Some founding fathers of Nigeria believed ‘it is better to govern ourselves badly than to be governed well’

“…I myself am confident that Nigeria is ready for Independence and I am confident of more than that—I am confident that this House will carry the Motion unanimously. But I also ask the House first to consider most carefully the terms of the Motion. It is not a mere formality, not just a necessary forerunner of the Independence celebrations. It is a solemn under-taking given publicly to our countrymen that we feel confident of being able to manage our own affairs prudently and justly. I remember it being said in a previous debate that it is better to govern ourselves badly than to be governed well. Perhaps, it is better, for those who do the governing, but we must think of those who are going to be governed by us. Will they be better off, or at least, no Worse off? That is why I say we must approach the task with due solemnity and really sure that we know what we are doing.

Personally, I am not going to be pessimistic and I am not going to talk about being satisfied with bad government. I see no reason why our government should be bad, and I am quite sure that we shall be worthy of the trust that has been given to us. Nevertheless, that question °flood or bad government is really the substance of the challenge now…”

Being excepts of THE CHALLENGE, the Motion in Parliament on Nigeria’s Independence, given by late Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa on January 18, 1959.

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