The 1st of October is always a memorable day for Nigeria and Nigerians. Though it is met with mixed feelings in recent times; pessimism and optimism. The day remains a landmark day for the country and its citizens. The labour of our heroes past… and below are five outstanding heroes of Nigeria’s independence.
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Macaulay was known as the founder of Nigerian nationalism and a strong opponent of many colonial policies for most of his life. Macaulay co-founded the Nigerian Daily News, where he wrote opinion pieces which made him a prominent figure in political issues in Lagos. In 1923 he founded the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) with the aim to put candidates into the legislative council, promote democracy as well as increase Nigerian participation in the development of Nigeria. He also became the first national president of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), the party which he co-founded with Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1944.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was born in December 1912 in his hometown, Bauchi state. He joined forces with Ahmadu Bello to form the NPC. He was the deputy leader of the party. When Nigeria was fighting for self-rule, Balewa the minister was appointed as the minister of works and later became the minister of transport. He also formed an alliance with the NCNC so Nigeria could get her freedom. Balewa played a significant role in ensuring Nigeria got her Independence. His impact was not only felt In Nigeria, but he was also the leader of the organization of African Unity. It was also a platform for self-governance. Not just in Nigeria but Africa as a whole. He became the first prime minister of Nigeria after independence.
Bello’s political activities started out in 1934 as the District Head of Rabah by Sultan Hassan dan Muazu. In 1948, he got a government scholarship and was off to England to study local government administration. On his return, he represented Sokoto in the regional House of Assembly and used this position to develop emirates such as Kano, Bornu, and Sokoto. He was the first president of the Northern Peoples Party (NPP) and became the first Premier of Northern Nigeria in 1954. He forged an alliance with Azikiwe to form Nigeria’s first indigenous federal government which led to independence from Britain.
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Awolowo was Nigeria’s foremost federalist, through his first book Path to Nigerian Freedom, where he criticised the British administration and advocated for self-governance. He was the founder of the political party Action Group in 1950, and as head, demanded a federal constitution which was introduced in the 1954 Lyttleton Constitution, following the model proposed by him as he led the Western Region delegation. He was the first Leader of Government Business and Minister of Local Government and Finance, as well as the first Premier of the Western Region under Nigeria’s parliamentary system, from 1952 to 1959.
Azikiwe was at the fore of Nigeria gaining her independence. As the editor of The Africa Morning Post in Ghana, he promoted the pro-African nationalist agenda. Returning to Nigeria in 1937, he founded The West African Pilot which was used to promote Nigerian nationalism. In 1944 he founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) with Herbert Macaulay and became the secretary-general of the National Council in 1946. He served as the second and last Governor-General of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963 and the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966, holding the presidency throughout the Nigerian First Republic.
Enahoro was one of Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activists. At age 21, he became the editor of The Southern Nigerian Defender, Ibadan, in 1944. In the early 1940s, he was immersed in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence as a student leader and leading protests which got him jailed by the colonial government. In 1953, he was the first to submit a parliamentary motion for Nigeria’s independence and has been regarded by academics as the father of “Nigeria State”. Enahoro’s motion was eventually granted in 1960.
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