Action Group

Action Group election poster
Election poster of the Action Group showing the party symbol of the palm tree besides a candidate’s face. Photo: source unknown

Action Group was the political organization founded by Obafemi Awolowo in 1950 following the dissolution of the Nigerian Youth Movement. In 1948, independent of his effort, Awolowo had realised that leaders like Adeyemo Alakija, Dr. Akinola Maja, Kofo Abayomi, Bode Thomas, Hezekiah Davies and Dr. Akanni Doherty have formed a pan-tribal group called Egbe Omo Oduduwa, in Lagos with roughly the same objectives as the group by the same name which he formed three years earlier in London. Awolowo subsequently set up a local branch of the egbe in Ibadan. He later lobbied influential members of the Egbe to support the political party he planned to create, the vessel with which he hoped to sail the West to independence under the Nigerian federation; the Action Group. The British, at this time allowed a form of limited self-government for Nigeria and elections were conducted in 1951 for regional legislative arms.

The Action Group won the Western regional elections. Years later, following the 1959 elections in Nigeria, the leader of the political party, Obafemi Awolowo, swapped positions with his lieutenant, Ladoke Akintola, who now became premier in his place. In his new position at the federal legislature, Awolowo became the opposition leader. By 1962, his supporters were already engaged in a bitter political battle with Akintola’s loyalists. Shortly, Awolowo’s faction gained control of the party machinery and quickly moved to remove Akintola as premier. Akintola regained his seat through federal influence and was announced winner of the 1965 elections, under his newly formed party, the Nigerian National Democratic Party, which was in alliance with the Northern People’s Congress, that controlled the federal government. This heavily contested result attracted violent riots across the Western region. Incidentally, the Action Group disbanded with the termination of the first republic through the 15 January 1965 coup.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer