WHAT can anyone say about His Excellency The Right Honorable, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. According to history he had every academic degree, titles and honors, and as was said then “the one wey e no get they dasham”
Briefly let’s admit, that like Herbert Macaulay, Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah and a few others in African history, he was without a doubt an icon and a legend. He indeed, was an exceptional African and world statesman, definitely an inspiring and passionate leader with great courage and candor to face and confront the British colonialists. And in return, they hated him passionately and schemed him out of power in Nigeria.
A patriot and genuine Nigerian nationalist who gloriously witnessed the triumph and tragedy of Nigeria from empire to nation as well as the national tragedy of the civil war (1967-1970). He made history also by being the only nationalist leader of his time and caliber who really never ruled his country at independence, that honor went to Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa. As a compensation Zik got the symbolic title of Governor-General of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Also in 1963, he became the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, equally symbolic and honorific title.
However Zik took all those symbolic titles without substantive power with patriotic pleasure and enthusiasm as a statesman and patriot without rancor, envy or grievance, and conducted himself with devotion, decency and decorum.
Zik’s exemplary attitude clearly demonstrated a political mesmerizing performance, passionate and persuasive nationalist and statesmanship. In the end as history equally demonstrated, Zik, the great patriot of a man; was betrayed by the country and society in panic and by the very people he trusted. Zik’s life, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, is a potent reminder to some of us that little or nothing has been learned from the lessons of our history.
The Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikkiwe a leader who believed in the country, its unity and all its peoples, with great sense of honor and kindred spirit as well as the imperative of justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians regardless of tribe, religion or region, became a victim of his own ideals and ideology of one Nigeria and one destiny.
Zik was Pan Nigerian and Pan African. He recognized that justice was inseparable from genuine nationalism, that any other thing is a farce and a historical fallacy. For him fairness is the beginning point, equity and justice are the answer and peaceful coexistence should be our ultimate goal/objective as a nation. Like great leaders world-wide, he believed that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Again for Zik “power without statesmanship will not gain peace”.
And we have seen it happen around the world and Africa. There is nothing new under the sun.
In conclusion, let’s take a quote from Zik’s immortal advice to our country in its perennial and constant history of fluctuation between crises and conflicts and national disasters and incremental national calamity.
In 1964 Zik said; “If they have decided to destroy our national unity, it is better for us and for our many admirers abroad that we should disintegrate in peace and not in pieces. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, then I will venture the prediction that the experience of the Democratic Republic of Congo will be child’s play if ever it ever comes to our turn to play such a tragic role.
From the blind passion of those who worship power, may Allah save our republic.” Also a quote from Usman Dan Fodio is in order here; “One of the swiftest ways of destroying a state is to give preference to one particular tribe over another, or to show favor to one group of people rather than another and draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn close. A kingdom can endure with unbelief but cannot endure with injustice.”
hese are the words of our elders, but so glaring an important lesson for today’s generation.
Finally as someone remarked recently “Karma is a bitch and when it comes around, it does so with dishes served cold. What goes around certainly comes around. Posterity in due course will sit everyone in their respective places.” Ours will not be different.
That distinguished ladies and gentlemen is the iron law of history.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1964 Federal Election) crises. Page 18, Max Siollun, Oil, Politics and Violence Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966 -1976) New York 2009.