Nigeria is a super rich; super problematic nation. Yet, it has remained united in the midst the tumultuous waves that beat at it – from all sides.
This feat that cannot be praised without acknowledging some individuals that had contributed their quotas to the realisation of the Nigerian state, the unity of diverse tribes and the continuous existence (together) of different ideologies.
We make bold to say that all law abiding citizens of Nigeria are heroes and heroines: wherever a Nigerian is found (in the world) he/she leads in the field he/she has chosen as a profession – we are changing the world.
Below are some of the unique (dead and living) heroes, heroines that we have in Nigeria:
The dead heroes, heroines
Alhaji., Sir. Ahmadu Bello
Born on 12th of June, 1910 in Rabbah Sokoto: he went into politics as far back as 1934, and in 1954 – he became the first premier of the Northern Nigeria region.
He, alongside Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, took active roles in the struggle for an independent Nigeria – from the colonial masters.
He is commended for his efforts to modernise and unify the different tribes of northern Nigeria. On the 15th of January 1966, he was assassinated in a coup that overthrew Nigeria’s post-independence government.
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
Born on the 25th of October 1900 in Abeokuta, she stood out among women of her time as a prominent leader. She was a women’s right activist who fought against the military government over unjust practices and abuse of human rights.
Also, she was the mother of Fela Anikulapo Kuti (one of the greatest musicians that Nigeria ever have). Her political activism led her to be regarded as “The Mother of Africa.”
She was one of the women elected to the native House of Chiefs, serving as an Oloye of the Yoruba people. She was also a ranking member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon, as well as, the first Nigerian woman to drove a car in Nigeria. She died from injuries sustained when she was thrown from a third-floor window (presumably, by a band of soldiers) in her son’s compound.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe
Born on the 16th of November, 1904 in Niger state – Benjamin Nnamdi Azikwe was one of the leading figures of modern Nigerian nationalism. He was fondly referred to as “Zik”.
While working as the editor for the African Morning Post, a daily newspaper in Ghana, Nnamdi Azikiwe promoted pro-African nationalist agenda. Upon his return to Nigeria in 1937, he founded the West African Pilot which was a tool used to promote the cause of Nigerian nationalism. The newspaper had as it motto “To show the light and let the people find their way.”
He founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in 1944 alongside Herbert Macaulay and he was made the secretary-general of the National Council in 1946. He was later elected into the Legislative Council of Nigeria the following year. He was the first Nigerian to be named to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and he, also, became the Governor General on the same day. Zik became the second (but first indigenous) and last Governor General from 1960 to 1963 and the first President of Nigeria, following the declaration of Nigeria as a Republic in 1963 by the United Kingdom.
Kudirat Abiola was born in 1951, in the Northern city of Zaria, Nigeria. She took active part in pro-democracy movement in 1994. She was actively involved in moving and sustaining the oil workers’ twelve week strike against the military.
The strike successfully weakened the government and was the longest in African history by oil workers. In December of 1995, when the pro-democracy groups decided to march for freedom in Lagos, she joined the likes of Chief Anthony Enahoro at the forefront.
She deified the military’s decree – banning political associations, and was an inspiration to many. She won ‘Woman of the Year’ Awards in both 1994 and 1995. However, she was assassinated on June 4, 1996.
Chief Anthony Enahoro
Chief Anthony Enahoro was born on 22nd of July, 1923, and was one of Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activists.
He became Nigeria’s youngest editor ever at the age of 21 when he became the editor of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender, Ibadan, in 1944.
Chief Enahoro joined the struggle for Nigeria’s independence in the early 1940s, acting as a student leader – leading protests. He was on two occasions jailed by the colonial government for sedition and writing satiric articles. In 1953, he became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence: thus, he is, usually, referred to as the father of the “Nigerian State.” His motion was, however, rejected and a successful motion did not come untill 1958, moved by Chief Remi Fani-Kayode.
Enahoro died on December 15, 2010.
Margaret Ekpo was born in a Creek Town, Calabar and was a Nigerian women’s rights activist who was a pioneering female politician in the country’s First Republic.
She played major roles as a grassroots and nationalist politician in the Eastern Nigerian city of Aba. She was a member of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) and was nominated by the NCNc in 1954 to the regional House of Chiefs in 1953.
In 1950, she (alongside) Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti protested killings at an Enugu coal mine, the victims were leaders protesting against the colonial masters’ practices at the mine. In 1954, she established the Aba Township Women’s Association and by 1955, women in Aba had outnumbered men voters in a city wide election: she later died in 2006.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Chief Obafemi Awolowo was born on March 6, 1909 in Ogun state. He was one of the pioneer leaders that fought for Nigeria’s independence and he introduced free education in the western region in 1955.
He helped to found the Egbe Omo Oduduwa (Society of the Descendants of Oduduwa, the mythical ancestor of the Yoruba-race), an organisation devoted to the study and preservation of Yoruba culture.
He was also the founder of the political party, Action Group, in 1950 – a party that called for the termination of British rule in Nigeria. In 1954, he became the first premier of the Western Region. He resigned his position as Commissioner of finance and vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council in 1971 to protest the government’s continuation of military rule. He died on May 9, 1987 and was buried on June 6, 1987.
Herbert Macaulay was the grandson of Bishop Ajayi Crowther and he was born in 1864. He is considered the founder of Nigerian nationalism as the movement was under his influence in the 1920s.
He started the nationalist movement because of the belief that the people of different backgrounds living in the British colony of Nigeria needed to come together as one.
Also, he founded the Lagos Daily News, to promote the nationalist movement. He was the first Nigerian to establish a political party (the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) in 1922. He became the first national president of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) which he co-founded with Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1944.
Hajiya Gambo Sawaba
Hajiya Sawaba was born in 1933: she was a strong Nigerian politician and activist.
Her being a supporter of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) meant that she was part of the political struggle that eventually won independence for Nigeria.
Despite being a woman with low education – forced into an early marriage, she managed to make an impact in the struggle for the emancipation of the African woman.
She was part of the struggle to liberate women from some of African traditions that were not in favour of women.
Gen. Murtala Mohammed
He was one of Nigeria’s military rulers, born on November 8, 1938 in the ancient city of Kano. He took his first political appointment as Commissioner for Communications in 1974 which he combined with his military duties.
Although his stay in power was short lived, his administration gave the country a new sense of direction, duty and patriotism. Among his contributions to the development of Nigeria were: his creation of 19 states (in 1967) out of the existing 12 states.
He, also, set up a Public Complaints Commission which gave probity to the public. He was assassinated at the age of 37 on February 13, 1976.
There are, also, the likes of: Prof. Dora Akunyili, Dele Giwa, Chinua Achebe, Apostle Joseph A. Babalola, Bishop Benson Idahosa, Dr. Adedovah among others.
The living heroes, heroines
Nigeria is a blessed country among the comity of nations, to the point that all its law abiding citizens are heroes, heroines. However, we have certain popular individuals, among who are: Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo; Prof. Wole Soyinka; Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; the Ooni of Ife; Oba Adewusi; Bola Tinubu and more.
Perhaps, you reading this is, even, one of the living heroes, heroines that Nigeria have? Do not be discouraged that you are not known yet – God will announce you, just keep the good things that you are doing.
It should be noted that, most of the people mentioned in this article were not included on the basis of their integrity or salvation, but because, they have contributed to humanity in one way or the other.