Independent Federation and First Republic (1960–1966)Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom as a Commonwealth Realm on 1 October 1960. Nigeria's government was a coalition of conservative parties: theNigerian People's Congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northerners and those of the Islamic faith, and the Igbo and Christian-dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Nnamdi Azikiwe. Azikiwe became Nigeria's maidenGovernor-General in 1960. The opposition comprised the comparatively liberal Action Group (AG), which was largely dominated by the Yoruba and led by Obafemi Awolowo.The cultural and political differences between Nigeria's dominant ethnic groups – the Hausa ('Northerners'), Igbo ('Easterners') and Yoruba ('Westerners') – were sharp.
An imbalance was created in the polity by the result of the 1961 plebiscite. Southern Cameroon opted to join the Republic of Cameroon while Northern Cameroons chose to remain in Nigeria. The northern part of the country was now far larger than the southern part. In 1963, the nation established a Federal Republic, with Azikiwe as its first president. When elections were held in 1965, the Nigerian National Democratic Party came to power in Nigeria's Western Region.