The routing out of boastful Shekau and his rampaging bacchanalian band of blood thirsty marauders (Boko Haram), from the much dreaded Sambisa forest is PMB’s finest hour in his rather lack luster presidency of one year and seven months.

Seizing his Quran (it cannot be the real Holy Quran), and his irredentist flag of blood – letting and sanguinary credo by the military, completes the total humiliation and denigration of a rabid hoodlum and vandal of despicable pedigree.

How can any sane person mouth “Boko Haram” (book is forbidden), yet hug the blazing limelight of video, television, print and social media?

ACCORD CONCONDIALE: THE CONTINUOUS SEARCH FOR NIGERIA’S ELUSIVE UNITY AND INDIVISIBILITY (PART 2)

We had taken a break on this dissertation in the last two weeks to enable us attend to more urgent national issues that unfolded before our very eyes. We shall now pursue our thesis, to show that like other great democracies, Nigeria once boasted of titanic leaders who led us from the doldrums, on to utopian heights.

They made us to dream dreams, and conceptualize visions. Our x-ray of “Zik of Africa” now continues.

ZIK’S ACTIVE POLITICS

After a successful journalism enterprise, Azikiwe entered active politics, co-founding the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), alongside Herbert Macaulay, in 1944, he became the Secretary-General in 1946.

On July 8, 1945, consequent upon Azikiwe’s support of a general strike in June, 1945, and caustic attacks against the colonial government, further publication of the West African Pilot was suspended by the colonial government.

Zik and his papers gave solid support to the striking workers and its leader Michael Imoudu accusing the colonial government of exploiting the Nigerian working class. In August 1945, the paper was permitted to return to the news stand.

During the strike of 1945, Zik raised serial alarms about assassination plot against him by unknown persons on behalf of the colonial government. The basis of the story was a wireless message intercepted by a Pilot reporter.

After receiving the intercepted message, Zik reacted by fleeing to hide in Onitsha, but not before making a public statement.

In his absence, the Pilot wrote editorials to arouse public sympathy for Zik and many Nigerians fully believed the assassination story. Zik’s popularity soared during this period; new readers bought his newspapers to read about Zik and his politics.

However, the allegations also had its Nigerian doubters and some believed they were made up by Zik to increase his profile.

Those doubting the allegations were mostly NYM Yoruba politicians, leading to rift between Azikiwe and some Yoruba politicians in NYM and creating a press war between Zik’s Pilot and the “Daily Service”, the media outlet of NYM. support.

In 1946, a militant youth movement led by Osita Agwuna, Raji Abdalla, Kolawole Balogun, M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu and Abiodun Aloba, was established to defend Azikiwe’s life, his ideals of self-government and criticism from his political opponents.

Inspired by Azikiwe’s writings and Nwafor Orizu’s Zikism philosophy, members of the movement soon began to advocate for positive and militant actions to actualize self-government.

Calls for actions included strikes, study of military science courses by Nigerian students overseas and boycott of foreign goods. However, Azikiwe did not come out publicly to defend the actions of the movement and the movement was banned in 1951, after a failed attempt to kill a colonial secretary.

In 1945, British Governor, Arthur Richards, presented proposals for a revision of the Clifford Constitution of 1922. Included in the proposal was an increase in the number of nominated African members to the Legislative Council.

However, the new changes met opposition from nationalists such as Azikiwe. NCNC politicians opposed the unilateral decisions made by Richards and the constitutional provision that allowed for only four elected African members, while the rest were to be nominated candidates. The nominated African candidates were described as mostly loyalists to the colonial government who would not aggressively seek self-government.

Another basis of opposition was that there was little input for the advancement of Africans into senior positions in the Civil Service. NCNC opposed Richard’s proposals and made preparations to argue its case before the new labour government in Britain.

A tour of the country was embarked on to raise awareness about the party’s concerns and to also raise money for the U.K. protest. During of one the tours, NCNC’s president, Herbert Macaulay, died and Azikiwe carried on with leadership of the party. Azikiwe, now the leader of NCNC, also led the delegation to London.

In preparation for the trip, he traveled to U.S. to gain sympathy for the party’s case and met a few individuals, such as Mrs. Roosevelt at Hyde Park and making a speech about the “emancipation of Nigeria from the political thralldom, economic insecurity and social disabilities”.

The U.K. delegation, which included Azikiwe, as others leaders, which had Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Zanna Dipcharima, Abubakar Olorunimbe, Adeleke Adedoyin and Nyong Essien, visited the Fabian Colonial Bureau, the Labour Imperial Committee and the West African Students’ Union, to raise awareness about its proposals for amendments to the 1922 constitution.

Included in NCNC’s proposals was consultation with Africans about changes in Nigerian Constitution, more powers provided to the regional Houses of Assembly and limiting the powers of the Central Legislative Council to matters affecting defence, currency and foreign affairs.

The delegation submitted its proposals to the colonial secretary, but little was done to make changes to Richard’s proposals. The Richards Constitution was allowed to take effect in 1947 and Azikiwe contested for one of the Lagos seats to stall the implementation of the new Constitution.

Under the Richards Constitution, Azikiwe was elected to Legislative Council of Nigeria in a Lagos municipal election, under the banner of the National Democratic Party, a subsidiary of NCNC.

However, he and the party’s representative did not attend the first session of the council and agitation for changes to the Richard’s Constitution led to the Macpherson Constitution.

A modified Constitution, the 1951 Mcpherson Constitution, called for Nigerian elections to the regional Houses of Assembly.

Like in the Richards Constitution, Azikiwe opposed the new changes, but he chose to contest with the desire of being selected as a House of Representatives member which will give him a chance to make changes to the Constitution. Staggered elections were held in Nigeria from August to December, 1951.

In the Western region, where Azikiwe contested, two parties were dominant, Azikiwe’s NCNC and Awolowo’s Action Group. The regional election to the Western Regional Assembly was held in September and December 1951.

Because the Constitution only allowed for an Electoral College to choose members of the national legislature, the chance of an Action Group majority in the House could prevent Azikiwe from going to the House of Representatives.

Azikiwe won a regional Assembly seat from Lagos, but the opposition party claimed majority victory in the House of Assembly and Azikiwe was denied the opportunity to represent Lagos in the Federal House of Representatives.

In 1951, he became the leader of the Opposition to the government of Obafemi Awolowo in the Western Region’s House of Assembly.

The choice of not selecting Azikiwe to the National Assembly precipitated a series of chaos in the West. An internal agreement by elected NCNC members from Lagos to step down for Azikiwe in the inevitability that Azikiwe will not be nominated broke down.

Azikiwe blamed the Constitution and wanted changes to be made. The NCNC which dominated the Eastern region also followed Azikiwe’s views and was committed to see the Constitution be amended.

In 1952, Zik moved to the Eastern Region, and the NCNC dominated regional Assembly made proposals to accommodate him. The regional and central ministers of the party were asked to resign for a cabinet reshuffle, but majority of the ministers ignored the resignation call.

The regional Assembly then passed a vote of no confidence on the ministers and any appropriation bill sent to the ministry was rejected. This created an impasse in the region and the Lt. Governor dissolved the regional House.

A new election returned Azikiwe as a member of the Eastern Assembly. He was selected to the position of Chief Minister and in 1954, became Premier of Nigeria’s Eastern Region.

LAST LINE

I hope Nigerians are reading and digesting today’s epistle, whilst waiting for the next tranche of the Sunday Sermon on the Mount from the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb.

– Follow me on twitter @MikeozekhomeSAN

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