions


  • The Action Group in Western Nigeria for example was very clear about its Yoruba nationalism, neoliberal economic world views and free education for all
  • The Northern People’s Congress (NPC) was very unapologetic about what it determined as the Northern interest, preserving the status quo of the Native Administration system while modernising in what it’s thinkers would like to call ‘our own phase’.
  • The Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU) was however disruptive, very suspicious of and uncomfortable with the status quo. It rejected totally the Native Administration system which it dismissed as not more than a symbiotic enterprise among the traditional leadership and the colonial establishment, whose sole victim was the Talaka, whom it mobilized to free himself

As mutually antagonistic and hostile as these movements might appear to each other, they still had shared attributes in their clear thoughts, ideas and world views, commitment to those values and consistent political actions and sacrifices to actualize them


I strongly believe that our country would have been much more developed, advanced and sophisticated had those ideologically anchored political parties survived till date. There were gaps, assumptions and even outright mistakes from both sides. But they would have had enough time to reflect and re-examine some of those ideas, refine their world views, and  recalibrate their politics. But all that was to abruptly end by 1966

Then came the era of military politics and the civil war. Even then, the military and the civilian elites who executed the war on both sides had very clear goals. It was fidelity to those goals and consistent actions that eventually won the war


With the resumption of political activities in 1978, there were successful attempts to reincarnate the pivotal ideologies of the major earlier political parties. The Action Group thinkers came roughly under the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).  The NPC sympathisers had by then broadened their reach under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Whereas the NEPU ideologues and elements had stood their grounds in the People’s Redemption Party (PRP).  


Their ideologies, with major alterations though were roughly the mirror images of their precursor movements. UPN carried on with the neoliberal and free education rhetorics of the AG. The PRP landed a major NEPU ideological victory with the  abolition cattle and personal income tax and the rapid and structured development of the old Kano State. The NPN maintained the status quo of the northern establishment privileges at the centre. Like with their ideological mothers, the precursor movements too had their gaps, faulty assumptions and had committed outright mistakes and errors. But had they survived till date, the ideological content of our politics would have been much more robust and inspiring. But that too ended in 1983


Since then (the early 80s), till date, all subsequent efforts to democratize and organise our politics had largely remained ideologically lame, patronage driven and prebendal in it’s  mobilization. The consequence of this ideological infidelity is what afflicts Nigeria today

  • Crippling poverty; Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world
  • Crushing ignorance; according to the UNESCO, 10.5 Million Nigerian children are out of school. The highest in the world. 60% of those children are in northern Nigeria
  • Embarrassing diseases; Nigeria has consistently remained among the top three countries in the world with the highest maternal and infant death, ongoing wild polio transmission and VVF
  • Evolution of crime from ordinary banditry and armed robbery to organised crimes of kidnappings, gang violence and even terrorism
  • One of the world’s worst cases of drug abuse among our young population. A certain report said Kano and Jigawa States consume about 3 Million bottles of codeine monthly
  • The generally tolerated culture of corruption, impunity and stealing, nepotism, favouritism and erosion of both family and national values and ethics, have collapsed our infrastructure over the last 40yrs
  • Nigerians today go to Ghana, Uganda, Benin Republic, Togo and even Niger to acquire higher education
  • Nigeria looses about 1 Billion USD annually on medical tourism
  • The morale, competence and dignity of our police officers and school teachers are no longer in the national priority list

Segregating this gory scenario along ethnic, geographical, and religious dimensions will show that this national poverty, ignorance and disease is essentially a northern, Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri Muslim phenomenon. All the ten bottom states in almost all these ratings are our own and Jigawa is often third or fourth from below.


There were a few very sincere efforts in between to address this scary scenario, but they were/are for the most part disjointed, very far apart, largely insufficient, habitually inconsistent, lacked coherence with neither philosophical nor ideological or ethical bases.


Which effectively makes them even those sincere efforts  not good enough. They hadn’t stopped our sisters, mothers and daughters from dying during childbirth. It hadn’t stopped our children, about 10Million of them from roaming the streets as Almajiris. It hadn’t halt our free fall into more poverty. It hadn’t mechanized and modernised our agriculture. It hadn’t even build the capacity of our people who shall eventually think, research, innovate and put us in the moon someday.


I am very careful about how wild l let my thoughts run. And l hope l ain’t actually preaching utopia or idealism. I do sincerely hope. I wish there is a less graphic way to present these facts or any silver bullet to suggest as a solution


But the reality is, these are the clear national, regional and local challenges staring at us as a generation. Our job is cut out for us. It is our responsibility (just like our heroes past) to consciously organize against these specific problems with clear ideas, dedicated political mobilisation and sustained progressive actions.


The progressive resources and elements  necessary to initiate these actions are presently littered accross various class, sectarian, and geopolitical divides. They must quit shouting at each other, talking down on one another, working at cross purposes and their disharmonious acrimony, locate themselves and link up to disrupt this gory status quo.


A new Progressive Activism has to start. It shall be anchored on sound philosophical, ethical and moral principles with clear ideological sentiments around;  freedom, rights, and equality of all men, free, compulsory and qualitative basic  education for all, universal health coverage, gender fairness and inclusion, social and economic justice, freedom of thought, association and conscience, cultural renaissance and child rights.



It can start today, tomorrow, next month, in a year or even ten. But let it never refuse to start.

While it is unfortunately true that the Talakawas have been denied quality education and their prosperity stunted through long standing economic injustices. And that these ignorance and poverty is eventually exploited by the predatory elite class to perpetuate and widen existing class and social gaps. This sole victimhood narrative is however of limited validity, and the Talaka must be challenged to participate in his own emancipation. Because under certain circumstances, and with some behaviours, the Talaka appears complicit in his own dehumanization and oppression


It shall embark on a set of specific political actions through dedicated platforms that  are value not patronage driven. It must promote big daring ideas, and ethical, moral and intellectual competence.

Family, friends and communities should encourage public officials to remain faithful and committed to their oaths of office and allegiance. It promotes nepotism when public official are blackmailed to breach these oaths by diverting projects to their communities and employment to their family and friends. Nepotism is the enabler of all forms of corruption. Let those who would eventually break their oaths of office and allegiance do so in their personal capacity and freewill, and then deal with their conscience and the consequences later. The society must not be what blackmails them to. Instead, our collective behaviour should and must be seen to support and promote those who aspire to keep those sacred oaths

This is  what Development Politics is all about. It should be able to mobilise and own it’s political platforms. Set the minimum standards for rights and obligations for both leadership and citizens alike. Finance it’s activities and sponsor candidates with specific mandates. Then monitor and enforce compliance of same.


This is the hard way, but definitely the only way to fix things around here. It was done by others who may be considered even very young and not so educated by today’s standards. They have taken all the real bullets, endured tortures and served the prison terms on our behalf. Nobody is in prison today because of the political they hold. 


They had no privileges of the modern communications technology and the comfort and ease a smart phone with internet offers. Their modes of transport and infrastructure were rudimentary compared to ours and the world then was disconnected and far apart


We are a totally free, fully franchised, reasonably educated and technology enabled citizens of a global village who must stand up to the realities of their generation and time.


With just a smart phone, strong convictions, clear thoughts, defined ideologies, purposeful actions and sets of dedicated activities we can generate a sub revolution here.  Yes we can, and we must!


Presented by

Dr Nuruddeen Muhammad


Former Minister of State Foreign Affairs

Federal Ministry of Information

At a Symposium organised by The Dutse Metropolitan Club  

Manpower Development Institute, Dutse, Jigawa State