Nigeria as at independence had about18 political parties but only a few had what we could consider as National parties. In fact, the biggest parties were strong in the regions in which they were established. The Obafemi Awolowo-led Action Group (AG) had strong roots in the Western region. The Sadauna led Northern People’s Congress (NPC) established in 1949 had strong footings in the Northern part of the country. The Nnamdi Azikwe NCNC which was first known as the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons before Independence and rechristened the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens after Southern Cameroon left Nigeria to be part of Cameroon in 1961. The NCNC was very prominent in the Eastern Region and it was the closest to what had a national spread of the three major parties.
This was not to say other parties didn’t pull weight but the parties listed above were able to play politics along regional lines and thus had the majority of followers in their respective regions. Other parties that were existent as of the first republic which had a medium following included The Mallam Aminu Kano Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) which rivaled the NPC in the north. Other parties in the north included the shortly lived Borno Youth Movement and Zamfara commoners party. In the middle belt of the country, parties such as United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) had members across the states we consider North Central these days, the Igala Union which was quite sympathetic towards NPC had its root in Igalaland in present-day Kogi, the Igibira Tribal Union had its roots in Igbiraland.
In the East, The NCNC had the Democratic Party of Nigeria and the Cameroons(DPNC) and The United National Independence Party (UNIP) as parties they are contending with.
In the West, The AG was the leading party but other parties were Dynamic Party which was formed by Chike Obi in Ibadan, and the Midwest Democratic Front which had its base in today’s Edo and Delta state. These parties were abolished after the Military took over power in 1966.