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Nnamdi Azikiwe


Encyclopedia » Biography » Government and Politicians
Nigeria

All hail Zik of Africa!

Welcome to Logbaby’s Biography of the first president of Nigeria

 


SUMMARY DATA:

Name:  Nnamdi Azikiwe 

Date of Birth: Nov 16th, 1904

State of Origin: Anambra (Onitsha)

Died: May 11, 1996 (91)

Spouses: Flora Ogoegbunam(m.1936;died1983)

                 Uche Ewah(m.1973)

                Ugoye Comfort Azikiwe

Occupation: Writer, Politician

Children: Chukwuma Azikiwe

                Emeka A. Azikiwe

                Nwachukwu Azikiwe

                Ngozi Azikiwe

                Molokwu Azikiwe

                Uwakwe Azikiwe

               Jayzik Azikiwe

 


INTRODUCTION

Nnamdi Azikiwe also known as Zik was the first Nigerian president who remains relevant for his efforts towards the independence of Nigeria and who would always remain relevant for his promotion of one Nigeria.

Early Life

Nnamdi Azikiwe was born on Nov 16th, 1904 to Mr. Chukwuemeka Azikiwe and Mrs Chinwe Ogbeyeanu in Zungeru, Niger State. His mother was a trader and his father being a clerk for the British colonist travelled a lot and he often travelled him.

Growing up in Niger state Zik spoke more Hausa than Igbo which prompted his father to send him back to Onitsha to live with his grandmother.

Education

He attended Holy Trinity School and Christ Church School in 1914. He was later sent back to Lagos to stay with his father after he was bitten by a dog staying in Lagos allowed him time to heal and also attend school in city, his father later left and in 1918 he returned to Onitsha where he finished his primary school at CMS central school. He later worked as a student teacher thereby supporting his mother with his little earnings.

In 1920 his father was posted to Calabar he moved there and then attended Hope Waddel Training College.

After Hope Waddel Training College he transferred to Methodist Boys College in Lagos where he also met a lot of people who were later instrumental in his political career.

While in school he received a lecture by James Aggrey on his belief that Africans are of equal priviledge to study abroad. He got a list of school that accepted Blacks and then applied to Storer College which offered him admission.

He made a deal with a seaman to be a stowaway but midway through the journey his friend got sick so they had to disembark at Ghana where he worked as a policeman but later returned to Nigeria on the agreement that his father would sponsor his trip to America.

Zik attended Storer College a preparatory school, to fund his studies he competed as an athlete before transferring to Howard University where he joined the Phi Beta Sigma, in 1930 he later went to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and in 1932 received a masters degree in Religion. In 1934 he received a master degree in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

He later worked as a student instructor in the history and political department therby creating a course in African History.

WRITTING CAREER

While in America Zik was a columnist for the Baltimore Afro American, Philadelphia Tribune and the Associated Negro press.

In 1934 he applied as a Foreign Service official for Liberia but was rejected as he wasn’t a native of the country, he then returned to Nigeria and was welcomed with open arms by his people as his writing had not only stayed abroad but had also reached his people. 

He sought for work but couldn’t get one that matched his qualifications because of racial biases of the British so he left for Ghana to become the founding editor of the African Morning Post, while in Ghana he headed a column(The Inside Stuff by Zik) in which he preached nationalism and black pride raising alarm in tthe colonial circle.

As an editor he promoted African led Nationalistic agenda, he fought against the restrictions on the African’s freedom of expression and racial discrimination.

He also criticized Africans who have been accepted into the elite of the colonial society and therefore favoured the existing system as it was regarded as the basis of their well being  and also advanced his New Africa philosophy which he later wrote about in his book Renascent Africa,his philosophy was a belief in an Africa transformed by five pillars Spiritual balance, mental emancipation, econmic determinism, risorgimento nationalism, social regeneration he also did not stay away from politics even when in Ghana his paper supported the local party.

In 1935 he published an article “Has the African a God” by I.T.A Wallace Johnson and was tried for sedition found and  sentenced to 6 months in jail but was pardoned on appeal.

On his return to Lagos in 1937 he founded West Afrian Pilot in addition to this the Zik group established other newspapers in the economically and politically important cities in the country, the West African Pilot used Dante Aligheri’s “Show the light and the people will find the way” as its motto.

They were other publications like the southern Nigeria defender in warri today’s Ibadan, the Eastern Guardian in Port Harcourt and the Nigerian spokesman in Onitsha and later added Duse Mohamed’s Comet.

Zik’s newspaper venture was not only a business but a political tool, the Pilot focused on circulation rather than advertising and featured sports and a women’s section, increasing coverage of Nigerian events thereby competing with Daily Times which focused on foreign news, Initially Pilot ran 6000 copies daily which increased to 20,000 in 1950, Azikiwe also established African Continental Bank and the penny Restaurant which he used his newspaper to advertise.

Initially the paper’s editorials focused on injustice to Africans, criticism of the colonial masters and support for the ideas of the educated mass in Lagos.

With the Inside stuff Zik tried to raise political awareness while Pilot editorials called for African Independence with the rise of the Indian Independence Movement, it also criticised austerity measures such as price controls and wage ceilings.

In 1943 the British Council sponsored 8 West African editors with Zik inclusive, He and other editors used the opportunity to raise awareness of political independence and controlling interest in over 12 daily African run newspapers.

His articles on black pride, African nationalism and empowerment dismayed many colonist politicians and benefitted many marginalized Africans.

On July 8th 1945 the West African Pilot was banned for misrepresenting information about a general strike, although Zik acknowledged this he continued publishing articles in the Guardian and led a general strike in 1945.

POLITICAL CAREER

He was an active member of the National Youth Movement he supported Samuel Akinsanya for the vacant seat in the legislative council but the NYM selected Ernest Ikoli.

Nnamdi Azikiwe exited the group because of the ethnic menace meted out on the Ijebu Yorubas and the Igbos, some Ijebu yorubas and the Igbos followed him thereby dividing the group by ethnic lines.

POLITICAL/ACTIVIST OFFICES HELD 

Member of the Nigerian Legislative Council (1947- 1951)

Member of the  Western House of Assembly (1952-1953)

Premier of the Eastern Region (1954-1959)

President of the Nigerian Senate (1959-1960)

3rd and final Governor General of Nigeria  (1960-1963)

1st President of Nigeria (1963-1966). 

 Leader of the NCNC (1947 and 1960)

 Patron of the Zikist MovemenT

Leader (NPP) 1978-1983

ASSASINATION PLOT AND THE ZIKIST MOVEMENT

During the strike led by Azikiwe he revealed an assassination plot by the colonial government which was proved by a message intercepted by a pilot reporter, after receiving the message Azikiwe went to Onitsha for a while to allow the tension cool off, his popularity and newspaper circulation increased during this period.

The allegations were doubted by some Nigerian with majority being the Yorubas thereby creating a rift between the ethnic groups and a press war between the Pilot and Daily Service.

The assassination attempt birthed the ZIKIST movement which was a group of Nigerians whose primary duty was to guard Nnamdi Azikiwe and everything he stood for, the group was later banned in 1951 after a supposed attempt to kill a colonial secretary.

1945 British Governor Arthur Richard presented proposal for a revision of the Clifford constitution of 1922, the changes were opposed by Nnamdi Azikiwe as it only allowed more 4 elected African leaders and the rest would be appointed, Zik opposed on the grounds that the nominated candidates were loyal to the colonial masters and would not aggressively seek independence and also the non advancement of Africans to senior civil service positions, so the NCNC (National Council of Nigeria and  Cameroons) prepared a tour of the country to raise awareness and money to argue its case to the labour government in Britain, it was in this tour that the NCNC president Herbert Macauley died.

The Uk delegation included Azikiwe, Fumilayo Ransome Kuti, Zanna Dipcharima, Abubakar Olorunimbe, Adeleke Adedoyin and Nyong Essien. They visited the Fabian society’s colonial Bureau, the labour imperial and the West African Students Union, the proposal of the NCNC was consultation with Africans about changes in the Nigerian constitution, more power to the regional Assemblies and limiting the powers to the central legislative council to defence, currency and foreign affairs, after submitting the proposal little was done to change Richards proposals and the Richards constitution took effect in 1947 and Azikiwe contested one of the Lagos seats to delay its implementation although he did not succeed, under the Richards constitution Zik was elected to the legislative council in a Lagos municipal election from the NDP (National Democratic Party) an NCNC subsidiary, he and the party representatives did not attend the party and agitation towards the Richards constitution led to the Macpherson  which took effect in 1951 like the Richards constitution called for election in the Regional House of Assembly, this change was opposed by Azikiwe and also contested for a chance to change this constitution, elections were held from August to December 1951.

Azikiwe stood in the western region which had NCNC and the Action Group as the dominant parties and because the constitution allowed an electoral college to choose members of the national legislature an Action Group majority in the house might prevent Azikiwe from going to the House of Representatives, so even when Zik won a Regional Assembly seat from Lagos the opposition claiming majority prevented him from going to the house of reps.

In 1951 he became the leader of the opposition to the government of Awolowo in the Western Region’s House of Assembly and his non sselection to the national assembly caused chaos in the west, the agreement by elected NCNC members from Lagos to step down for Azikiwe if he was nominated broke down thus evoking a move for the change of constitution, the NCNC which dominated the Eastern Region agreed and committed to attending the constitution.

Azikiwe moved to the Eastern Region in 1952, and the NCNC-dominated regional assembly made proposals to accommodate him. Although the party's regional and central ministers were asked to resign in a cabinet reshuffle, most ignored the request. The regional assembly then passed a vote of no confidence on the ministers, and appropriation bills sent to the ministry were rejected. This created an impasse in the region, and the lieutenant governor dissolved the regional house. A new election returned Azikiwe as a member of the Eastern Assembly. He was selected as Chief Minister, and became premier of Nigeria's Eastern Region in 1954 when it became a federating unit.

 

FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE

On the Ist of October Nigeria got its independence and on 16th Nov 1960 Azikiwe became governor general with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as prime minister and he was also the first Nigerian named to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and in 1963 became Nigeria’s first president.

On January 15th 1966 he and his civilian colleagues were removed by the coup, he was a spokesman for Biafra but stood with Nigeria during the civil war, he appealed to the Biafra leader Chukwuma Odumegwu Ojukwu through interviews and pamphlets to end the war

 

WORKS

Zik (1961

My Odyssey An Autobiography (1971)

Renascent Africa (1973)

Liberia in World Politics (1931)

One Hundred Quotable Quotes and Poems of Rt Hon Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe (1966)

Economic Reconstruction of Nigeria (1943)

Zik: A selection of the speeches of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe (1961)

Assasination story: True or False (1946)

Before us lies the open grave (1947)

The future of pan Africanism (1961)

The Realities of African Unity (1965)

I believe in one Nigeria (1965)

The Origins of the Nigerian Civil war (1969)

Peace proposals for ending the Nigerian Civil war (1969)

Dialogue on a New Capital for Nigeria (1974)

Creation of More States in Nigeri, A Political Analysis (1974)

Democracy with Military Vigilance (1974)

Reorientation of Nkgerian Ideologies: Lecture on 9 Dec on the Eve of the lanching of the UNN Endowment Fund (1976)

Our Struggle for Freedom; Onitsha Market Crisis (1976)

Let us Forgive our Children; An appeal to the l]Leaders of Onitsha during the market crisis (1976)

A Collecion of Poems (1977)

Civil War Soliloquies: More Collection of poems

Themes in African Social and Political Thought (1978)

Restoration of Nigerian Democracy(1978)

Matchless Past Performance: My Reply to Chief Awolowo's Challenge (1979)

A Matter of Conscience (1979)

Ideology for Nigeria Capitalism, Socialism, Welfarism? (1980)

Breach of Trust by the NPN (1983)

History Will Vindicate The Just (1983)

 

 

LATER LIFE

After the war he was Chancellor of the University of Lagos from 1972 – 1976, he made another attempt on the presidency in 1979 and 1983 through the National People’s Party.

He was a titled man among his people of Onisha, holding the rank of Owelle making him a 1st rank Chief among his people. He was an athlete with wonderful records during his University years. He was a consumate human who spent his life advocating
for a better nation and world.

Nnamdi Azikiwe died on May 11th 1966 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu and was buried in his home Onitsha.

LANDMARKS IN HIS NAME

Nnamdi azikiwe International Airport (Abuja)

Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium(Enugu)

Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Awka)

Nnamdi Azikiwe Library at the University of Nigeria Nsukka

Nnamdi Azikiwe Press Centre, Dodan Barracks, obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos

Azikiwe Avenue in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

CRDB Azikiwe Branch in Dar es Salaam

   

 

His picture appears on Nigeria's ₦500 banknote


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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