1n 1957, unity was the greatest concern for Nigeria’s 33million people; what is it for the current 206million?

“This has been a great day for Nigeria, and, as the first Prime Minister of the Federation of Nigeria, I am proud to speak to my fellow- country men tonight. I am proud, and I am humble, too, when I think of the enormous responsibility which has been placed upon me, and my colleagues.

Today, we have set out on the last stage of our journey to independence, and the next three years will see the culmination of a process which has been gathering momentum year by year, and will see us reaping the harvest of what we have sown. The success of the harvest will depend upon us, and that is why I am glad to speak to you tonight. Everyone of us has his part to play in the work of preparing Nigeria for Independence on the 2nd of April 1960. I want everyone in Nigeria to realize that this is no easy task, and it cannot be performed by the Federal and Regional Ministers and legislators alone. It is a task for everyone of you because it is only by the personal effort of each individual that Independence for the federation can become a reality in 1960.

We have declared our intention of attaining Independence for the federation on the 2nd of April, 1960, and if we wish to our place among the responsible nations of the world, we must make every effort to see that this aim is achieved, and achieved with an international reputation for good internal government.

Nigeria has now reached a critical stage in her history. We must seize the opportunity which has been offered us to show that we are able to manage our own affairs properly. Every Nigerian, whatever his status, whatever his religion, has his or her share to contribute to this special task. I appeal to all my countrymen and women to cooperate with me and my colleagues to create a better understanding among our peoples, to establish mutual respect and trust among all our tribal groups and to unite in working together for the common cause, the cause for which no sacrifice will be too great.

I am convinced and I want you also to be convinced that the future of this vast country must depend, in the main, on the efforts of ourselves to help ourselves. This we cannot do if we do not work together in unity. Indeed, unity today is our greatest concern, and it is the duty of everyone of us to work so that we may strengthen it…

Being excerpts of the national broadcast by late Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa in September 1957

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