60 Notable Heroes and Heroines that fought for Nigeria’s Independence – By Kammonke Abam

60 Notable Heroes and Heroines that fought for Nigeria’s Independence – By Kammonke Abam

October 01
10:24 2020

This October, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, marked the 60th anniversary of its independence from the British colonial masters. The struggle for independence was fought and won by young, vibrant and educated Nigerians. They were inspired by the love for their fatherland. Some of them suffered incarceration and even lost their lives in the struggle. Many  of those that were in the frontlines of the struggle for Independence have not been accorded the honoured due them. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello are easily remembered. Beyond these notable heroes and celebrated nationalists, there are countless others who are not so well known, but who equally fought as much and paid a huge price for the liberation of the country from colonial rule. Additionally, it does seem that the history of the struggles for the country’s independence is lost on the younger generation. That is what has informed the research and profiling of these 60 notable champions of our independence. The number of nationalists that fought for the country’s independence is inexhaustible. These 60 nationalists profiled here are a symbolism of the 60 years. A lot of the profiles are courtesy of Wikipaedia, Dawn Commission.org, Elombah.com, Mustapha Lawal Private Collection, Topmax African Politics, and other sources.

  1. Herbert Macaulay founded Nigerian nationalism. Herbert Macaulay began the nationalist motion as he believed that the people with various origins inhabiting Nigeria had to get together as one. He organized the Lagos Daily News to provide the nationalist motion. Macaulay created a political party in 1922. It was the National Democratic Party of Nigeria. He was the premier national president of the Nigerian and Cameroon National Council. That party was created by Herbert Macaulay together with Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1944.
  2. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe is one of the famous Nigerian fathers of the nation and the first Nigerian president after gaining independence from Great Britain. He was affectionately called ‘Zik.’ When Azikiwe worked as the editor of a Ghanaian newspaper, he spread African nationalist ideas. After he came back to Nigeria in 1937, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe organized the West African Pilot for the promotion of nationalism in Nigeria. He created the Nigerian and Cameroons National Council in 1944 together with Herbert Macaulay. In 1946, he was appointed to the post of secretary-general in the National Council and then elected to Nigerian Legislative Council. Zik was the first Nigerian to be called to the Privy Council of the UK. He was the second and last Governor General (1960 – 1963). After Nigeria was proclaimed a republic in 1963, he became the first Nigerian president. Zik died in 1996. All his life Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe struggled for the independence and unity of Nigeria.
  3. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was one of the leaders who fought for Nigeria’s independence. In 1950 he organized the Action Group (political party) which requested for the end of British domination in Nigeria. Obafemi Awolowo was the first premier of the Western Region. He refused the position of Finance Commissioner and vice chairperson of the Federal Executive Council in 1971 to object the extension of military rule. He died in 1987.
  4. Ahmadu Ibrahim Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto is esteemed as one of the most outstanding Nigerian fathers of the nation. He was engaged in political activities back in 1934. In twenty years, Sir Ahmadu Bello got the post of premier in the Northern Nigeria region. Together with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the premier played significant roles in the fight for Nigerian independence.
  5. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was elected in 1946 to the Northern House of Assembly, and to the Legislative Council in 1947. Together with Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, who held the hereditary title of Sardauna of Sokoto, they proposed the transformation of the cultural organization, Jam’iyyar
  6. Mutanen Arewa, which means Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in English, to become a political platform for use as campaign platform during the elections of 1951. Balewa was elected Vice President of the new party and subsequently resigned his post as headmaster of Bauchi Middle School. NPC won the plurality of votes to the regional House of Assembly in 1951. Balewa was among the new legislators in Kaduna. In 1957, NPC won the plurality of votes in the Federal House of Representatives and Balewa became the Chief Minister and designated Prime Minister. As part of his plans to unify the country towards the move for independence in 1960, he formed a coalition government between the NPC and the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), led by Nnamdi Azikiwe and also invited the Action Group (A.G.).
  7. Prof. Eyo Ita was the first Nigerian Professor and a member of the Nigerian Team that negotiated Nigeria’s Independence from Britain.An Educationist Politician, Prof. Ita formed the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) in 1934 and galvanized the Nigerian youths for nationalism. He was the Pioneer Champion of Youth Movement in Nigeria for Independence and a Deputy National President of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The leader of Government Business, Eastern Regional Government of Nigerian from 1951 to 1953, Hon. Eyo Ita was also the Regional Minister of Natural Resources. Eyo Ita later became a member of the movement for the creation of the Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers State (COR State)
  1. Arikpo, Chief (Dr.) Okoi (SAN) was born on the 20th day of September, 1910, Chief (Dr,) Okoi Arikpo (SAN) was an indigene of Egbizum clan in Ugep, Yakurr Local Government Area. He succeeded in making his people relevant in a country where the minorities never counted. Dr. Arikpo intensified the fight for self-actualization by forming the group known as the CalabarOgoja community shortly after the creation of the South Eastern State in May 1967, towards the agitation for a new association called the “Cross River State”. His quest for knowledge and personal development led
  2. Dr. Okoi Arikpo in 1945 to travel to the United Kingdom to further his studies at the University of London, where he got a degree in Anthropology in 1948 and was retained by the university as a research assistant lecturer in Anthropology. He subsequently obtained a doctorate degree in Anthropology from the same University. While in the University, he served as the Secretary General, West African Students Union (WASU) in 1949, and as president of the Union in 1950. He was a part of the team of investigators sent to Nigeria in 1950 to work in different parts of the country and return to the University of London in 1952 for a seminar lasting the whole session. It is therefore not surprising that Okoi Arikpo Authored “Who are the Nigerians” and “Development of modern Nigeria” in later years. These achievements no doubt earned him two Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the University of Ibadan and University of Nigeria, Nsukka respectively. Okoi Arikpo’s interest in law made him read law in Law and was called to bar in 1956 after getting a doctorate degree in Anthropology. He started his legal practice in Calabar that same year by setting up the Yako chambers. The chambers had branches in Ugep, Ikom, and Ogoja. Being one of the first lawyers in upper Cross River and the first Cross Riverian to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Okoi Arikpo used his opportunity as a lawyer to offer free legal services to his people. An Elder statesman, a community leader and an astute politician Dr. Okoi Arikpo held various positions in both public and private sectors, Some of the positions include: Member, Eastern Regional house of Assembly; Member, Federal House of Representatives; Minister of Lands, Survey and Local Development; Minister of mines and Power; Chairman, Calabar-Ogoja Community leaders forum; Member, National reconciliation committee for a peaceful solution to the Nigerian civil war; Chairman, OAU council of Ministers; First Executive Secretary, National Universities commission; Federal Commissioner for trade; Federal Commissioner for External Affairs (Longest serving External Affairs Minister); Chairman, Chase Mechant bank; Director, U.A.C Nigeria Limited; Director, Hogg Robbinson Nigeria; and Member, Constitution Review committee for the Review of the 1979 constitution.
  1. MBU, DR. MATTHEW TAWO is The first Nigerian Chief Representative to the United States of America (1959); the first Nigerian Ambassador to the Court of St. James (as foreign diplomats to the United Kingdom are called), and the first Minister of Defense (Navy), Ambassador Matthew Tawo Mbu at 23 years was the youngest Minister ever in the federal cabinet when he was appointed the Minister of Labour and Productivity, setting exceptional records in an eventful political career interlaced between pre-independent Nigeria. He had a prolonged political career serving the Nigeria nation, debuting as a parliamentarian from 1952 to 1955. It was as a member of the House of Representatives that he was appointed Minister of Labour in 1953; Acting Minister of Transport 1954; Acting Minister of Commerce and Industry 1954 and Acting Minister of Works 1955. He served the country in various capacities including Federal Minister of Labour; High Commissioner to the UK, 1955 to 1959. Kashim Ibrahim joined politics in 195152, when he was elected into the Northern Regional Assembly, he was nominated from the North as a cabinet nominee.Thereafter, he was appointed the Federal minister for Social Services and later that of Education. In 1956, he was appointed as the Waziri of Borno by the Shehu. Waziri Ibrahim became the Governor of the Northern region in 1962, holding office until the military coup of 16 January 1966 that brought Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi to power. He was appointed a CBE in 1960 and knighted as a KCMG in 1962.
  1. MORPHY, CHIEF IWONG INYAMAGUM is an astute politician in Nigeria’s first republic democracy who represented Ogoja/Obudu Regional Constituency in the Eastern House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Elected into the Eastern House of Assembly on the Platform of the Action Group in 1955, I. I. Morphy was the first and only member of the Action Group in the Eastern House of Assembly. He was also the parliamentary Opposition Secretary and shadow Minister of Agriculture. In 1957, he was a member of the Nigerian delegation to the London Conference on the Nigerian Constitution. A member of the Eastern House of Assembly for eleven years (Between 1955 and 1966), Chief Morphy was appointed member of the Eastern Nigeria Delimitation Committee in 1958 and was for several years, a member of the Public Accounts Committee. When the United Progressive Grand Alliance was formed, he was Appointed Chief Whip. Chief Morphy, alongside other leaders like Dr. Okoi Arikpo, Sir Egbert Udo Udoma and ProfessorEyo Ita, were strong advocates and ardent agitators in the struggle for minority rights and for the creation of Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR) State and was the leader of the COR State movement from Ogoja. Thereafter, he was appointed the Federal minister for Social Services and later that of Education. In 1956, he was appointed as the Waziri of Borno by the Shehu. Waziri Ibrahim became the Governor of the Northern region in 1962, holding office until the military coup of 16 January 1966 that brought Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi to power. He was appointed a CBE in 1960 and knighted as a KCMG in 1962.
  1. Chief Anthony Enahoro is one of the Nigeria’s prominent active supporters of democracy and anti-colonialism. He was the youngest editor of the newspaper ‘Southern Nigerian Defender’ in 1944. Enahoro was 21 years old at that time. He was involved in the fight for Nigerian independence. Chief Anthony Enahoro became a student leader and organized objections. The colonial authorities imprisoned him twice for insurrection and satirical papers creating. Enahoro was the first Nigerian who tried to organize the movement for independence in Nigeria (1953). So, he is considered as the father of the state. That attempt did not work out. Chief Anthony Enahoro died in 2010.
  2. Sir Egbert Udo Udoma was a lawyer and Justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court. One of the first black Africans to earn a PhD in Law in 1944 from Oxford University. A leading proponent for the creation of a Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers State, Chief Udoma returned to Nigeria to practice law in the mid-1940s, but became intrigued and swept over by the nationalistic politics of the time. He joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons early on, but left the party following a crisis in the former Eastern Region that saw the removal of Eyo Ita, from office as the leader of the Eastern Region by Azikiwe. Sir Udo Udoma was a member of the Federal House of Representatives, under the platform of the United National Independence Party from 1953 to 1959.
  3. Dr. Samuel Efem Imoke qualified as a medical assistant in 1938 and after his graduation served briefly in Zaria, Makurdi, Port Harcourt and Enugu before receiving his license to practice Medicine in 1941. In the 1950s Dr. Samuel Imoke was elected member of the Eastern House Assembly, holding Ministerial positions and in 1961, he had become a leader of the Eastern Regional Legislature. He worked very closely with Dr. Azikiwe and was appointed Minister of Labour, Finance and Education respectively in the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
  4. Chief Bode Thomas was a lawyer, politician, statesman and traditional aristocrat. Thomas served with distinction as a colonial minister of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. He was Nigeria’s first Minister of Transportation. In 1946, he became the legal adviser of Egbe Omo Oduduwa and was one of the founding members of the Action Group. In 1951, Thomas represented the Western region as Minister of Transport under the Mcpherson Constitution and an advocate for self-governance in Nigeria. He resigned from the portfolio during a constitutional crisis in March, 1953. He later became Minister of Works after a Constitutional Conference in London.
  5. Ernest Sissei Ikoli was a nationalist and pioneering journalist. He was the first editor of the Daily Times. He was the president of the Nigerian Youth Movement and in 1942, represented Lagos in the Legislative Council. In 1951, Ikoli, along with Awolowo and their allies formed the Action Group. Ikoli’s legacy remains golden in his role in achieving Nigeria’s independence. His vast print media career and political acumen helped transform Nigeria from a British colony, into an independent state.
  6. Obafemi Awolowo He initially was the legal adviser of the group before becoming the deputy leader in 1953 after the death of Bode Thomas. As the deputy leader of the AG party, he did not serve in the regional Western Region Government headed by the premier Awolowo but was the Action Group Parliamentary Leader/Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives of Nigeria. At the federal level he served as Minister for Health and later Minister for Communications and Aviation.
  7. Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh was the flamboyant and glamorous Minister of Finance during the administration of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. He was a National Treasurer of the Nigerian First Republic party, NCNC. He was also a leader of the Federal Parliamentary Party of NCNC, replacing K.O. Mbadiwe. In 1951, after some influence from Azikiwe, he contested for a seat and was elected to the Western Region House of Assembly. In 1954, he was elected treasurer of the N.C.N.C. and was successful as the party’s candidate to represent Warri division in the House of Representatives. He was nominated as the Federal Minister of Labour and Welfare in January, 1955, and two years later, he was made Finance Minister Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams, QC, SAN was a prominent Nigerian lawyer who was the first Nigerian to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. In the 1950s, he was a member of the Action Group and subsequently became the minister for local government and Justice. In 1943, he became the first Nigerian solicitor to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and soon thereafter entered the political arena as a member of the Nigerian Youth Movement. He rose to become the movement’s general secretary. However, the movement was soon embroiled in a crisis which dented its political support among the Nigerian masses. When the movement began to fade politically, he was one of the educated members of the Nigerian political class who joined the Action Group. He was the group’s legal adviser in the early 1950s. He had previously entered the Western region’s House of Chiefs by virtue of his holding of the chieftaincy title of the Apesin of Itoko in Egbaland.[8] He later also served as a member of that region’s privy council. He was elected into the Lagos Town Council in 1953 and was subsequently made chairman of the council. In 1957, he became the Western Region’s Attorney General, the first Nigerian to be an attorney general. He was made Queen’s Counsel in 1958, another first for him, as he was one of the first two Nigerians to be made one.
  8. K. O. Mbadiwe, the famous “man of timber and caliber” was colorful in speech. He was known for his grandiloquence. He studied in the US. After returning from the U.S., he started another business and established a research institute on African Arts. He soon entered the Nigerian political scene and joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons. In 1951, he was elected into the Eastern Region House of Assembly. He was re-elected in 1954, and made minister for Lands and National Resources shortly thereafter. In 1957, he was made the Minister for Commerce. However, his political success was to undergo a great challenge when in mid-1958, he and Kola Balogun attempted to remove Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as the leader of National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). Mbadiwe set up his own newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, as an organ of protest. He later re-joined the party and was appointed Minister for Trade and Communications and also served as a special adviser to the Prime Minister, advising on African affairs.
  9. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti was one of the earliest female political activists and leaders in Nigeria. She defended the rights of women. Funmilayo had membership in the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon. Besides, she was the first Nigerian female to ever drive a car.
  10. Mazi Mbonu Ojike was a nationalist and writer. He was the Second Vice President NCNC[1] and Deputy Mayor of Lagos in 1951. Ojike was famous for his slogan, “boycott the boycottables”, an expression for peaceful protests against colonial leaders. Ojike was prominent in the activities of NCNC especially in their rallies. He was an agent for mass mobilization and his “Freedom song” was a popular tune in NCNC rallies. He was Second National Vice President of the party and contested and won a seat to represent Lagos at the Legislative Council. In 1951, he was appointed Deputy Mayor of Lagos. In 1953, Ojike became involved in Eastern Nigeria politics and development when he was elected into the Eastern regional assembly. He was first appointed regional Minister of Works in 1954 before moving to finance in the same year.
  11. Elder Chief Dr. Margaret Ekpo is a Legendary women’s political activists who paved the way for women’s participation in politics. A key player in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence, she negotiated for Universal Adult Suffrage that made it possible for Nigerian women to vote and be voted for In 1950, Margaret Ekpo was appointed to the Eastern Nigeria House of Chiefs alongside Janet Mokelu. She went on to serve her nation in several other capacities as: Nigerian Representative, Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference (1964); Nigerian Representative, World Women’s International Domestic Federation Conference (1963); Member of Parliament Government of Nigeria (1960 – 1966); Women’s Interest Representative, Nigerian Constitutional Conference (1960); Delegate, Nigerian Constitutional Conference (1959); Delegate, Nigerian Constitutional Conference (1957); Delegate, Nigerian Constitutional Conference (1953); Women’s Interest Representative, Eastern House of Chiefs, Nigeria (1954 – 1958).
  12. Dr. Michael Okpara studied medicine at Yaba Higher College, Lagos. Completing his medical studies at the Nigerian School of Medicine, he worked briefly as a government medical officer before returning to Umuahia to set up a private practice. In 1952, he was elected into the Eastern Nigerian House of Assembly on the NCNC platform. Between 1952 and 1959 he held various Cabinet positions in Eastern Nigeria, ranging from Minister of Health to Minister of Agriculture and Production. In 1953, when NCNC legislators revolted against the party leadership, he remained loyal and joined forces with Azikiwe. In November 1960, when Azikiwe left active politics to become Nigeria’s first African Governor-General, Okpara was elected leader of the NCNC.
  13. Hajiya Gambo Sawaba was an influential political and public figure in Nigeria. She was an adherent of the Northern Elements Progressive Union. Gambo Sawaba was an element of the political struggle fight that at last led to independent Nigeria. Although she was a low educated lady and early married by force, she was able to influence the fight for the African women’s emancipation. Hajiya Gambo Sawaba advocated freeing women from African customs that were not good for women. She died in 2001.
  14. Jaja Anucha Wachuku was a statesman, lawyer, politician, diplomat and humanitarian. He was the first Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives;[5] as well as first Nigerian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Also, Wachuku was the first Nigerian Minister for Foreign Affairs. From 1959 to 1960, Wachuku was the first indigenous Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria. He replaced Sir Frederic Metcalfe of Great Britain. Notably as First Speaker of the House, Wachuku received Nigeria’s Instrument of Independence – also known as Freedom Charter, on 1 October 1960 from Princess Alexandra of Kent – Elizabeth II (Queen of the United Kingdom)’s representative at the Nigerian Independence ceremonies.
  15. Chief Remilekun Fani-Kayode played a major role in the struggle for Nigeria’s Independence. In 1952 he, together with Rotimi Williams, Bode Thomas and a number of others, was detained by the British colonial authorities for the very active and passionate role that he played in the struggle against the British. He was elected the leader of the Action Group youth wing in 1954. He set up a youth wing for the party who wore “black shirts” and used the “mosquito” as their emblem to reflect their disdain for British colonial rule. Again, in 1954, the Oloye Fani-Kayode was elected into the Federal House of Assembly on the platform of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group, and he continued his fight for Nigeria’s Independence from there. In July 1958, he moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in the Federal House of Assembly. In 1959, Remilekun FaniKayode resigned from the Action Group and joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, an opposition party. In 1960, he was elected the leader of the NCNC in the Western House of Assembly
  16. Alvan Azinna Ikoku was an educationist, statesman, activist and politician. In 1946, after several constitutional changes allowing more Nigerians in the legislative chambers, he was nominated to the Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly and assigned to the ministry of education. In 1947 he became part of the Legislative Council in Lagos as one of three representatives of the Eastern Region.
  17. Dr. Akanu Ibiam KCMG KBE was appointed Governor of Eastern Region, Nigeria from December 1960 until January 1966 during the Nigerian First Republic. In the lead-up to Nigerian independence Ibiam served in local government, in the Eastern Regional House of Assembly, and in the Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi to power.
  18. Dennis Chukude Osadebay was a politician, poet, journalist and former premier of the now defunct Mid-Western Region of Nigeria, which now comprises Edo and Delta State. He was the pioneer President of the Senate of Nigeria. He was in office from 1 October 1960 – 1964In 1960. upon the creation of the Mid-Western Region in 1963, he became the pioneer premier of the newly created region.
  19. Prince Abyssinia Akweke Nwafor Orizu was Nigeria’s Senate President from 16 November 1960 to 15 January 1966, during the Nigerian First Republic. Orizu was also Acting President of Nigeria from late 1965 until the military coup of January 1966.
  20. Obong Effiong Okon Eyo widely known as Eyo Uyo was a founding member of the Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR) State Movement. A maverick Politician, Obong Effiong Okon Eyo began a destiny fulfilling journey into mainstream politics that came with tremendous impact. He joined the colonial Civil Service in the 50’s and later went into politics where he contributed unquantifiably to the socio-political life of the Cross River people and other ethnic minorities of today’s South-South geopolitical zone. Eyo also served as legislator representing Uyo constituency in the Eastern House of Assembly in Enugu under the NCNC; was Deputy Speaker House of Representatives in Lagos; was a representative at the London constitutional conference in 1953, 1954, 1957 and 1958; also represented Eastern Nigeria at the Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in London and the Irish Republic in 1955. In 1958, Obong Effiong Okon Eyo, then a vocal member of the Eastern House of Assembly (EHOA) on the platform of the Action Group (AG) took the COR State agitation to the London Constitutional Conference, where he argued his cause passionately.
  21. Dennis Chukude Osadebay was a politician, poet, journalist and former premier of the now defunct Mid-Western Region of Nigeria, which now comprises Edo and Delta State. He was the pioneer President of the Senate of Nigeria. He was in office from 1 October 1960 – 1964In 1960. upon the creation of the Mid-Western Region in 1963, he became the pioneer premier of the newly created region.
  22. Ambassador Jolly Tanko Yusuf, MHA, CON is the First Northern Nigeria’s Diplomat to three countries. Jolly Tanko Yusuf was born in Takum on 9th March 1922 by Christian parent and he grew up in a traditional Muslim family. He started his education at Sudan United Mission (SUM) School, Gindiri in 1943. He proceeded to Takum Mission School and Church Missionary Society (CMS) School, Makurdi While he finished his Teacher training with Teacher/Technical College Ginidiri in 1949. In his pursuit of further education knowledge he was at United Kingdom where he obtained Diploma in Public and Social Administration in 1960. He started his career as Instructor in SUM Christian Reform Church in Lupwe, Takum from 1949 to 1956. In the same 1956, he left teaching for politics under the banner of Northern Peoples’ Congress (NPC) and won election as member representative of Takum vie Wukari in Northern House of Assembly. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary (Deputy Minister) Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1957 and later transferred to Ministry of Health. He was Acting Minister of Health for Northern Region of Nigerian Geneva, World Health Organization in 1962.
  1. Hon. A Chuku Nwapa was a lawyer educated at Cambridge University, England. The Flamboyant nationalist was Nigeria Minister of Commerce and Industries. He participated at the Nigerian constitutional Conferences in London. He was a photojournalists delight with his characteristic huge cigar in his mouth as he makes spots this huge cigar on his way into the Nigeria Constitution Conferences under the leadership of Mr. Oliver Lyttleton the Colonial Secretary.
  2. Chief N. U. Ofem MBE was a leading politician and a First Class Chief in the Eastern Region House of Chiefs representing Abakaliki province. He was a prominent NCNC leader from the old Obubra Division. He was a very close ally of Dr. Azikiwe and Dr. M. I. Okpara. He was a member of the delegation to the 1957 constitutional conference on Nigeria, in London.
  3. Wenike Opurum Briggs was a Nigerian lawyer, journalist and politician who advocated for the creation of more States in Nigeria. After starting his own weekly, The Nigerian Statesman in 1947 as its editor, he also became the ss who were invited by the Colonial secretary general of the Lagos branch of the Nigeria Youth Movement and joined the team of journalists representing the West African press who were invited by the Office for a tour of Britain. At the end of the tour, he used the opportunity to further his studies from 1951 to 1958. While Briggs was in Britain he joined the United Nigeria Committee whose members advocated for the creation of more States and becoming its secretary general. Returning to Nigeria , Wenike Briggs established his legal practice in Port Harcourt and also worked for COR(Calabar, Ogoja, Rivers) State Movement as its secretary general. He was elected parliamentary member of Degema Division in 1959, under a party in alliance with Action Group(AG) of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He was re-elected in 1964 under the platform of the United Progressive Grand Alliance(UPGA) which was an alliance of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the AG.
  4. Ika Oqua II was the Paramount Ruler of the Qua Clan, Big Qua Town, Calabar 1951. He was a First Class Chief in the Eastern Region House of Chiefs.
  5. Musa Yar’Adua, was a teacher who later became the Minister for Lagos Affairs from 1957 to 1966 during Nigeria’s First Republic. He held the chieftaincy title of the Mutawallin Katsina (keeper of the treasury).
  6. Chief Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi C.F.R, C.M.G was a gynaecologist and obstetrician. He was also Minister of Health in the Nigerian First Republic.He was elected into the Nigerian Senate in 1960. He was appointed sole administrator of Western Region in June 1962 after a political crisis in the region, holding office in place of the Premier Samuel Akintola until December that year.
  7. Jacob Obande was a Nigerian businessman from the old Northern region. He was a minister of state in charge of the Nigerian Army during the Nigerian First Republic. In 1959, he was the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa.
  8. Zanna Bukar Dipcharima was a Nigerian politician who was active during the Nigerian First Republic, he was a member of the House of Representatives and later appointed a Minister in the administration of Tafawa Balewa.[1] He was a former Minister of Commerce and Industry and also of Transport. As Federal Minister of Commerce and Industry, he traveled to U.S in the fall of 1963 to seek American commercial interests in the development of manufacturing in Nigeria, a move if successful will reduce the influence of deeply entrenched British firms in the economy. While there, he informed interested firms a promise of absence of racial antagonism and a tax holiday.
  9. Chief Shafi Lawal Edu (1911–2002), popularly known as S.L. Edu, was a prominent Nigerian businessman and conservationist from Epe, Lagos State. He was the founder of the Nigerian Conservation Fund, a Nigerian NGO involved in conservation projects and was a former member of the council of the World Wildlife Fund. During the preindependence period, Edu was sympathetic to the Nigerian Youth Movement as a supporter of Jubril Martin, one of the party’s candidate in the 1943 election. He was elected into the Western House of Assembly in 1951 and was later nominated to represent Epe at the Federal House of Representatives.
  10. Muhammadu Inuwa Wada was a parliamentarian and minister of Works and Survey under the administration of Tafawa Balewa.[1] He was a veteran parliamentarian towards the end of the Nigerian first republic and was given the Defense portfolio in 1965 after the death of Muhammadu Ribadu. He was first elected in 1951 as a member of the Northern House of Assembly, he was subsequently nominated to the Federal House of Representatives and was a member and later minister from 1951-1966. Inuwa Wada was known by many as a quiet figure in contrast to the hectic demands of his ministerial portfolio in the Works department which was going through a period of increased focus on major developmental projects as part of a six-year plan during the early 1960s.
  11. Alhaji Waziri Kolo Ibrahim was a Kanuri business man from Borno State, Nigeria, who became a prominent politician and party leader during the Nigerian Second Republic. Waziri was initially a member of NEPU, he organized the Damaturu branch of the association in 1950 and was the branch chairman in 1951. However, towards the end of the 1950s, Waziri joined NPC and was appointed the Federal Minister of Health in 1958. In 1960, he was part of the Nigerian delegation to the United Nation’s when the country was accepted as the 99th member of the organization. He was one of the original founders and financiers of the Nigerian People’s Party, but in 1978 left the party to form the Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP). As a candidate of the GNPP, he won almost 10% of the national vote in the Nigerian presidential elections of 1979.
  12. Mbazulike Amaechi, popularly known as “The Boy Is Good” in political circles was a First Republic Minister of Aviation. He join the Zikist movement while he was still a secondary school student. He was a vibrant trade unionist for many years and held full –time offices in unions from 1949 to 1955. As a trade unionist, he demonstrated extreme boldness and spirit of sacrifice. As a member of the Zikist movement, Mbazulike Amechi together with other members took an oath never to marry until Nigeria regained her independence. Also as members of the Zikist movement, they took another oath that “no Zikist arraigned before any court should make any plea of leniency or show any sign of regret for fighting for the freedom of the nation”. Mbazulike Amechi was later elected on NCNC ticket as a member of the House of Representatives in 1959 and was appointed Minister of Aviation and Transport in 1962 and remained a Minister until the first military coup in 15th January 1966 . He was victimized; jailed, maimed, wounded, mercilessly beaten but his spirit was never dampened or his patriotic spirit dulled. He and others lost many things in the process of ensuring that Nigeria gained her independence.
  13. Raymond Amanze Njoku was a politician and former minister for Transport. Njoku returned to Nigeria and was a successful lawyer in Aba, Eastern Nigeria, 1949–1954. He was president of Igbo State Union of Nigeria in succession to Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe; Vice President NCNC (National Council of Nigeria & the Cameroon), and also served the Aba community as the leader of the Aba Community League of the Ibo State Union. He contested for a regional seat in 1951, but was unsuccessful. However, in 1954, he was elected to the Federal House of Representative. He was appointed cabinet minister: Commerce & Industry, Transport & Aviation 1954- 1966. The final and definitive motion for Nigerian Independence on 1 October 1960 was moved by Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and endorsed by his cabinet colleague Raymond Njoku, minister of Trade & Industry.
  14. Taslim Olawale Elias was a Nigerian jurist. He was Attorney-General and Chief Justice of Nigeria and a judge and President of the International Court of Justice. He was a scholar who modernised and extensively revised the laws of Nigeria. Elias moved from Manchester to Oxford in 1954 when he became the Oppenheimer Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Nuffield College and Queen Elizabeth House[citation needed]. He continued his research into Nigerian law and published Groundwork of Nigerian Law in the same year. In 1956 he was visiting the professor of political science at the University of Delhi. He returned to London in 1957 and was appointed a Governor of the School of Oriental and African Studies. As the constitutional and legal adviser to the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (which later became the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens), he participated in the 1958 Nigerian Constitutional Conference in London. He was one of the architects of Nigeria’s independence constitution. In 1960 Elias was invited to become Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.[4] He served in this capacity through the whole of the first.
  15. H.O. Davies, as Hezekiah Oladipo Davies, is popularly known, was a nationalist and lawyer, whose contribution to the Nigerian nation was momentous. He was prominent in the emerging trade union in the country and fought colonial administration through legal protests. He was the Secretary-General of the Lagos Youth Movement, which later transformed in the Nigeria Youth Movement (NYM). The NYM was a political association that became a thorn in the flesh of colonial government. He left the association in 1951 and formed his own political party, the Nigerian Peoples’ Congress (NPC). He later joined the NCNC, where he and his cotravellers impacted in the polity of the country. A successful lawyer, he was honoured by the Queen of England for his distinction.
  16. J. M. Johnson: He was born in Lagos, and was educated at the William Wilberforce Academy. After a brief stint in the Nigerian Army during World War II, he returned to civil life after the war’s end and was a bank clerk, and a radio broadcaster for a few years. From 1948, he tried his hands in business and politics and was elected into the Ibadan District Council the same year and later became the first and only ever nonindigene to serve as the Chairman of the Council. In 1956 he became a Nigerian federal cabinet minister and served in internal affairs, later in labour and social welfare and sports, acting twice as Prime Minister in the coalition Government.
  17. Yusuf Maitama Sule was a politician, diplomat, and elderly statesman. In 19551956 he was the chief whip of the Federal House of Representatives. In 1960 he led the Nigerian delegation to the Conference of Independent African States. In 1976, he became the Federal Commissioner of public complaints, a position that made him the nation’s pioneer ombudsman. In early 1979, he was the presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria but lost to Shehu Shagari. He was appointed Nigeria’s representative to the United Nations after the coming of civilian rule in September 1979. While there he was chairman of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid.
  1. Shehu Shagari: An experienced politician, he briefly worked as a teacher before entering politics in 1951; and was elected into the House of Representatives in 1954. At various times between 1958 through independence of Nigeria in 1960 and 1975, he held a cabinet post as federal minister. In 1954, Shehu Shagari was elected into his first public office as a member of the federal House of Representative for Sokoto west. In 1958, Shagari was appointed as parliamentary secretary (he left the post in 1959) to the Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and that year he also served as the Federal Minister for Commerce and Industries. From 1959 to 1960, Shagari was the pioneer Federal Minister for Economic Development of independent Nigeria where his Ministry was responsible for drawing the 1962-1968 development plan.
  2. Olu Akinfosile was a politician from Okitipupa who was Federal minister of Communications during the nation’s first republic. He attended the ancient Baptist Academy, Lagos and later earned degrees at North Western polytechnic, London and the University of London. He worked with the United African Company as a Labour and staff assistant; in 1946 he became an assistant federal secretary of the Nigerian Union of Students, and was on the position for three years. A decade later, he became the president of the Nigerian Union of Great Britain and Ireland. He started active political participation in Nigeria in 1959 when he was elected into the House of Representatives.
  3. Chief Theophilus Owolabi Shobowale Benson commonly known as T.O.S. Benson, was a lawyer who became one of the most prominent Yoruba politicians in the period leading up to Nigerian independence in 1960. He served as the Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Culture in the first post-independence government. In 1950 Benson was elected to the Lagos Town Council, and later became the Deputy Mayor of Lagos. In the 1951 election Benson was chosen as one of the NCNC candidates for the five Lagos seats in the Western House of Assembly. Benson became a national officer in the NCNC. Benson was a participant in the constitutional conferences in London in 1953, 1957, 1958 and 1960 that led up to Nigeria’s independence in 1960. He was elected to various positions on the NCNC platform between 1950 and 1959. He accompanied Nnamdi Azikiwe, Premier of Eastern Nigeria and President of the NCNC, to London for the Nigeria Constitutional Conference at Lancaster House.
  4. Adeniran Ogunsanya, QC, SAN was a lawyer and politician. He was among the chief-founders of the Ibadan Peoples Party (IPP). He served as a Lagos State commissioner for Justice and Education and during the Second Republic, he was chairman of the Nigerian People’s Party. In the mid 1950s, Adeniran served as a member of the National Executive Committee of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons. He was the President of NCNC Youth Association and in 1959, he became a member of the parliament representing Ikeja and Mushin. He held various executive positions within his party and in local governance in Lagos. In the NCNC, he was a one-time chairman of the Lagos State executive working committee and NCNC zonal leader for colony province and later secretary of the NCNC parliamentary council.
  5. Chief Augustus Meredith Adisa Akinloye popularly known as A.M.A, was a lawyer and politician. Akinloye was instrumental to the formation of the first ever political party in Ibadan called Ibadan Peoples Party (IPP) which he served as its president, with Adegoke Adelabu as his deputy. His IPP party later merged with the Action Group, led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to form the first government in the Western Region of Nigeria, in which Akinloye was appointed the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources. During the Western Region crisis in the early 1960s, he left the Action Group for Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola’s newly formed Nigerian National Democratic Party and served in the cabinet led by the then Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Akinloye was the Chairman of the then-largest political party in Africa, the National Party of Nigeria.
  6. PRINCE ADELEKE ADEDOYIN BL., OFR is the First Elected Speaker of the Western Region House of Assembly. In the 1940s and 1950s he figured very prominently in the Lagos local politics. In 1945, he was elected Lagos member of the legislative council under the umbrella of the Late Herbert Macaulay’s Nigerian National Democratic Party and also in 1947 under the auspices of the national Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC). The same year he was also elected member of the Lagos Town Council. He was a member and Secretary of the 1947 NCNC 7-man delegation to London that met with the British secretary of State, Rt Hon. Arthur Creech Jones to demand greater participation of Nigerians in running their affairs and self-government for Nigeria. Other member of the delegation included, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Zana Dipcharima, ibiyinka Olorunimbe and Nyong Essien. He was a member of the United Front Committee that eradicated colour discrimination after the hotel Bristol incident, Sir Adeyemo Alakija was the Chairman. In 1952 Prince Adeleke Adedoyin he was elected member of the Western House of Assembly and the same year he was elected member of the federal House of Representatives. In 1957, he was back again as an elected member of the Western Region of Nigeria House of Assembly where he was elected the Speaker which office he held till 1964.
  7. Muhammadu Inuwa Wada (c. 1917 – November 25, 2015) was a parliamentarian and minister of Works and Survey under the administration of Tafawa Balewa.He was a veteran parliamentarian towards the end of the Nigerian first republic and was given the Defense portfolio in 1965 after the death of Muhammadu Ribadu. He was first elected in 1951 as a member of the Northern House of Assembly, he was subsequently nominated to the Federal House of Representatives and was a member and later minister from 1951-1966. Inuwa Wada was known by many as a quiet figure in contrast to the hectic demands of his ministerial portfolio in the Works department which was going through a period of increased focus on major developmental projects as part of a six-year plan during the early 1960s.
  8. Chief Ayotunde Rosiji was a Nigerian politician and statesman, who served as Minister for Health and Minister of Information. He subsequently studied law at the University of London after working at Shell as an engineer. Returning to Nigeria, he became one of the founding members of the Action Group.
  9. Aminu Kano was a Muslim politician from Nigeria. In the 1940s he led a socialist movement in the northern part of the country in opposition to British rule. In 1959, won the Kano East federal seat as a candidate of NEPU, which was already in alliance with the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons. While in the Federal House of Representative, he was a deputy Chief Whip.
  10. Muhammadu Ribadu was a politician, who was the first Minister of Defence of Nigerian after independence
  11. Sir Louis Ojukwu was a super successful businessman and politician. During the period of pre-independence and in the First Republic, Ojukwu was an active member and donor to the political party, NCNC. He was a one-time member of the House of Representative. In 1958, he was chairman of the Eastern Region Development Corporation and the Eastern Regional Marketing Board.[4] On May 1, 1953, he was appointed head of an NCNC peace committee and given power to choose most of the committee’s members.

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