Annually, 1st of October is deemed a day of celebration among Nigerians for a sole reason. It represents a reminder of the day Nigeria gained independence from the control of the British colonial masters. Without knowing what the future holds but with an ounce of hope for a better country, the future of the nation was placed in the hands of a few who were mostly regarded as founding fathers.

Fifty-nine years later, many still wonder if Nigeria got her independence too early as a result of the current state of her economy and the poor living condition that majority of her citizen endure. Many then attempt to proffer answer to a simple question, ‘where did Nigeria miss it?’ but like the saying goes, if you do not know where you are going, remind yourself of where you came from.

In 1960, Sir Tafawa Balewa became Nigeria’s first prime-minister with the responsibility of leading Nigeria on a path of steady progress. As a native of Bauchi state where he was born in December 1912, he began his education in the Koranic School before proceeding to Bauchi provisional school and thereafter Kastina College which is now popularly known as Balewa College.

In 1944, Tafawa Balewa was among the educated teachers in Northern provinces chosen to study at the University of London’s institute of Education before he returned to Nigeria on completion of his program to become a school inspector for colonial administration and then joined politics.

In 1946, he was elected to the House of assembly before moving to the legislative council in 1947. In 1952, he became a federal minister of works and later became Minister of transport. In 1957, his party Northern People’s Congress won the most seats in the federal house of representatives and Tafawa became the designated prime minister before retaining his position as prime minister in 1960 after Nigeria gained her long agitated independence and then winning the 1964 re-election.

Tafawa Balewa’s successes are well recorded in history books but his inability and ineptitude cost him the irredeemable. Due to his failure to ensure a peaceful pre and post-election and an increasing uprising in violence, on January 15, 1966, Sir Tafawa Balewa was killed in a military coup which also took the life of a few other northern officials. Alhaji Tafawa Balewa is regarded as one of Nigeria’s founding fathers and is honoured with his image on the Nigerian ₦5 note.



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