The Struggle for Autonomy and Identity in late Colonial Nigeria: Young Elite of Kabba Division, 1946-1966

A. T. Ekundayo


The gradual march towards the attainment of self-government in Nigeria from the mid 1940s increased the tempo of party politics. The early local champions of the socio-political developments were those who had acquired western education. The role of these emergent elite in forming associations to champion the cause of their people tends to earn them a voice in their grassroots politics. The Kabba Divisional Union (KDU) formed in 1964, which attempted to severe the political allegiance of the area from the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), and change the political history of the Division was one of such associations. The focus of this work is on the remarkable role of the western educated elite in the socio-political developments of Kabba Division. It highlights the dynamics of socio-political change in Kabba Division. Attempt is made through this discourse to provide a better appreciation of developments at grassroots and regional levels. The paper contends that the failure of the NPC - controlled regional government to seriously enhance the socio-political and economic status of Kabba people in the region, caused a major shift in the political leaning of the people of Kabba Division. The paper concludes that general competing interests not withstanding, the western educated elite in Kabba helped to overcome the traditional isolation of the area by providing the organizational vehicle through which the Division participated meaningfully in the wider Nigerian political system.

Dr. Aduke T. Ekundayo teaches in the Department of History and Diplomacy, Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.

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