5 Interesting Facts about Nnamdi Azikiwe You Probably Don’t Know

Nnamdi Azikiwe

Widely regarded by some as the father of nationalism in Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was the governor-general of the country from 1960 to 1963, and the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966.

He was also the Premier of the then Eastern region between 1954 and 1959, and the first indigenous senate leader in 1960.

The N500 note bears his face.

Other facts you may not know about Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe include:

He could speak Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba fluently

Nnamdi Azikiwe was born in Zungeru in present-day Niger State. There he learnt to speak Hausa, before being sent to live with his grandmother in Onitsha where he learnt to speak the Igbo language. A stay in Lagos exposed him to Yoruba language.

He was once sentenced to imprisonment

In November 1934, Azikiwe was the editor of the African Morning Post in Ghana and published a piece titled, “Has the African a God?” which led to him being charged with sedition, found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison. He was later acquitted on an appeal.

He contested for presidency twice and failed

After the return to civilian rule in 1979, Azikiwe sought to get elected as the Head of State but lost to Shehu Shagari. He contested again in 1983 and lost again after what was alleged to be mass rigging by the ruling party.

He was something of a media mogul

At a time in his life, Azikiwe had a controlling interest in over twelve African-run newspapers. There were six in Nigeria; two in Lagos and four i Ibadan, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Kano. He also founded the African Continental Bank in 1944.

He considered Nigeria’s independence his major life’s work

At independence, it was expected Nnamdi Azikiwe would become the Prime Minister of the country, but he ended up in the largely ceremonial role of Governor-general. In response to this, Nnamdi Azikiwe is quoted to have said:

“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?