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Why North rejected Enahoro’s 1956 independence motion – Yakassai
Published December 31, 2020
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai
John Alechenu , Abuja
Elder Statesman , Alhaji Tanko Yakasai , has said the north rejected the motion for Nigeria ’s independence by 1956 , because it lacked the requisite human capital to face the challenges of self -governance .
Yakasai who served as Presidential Liaison Officer during the Second Republic , said this in an essay titled , “ Leadership Question and the Issue of Nigeria ’s National Unity , which he wrote to celebrate his 94 th birthday , on December 31 st.
One of Nigeria’ s foremost Pro-independence activists , Chief Anthony Enahoro , who was then a member of the now defunct Action Group, moved the motion for Nigerian ’s independence from British rule in 1953 .
Yakasai, recalled that as at 1953 , the entire northern region had only one University graduate , the late Dr R . A . B . Dikko , compared to the thousands in the Western and Eastern regions .
He also faulted critics of Nigeria ’s current local government structure wherein Kano has 44 while Lagos with an equally large population has far less .
Yakasai said, “ What I found very disturbing is that such utterances are directed against the unity of our country . Such narratives resembled that of some political leaders ’ way back in 1953 ; when a member of the defunct Action Group Party, introduced a motion in the House of Representatives, asking Britain to grant independence to Nigeria by 1956 . Another Northern member of the House proposed an amendment to the motion by changing 1956 to as soon as practicable .
“ This was because as at 1953 , the entire Northern Region , which had 75 per cent of Nigeria’ s landmass and about 55 per cent of the country ’s population , had only one graduate , Dr . R .A .B Dikko.
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“ At the same time , the South had thousands of graduates from different fields of expertise including law , engineering , medicine , administration , social sciences , etc . with about 90 per cent of the public services manpower in the North were made up of expatriates or Nigerians from the southern part of the country .
“ Action Group leaders rejected the compromise proposed by the northern legislator in order to enable the north prepare itself for independence .
“ This is because if Nigeria was granted independence by 1956 , the North would be under the control of the civil servants from the South , a situation that will put the North under perpetual domination of the South , particularly people from the Western Region , which had the preponderance of the public servants at the time .”