How Nigeria’s current issue with banditry ‘appeared’ to Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa in 1959

Late Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa ‘prophesied’ in the late sixties that bandits from neighbouring countries, would disturb Nigeria sometime. Below are excerpts of a Motion he presented to Parliament on January 18, 1959, which was titled, “The Challenge:”

“… I sound this note of warning because of what I am about to say. The last two subjects which will be handed over to Nigeria’s sole control are defence and external affairs. Both of these subjects are vitally important and our assumption of responsibility for them is the full measure of our independence.

To deal with defence first – you may say that Nigeria is a peaceful country which has no territorial ambitions and no intention of attacking her neighbours – I agree. You may also say that there is no evidence that we are going to be attacked. Superficially I should say that that view is correct, but I must tell the House frankly that in my opinion we are confronted by a very serious situation. Over the past year or so there has been a good deal of trouble going on in some of the countries which border on Nigeria and as I see it, the danger is that disaffected elements in those countries will come over the Nigerian border to hide and will then carry out sporadic raids on their own country. This could easily lead to border incidents and to serious misunderstanding between Nigeria and her neighbours.

Our best defence is of course, to show that as an independent nation, we are united…”

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