Nnamdi Azikiwe: Undisputable National Hero

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Nnamdi Azikiwe was born on 16th November in 1904 in the Northern part of Nigeria. Concerned that his son was not fluent in Igbo, his native language, and the culture his father Obed-Edom Chukwuemeka Azikiwe sent him to Onicha to live with his paternal grandmother in 1912.

His pre-tertiary education was a mix of up. He attended religious affiliated primary schools (Christ Church primary school and Holy Trinity School). After he was attacked by a dog, his father got him transferred to Lagos where he attended school in 1912. In 1918, he returned to Onicha to complete his primary education at CMS Central school. After this, he gained admission to Hope Waddell Training College where he had his first contact with Marcus Garvey’s teachings that will forever change his life.

Thereafter, he was transferred to Methodist Boys High School. During this time, he met with an educator James Aggrey who was of the belief that Africans need gain education abroad and return to revolutionise their countries. Upon completion, he got employed as a clerk in the treasury department of the colonial service. This was an eye-opener to the racism in the government. Filled with determination, he attempted to travel to the US (Storer college) to further his education on his own but was met with ill-luck after his friend fell ill. His father then sponsored him to the Storer College. He transferred to Howard University.

He was awarded a Master’s degree in religion in 1932. He soon became and is responsible for the creation of a course in African history. Wanting to. He became a columnist for the Baltimore Afro-American, Philadelphia Tribune and the Associated Negro Press. By the time he returned to Nigeria, he was known as a well-versed writer and landed a job as the editor of the African Morning Post in Gold Coast (now known as Ghana).

He used the paper to criticize the colonial government and the rich Ghanaians who were unperturbed by the government’s treatment because they benefitted from it. After getting arrested for sedition and his sentence was overturned, he returned to Lagos in 1937 and founded the West African Pilot to promote nationalism. He later established the Southern Nigeria Defender, the Eastern Guardian and the Nigerian Spokesman.

He used his power to write against the colonial governments injustice against the natives thereby raising political consciousness. In 1944, he co-founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) with Herbert Macaulay. On the 8th of July in 1945, the Pilot was suspended and resumed in August. After an “alleged” assassination attempt, he went into hiding in Onitsha. He went on to oppose the little influence and representation of the African man in the colonial government.

He soon became the premier of Nigeria’s Eastern Region in 1954. In 1960, he became Nigeria’s governor-general and in 1963, Nigeria’s first president. He retired from politics involuntarily after a 1983 military coup. He died in May 1996 after battling a long-time sickness. The New York Times described him as one who “towered over the affairs of Africa’s most populous nation, attaining the rare status of a truly national hero who came to be admired across the regional and ethnic lines dividing his country.”

According to the Vice Chancellor (Prof.Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku, FAS) of the University used to Mortalize the African Hero; on the occasion of the 7th edition of the Zik Annual Lecture Series, an event used to honour our hero past, ” We, particularly those of us in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, bestowed with the great honour of bearing his name, shall not get tired of remembering, with immense pride, the inspiring role Zik played in building and galvanising the bulwark against colonialism in Africa and his unrelenting efforts towards restoring the dignity of man- the dignity of the Blackman.

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