Do you know who was Nigeria’s first prime minister? The government of Nigeria was led by prime ministers between 1960 and 1966 (the first republic). The office of the president was rather a ceremonial office. All the executive power lied to the Prime Minister. Learn more about one of the most important men in Nigeria’s political history.
Who was Nigeria’s first prime minister?
Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the first prime minister of Nigeria. He was made the prime minister in 1960 after Nigeria gained independence. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the president, and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the prime minister.
Balewa was born in 1912 in Bauchi, northern Nigeria. His father was the head of the divisional district of Bauchi de Lere. He made his first studies at the Koranic school of Bauchi. He then continued his studies at Barewa College, where he obtained his teaching certificate. Then he returned to Bauchi and continued his studies at Bauchi College. In 1944 he was selected with other professors to travel abroad for one year to study at the Institute of Education at the University of London. Upon his return to Nigeria, he was appointed Inspector of Schools of the Colonial Administration. Later, he ventured into politics. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was elected to the House of the Northern Assembly of the Colony in 1946. In 1947 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. Later, he worked with Sokoto’s Sardauna, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello to form the Congress of the Northern People.
In 1952, Balewa was appointed Minister of Public Works and later became Minister of Transport. In 1957, he became Prime Minister and formed an alliance government between the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon, the Northern People’s Congress. When Nigeria gained independence in 1960, it retained its position and became the first Nigerian prime minister. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa played a crucial role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
He has also performed an essential role in forming the partnership with French-speaking African countries. He was also the defender of Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs 1961-1965 before his administration created an office of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations (now known as the Minister of Foreign Affairs).
1996 Coup and his death
On the morning of January 15, 1996, the government of Tafawa Balewa was overthrown by a military coup led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu Patrick and Mayor Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna. Many senior officials of his government were killed that day, including his friend Ahmadu Bello. Balewa’s body was found on the roadside near Lagos, a few days after he was evicted from the office. Nobody knows the circumstances that led to his death until today. Tafawa Balewa’s body was brought back to Bauchi, where he was buried. The news of his death is causing violent chaos and fighting in northern Nigeria. Subsequently, this was one of the factors that led to another coup in July of the same year.
The portrait of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa is on the Naira note. A university was also named on its behalf, the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University.
So this is it. Now, you know who the prime minister was, and you will not confuse him with the first president of Nigeria?