A scripted deception has been circulating all over social media including WhatsApp groups, suggesting that Igbos despite being dominant in Tafawa Balewa’s government, went ahead to kill him. Nothing can be farther from the truth. This script has turned history on its head and is predicated on falsehood that was not only concocted to present Igbos disloyal power grabbers but also convince gullible readers, obfuscate the past and promote ethnic hate.

Let us set the records straight; Igbos played no dominant role in Balewa’s cabinet and had just one person as service chief under Balewa. They were rather brillant public servants who served the post colonial Nigeria with patriotism and professionals. The outline below will help demonstrate this.

Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was the Prime Miniser of Nigeria from the pre-independence era (1957), until the January 1966 coup, in which he died. During this period, he had three cabinets in total. The first cabinet was established in 1957 after Balewa was appointed Prime Minister by the British Governor-General. The second cabinet was formed after the general elections of December 1959, just before independence, in a coalition government. The third cabinet was formed after the disputed general elections of December 1964, and was dissolved after the military coup of 15 January 1966.

Here are the ministers who served in all three cabinets;

FIRST CABINET 1957 – 1959

Raymond Njoku – Minister for Transportation

Aja Nwachukwu – Minister for Education

K.O Mbadiwe – Minister for Commerce

Samuel Akintola – Minister for Communications

Festus Okotie-Eboh – Minister for Finance

Mobolaji Johnson (later replaced by Adegoke Adelabu) – Minister for Internal Affiars

Kola Balogun – Minister for Information

Ayo Rosiji – Minister for Health

Muhammadu Ribadu – Minister for Mines

Zanna Bukar Dipacharima (replaced by Inuwa Wada) – Minister for Works

• There were three Ministers of Igbo extraction in a ten men cabinet. 30%

SECOND CABINET: 1959 – 1964

Taslim Elias – Attorney General and Minister for Justice

Olu Akinfosile – Minister for Communications

T O S Benson – Minister for Information

Mobolaji Johnson – Minister for Labour and Welfare

Festus Okotie-Eboh – Minister for Finance

Aja Nwachukwu – Minister for Education

Jaja Wachuku – Minister for Foreign Affairs

Raymond Njoku – Minister for Transport and Aviation

Muhammadu Ribadu – Minister for Lands and Lagos Affairs

Zanna Bukar Dipacharima – Minister for Commerce and Industries

Inuwa Wada – Works and Survey

Maitama Sule – Minister for Mines and Power

Shehu Shagari – Minister for Economic Development and Natural Resources

Usman Sarki – Minister for Internal Affairs

Waziri Ibrahim – Minister for Health

Yisa Yar’adua – Minister for Pensions, Establishment & Nigerianization

• As with the previous, Only *three featured in cabinet of 16 Ministers. 18.75%

THIRD CABINET: 1964 – 1966

Ayo Rosiji – Minister for Information

Moses Majekodunmi – Minister for Health

Festus Okotie-Eboh – Minister for Finance

Alade Lamuye – Minister for Natural Resources and Research

Richard Akinjide – Minister for Education

Adeleke Adedoyin – Minister for Labour

Adeniran Ogunsanya – Minister for Housing and Survey

Taslim Elias – Attorney General and Minister for Justice

Ayo Rosiji – Minister for Information

Aja Wachuku – Minister for Aviation

Raymond Njoku – Minister for Communications

K.O Mbadiwe- Minister for Trade

Muhammadu Ribadu – Minister for Defense

Waziri Ibrahim – Minister for Economic Development

Inuwa Wada – Minister for Works

Zanna Bukar Dipacharima – Minister for Transport

Maitama Sule – Minister for Mines and Power

Shehu Shagari – Minister for Internal Affairs

Jacob Bande – Minister of Establishment

• Yet again, three persons of Igbo extraction in a 19 men cabinet. 16%

It is also very clear to see that at every point within the 9 year reign of Tafawa Balewa, only three persons of Igbo extraction were on the cabinet. Cumulatively, only 4 men made the cabinet under Balewa. The classification above should give you an idea of the dominant ethnic stock on Balewa’s Cabinet. I leave the rest to your assessment.


The Nigerianization program in the military pre and immediately after independence unwittingly stratified the army along ethnic lines. By the mid 1960s the army’s most senior officers were career soldiers who had originally enlisted as NCOs and then risen through the ranks. Most of these were Yoruba

Samuel Ademulegun,

Babafemi Ogundipe,

Ralph Shodeinde,

Robert Adebayo

Immediately behind them in seniority were the first Sandhurst trained generation of Nigerian officers. These men were largely Kanuri from the north;

Zakariya Maimalari,

Umar Lawan,

Kur Mohammed.

Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi was the only member of the army’s top stratum that was not Yoruba or Kanuri. But the Lt-colonels were ethnically diverse (e.g., Ejoor, Ojukwu, Kurubo), however many of the majors were Sandhurst trained Igbos, while most junior officers like lieutenants and NCOs were Northerners who had been encouraged to join the army’s infantry following an army recruitment campaign by Northern politicians. This meant that when the senior strata of the army officer hierarchy ended their careers, their successor commanders would inevitably emerge from the middle-grade officer ranks dominated by the Igbos. These Igbos would be directly commanding mostly Northern subordinates. It was these class of Majors, led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna that masterminded the January 1966 coup in which Balewa died. It was these serving, military officers, and not Igbos who killed Balewa.

Now, let’s review the security positions claimed by the author of this malicious hogwash

*Chief of Army Staff*

Aguiyi Ironsi was the first Nigerian Chief of Army staff and served briefly under Balewa. The rest before him, who served with Balewa were Britons. Ironsi, as acknowledged by several research materials was never a part of the coup that killed Balewa and is acknowledged to be the one who quelled the coup. Max Siollun in his work; Oil, Politics and Violence, argued that Ironsi was marked for death but was missed my Major Okafor who was stationed in Lagos. Same as Nnamdi Azikiwe who was out of the country at that time.

*Chief of Naval Staff*

Until 1964 when Commodore Wey commanded the Naval Staff, no other Nigerian was the CNS under Balewa. This is another bout of pile being peddled to evoke hate.

*Chief of Defence Staff*

This role was only established by the 1979 constitution and never existed under Balewa.

*Inspector General of Police*

Louis Edet and Ken Salem were the only Nigerians who commanded the Nigerian police under Balewa. I am still searching to find what part of their origin emanted from eastern Nigeria.

*Other Positions*

Vice-Chancellors of Unilag and University of Ibadan – Profs Eni Njoku and Kennethe Dike assumed their roles purely on merit and had nothing to do with the murky politics of the pre-independence and the first republic. Dike served well into 1967 a clear one year after Balewa died and just when the civil war started. Njoku left his role in 1965 way before Balewa died. Saburi Biobaku was the VC when Balewa died, thus we can also assume he had a hand in the coup. I guess we can see the nonsense that is the assertion that academicians will have had anything to do with a military coup. Ethnic hate is bad!

*Nigerian Parliament*

The power sharing formula of the republican leadership in the first republic suggested that the NPC took control of the federal parliament, and formed a coalition government with the NCNC. Akweke Nwafor Orizu was the Senate President since 1960 and had absolutely nothing to do with the coup.


Nigeria’s history must be studied, especially the issues leading to the pogrom and civil war. How a bunch of disaffected soldiers who staged a coup became the lot of an ethnic group ranks highest in the annals of ethnic hatred.

The agitations of recents years must be addressed and there is no better way to address it than acknowledging what happened and sanctioning a true healing process. The group maligned by happenings of that era have risen above every suppression against it, half a century later. Let us desist from peddling falsehood. Ayekoto Akindele needs to take some copious classes in political history before attempting to rewrite history. There’s a host of materials out there to help him.

God Bless Nigeria

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