Emergence of Political Organizations
The 19th century did not witness the emergence of any political organization that could help in airing the grievances and expressing the aspirations of Nigerians on a constant basis. The British presence in the early 20th century led to the formation of political organizations as the measures brought by the British were no longer conducive for Nigerians. The old political methods practiced in Lagos was seen as no longer adequate to meet the new situation.
The first of such organizations was the People’s Union formed by Orisadipe Obasa and John K. Randle with the main aim of agitating against the water rate but also to champion the interests of the people of Lagos. This body became popular and attracted members of all sections of community including the Chief Imam of Lagos, as well as Alli Balogun, a wealthy Muslim. The popularity of the organization reduced after it was unable to prevent the imposition of the water rate by 1916.
The organization was also handicapped by constant disagreements among the leaders. The emergence of the NCBWA and the NNDP in 1920 and 1923 respectively, led to a major loss of supporters of the People’s Union, and by 1926, it had completely ceased to exist. Two years after the formation of the People’s Union (Nigeria), another organization called The Lagos Ancillary of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (LAARPS) came into the picture. This society was not a political organization but a humanitarian body.
This organization came into existence to fight for the interest of Nigerians generally but its attention was taken up by the struggle over the land issue of 1912. In Northern Nigeria, all lands were taken over by the administration and held in trust for the people. Those in Southern Nigeria feared that this method would be introduced into the South. Educated Africans believed that if they can be successful in preventing the system from being extended to Southern Nigeria, then they can fight to destroy its practice in the North.
This movement attracted personalities in Lagos amongst whom are Bishop James Johnson, Mojola Agbebi, Candido Da Rocha, Christopher Sapara Williams, Samuel Herbert Pearse, Cardoso, Adeyemo Alakija and John Payne Jackson (Editor, Lagos Weekly Record). Its delegation to London to present its views to the British government was discredited by quarrels which broke out among its members over the delegation fund.
Accusations of embezzlement against some members, disagreements and quarrels, as well as the death of some of its leading members led to the untimely death of this organization before 1920. The outbreak of war and a strong political awareness led to the formation of a number of organizations. These are the Lagos Branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA), and the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP).