Nigerian National Democratic Party

Herbert Macaulay formed the NNDP in 1922
Herbert Macaulay formed the NNDP in 1922
Historians widely credit the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) as the first political party in Nigeria. Herbert Macaulay formed the NNDP in 1922 by organizing a number of Yoruba interest groups into a cohesive single group with the intent of competing politically.

In the 1922 elections for the Lagos legislative council, the NNDP won three seats and began its dominance in western Nigerian politics, which would last until the National Youth Movement (NYM) overtook the NNDP in 1938.

Politics within Nigeria during its colonial period were characterized by tribalism and geographic rivalry. The nature of the Nigerian system, along with the political culture of Nigeria, made it difficult for political parties to unite and form lasting coalitions. Obstacles to political participation traditionally included the number of rural citizens, high illiteracy rates, and the fact that Nigerians speak several hundred different languages.

The dominant political parties tended to serve local interests: the Action Group is supported by the Yoruba in western Nigeria and eastern Nigeria; the Ibos in Southeastern Nigeria follow the National Congress of Nigeria Citizens (NCNC); the Northern People's Congress (NPC) boasts support from the north and the Hausa-Fulani tribe.

Nationalism marked the period between World War I and World War II in Nigeria. Overall, the Nigerian variety of nationalism did not call for independence but for inclusion in the political system. Created by British colonialism, Nigeria reflected a number of different clans and tribes concentrated geographically.

The 1922 constitution allowed the political Nigerian the chance to participate in the political process through the election of a number of representatives to the legislative council. One of the many to emerge from the new political opportunities was Herbert Macaulay, referred to as the "father of Nigerian nationalism."

His background as a Nigerian civil servant and his education in England gave him a broad background and the experience necessary for successful activism. Macaulay used his newspaper, the Lagos Daily News, to awaken Nigerian nationalism.

The early political platform of the NNDP pushed for a number of reforms. Macaulay called for both economic and educational development. Other popular issues with the NNDP were the Africanization of the civil service and self-government for Lagos.

The NNDP, however, only remained a force in Lagos until it was overcome by the NYM. Like other Nigerian political parties, the NNDP's inability to expand beyond the city of Lagos made it difficult for it to become a truly national party.