Nnamdi Azikiwe

Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe, PC (16 November 1904 – 11 May 1996), usually referred to as "Zik", was a Nigerian statesman and political leader who served as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966.[2] Considered a driving force behind the nation's independence, he came to be known as the "father of Nigerian Nationalism".[citation needed][3][4]

Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe
Nnamdi Azikiwe circa 1963
1st President of Nigeria
In office
1 October 1963  16 January 1966
Prime MinisterSir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Senate PresidentNwafor Orizu
Preceded byPosition Established (Elizabeth II
(as Queen of Nigeria))
Succeeded byJohnson Aguiyi-Ironsi
3rd Governor-General of Nigeria
In office
16 November 1960  1 October 1963
MonarchElizabeth II of Nigeria
Preceded byJames Robertson
Succeeded byPosition abolished (Himself as President of Nigeria)
1st President of the Senate of Nigeria
In office
1 January 1960  1 October 1960
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byDennis Osadebay
Premier of Eastern Nigeria
In office
Preceded byEyo Ita
Succeeded byMichael Okpara
Personal details
Born(1904-11-16)16 November 1904
Zungeru, Northern Nigeria Protectorate
Died11 May 1996(1996-05-11) (aged 91)
Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Political party
  • Chukwuma Azikiwe
  • Emeka A. Azikiwe
  • Nwachukwu Azikiwe
  • Ngozi Azikiwe
  • Molokwu Azikiwe
  • Uwakwe Azikiwe
  • Jayzik Azikiwe
Alma mater

Born to Igbo parents from Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria in Zungeru in present-day Niger State, as a young boy he learned to speak Hausa (the main indigenous language of the Northern Region).[5] Azikiwe was later sent to live with his aunt and grandmother in Onitsha (his parental homeland), where he learned the Igbo language.[6] A stay in Lagos exposed him to the Yoruba language; by the time he was in college, he had been exposed to different Nigerian cultures and spoke three languages (an asset as president).[7]

Azikiwe travelled to the United States where he was known as Ben Azikiwe and attended Storer College, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and Howard University. He contacted colonial authorities with a request to represent Nigeria at the Los Angeles Olympics.[8] He returned to Africa in 1934, where he began work as a journalist in the Gold Coast. In British West Africa, he advocated Nigerian and African nationalism as a journalist and a political leader.[9][10]