The road to self-government and complete freedom from colonial rule has indeed been a hectic one; series of conferences, debates, lobbying, sleepless nights and right now is like that long journey that seemed impossible is drawing to a positive close. A new nation of Africa is about to free itself from the shackles of colonial rule and pave their way to true nationhood.
The years that preceded 1960 witnessed the move of the motion in the house for independence by Anthony Enahoro, followed by consultations by varying parties on whether this nation was ready for self-government. The political climate had 3 political parties- the NCNC in the East, Action Group in the West and the NPC in the North. They were led by three prominent Nigerians; Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello respectively.
The north was skeptical about independence move considering their level of education and limited personnel to participate in the governance of the prospective new nation. Even though it was agreed that the regions operate a self-government, the north waited till March 1959 for them to adopt this new development.
Due to the relationship the British have built with the northerners, their size in population, land mass and their number of seats in the house, a northern statesman Tafawa Balewa was picked as the first prime minister of the emerging Nation. He was later knighted alongside so many other northern leaders.
The four prominent leaders were intelligent and smart but the trust was lacking between them. With a northerner as prime minister, an Easterner the Governor General (a figure-head role), westerners now became the main opposition for the ruling party.
‘It is rather unfortunate that we the Yorubas who are well exposed and informed than any other ethnic group have been sidelined as the opposition when we are meant to be leading this nation. We are the light bearers of this nation, we are more learned than all of them and our place at the top must not be denied,’ Awo speaking to his tribesmen. So tomorrow we would go and take the third place behind these half-baked tribes that now try to dominate the polity of the new nation we are creating’. He really looked disappointed with the expression of weariness on his face obviously after the work he had done in making sure that tomorrow is realized.
Finally he added, ‘we must not be deterred at this development, in time the Yoruba nation will lead this country and we would show them what we are made of’.
‘Let me start by saying that we have achieved a whole lot by having our son here, as the first indigenous governor-general, odighi mfe’ (meaning is not easy), Festus Okotie Eboh, labour minister speaking to his kinsmen while Zik looked on. Quite alright the north got the lion share but we are better than our Yoruba brothers, ofe mmanu, (meaning oil soup) will always be what they are. They just make noise of being educated. The real deal is in securing a good place for oneself.
Zik looked indifferent and reserved and later spoke. ‘My fear is in dealing with these northerners, Balewa looks sincere and straightforward but the Sardauna is whom I don’t trust. He is like the godfather to the prime minister and will be there to dictate to him. This nation needs people who are sound upstairs to build her in the comity of emerging nations.’
Zik personally had an ambition beyond Nigeria, one that spans across Africa. His kinsmen position is now influencing him to be talking based on ethnic affiliations and sentiments.
The Sardauna’s house was filled to the brim with British officials coming in to congratulate him and Balewa on getting the lion’s share from this entity called Nigeria.
‘Of a truth I didn’t believe we would be able to pull this off in the first place but the queen really had a crucial role to play for us to secure this victory,’ the prime minister said with so much excitement and glow radiating from his face.
‘I am not surprised myself because we have the population, highest house members, in fact our limited educated won’t have been an obstacle especially when our British friends are here to lend a helping hand’. He laughed hysterically. Tomorrow we go on and lead the country like we have always done. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE EVE, he shouted raising his glass of wine.