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The causes of the Action Group Crisis of 1962

In 1945, a group of Nigerian students who were by the time studying in Britain came together to form a cultural group named Egbe Omo Oduduwa. In 1951, led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, late, the name of the group was changed to Action Group. Other members of the party were Samuel L. Akintola, Chief Sonibare, Sir Adesoji Aderemi and Chief Bode Thomas. 

The claim that it was the Egbe Omo Oduduwa that was transformed into the Action Group has been challenged in certain quarters. They argue that the Egbe Omo Oduduwa continued to exist even after the Action Group emerged so it could not have the Egbe that metamorphosed into the Action group. The debate rages on.

The clash of two personalities
One of the factors that precipitated the Action Group problem was the clash between the party leader, Chief Awolowo and his deputy, S.L. Akinsola. At the time, chief Awolowo was accusing his deputy of plotting to snatch the leadership of the party from him.

The clash of ideologies
Another factor that contributed to the Action Group crisis was the possible implementation of ideologies that factions within the party felt would not inure to their benefit. A faction within the party introduced and supported the principles of democratic socialism which called for the introduction of mixed economic policies. This was vehemently opposed by another faction which was more commercial and business inclined.

Decision to join the ruling party or not
There were two opposing camps concerning whether to join the ruling Northern People’s Congress to form a government of national unity or not. While one faction that of S.L. Akintola supported the move to join the N.P.C., the Awolowo faction preferred to join the National Council of Nigeria and The Cameroun.

Interference in the functions of the premier of the Western Region
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was the leader of the opposition in Parliament, had allegedly instructed the Prime Minister of the Western Region, to refer importance matters to him before any action was taken. This was considered to be an undue interference in the office of the Prime Minister.

Crapping of the post of Deputy Leader
In February of 1962, the position of the deputy leader of the party was crapped at the annual congress of the party. When the Western Regional house met to ratify the decision of the congress, the meeting degenerated into fisticuffs and the Nigerian police had to come in to restore calm, leading to the closure of Chamber.

Declaration of the state of emergency
Another aspect of the Action Group crisis was the declaration of a state of emergency in the Western Region. This was a direct reaction to the disturbances in the region. By the time the state of emergency was lifted after six months, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was jailed for treason.

1. Examine six factors that caused the 1962 crisis in the Action Group. (12 marks)

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