No doubt throughout the world, heroes would forever be admired, respected and perhaps envied for their unwavering guts and almost unbelievable achievements. Unlike professions, being a hero requires a whole lot more than passion; it requires bravery, self-sacrifice and the unflinching ability to take a risk regardless of the consequences.
Understandably, truth be told not every individual is a likely hero as most of us would rather proudly prefer to sit back in the crowd and applaud heroes for their incomprehensible audacity and remarkable feats, instead of being “honored” the chosen one, because of the amount of self-sacrificing and little or no guarantees.
However today, we stand in ovation as we remember some of Nigeria’s extinguished power forces who dared to dream and decided to follow through to the very end, until their goal was achieved and Nigeria could at last, be called an independent nation with pride.
Ladies and gentlemen with utmost pride and honor in no particular order as the curtain draws, we go back in history celebrating some of Nigeria’s spirited political veterans who paved a way for their country’s independence;
The late Herbert Macaulay, who was the grandson of Bishop Ajayi Crowther, would forever be remembered in Nigeria’s history as “The father of Nationalism.” He was one of the strongest opponents of British rule in Nigeria and ensured he exposed traces of exploitation and corruption by the Europeans.
On the 24th of June, 1923 he founded the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) which was Nigeria’s first Nigerian political party. In addition in 1944 Macaulay together with Nnamdi Azikwe founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) and became its president. The NCNC was a patriotic organization designed to bring together diverse Nigerians regardless of culture, religion or language to demand independence.
In 1946, Herbert Macaulay fell ill and died in Lagos at the age of 81.
-Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe
Nigeria’s poltical legacy would be incomplete without mentioning this esteemed political icon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe was in the fore front of Nigeria’s nationhood, fighting for independence, de- ethnicity and detribalisation in the country.
In 1944, he co- founded the country’s first political party- NCNC, and also utilized newspapers together with his party to fight for Nigeria’s independence from Britain. Later on when Nigeria became an independent country, Azikwe became the first President of Nigeria on 1 October 1963 – 1966 dethroned by a military coup. Dr Nnamdi Azikwe died on May 11, 1996 at the age of 91. He was referred to as the father of modern nationalism.
-Chief Obafemi Awolowo:
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was also very instrumental towards Nigeria’s attainment of independence. He was a nationalist who struggled prominently for Nigeria’s independence and even wrote a book in 1945- “Path to Nigerian Freedom” which was his first book. The book criticised British administration and called for self- government.
Awolowo was a political leader who founded many political organisations including the famous Action Group party (1950) and introduced free primary education in the Western Region. The Action group spoke against British administration and called for its immediate termination. In addition, it was also actively involved in public welfare developmental programs, including primary education and health services.
The distinguished statesman who is described today as “the best Nigerian president Nigeria never had” died on the 9th of May 1987, at the age of 78.
-Sir Ahmadu Bello
Sir Ahmadu Bello would be remembered as a voice of the northerners. Unlike the South, the north was left behind in terms of meaningful development and common ethnicity however, Sir Ahmadu fought for the political immediate and future growth of the Northerners and gave them a voice as well in Nigeria’s political world.
He was known as a blunt and frank with views and influenced many lives during his life time. His greatest legacy was the modernization and unification of the diverse people of Northern Nigeria. He was the first president of the Northern People’s Party. Sir Ahmadu Bello lived a very influential life and died on January 15th, 1966 at the young age of 55.
-Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
He was the cofounder of the Northern People’s Congress in 1949 and contributed immensely to Nigeria’s independence. He ensured Nigeria became a republic and was the first prime minister of the country.
Sir Abubakar advocated strongly for the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was established with the aim of serving as a common voice for Africa and to eradicate the traces of colonialism throughout its duration from 1963 to 2002. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa died on January 15, 1966 at the age of 53 in a coup de etat.
Unavoidably as we add another year to our beloved nation, we can’t help but look back with unquantifiable sadness at the extensive gap our selfless leaders left in Nigeria’s political arena. Although, we still hope with the unwavering heart of a child, that Nigeria with the pride of a lion will stands up and indeed mount her throne, as the giant of Africa.
Happy Independence Nigeria!