Some Nigerians who lived in some years back showed what selfless service to the citizens entailed.
These people were some of the men Nigeria may not have their calibre in the nearest future if the situation of things continue to go from bad to worse in the country.
One of the challenges Nigeria has been facing since democracy returned in 1999 is that of a leader with sterling qualities. Right from the presidency to councillorship, it seems the country is yet to get its axe together.
The country should begin to look inwards on how to produce men of rare gems like these individuals.
1. Chief MKO Abiola (August 27, 1937 – July 7, 1998)
He was known as Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. He was born in Abeokuta, Ogun state and he is also from the same state. His father had lost 22 previous children before he was born, which was the reason he was called “Kashimawo,” meaning, “let’s wait and see if he will not die.”
He did his first business at age 9 by gathering firewood and selling them. He was a stammerer, who also had a music band of his own at age 15.
He was the editor of his school, Baptist Boys High School magazine, while Nigeria’s former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was his deputy. He graduated with a first class degree in Accounting from Glasgow University, Scotland.
He contested the presidential election under the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Saturday, June 12, 1993. The results of the polls were annulled by former military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida as it was clear Abiola would win.
Some of the things named after him include: Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY) and Moshood Abiola Stadium, both in Ogun state and Abiola Gardens, a Housing Estate in Lagos state. He was a philanthropist per excellence.
2. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (December 18, 1912 – January 15, 1966)
He was Nigeria’s first and still the only prime minister till date. He was called the Golden Voice of Africa because of the impeccable way he talked. He was born in Bauchi state. He studied at the University of London’s Institute of Education for a year. He was an active member of the Northern People’s Congress before independence.
He headed the ministry of Works, then later Transport and was appointed Chief Minister in 1957. The national monument named after him is Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. His portrait is found on the Naira 5 note.
3. Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe (November 16, 1904 – May 11, 1996)
He was known as Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Owelle of Onitsha, Anambra state. He was popularly called Zik of Africa. He was born in Zungeru, Niger state. He is from Enugu state. He had a BSc and MSc from Lincoln University and another MSc from University of Pennsylvania, both in the United States.
He joined politics first with Nigeria Youth Movement (NYM) and later in 1944 founded National Council of Nigeria and Camerouns (NCNC). He was made the country’s ceremonial president on October 1, 1960.
He contested for president under Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) in 1979, but lost.
Some of the things named after him are: Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra state (UNIZIK) and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. His portrait is found on the Naira 500 currency.
4. Sir Ahmadu Bello (June 12, 1910 – January 15, 1966)
He was the Premier of the Northern Region from 1954 to 1966. He was born in Rabba, Sokoto state. He was the leader of the Northern Peoples Congress.
In 1948, he got a government scholarship to study Local Government Administration in England. He saw to the modernisation and unification of the various groups and people in Northern Nigeria. He headed the ministries of Works, Local Government and Community Development in Northern Nigeria in 1952.
The Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna state was named after him. His portrait is found on the Naira 200 note.
5. Chief Obafemi Awolowo (March 6, 1909 – May 9, 1987)
He was born in Ikenne, Ogun state. His full name is: Obafemi Jeremiah Oyeniyi Awolowo. He studied law at the University of London. He was made the federal commissioner for finance between 1967 and 1971. He was the Premier of Western Region from October 1, 1954 to October 1, 1960.
He formed the Action Group (AG). The party existed from 1950 to 1966. He was the presidential candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), but lost at the elections in 1979. He was and he is still the only Nigerian up to date who got the national honour of GCFR, without becoming a Head of State or a President.
He has the former University of Ife in Osun state, named after him as Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). His portrait is found on the Naira 100 note.
6. Sir Anthony Enahoro (July 22, 1923 – December 15, 2010)
He was born in Uromi, Edo state. He joined the Movement for National Reformation during his youth. His full name is Anthony Eromosele Enahoro. He was Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activist.
He was educated at King’s College, Lagos. He was the editor of the Southern Nigerian Defender newspaper, where he became Nigeria’s youngest editor at 21 years. He was the editor of Zik’s Comet in Kano. He became the Associate Editor of West African Pilot, Lagos from 1945 – 1949. He was Editor-in-Chief, Morning Star from 1950 – 1953.
He was the first Nigerian to move the motion for Independence in 1953. Enahoro is regarded by many Academics and Nigerians as, “Father of Nigeria State.”
There is Sir Anthony Enahoro Housing Estate in Ogba, Lagos, among a few of the things used to immortalise him.
7. Aminu Kano (1920 – April 17, 1983)
He was born in Kano state. He is known with the popular, ‘Talakawa politics’ in Northern Nigeria. His political ideology was based on the poor’s welfare. He was a staunch member of the Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU) around pre-Independence period. He was a teacher by profession.
He studied at the University of London’s Institute of Education. In 1948, he became head of the teacher training centre, Maru in Sokoto and secretary of Northern Teachers Association.
He formed the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), where he lost after contesting under the party at the presidential election of 1979. The PRP still exists as a political party today in Nigeria.
The Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) and Aminu Kano Airport, both in Kano state were named after him.
8. Chief Ladoke Akintola (July 10, 1910 – January 15, 1966)
He was born in Ogbomosho, Oyo state. His full name is Samuel Ladoke Akintola. His father took him to Minna, Niger state when he was just 4 years. It was there he learned Hausa and Nupe languages. He left for Oxford University to study Public Administration before he changed to Law on a British Council Scholarship in 1946.
He was made the minister of Health in 1953 and was mainly responsible for the establishment of the University College Teaching Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo state. He was the first leader of the opposition party in the federal parliament. He was also the first minister of Labour. He was the first post-Independent Premier of Western Region.
The Ladoke Akintola University in Ogbomosho, Oyo state was named after him.
9. General Murtala Mohammed (November 6, 1938 – February 13, 1976)
He attended Barewa College, Zaria in Kaduna state. He was the General Officer Commanding 2nd Division, Ibadan (August, 1967 – May 1968). He was in office as Nigeria’s Head of State between July 30, 1975 and February 1, 1976. He is known to have been the one who introduced the phrases, “fellow Nigerians” and “with immediate effect” into the national vocabulary. He played a major role in the independence of Angola and contributed a lot to making Africa unite and speak with one voice.
Gen Murtala has Murtala Mohammed International Airport named after him. His portrait is also found on the Naira 20 currency.
10. Pa Michael Adekunle Ajasin (November 28, 1908 – October 3, 1997)
Ajasin was the Ondo state governor between October 1, 1979 and December 31, 1983. He was born in Owo, Ondo state. He obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree in English, Modern History and Economics in June 1946 from Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone. He obtained his Postgraduate Diploma in Education from Institute of Education of the University of London in June 1947.
He led many political struggles during the military years. He was once the leader of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group.
The Ondo State University which was founded in 1982 has been re-named as Adekunle Ajasin University.