What Time Wrote on Nigerian Regional Self Rule in 1957

What Time Wrote on Nigerian Regional Self Rule in 1957

Sunday, October 3, 2021 8:00 am

Awolowo and Azikiwe


In August 1957, Britain, the colonial master, granted regional self-government to Eastern and Western Nigeria. However, the  Northern Region voluntarily postponed its. The above preceded the independence which Nigeria got on 1 October 1960 and which was marked the same day on Friday.

The attitude of the political leaders to the regional self-government was that though it was half a loaf, it was ready to start its development. Awolowo who had founded the Action Group to promote Yoruba interests, was, according to a report in colonialfilm.org, a vocal opponent of colonial rule, arguing that British administration had been ‘carried out by incompetent, inferior officials’, and that the British never had ‘the true interests of the country at heart’. In 1955, referring to the government of the Western region, he stated that ‘in fourteen months under the present government, we have done more for Nigeria than the British did in 120 years’

Below is the article published by Time Magazine, Monday, 19 August 1957

Nigeria: Halfway to Freedom

” Ever since their turbaned and straw-hatted Chieftains met with Britain’s Colonial Secretary Alan Lennox-Boyd in London last May, few politically conscious Nigerians had doubted that home rule was really on the way. The only question was when.

Late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa: First Prime Minister of Nigeria

Last week in the dusty streets and mangrove-shaded gardens of the ramshackle, tin-roofed capital of Lagos, Nigerians read the answer in a special 32-page edition of the Dally Times. The answer, for half of Africa’s most populous (33 million) nation: now.

From London had come an Order in Council from Queen Elizabeth granting immediate home rule for Eastern and Western Nigeria. The cabled order caught Nigeria’s regional Premiers by complete surprise. Western Premier Chief Obafemi Awolowo was holidaying in Britain.
Eastern Premier Nnamdi Azikiwe better known as “Zik” to his enthusiastic followers, was something less than exuberant. “Falls so far short of the yearnings,” complained his newspaper, “that it does not deserve to be noised abroad. The drums ought to be silent. The cymbals should be hidden away.”

Actually, Zik’s pique was probably directed less at the order providing home rule for only half of Nigeria than at the fact that if the rest of Nigeria gets home rule by 1960, he will probably not become independent Nigeria’s first Prime Minister.

Most likely to be chosen by the Federal House of Representatives when it convenes next month is a leader from the more populous but less advanced Northern Region, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, currently federal Minister of Transport. Nigeria’s north is Moslem, and so conservatively Moslem that its devout regard Egyptians, Turks and Pakistanis as irreverent backsliders and only Saudi Arabians as sufficiently pure in faith.
Balewa, who sent his mother to Mecca last year and has just completed an air pilgrimage there himself, is that rarity in Nigeria, a successful commoner in an area still controlled largely by Sultans and Emirs. He studied at London University, and while no demagogue [?] like Zik, is just as firmly committed to full independence for all of Nigeria by 1960 —a date London’s Colonial Office regards as too soon.

Says Balewa quietly: “We’ll get it.”


*Shared by Kehinde Thompson on The Nigerian Nostagia 1960-1960 project

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