Nigerian Youth Movement

Nigerian Youth Movement was founded in 1934 to address the nonconfrontational accommodation of colonial order by the older generation of educated elites led by Herbert Macaulay. The political consciousness of the Lagos intelligentsia was awakened when, for example, the British colonial government created Yaba Higher College, training were limited to technicians, and there was a deliberate effort to mitigate the worth of the institution, being an African one with no British affiliation. Young graduates of Nigeria’s eminent institution, the Kings’ College Lagos such as Dr. James Vaughan, Samuel Akinsanya, Hezekiah Davies, and Kofo Abayomi, formed the movement originally to propagate their ideas on education policy.

The Lagos Youth Movement was largely Lagos based but as varied members such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, a more radical nationalist of Eastern background joined with consequent influx of Easterners, it metamorphosed to become the Nigerian Youth Movement, a nationalist organization and valid political group. In 1936, the movement’s name was changed from “Lagos” to “Nigeria Youth Movement” to reflect its new national character.

By 1938, the NYM had broken the domination of NNDP in the Legislative Council but the promising party’s foray into the mainstream was terminated with a crisis that erupted in the process of finding replacement for Dr. Abayomi, president of the movement and member of the Legislative Council who left Nigeria to study Ophthalmology in the United Kingdom, creating vacancy in one of the three seats of Lagos. Outcome of the Ikoli-Akinsanya affair led to the exit of Azikiwe, with which the group lost its multi-tribal character.

The Nigeria Youth Movement was nominated at a 1943 rally in Ojokoro to spearhead proposed national front which was supposed to unite several nationalist groups of Nigeria in presenting common cases for the country. While working at this strenuous task, a new group that is to become the country’s first serious political party, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons sprang up. The NYM declined invitations from the National Council of Nigeria in 1944 for collaboration to forge a common national front against colonial powers following the Kings’ College strike. In time, the NYM became moribund as leader, Hezekiah Davies took a government appointment, and Samuel Akinsanya became the traditional leader of his hometown with Awolowo who kept the Ibadan branch alive for a while, travelling abroad to study Law. The NCNC inescapably became underrepresented among Yoruba professionals and political elites, who subsequently followed Awolowo, in forming the Action Group, the party that would supplant the NYM and win independence elections in the Western region, ushering in the era of Awolowo’s administrative leadership.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer