A History of Constitution-Making and Ethnic Distrust in Colonial Nigeria, 1945-1960




Oguchi, Uchechukwu

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On January 15, 1966, Nigerian Igbo soldiers, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna led a successful coup d’état, killing several Nigerian politicians including the Prime Minister, a Hausa man named Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. The world watched in horror as this event spiraled into ethnic violence and eventually a brutal civil war in 1967. Before 1966, Nigeria was seen as the golden child of the British decolonisation in Africa. It was an example of peaceful decolonisation and apparent success in achieving unity for a country as diverse as Nigeria. So, how did it fall so quickly into ethnic violence six years into its independence? This thesis examines the fifteen years prior to Nigerian independence (1945-1960) to reveal that British colonial constitution-making processes contributed to the swift outbreak of violence after independence. It analyzes how the four constitutions created during the decolonisation period politicized ethnicity and embedded seeds of ethnic distrust setting postcolonial Nigeria up for structural failure and ethnic violence.



History., Nigerian history., Constitutional law.