Constitutional Developments in Nigeria: An Analytical Study of Nigeria's Constitution-Making Developments and the Historical and Political Factors That Affected Constitutional Change

By Kalu Ezera | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
IMPACT OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR

EXTERNAL INFLUENCES

Although forces making for political progress were at work in Nigeria before the Second World War, the impact of the latter both in strengthening and accelerating them was great. This chapter seeks to describe, and where possible to analyse also, some of the external and internal influences whose interaction brought about this change.


THE ATLANTIC CHARTER

On August 9, 1941, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt met at Placentia Bay in Newfoundland, to make common declarations of purpose regarding the winning of the war. From this Conference was born the Atlantic Charter which declared as its third clause that the signatories 'respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live'.1 This declaration did not only raise the fighting morale of the resistance elements in the Nazi-occupied countries of Europe, but it fired the zeal and aspirations of colonial nationalists everywhere to be free when the war was over. As in India and Indonesia, so in Nigeria nationalist elements interpreted this declaration to mean that after the war they would have the right to choose their own form of government, namely, self-government and independence. But Churchill immediately qualified this declaration by giving his own interpretation to the effect that 'they had only European States in mind'2 under the Third Clause of the Charter. This should have been enough to stifle and frustrate the

____________________
1
Cmd. 6321 of August 14, 1941. See text also in Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ed. Rosenman, Samuel, Harpers, New York, 1942. For Churchill's own discussion and reproduction of the original draft of the Charter, see Churchill Winston S., The Second World War: The Grand Alliance, Boston, 1951, pp. 433-450.
2
Hansard, September 9, 1941.

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