The maiden speech – A short story

This is a work of fiction. However, it shows in some detail the maiden speech delivered by Nigeria’s then prime minister, when Nigeria was admitted into the UN.

The event of the week was still fresh. Plastic flags cut in square shapes hung green white green from street light poles and the many story buildings encompassing different flats around our city. Nigeria was just seven days old, a young country ‘beaming with hope’, yes hope, and I knew my father was right.

Today, Nigeria accepted the UNs invitation for membership. Tunde, Obi and I chose to watch it at the viewing centre, it was better there. Although I didn’t speak much, it was fun to watch the political debates amongst other viewers. Unless it grew into something else, we will silently leave, after sipping the last of our soft drinks and returning it to the crate. That was how it was at the viewing centre, you are exposed to conflicting opinions to weigh in. Sometimes you could be included in such debates but if you do not have the strength for arguments, you straight up tell the debater you do not want in or continue with head nods while going back to the television screen.

A melodious tune began to play out of the speakers and almost immediately, the chatter around subsided. We saw the different faces of plenipotentiaries from different countries and the camera zoomed in on Nigerian delegates and the Prime minister Tafawa Balewa. It was quite nice to see the confidence oozing from them. We were shown how Tafawa Balewa walked onto the podium to give his speech, the maiden speech.

Just then, a waiter came up to fumble with the antennas of the television in search of a better picture. It was taking too long and rumbles from the crowd began. “just leave it that way” a man from the crowd called out. It was quite evident that there wasn’t any better way but I applauded his efforts. The waiter gently let go of the antennas and went to his position, at the back of the counter.

The Nigerian prime minister began by greeting other leaders and telling them of how Nigeria was greatful to be considered — even though majority of Nigerians didn’t seem to care much really.

Tafawa spoke on many things with conscious care of moulding Nigeria’s image to the World. The prime minister spoke on Nigeria’s willingness to remain friendly to all nations, its non-interest to expand its territory, how proud to be a member of the commonwealth; Nigeria emphasised its unwillingness to have anything to do with power blocs and lastly its desire for the UN to act on the Republic of Congo urgently. It was quite a speech, but it leaves me asking questions.

Is Nigeria really non-alliance to neither the West or East? Because it seemed quite evidently she was dancing to the tune of her colonial masters. And again, she was just seven days old, were these words really true, was the Nigerian government being pragmatic?

Will we be able to sort out our ethnic differences or turn out like Congo? I sit weighing these things, in between Tunde and Obi, their eyes glued to the television screen cheering on with the crowd.

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