Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was born in 1912 to Yakubu Dan Zala and Fatima Inna in Bauchi, Nigeria. Tafawa Balewa had his elementary education at a Koranic school in Bauchi and later proceeded to Barewa College where he bagged his teaching certificate. In 1944, Tafawa Balewa was among the lucky ones choosen to study in the University of London’s Institute of Education for a year. After his study in London, he returned to Nigeria to work as an inspector of schools for the then colonial government.
Later on, Tafawa Balewa became involved in politics. In 1946, he was elected to the Northern House of Assembly and also to the Legislative Assembly in 1947.
As an active politician, Tafawa Balewa cofounded the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) with Alahji Ahmadu Bello. After forming a coalition government with the National Council of Nigerians and Cameroons (NCNC) headed by Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa became the Chief Minister and later the Prime Minister in 1960 when Nigeria became independent.
In January 1960, Tafawa Balewa was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight commander of the order of the British Empire. In 1964, Tafawa Balewa was reelected as the Prime Minister of Nigeria. He held the record of the first and only Prime minister of independent Nigeria. During his tenure as the Prime minister of Nigeria, he maintained a good and solid relationship with francophone African countries and also played an important role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
However, on January 15, 1966, Tafawa Balewa’s government was overthrown by the military and he was murdered in the process. His body was found along a road in Lagos few days after he was killed. The coup, led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, was the first coup d’etat to be staged in Nigeria.
Today, Tafawa Balewa’s potrait appears on the Five naira note of Nigeria.