Nnamdi Azikiwe

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The Right Honourable
Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe
1st President of Nigeria
In office
1 October 1963 – 16 January 1966
Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Preceded by Elizabeth II
as Queen of Nigeria
Succeeded by Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi
3rd Governor-General of Nigeria
In office
16 November 1960 – 1 October 1963
Preceded by James Robertson
Succeeded by Himself as President
1st President of the Senate of Nigeria
In office
1 January 1960 – 1 October 1960
Preceded by None (position created)
Succeeded by Dennis Osadebay
Premier of Eastern Nigeria
In office
Succeeded by Michael Okpara
Personal details
Born (1904-11-16)16 November 1904
Zungeru, Northern Nigeria Protectorate
Died 11 May 1996(1996-05-11) (aged 91)
Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Political party
Alma mater

Nnamdi Azikiwe, PC, (16 November 1904 – 11 May 1996), usually referred to as 'Zik', was a Nigerian statesman who served as the Governor General of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963 and as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966 when Nigeria became a republic.[3] He is popularly considered a driving force behind the nation's independence and came to be known as the "father of Nigerian Nationalism". Born to Igbo parents in Zungeru, present-day Niger State, as a young boy, he learned to speak Hausa, the main indigenous language of the Northern Region. Azikiwe was later sent to live with his aunt and grandmother in Onitsha, his parental homeland, where he learned the Igbo language. A sojourn in Lagos exposed him to the Yoruba language and by the time he was in college, he had been exposed to different Nigerian cultures and spoke three languages which became a valuable asset as president of Nigeria.[4] Motivated to get a university education, he traveled to U.S. and attended Storer College, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and Howard before returning to Africa in 1934 where he began work as a journalist in the Gold Coast. In British West Africa, Azikiwe was an important advocate of Nigerian and African nationalism, first as a journalist and later as political leader.[5][6]


Azikiwe was born on 16 November 1904, in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria. Nnamdi means "My father is alive" in the Igbo language. His parents were Igbo; his father Obed-Edom Chukwuemeka Azikiwe[7] (1879–1958), an Onitsha-indigene and clerk in the British Administration of Nigeria[8] who traveled extensively because of the nature of his job. Zik's mother was Rachel Chinwe Azikiwe sometimes called Nwanonaku[7][9] whose family was descended from a royal house in Onitsha; her paternal great grandfather was Obi Anazenwu.[9] Azikiwe had one sibling, a sister named Cecilia Eziamaka Arinze.[9] Growing up as a young boy in Northern Nigeria, Azikiwe spoke Hausa, the language of the region, however, his father apprehensive of his child's fluency in Hausa and not Igbo sent him to Onitsha in 1912 to live with his paternal grandmother and aunt in order to learn the Igbo language and culture.[10] In Onitsha, he attended Holy Trinity School, a Roman Catholic Mission school and then Christ Church School, an Anglican primary school. In 1914, his father was working in Lagos and when Azikiwe was bitten by a dog, his worried father asked him to come to Lagos to heal and while there attend school in the city.[11] Two years later, his father was posted out of Lagos to Kaduna and Azikiwe briefly lived with a relative who was married to a Muslim from Sierra Leone.[12] In 1918, he was back in Onitsha and finished his elementary education at CMS Central School. Azikiwe then worked at the school as a pupil-teacher [11] supporting his mother with some of his earnings.[12] In 1920, his father was posted back to Southern Nigeria in the Southeastern city of Calabar. Zik joined his father in Calabar and started his secondary school at Hope Waddell Training College. In Calabar, he was introduced to the teachings of Marcus Garvey,[4] Garveyism later became an important part in his nationalistic rhetoric.

After Hope Waddell, Calabar,[13] Azikwe transferred to Methodist Boys High School Lagos. There he was friends with classmates from old Lagos families such as George Shyngle, Francis Cole and Ade Williams who was a son of Akarigbo Remo, this high connections later became beneficial to him as a politician in Lagos.[11] While at Methodist, he listened to a lecture delivered by James Aggrey, an educationist who believed that nothing but the best was good for Africa. Aggrey also believed Africans should get collegiate education abroad and to return back to effect change.[14] After the lecture, Aggrey gave the young Zik a list of schools accepting black students in America.[12] After completing his secondary education, Zik applied to the colonial service and was accepted as a clerk in the treasury department. His time with the colonial service exposed him to the racial bias within the colonial government.[15] Determined to travel abroad for further education, he applied to various universities in the U.S, receiving admission from Storer College when he was informed that the college will like to have him if he can find a way to America.[16] To reach America, he contacted a seaman and made a deal with him to become a stowaway. However, one of his friends on the ship fell sick and they were advised to disembark in Sekondi. In Ghana, Zik got employment as a police officer. While working in Ghana, his mother visited him and asked him to return to Nigeria. Zik reluctantly heeded his mother's request and returned to Nigeria, in Nigeria, he found a willing father who was ready to sponsor his trip to America.

Azikiwe first attended Storer College, a two-year preparatory school, in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. To fund his living expenses and tuition. At Storer, Azikiwe participated in athletics and cross-country teams before transferring to Howard University, Washington DC,[17][18] He then enrolled at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, in 1930, obtaining a master's degree in Religion in 1932 and in 1934, he earned another master's degree in Anthropology from University of Pennsylvania.[19][20] Azikiwe became a graduate student instructor in the history and political science department at Lincoln creating an African history course.[21] He was a candidate for a doctorate degree from Columbia before returning to Nigeria in 1934.[22] His main doctorate research was Liberia in world politics and the research paper was published by A.H. Stockwell in 1934. During the time he was in America, Azikiwe was a columnist for the Baltimore Afro-American, Philadelphia Tribune and the Associated Negro Press.[23] He was influenced by the ideals of the African American press, Garveyism and Pan Africanism while writing for those papers.

Newspaper career[edit]

Personally, I believe the European has a god in whom he believes and whom he is representing in his churches all over Africa. He believes in the god whose name is spelt Deceit. He believes in the god whose law is "Ye strong, you must weaken the weak. Ye 'civilised' Europeans, you must 'civilise' the 'barbarous' Africans with machine guns. Ye 'Christian' Europeans, you must 'Christianise' the 'pagan' Africans with bombs, poison gases, etc.

— African Morning Post, "snippet from the editorial that led to sedition charge", 1897[24]

Azikiwe applied to become a foreign service official for Liberia but was rejected because he was not a native of Liberia. By 1934, when he returned to Lagos, he was already well known and viewed as a public figure among some members of the Lagos and Igbo community. On his return, he was welcomed by a multitude of people, a sign that his writings in America had reached Nigeria.[25] In Nigeria, his initial goal was to seek an appropriate appointment in Nigeria that was commensurate with his education but after several applications including putting in an application for a teaching job at King's College and getting no positive response, he took an offer from Ghanaian businessman Alfred Ocansey to become the founding editor of the African Morning Post, a new daily newspaper to begin publication in Accra, Ghana. Zik was given a free hand to run the newspaper and recruited many of the pioneer staff.[11] At the African Morning Post, Zik wrote a column titled the Inside Stuff by Zik, a platform which he used for radical nationalistic and black pride preachment that generated some alarm within colonial circles.[26] As an editor, he promoted a pro-African nationalist agenda. Smertin has described his writing there: "In his passionately denunciatory articles and public statements he censured the existing colonial order: the restrictions on the African's right to express their opinions, and racial discrimination. He also criticized those Africans who belonged to the "elite" of colonial society and favoured retaining the existing order, as they regarded it as the basis of their well being."[27] It was during his stay in Accra that he advanced his idea of New Africa, a black pride philosophy that he later expatiated in his published book, Renascent Africa. The philosophy's ideal is state where Africans will be divorced from ethnic affiliations and traditional authorities and transformed by five philosophical pillars of spiritual balance, social regeneration, economic determinism, mental emancipation and national Risorgimento. In the Gold coast, Azikiwe did not shy away from local politics and the paper supported the local Mambii party.[21]

On 15 May 1936, an article entitled "Has the African a God?" written by I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson was published by the Post, as editor, Azikiwe was brought to trial on charges of sedition. He was originally found guilty of the charges and sentenced to six months in prison but was later acquitted on appeal. He returned to Lagos, Nigeria in 1937 and started the West African Pilot, a newspaper that he used to promote nationalism in Nigeria. Along with the Pilot, he established newspapers in politically and economically important cities across the country under the name Zik Group of Newspapers.[28] The flagship newspaper of the group was West African Pilot which used Dante Alighieri's "Show the light and the people will find the way" as motto. Other publications of the group were The Southern Nigeria Defender from Warri and later Ibadan, Eastern Guardian founded in 1940 and published in Port Harcourt, and Nigerian Spokesman at Onitsha.[29] In 1944, the group acquired Duse Mohamed's the Comet. Zik's newspaper venture was both a business and a political tool.[30] To succeed as a business, the Pilot gave less attention to advertising and focused more on its circulation largely because expatriate firms dominated the Nigerian economy.[31] Many of Zik's newspapers placed emphasis on sensationalism and human interest stories; the Pilot introduced a women's section and introduced coverage of sports while increasing coverage of Nigerian events against its main competitor, the Daily Times which dedicated extensive coverage to expatriate and foreign news service stories.[32] The pilot started with an initial run of 6,000 copies daily and at its peak in 1950, it was printing over 20,000 copies.[33] During the paper's run, Zik established a few other business ventures such as African Continental Bank and Penny restaurant and used his newspapers as a medium to advertise these ventures.[34]

Prior to the beginning of World War II, the West African Pilot was not seen as overtly radical but a paper trying to build up a readership base. The paper's editorials and coverage of political activities focused on injustice to Africans, criticism of colonial administration and support of the ideas of the educated elites in Lagos.[34] However, by 1940, a gradual change occurred, like the African Morning Post, Zik started a column, Inside Stuff which he sometimes used to arouse political consciousness,[35] in addition, the Pilot's editorials started writing columns calling for independence in Africa especially after the rise of the Indian independence movement. Even though the paper supported Great Britain in World War II, the Pilot was critical of war policies such as price controls and wage ceilings.[36] In 1943, when the British Council sponsored 8 West African editors including Azikiwe. Azikiwe and six other editors used the opportunity to raise awareness about political independence. The journalists signed a memorandum calling for gradual socio-political reforms that will include abrogation of the crown colony system, installing representative system in regions and granting independence to British West African colonies by 1958 or 1960 .[37] However, the memorandum was ignored by the colonial office and the indifference furthered Zik's militancy.[38]

Nnamdi Azikiwe has had a controlling interest in over 12 different daily, African-run, newspapers in his lifetime in entrepreneurship. From his inception, being a founding editor and columnist on the African Morning Post in 1934, his articles of African nationalism, black pride, and empowering nature were at the dismay of many colonialist politicians, and the benefit of millions of marginalized Africans. Furthermore, he would establish the West African Pilot in 1937 with the motto of "show the light and the people will find the way". East African newspapers generally published in Swahili, excluding newsletters like the East African Standard. In West Africa, however, Nnamdi was revolutionizing the newspaper industry, showing how "journalism can be a successful business enterprise". Moreover, by printing his West African Pilot newspapers, as an English language based newspaper, with the similar African nationalist rhetoric that made him so renown, the newspaper line exploded. By 1950, the five leading African-run newspapers in the Eastern region, including Gold Coast, Nnamdi's biggest rival the Nigerian Daily Times, and others, were out printed by the thousands, combined, in comparison to Nnamdi's Pilot which sold over seventeen thousand copies daily. On July 8, 1945, the Nigerian government banned the West African Pilot and the Daily Comet, another Nnamdi affiliated newsletter, for "misrepresenting facts about the general strike. This was acknowledged by Nnamdi, but he would not be silenced, continuing his perspective of the strike in his Port Harcourt newsletter, the Guardian. He would later lead a general strike of his own, in 1945, and later hold the premiership of East Nigeria (1954–59). By the 1960s, post Nigeria's independence, although the West African Pilot was circulated throughout the country, it was particularly strong in the east. Azikiwe, as well as his usual rhetoric, also took particular aim at groups that preached politics of exclusion. Azikiwe was often criticized by a section of the Yoruba's for using his newspaper to suppress opposition to his views, since anyone who spoke out ran the risk of being labelled an "Uncle Tom" or "imperialist stooge", ultimately destroying their reputation. Here is a list of most of Nnamdi Azikiwe's newsletters including ones from "Zik's Press Limited": The West African Pilot of Nigeria 1937, The Daily Comet taken over from Duse Mohammad in 1944, the African Morning Post column entitled "Inside Stuff" by Zik of Accra, Ghana, The Nigerian Spokesman in Warri, the Northern Advocate of Jos, The Eastern Nigerian Guardian of Port Harcourt, the Southern Defender of Warri, and The Sentinel of Enugu. Several of which are still in circulation.

Upon his death The New York Times comments that Nnamdi "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." Quite the honor from one of the best publications of modern times.

Political career[edit]

Azikiwe became active in the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), the first genuinely nationalist organization in Nigeria. However, in 1941 he backed Samuel Akinsanya to be NYM candidate for a vacant seat in the Legislative Council, but NYM's executive council selected Ernest Ikoli instead. Azikiwe resigned from the NYM accusing the majority Yoruba leadership of discrimination against the Ijebu-Yoruba members and Ibos and some Ijebu members followed him, thus splitting the NYM along ethnic lines. [39]

After a successful journalism enterprise, Azikiwe entered active politics, co-founding the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) alongside Herbert Macaulay in 1944. He became the secretary-general of the National Council in 1946.

Allegations of an assassination plot and Zikist movement[edit]

On July 8, 1945, as a result of Azikiwe's support of a general strike in June 1945 and caustic attacks against the colonial government, further publications of the West African Pilot was suspended by the colonial government. Zik and his papers gave solid support to the striking workers and its leader Michael Imoudu accusing the colonial government of exploiting the working class.[40] In August 1945, the paper was allowed to continue publication.[41] During the strike of 1945, Zik raised alarm about assassination plot against him by unknown individuals to be working on behalf of the colonial government.[40] The basis of the story was a wireless message intercepted by a Pilot reporter.[32] After receiving the intercepted message, Zik reacted by fleeing to Onitsha to hide. In his absence, the Pilot wrote editorials to arouse sympathy for Zik and many Nigerians believed the assassination story. Zik's popularity increased during this period, new readers bought his newspapers to read about Zik and his politics. However, the allegations also had its Nigerian doubters and some believed it was made up by Zik to increase his profile.[42] Those doubting the allegations were mostly Yoruba politicians from the Nigerian Youth Movement leading to rift between Azikiwe and some Yoruba politicians in NYM and creating a press war between Zik's Pilot and the Daily Service, the media outlet of NYM.

In 1946, a militant youth movement led by Osita Agwuna, Raji Abdalla, Kolawole Balogun, M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu and Abiodun Aloba was established to defend Azikiwe's life, his ideals of self-government[40] and criticism from his political opponents. Inspired by Azikiwe's writings and Nwafor Orizu's Zikism philosophy, members of the movement soon began to advocate for positive and militant actions to actualize self-government, calls for actions including strikes, study of military science courses by Nigerian students overseas and boycott of foreign goods.[43] However, Azikiwe did not come out publicly to defend the actions of the movement and the movement was banned in 1951 after a failed attempt to kill a colonial secretary.

Opposition to the Richards constitution[edit]

In 1945, British governor, Arthur Richards presented proposals for a revision of the Clifford constitution of 1922, included in the proposal was an increase in the number of nominated African members to the Legislative Council. However, the new changes met opposition from nationalists such as Azikiwe. NCNC politicians opposed the unilateral decisions made by Richards and constitutional provision that allowed for only four elected African members while the rest were to be nominated candidates. The nominated African candidates were described as mostly loyal to the colonial government and would not aggressively seek self-government. Another basis of opposition was that there was little input for the advancement of Africans into senior positions in the civil service. NCNC opposed Richards proposals and made preparations to argue its case to the new labour government in Britain. A tour of the country was embarked on to raise awareness about the party's concerns and to also raise money for the U.K protest.[44] During one of the tour, NCNC's president, Herbert Macaulay died and Azikiwe carried on with leadership of the party. Azikiwe now the leader of NCNC also led the delegation to London, in preparation for the trip, he traveled to U.S.A to gain sympathy for the party's case and met a few individuals such as Mrs. Roosevelt at Hyde Park and making a speech about the "emancipation" of Nigeria from the political thralldom, economic insecurity and social disabilities". The U.K. delegation which included Azikiwe and other leaders had Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Zanna Dipcharima, Abubakar Olorunimbe, Adeleke Adedoyin and Nyong Essien. They visited the Fabian Colonial Bureau, the Labor Imperial Committee and the West African Students' Union to raise awareness about its proposals for amendments to the 1922 constitution. Included in NCNC's proposals was the consultation with Africans about changes in Nigerian constitution, more power provided to the regional House of Assemblies and limiting the powers of the central Legislative Council to matters affecting defense, currency and foreign affairs.[45] The delegation submitted its proposals to the colonial secretary but little was done to make changes to Richard's proposals. The Richards Constitution was allowed to take effect in 1947 and Azikiwe contested for one of the Lagos seats to stall the implementation of the new constitution.


Under the Richard's constitution, Azikiwe was elected to the Legislative Council of Nigeria in a Lagos municipal election under the banner of the National Democratic Party, a subsidiary of NCNC. However, he and the party's representative did not attend the first session of the council and agitation for changes to the Richard's Constitution led to the MacPherson Constitution. A modified constitution, the MacPherson Constitution took effect in 1951 and called for Nigerian elections to the regional House of Assembly, like the Richard's Constitution, Azikiwe opposed the new changes but he chose to contest with the desire of being selected as a House of Representatives member which will give him a chance to make changes to the constitution. Staggered elections were held Nigeria from August to December, 1951. In the Western region were Azikiwe contested, two parties were dominant, Azikiwe's NCNC and the Acton Group. The regional elections to the Western Regional Assembly was held in September and December 1951 because the constitution only allowed for an electoral college to choose members of the national legislature, the chance of an Action Group majority in the house could prevent Azikiwe from going to the House of Representatives.[46] Azikiwe won a regional assembly seat from Lagos but the opposition party claimed majority victory in the House of Assembly and Azikiwe was denied the opportunity to represent Lagos in the Federal House of Representatives. In 1951, he became the leader of the Opposition to the government of Obafemi Awolowo in the Western Region's House of Assembly. The choice of not selecting Azikiwe to the national assembly precipitated a series of chaos in the west.[47] An internal agreement by elected NCNC members from Lagos to step down for Azikiwe in the inevitability that Azikiwe will not be nominated broke down. Azikiwe blamed the constitution and wanted changes to be made. The NCNC which dominated the Eastern region also followed Azikiwe's views and was committed to see the constitution be amended.[48]

In 1952, he moved to the Eastern Region, and the NCNC dominated regional assembly made proposals to accommodate him. The regional and central ministers of the party were asked to resign for a cabinet reshuffle but majority of the ministers ignored the resignation call. The regional assembly then passed a vote of no confidence on the ministers and any appropriation bill sent to the ministry was rejected. This created an impasse in the region and the Lt. Gov dissolved the regional house. A new election returned Azikiwe as a member of the Eastern Assembly. He was selected to the position of Chief Minister and in 1954 became Premier of Nigeria's Eastern Region when it was made a Federating unit.



On 16 November 1960, he became the Governor General, with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister. On the same day became the first Nigerian named to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.[13] With the proclamation of a republic in 1963, he became the first President of Nigeria. In both posts, Azikiwe's role was largely ceremonial.[49]

Azikiwe and his civilian colleagues were removed from power in the military coup of 15 January 1966. He was the most prominent politician to escape the spate of assassinations following the coup. During the Biafran (1967–1970) war of secession, Azikiwe became a spokesman for the nascent republic and an adviser to its leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. He switched allegiance back to Nigeria during the war and publicly appealed to Ojukwu to end the war in pamphlets and interviews published at the time. Writing on his politics, the New York Times note that, "Throughout his life, Dr. Azikiwe's alliance with northerners put him at odds with Obafemi Awolowo, a socialist-inclined leader of the Yoruba, the country's other important southern group.″[50] After the war, he served as Chancellor of University of Lagos from 1972 to 1976. 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. He died on May 11, 1996, at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, in Enugu, Enugu State, after a protracted illness. He was buried in his native Onitsha.[51]


Places named after Azikiwe include Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall, the oldest building on Lincoln University's campus, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu, the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Anambra State, Nnamdi Azikiwe Press Centre, Dodan Barracks, Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos. Azikiwe Avenue, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. His portrait adorns Nigeria's five hundred naira currency note.[52]


He was inducted into the prestigious Agbalanze society of Onitsha as Nnanyelugo in 1946, a customary recognition for Onitsha men of significant accomplishment. Then, in 1962, he became a second-rank red cap chieftain or Ndichie Okwa as the Oziziani Obi. In 1972, he was installed as the Owelle-Osowa-Anya of Onitsha, making him a first-rank, hereditary red cap nobleman or Ndichie Ume.

In 1960, he established the University of Nigeria, Nsukka[53] and Queen Elizabeth II appointed him to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. He was conferred with the highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR)[54] by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in 1980.


Azikiwe was actively involved in sports at every stage of his life, and he was successful in many of the events that he participated in. They include Welterweight Boxing Champion Storer College (1925–27); High Jump champion, Howard University Inter-Scholastic Games (1926); Gold Medalist in Cross Country, Storer College (1927); Back-stroke Swimming Champion and No. 3 swimmer in Freestyle Relay team, Howard University (1928); Captain, Lincoln University Soccer Team (1930); Winner Two Miles Run, Central Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association Championships at Hampton Institute Virginia (1931); Bronze Medalist, Richmond Cross Country Marathon (1931); Gold Medalist in the 1,000 yard run, One Mile Run and Three Mile Run, Catedonian Games in Brooklyn, NY (1932); Silver Trophy winner in the Half Mile race, and Silver Cup winner in the One Mile Race, Democratic Field Day Championships, New Haven, Connecticut (1933); Runner-up (with G. K. Dorgu) at the Lagos Tennis Men's Double Championships (Division B 1938); anchor man for the ZAC team which won the 50 yards Freestyle Relay at the Lagos Swimming Championships (1939).[17]

He won letters in athletics (Lincoln University) and cross country (Storer College and Lincoln University), swimming (Howard University), and football (soccer) (Lincoln University); entered to compete in the Half-Mile Race and One-Mile run at the British Empire Games to represent Nigeria, but was rejected by the A.A.A. of Great Britain on technical grounds (he dropped his English Christian name, "Benjamin"); and founded (with M. R. B. Ottun) of the Zik's Athletic Club to promote athletics, boxing, cricket, football, swimming and tennis in Nigeria.

It is also believed that he is the great uncle of footballers Benjy Aghadiuno and Jeffrey Sarpong, the latter having represented the national football team of the Netherlands.


During his lifetime, he held several political posts, especially in Nigeria. They include Executive Committee Member of Mambili Party, Accra (1935–37); General Secretary of National Council of Nigerian and the Cameroons (1944–45); President of the NCNC (1946–60); Vice-President of the Nigerian National Democratic Party (1947–60); Member for Lagos in the Legislative Council of Nigeria (1947–51); Member for Lagos and Leader of the Opposition in the Western House of Assembly (1952–53) Member for Onitsha in the Eastern House of Assembly (1954–60); Minister of Internal Affairs (Jan.–September 1954); Minister of Internal Affairs, Eastern Region (1954); Member of His Excellency Privy Council, Eastern Nigeria (1954–59); Primer of Eastern Nigeria (1954–59); President of the Senate of the Federation (January–November 1960); Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria (1960–63); President of the Republic of Nigeria (1963–1966); and Chairman and Presidential candidate of the Nigeria People's Party (1978–83).

Professional world[edit]

He made a name for himself in the professional world. The many posts he held included: Third-class Clerk, Treasury Department, Lagos (1921–24); Recruit, Gold Coast Police Force (July–September 1924); Solicitor Clerk to the late Mr. Justice Graham Paul at Calabar (January – August 1925); Instructor in Political Science, Lincoln University (1931–34); University Correspondent for the Baltimore Afro-American (1928–34); General and Sports Correspondent for the Philadelphia Tribune (1928–34); Editor-in Chief of the West African Pilot (1937–45); Correspondent for the Associated Negro Press (1944–47); Correspondent for Reuters (1944–46); Managing Director of Zik's Press Limited printers and publishers of the West African Pilot (Lagos), Eastern Guardian (Port Harcourt), Nigerian Spokesman (Onitsha), Southern Nigeria Defender (Ibadan), Daily Comet (Kano), and Eastern Sentinel (Enugu); Managing Director of Comet Press Limited (1945–53); Chairman of West African Pilot Limited and the Associated Newspapers of Nigeria Limited and six other limited liability companies (1952–53); Chairman, Nigerian Real Estate Corporation Limited (1952–53).

Societies and organizations[edit]

He was a member of many organizations and societies, including Anti-Slavery Society for the protection of Human Rights; Phi Beta Sigma fraternity (Mu Chapter); West African Students' Union; Onitsha Improvement Union; Zik's Athletic Club; Ekine Sekiapu Society of Buguma, Kalabari; St. John's Lodge of England; Royal Economic Society; Royal Anthropological Institute; British Association for the Advancement of Science; American Society of International Law; American Anthropological Association; American Political Science Association; American Ethnological Society; Amateur Athletic Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Swimming Association, Nigerian Boxing Board of Control; Nigerian Cricket Association; Ibo State Union; Nigerian Table Tennis Association; Nigeria Olympic Committee and British Empire and Commonwealth Games Association.



  • Zik (1961)
  • My Odyssey: An Autobiography (1971)
  • Renascent Africa (1973)
  • Liberia in World Politics (1931)
  • One Hundred Quotable Quotes and Poems of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1966). ISBN 978-2736-09-0
  • Political Blueprint for Nigeria (1943)
  • Economic Reconstruction of Nigeria (1943)
  • Zik: A Selection of the Speeches of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1961)
  • Assassination Story: True or False? (1946)
  • Before Us Lies the Open Grave (1947)
  • The Future of Pan-Africanism (1961)
  • The Realities of African Unity (1965)
  • Origins of the Nigerian Civil War (1969)
  • I Believe in One Nigeria (1969)
  • Peace Proposals for Ending the Nigerian Civil War (1969)
  • Dialogue on a New Capital for Nigeria (1974)
  • Creation of More States in Nigeria, A Political Analysis (1974)
  • Democracy with Military Vigilance (1974)
  • Reorientation of Nigerian Ideologies: lecture on 9 December 1976, on the eve of the launching of the UNN Endowment Fund (1976)
  • Our Struggle for Freedom; Onitsha Market Crisis (1976)
  • Let Us Forgive Our Children. An appeal to the leaders and people of Onitsha during the market crisis (1976)
  • A Collection of Poems (1977)
  • Civil War Soliloquies: More Collection of Poems (1977)
  • 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 or Welfarism? (1980)
  • Breach of Trust by the NPN (1983)
  • History Will Vindicate The Just (1983)

Notable quotes[edit]

  • "There is plenty of room at the top because very few people care to travel beyond the average route. And so most of us seem satisfied to remain within the confines of mediocrity" — from My Odyssey, No. 5.
  • "My stiffest earthly assignment is ended and my major life's work is done. My country is now free and I have been honoured to be its first indigenous head of state. What more could one desire in life?" — talking about Nigeria's Independence on 1 October 1960.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nuhu Musa, Jamila. "Flora Azikiwe: Nigeria' maiden First Lady at a glance". Peoples Daily. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Mamza, Paul. "Odd Men For Odd Political Jobs: Its Time Up!". www.dawodu.com. Segun Toyin Dawodu. Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  3. ^ OUR CORRESPONDENT. "Dr. Azikiwe To Be First President." Times [London, England] 17 Sept. 1963: 8. The Times Digital Archive.
  4. ^ a b Nnamdi Azikiwe." Times [London, England] 14 May 1996: 19. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 8 July 2016
  5. ^ 35
  6. ^ Azikiwe fights for Africa. (1950, Jan 07). New York Amsterdam News (1943-1961). Retrieved from Pro quest
  7. ^ a b The International Who's Who (54 ed.). Europa Publications. 1990. p. 75. ISBN 0-946653-58-5. 
  8. ^ Royal African Society (1983). "African affairs". 82. Oxford University Press: 62. 
  9. ^ a b c Mother of nnamdi azikiwe dies at 75. (1958, Feb 22). Philadelphia Tribune (1912-2001)
  10. ^ Oha, Obododimma. "Heroes of knowledge versus dragons of ignorance: language, identity construction, and intertextuality in Nnamdi Azikiwe's "My Odyssey"". motspluriels.arts.uwa.edu.au/. Retrieved July 8, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d Orji 2013, p. 68.
  12. ^ a b c Tonkin 1990, p. 37.
  13. ^ a b Nigeria Year Book 1962. Daily Times of Nigeria. 1962. p. 112. 
  14. ^ Esele, Amos. (1994, Nov 21). Ninety hearty cheers! The week, Lagos, Nigeria. Retrieved from Proquest
  15. ^ Orji 2013, p. 69.
  16. ^ Commencement address at Storer delivered by African alumnus. (1947, Jun 14). New Journal and Guide (1916-2003) Retrieved from Proquest
  17. ^ a b Azikiwe, Nnamdi (January 1966). Ivy, James W., ed. "A teacher remembered". Crisis. New York: The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc. 73 (1): 54–55. 
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  • Orji, John (2013). "Chapter 2: The Triumph of Knowledge". In Chuku, Gloria. The Igbo Intellectual Tradition: Creative Conflict in African and African diasporic thought. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 67–89. 
  • Tonkin, Elizabeth (1990). "Chapter 2: Zik's Story". In Chuku, P. F. de Moraes. SelfAssertion and Brokerage: Early Cultural Nationalism in West Africa. Birmingham University African Studies Series. pp. 35–45. 
  • Idemili, Samuel Okafor (1980). THE WEST AFRICAN PILOT AND THE MOVEMENT FOR NIGERIAN NATIONALISM, 1937-1960 (Thesis). University of Wisconsin-Madison. 
  • Olusanya, Gabriel (1964). TKE IMPACT OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR ON NIGERIA'S POLITICAL EVOLUTION (Thesis). University of Toronto. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Igwe, Agbafor (1992). Nnamdi Azikiwe: The Philosopher of Our Time. Enugu, Nigeria: Fourth Dimension Publisher. ISBN 978-978-156-030-9. 
  • Ikeotuonye, Vincent (1961). Zik of New Africa. P.R. Macmillan. 
  • Jones-Quartey, K. A. B. (1965). A Life of Azikiwe. Baltimore, MD: Penguin. 
  • Olisa, Michael S. O.; M., Ikejiani-Clark, eds. (1989). Azikiwe and the African Revolution. Onitsha, Nigeria: Africana-FEP. ISBN 978-978-175-223-0. 
  • Ugowe, C. O. O. (2000). Eminent Nigerians of the Twentieth Century. Lagos: Hugo Books. 

External links[edit]

Nnamdi Azikiwe: Respect for Human Dignity: an Inaugural Address at World Digital Library

Political offices
Preceded by
Position created
Senate President of Nigeria
Succeeded by
Dennis Osadebay
Preceded by
Sir James Robertson
Governor-General of Nigeria
Succeeded by
Himself as President
Preceded by
Himself as Governor-General
President of Nigeria
Succeeded by
Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi