Monday, 12 January 2009
Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe
Died May 11, 1996
Popularily known as ‘Zik’, Azikiwe was one of the leading figures of modern Nigerian nationalism and the first President of Nigeria, holding the position throughout the Nigerian First Republic.
Born in 1904 in Zungeru, Zik attended the Methodist Boys' High School in Lagos, Howard University, Washington DC and Lincoln University, Pennsylvania where he obtained a masters degree in 1933.
After a successful journalism enterprise with the African Morning Post and West African Pilot, Azikiwe entered into politics, co-founding the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) alongside Herbert Macaulay in 1944. In 1952, he was elected to the position of Chief Minister of Eastern Region, and in 1954 became Premier of Nigeria's Eastern Region. On November 16, 1960, he became the Governor General and on the same day became the first Nigerian named to the Queen's Privy Council. With the proclamation of a republic in 1963, he became the first President of Nigeria.
Azikiwe served as a spokesman for the nascent Igbo republic - Biafra and an adviser to its leader Odumegwu Ojukwu. He joined the Nigerian People's Party in 1978, making unsuccessful bids for the presidency in 1979 and again in 1983. He left politics involuntarily after the military coup on December 31, 1983. Zik died on May 11, 1996 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, in Enugu, Enugu State, after a protracted sickness.