History: Ministers who made up Tafawa Balewa’s first republic, two died with him, one became president

Nigeria’s first republic is remembered for ushering the country into a self governed nation, after being under the affairs of the British government. Tafawa Balewa was subsequently appointed Prime Minister on August 30, 1957 by the Governor-General of Nigeria, Sir James Wilson Robertson. Balewa then formed his cabinet, changing them every three years.

We bring you the list of men who made Balewa’s cabinet, and a little information about some of them.

First cabinet: 1957–1959

After being appointed Prime Minister in 1957, Balewa constituted his cabinet made up of 10 men across the political parties manning 10 ministries. They are:

Raymond Njoku – Transportation
Aja Nwachukwu – Education
K. O. Mbadiwe – Commerce
Samuel Akintola – Communications
Festus Okotie-Eboh – Finance

J. M. Johnson – Internal Affairs
Kola Balogun – Information
Ayo Rosiji – Health
Muhammadu Ribadu – Mines
Zanna Bukar Dipcharima – Works

Unfortunately, two of the ministers were killed alongside Tafawa Balewa during the January 15, 1966 coup. They are Festus Okotie-Eboh, who was then the Finance Minister, and Samuel Ladoke Akintola who was then Premier of the Western region.

Second cabinet: 1959–1964

After the election of 1959 election, Balewa’s Northern People’s Congress, NPC won majority seats in the parliament, winning 134 seats. It was followed by the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, NCNC) / Northern Elements Progressive Union, NEPU which won 89 seats. Both parties formed a coalition, and formed the cabinet together.

The ministers were:

Jaja Wachuku – Foreign Affairs
Taslim Olawale Elias – Attorney Gen/Justice
Muhammadu Ribadu – Lands & Lagos Affairs
Festus Okotie-Eboh – Finance
Raymond Njoku – Transport and Aviation

Zanna Bukar Dipcharima – Commerce & Industries
Inua Wada – Works & Surveys
J. M. Johnson – Labour & Welfare. Also responsible for Sports
Aja Nwachukwu – Education
Maitama Sule – Mines & Power
Shehu Shagari – Economic Development & Natural Resources

Olu Akinfosile – Communications
Usman Sarki – Internal Affairs
T. O. S. Benson – Information
Waziri Ibrahim – Health
Yisa Yara’Dua – Pensions, Establishment & Nigerianization

Out of the cabinet of 1957, six ministers retained their place in the cabinet. They were: Njoku, Okotie-Eboh, Johnson, Dipcharima, Nwachukwu and Ribadu.

The cabinet also had Shehu Shagari who was Minister of Economic Development & Natural Resources. He later became Nigeria’s president, ruling from 1979 to 1983.

Third cabinet 1964 – 1966

After the breakdown of the coalition between the NPC and the NCNC, the ruling party went into the 1964 elections facing a strong alliance of opposing forces. The NCNC had in its camp the Action Group, NEPU, and the United Middle Belt Congress, UMBC called the United Progressive Grand Alliance, UPGA.

Balewa’s NPC also formed an NNA alliance with the Nigerian National Democratic Party, NNDP. The UPGA however threatened to boycott the elections because of some irregularities.

Although it boycotted the election in some places, the NNA alliance gained a slim majority. The Balewa-led government then formed a broad-based government with the following as ministers with portfolio.

Muhammadu Ribadu – Defense
Taslim Olawale Elias – Attorney Gen/Justice
Festus Okotie-Eboh – Finance
Zanna Bukar Dipcharima – Transport
Jaja Wachuku – Aviation

K. O. Mbadiwe – Trade
Augustus Akinloye – Industries
Inua Wada – Works
Adeniran Ogunsanya – Housing & Surveys
Adeleke Adedoyin – Labour
Richard Akinjide – Education
Maitama Sule – Mines & Power. Dominic Mapeo Minister of State

Waziri Ibrahim – Economic Development
Alade Lamuye – Natural Resources & Research
Raymond Njoku – Communications
Shehu Shagari – Internal Affairs
Ayo Rosiji – Information
Moses Majekodunmi – Health
Jacob Obande – Establishment

The government was however cut short January 15, 1966 when military men toppled it, killing Balewa, Okotie-Eboh and Akintola.

Some other notable politicians and soldier were killed across the country.