The Road Ahead (Final): Bring back a Nigeria that would be loved at home and respected abroad – Tola Adenle

April 13, 2015


“I am pleased to see that we are now all agreed that the Federal system is, under present conditions, the only sure basis on which Nigeria will remain united. We must recognize our diversity and the peculiar conditions under which the different tribal communities live in this country.”  –  Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa

L to R:  Chief Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ, Premier, Western Region; Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Premier, Eastern Region, Sir Balewa, Prime Minister of Nigeria; Leader of British Cameroons, once a part of Nigeria, E. M.L. Endeley; The Sardauna (The North’s real leader who SENT his deputy, Sir Balewa, to Lagos where the NPC with the Dr. Azikiwe-led NCNC ruled the central government)

1.  The last ‘C’ in NCNC stood for Cameroons.

2.Undated Post-Independence photograph, Google Images. 



I end my exhortations to those saddled with the responsibility/honor to reshape Nigeria with a voice from the country’s distant past.  Nigeria’s problems have their roots at the lack of sincere leadership which has been very pronounced these past sixteen years since the return to civil rule.

While many Nigerians have passed this tape round for years, it is a presentation that is very suitable for these times not because of the essence of the speech but also for HOW the delivery of the presentation points to a man who, while speaking at one of the world’s most coveted podiums, did not wilt because of the lowly status of the country he represented.

I was in my late teens when Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was Nigeria’s Prime Minister, and while his politics as Northern Nigeria’s prime representative to Parliament represented one that my part of the country did not subscribe to, I do remember the excitement generated when he spoke at Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan. The NPC which late Sardauna of Sokoto headed even though he was “merely” the Regional Premier of the North, was represented at the center by Balewa.  This fact may be difficult to comprehend for the younger generation:  how could a Regional Head be above the man who headed the country?

I think Balewa’s performance showed how and why the Sardauna SENT HIM to represent the North during a political set-up – the Parliamentary System molded along the British way – that the Sardauna apparently recognized as needing the brightest and best from each group.  Anyway, the Sardauna stayed up North at the seat of the regional government in Kaduna while Balewa went to Lagos.

During an age when student political leaders were not bought like merchandise the way things have now been for several years, I remember that that news of students, who were mostly Southerners, for information, carried Balewa shoulder-high after addressing them at the Trenchard Hall.  Such was the high esteem in which the country’s first Prime Minister was held by the very radical and knowledgeable students of that era.


Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa:    “… returned to Nigeria with new eyes, because I had seen people who lived without fear, who obeyed the law as part of their nature, who knew individual liberty.”   [After returning to Nigeria in 1946 with a Teachers’ Certificate.


The UI speech was AFTER the address in this YouTube video of 1961, and needless to say that events would spiral horribly down for Nigeria within a few years because the election of December 12, 1959 had set the stage for the eventual falling apart at the center that led to the intractable problems the country has been unable to get a handle on since, especially citizens’ origins that never change no matter how long he/she may have domiciled in other parts of the country AND corruption.

The 2015 elections, I must mention again, must not be taken as the solution even though the presidential election does give hope that capable hands known not to be in it to feather his own nest.  All Nigerians must be ready to be fully engaged from their local levels.

Nigerians are looking to the President-Elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to start the cleansing that Nigeria needs in earnest, they yearn for a restoration of the self-confidence that Nigerians had in the early days of independence that made our students overseas not only excel in their studies but display a level of self-confidence that amazed and impressed their fellow students and teachers, and gave them swagger;  a confidence and great hope in their country that made it difficult for them to want to remain in America, the UK, et cetera after the studies; and later, a sort of cry for help that made them fall in line despite whatever feelings against the War Against Indiscipline of the General’s headship of the Nigerian government because they felt it was for a better country; a Nigeria where, in the words of Late Sir Tafawa, our people would obey laws as part of our nature and a people who will know individual liberty without being whipped by policemen and/or soldiers …

Nigerians are yearning for a country where a ticket to the government houses, the legislative houses, ministerial list, et cetera would not, in the words of an online blogger, be “a ticket to the billionaires’ club” but one, in which people would see honor in service through building names that would live beyond the stolen billions locked up in foreign vaults or spent on homes that are locked up for the most part; a country, finally, where “soft landings” that are already rending the air for the present bunch, would NEVER, never again be the lot of the country.  You steal, you get locked up AFTER returning your loot.  It is the only deterrent that would bring an end to the  corruption abyss that Nigeria has found itself in.

Nigerians are yearning for a departure from the chaos that define every aspect of living in their country:  chaos in infrastructural development, in governance and in just about everything that makes living in such an endowed and blessed country very difficult, especially for those who have been around from a time when things were not the way they are now.

If you’ve listened to Balewa’s presentation before, you may wish to do so, again but if not, I’m sure you’ll find it a great presentation not only in oratorical skill but in the level of confidence by the Prime Minister and hopes for greater things for his country



MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2015.  2:40 a.m.


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2 Comments on “The Road Ahead (Final): Bring back a Nigeria that would be loved at home and respected abroad – Tola Adenle”

  1. Latif Opawoye Says:

    The rhetoric of “Giant of Africa” must not be taken lightly. Dignity of labor must be rewarded dutifully and not by patronage of whom you know in the government. Our problems can be handled if the President-elect and his team will take the bull by the horns and attack them head long. It is not going to be easy but it can be achieved. Many companies left Nigeria for Ghana because of lack of electricity; this can be reversed.



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Dr.,

      Thanks for weighing in. Our problems are, indeed, many but with deliberate effort by the president-elect Nd his team as you pointed out. Priorities are –

      1. Corruption,
      2. Power, ready availability of which would contribute to employment,
      3. And, of course among other leading contenders for attention is the restructuring of the system. Every area must have equal access to wealth of the country, the ONLY route to true federation and nationhood.




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