Zik, Sardauna and Awolowo
Apparently, the lives of children whose parents shaped Nigeria’s politics before and after the independence typify the abruptness that characterised the termination of the First Republic. For the families of such politicians it was mostly not a case of chips off the old block. This is understandable. The First Republic evokes much unpleasant memories, especially for families that experienced its tragic unravelling first hand. The surprise that the children of the First Republic politicians do not occupy offices that inevitably thrusts them onto national consciousness is in part shaped by today’s decadent tendency where holders of public office have no qualms appropriating the country’s common wealth to benefit their families at the expense of the masses. On this note, Nigeria’s early politicians boast an inimitable record. Indeed, their selflessness is underscored by the fact they had not given an undue social advantage to their children. The simplicity of their lives and the tolerant values apparent in their politics reflect also in the lives of their children who do not seem obsessed with the influence that power confers. These families do not pine for the lost privileges; they are simply contented with their simple – but no less edifying – pursuits. But there is one unmistakable point: the common shock they feel about the huge contrast between the people’s living standard when their parents held sway and the present situation. As the nation marks its 52nd independence anniversary on Monday, THISDAY went in search of the children of these nationalists. Where are they now? What are they into? For those who took after their fathers in politics, how successful have they been? YEMI ADEBOWALE, EMMANUEL UGWU, OMON-JULIUS ONABU, SHOLA OYEYIPO and ADIBE EMENYONU dig in
Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the only Prime Minister of an independent Nigeria. Together with Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, who held the hereditary title of Sardauna of Sokoto, he founded the Northern People’s Congress. In 1957, he was elected Chief Minister, forming a coalition government between the NPC and the NCNC led by Nnamdi Azikiwe. He retained the post as Prime Minister when Nigeria gained independence in 1960, and was re-elected in 1964. He was overthrown and murdered in a failed military coup on January 15, 1966. None of his children is into politics. However, his first child, Mukhtar, was visible during the Obasanjo administration. Between 1999 and 2003, Mukhtar served as special adviser to Obasanjo. He is at present, the director-general of the National Poverty Eradication Programme. He says he and his siblings are not into politics because “one has to be a very rich man to play politics in Nigeria”.
Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe (November 16, 1904 – May 11, 1996) popularly known as “Zik”, was one of the leading figures of modern Nigeria nationalism. He became the first President of Nigeria after independence in 1960; holding the presidency throughout the Nigerian First Republic. In 1954, he became the Premier of the Eastern Region. On November 16, 1960, he became the Governor General. With the proclamation of a republic in 1963, he became the first President of Nigeria. His first son is Chief Chukwuma Bamidele Azikiwe, the present Owelle of Onitsha. At a point, Bamidele was appointed an ambassador. But none of his children is into politics.
Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (March 6, 1909 – May 9, 1987) was one of Nigeria’s founding fathers and founder of the Action Group. He represented the Western Region in all the constitutional conferences intended to advance Nigeria on the path to independence. He was the first Leader of Government Business and Minister of Local Government and Finance and first Premier of the Western Region. Awolowo was the official leader of the opposition in the federal parliament to the Balewa government from 1959 to 1963. None of his children is into politics. His second son, Oluwole runs the Tribune Newspapers. His daughter, Tokunboh Awolowo-Dosunmu was once an ambassador.
Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, Turakin Sakkwato (born February 25, 1925) was an active member of the NPC in the first Republic. He was a minister in the Balewa government. He also served as the President of Nigeria in the second republic (1979–1983). One of his children, Aminu Shehu Shagari is active in politics. Aminu is a member of the current House of Representatives on the platform of the PDP. His most visible son is Captain Bala Shagari who was retired from the military after the Buhari coup in 1983. Bala is not into politics.
Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe (1915-1990) was a nationalist, politician, statesman and former minister. 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. 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 Zik as the leader of NCNC. Both of them failed and were removed from the party. He later re-joined the party and was appointed Minister for Trade and Communications. He also served as a special adviser to Balewa, advising on African affairs, though his role in foreign policy formation was limited. He had six children namely Betty, Greg, Paul, Chris, George, and Francis. Greg, the most visible of the children was at some point, the Chairman of the Federal Road safety Commission. He is a member of the PDP.
Dr Michael Okpara
Michael Okpara (December 1920-December 17, 1984) was Premier of Eastern Nigeria during the First Republic. Okpara was, at 39, the nation’s youngest Premier. After the granting of internal self-rule 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 Dr. Azikiwe. In November 1960, when Dr. Azikiwe left active politics to become Nigeria’s first African Governor-General, Dr. Okpara was elected leader of the NCNC. His most visible son in politics is Uzodinma Okpara. Uzodinma adopted the name Ome ka nna ya (one who acts like his own father) when he was gunning to be the governor of Abia State in 2007. But that was as far as he could go in his foray into politics. He could not match the political prowess of his father, who was among the pillars of the NCNC. Uzodinma, who is the second child of the late politician came into political limelight in Abia State when he was made the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2002 during the crisis that hit the party in the run up to the second tenure ambition of Dr Orji Uzor Kalu. After the 2003 general elections he lost the chairmanship of the party in the unending internal crisis and it was a matter of time before he left the PDP. Before the 2007 general elections Okpara had pitched his tent with the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He eventually became the gubernatorial candidate of APGA but came a distant fourth in the poll and challenged the outcome in the election petition tribunal and lost. Okpara has since returned to PDP, combining politics with his private business, perhaps waiting for a time he would finally live up to the political name of his late father, who was fondly called “Mike Power” because of his political sagacity.
Remi- Fani-Kayode was deputy premier of the defunct Western Region. He combined the position with that of a regional minister. The successful moving of the motion for Nigeria’s independence did not take place until August 1958 and this was done by Fani- Power as he was well known then. His motion was not only passed by Parliament but it was also acquiesced to by the British. His motion had called for independence to be granted to Nigeria on April 2, 1960. Though, it was passed by Parliament and acquiesced to by the British a slight amendment proposing that the month of independence should be moved from April 2 to October 1 was proposed by a fourth motion to Parliament by Balewa in 1959 and it was passed. The most visible of his children is Femi, who was very active during the Obasanjo regime – 1999 to 2007. He was minister. At a point, Femi was in the race for the governorship of Osun State. The eldest Child of Remi Power was Rotimi (an artist) who died in 1989. The second child, Akinola is a lawyer. Two others (females) Toyin and Tolu live abroad.
Late Musa Yar’Adua was a former Minister for Lagos during the First Republic and an active member of the NPC. He held the royal title of Mutawalli (custodian of the treasury) of the Katsina Emirate. Two of his children – late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and late Umaru Yar’Adua took after their father in politics. When Obasanjo was military head of state from 1976 until 1979, Shehu was his Vice President. He was sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal in 1995, after calling on late General Sani Abacha and his Provisional Ruling Council to re-establish civilian rule. He died in captivity on December 8, 1997. Shehu was the leading figure behind the political movement called the Peoples Democratic Movement.
His younger brother, Umaru was the President of Nigeria and the 13th Head of State. He served as governor of Katsina State from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007. He emerged president in 2007. In 2009, Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis. He returned to Nigeria in 2010, where he died on 5 May.
Chief Anthony Enahoro (22 July 1923 – 15 December 2010) was Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activists. Enahoro had a long and distinguished career in the press, politics, the civil service and the pro-democracy movement. Enahoro became the editor of Ziks’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender in 1944 at the age of 21, thus becoming Nigeria’s youngest editor ever. As a student then at the famous Kings College, Enahoro plunged into the Nigerian turbulent liberation struggle against colonial rule in the early 1940s, leading to student revolts at the college, in Lagos In 1953, Enahoro became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence. As a result, he is widely regarded by academics and many Nigerians as the father of “Nigeria State.” Though, his motion was rejected by Parliament and the northern MP’s staged a walkout, the motion had a big impact on the colonial government. Despite his huge impact in Nigerian politics, none of his children has shown interest in politics. Ken, the eldest child says he and his siblings are not into politics because “it is a dirty game in Nigeria.” Enahoro’s children are all into one form of business or the other.
Richard Akinjide was minister of education in the government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa during the second republic. Jumoke Akinjide is the most visible of his children. She was appointed FCT minister by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
Joseph Osuntokun was an active member of the Action Group in the defunct western region and at a point, the regional minister for education. His most visible son in politics is Akin Osuntokun. Akin was at a point, the political adviser to Obasanjo. He was also the managing director of the News Agency of Nigeria. He also briefly showed interest in becoming Ondo State governor in 2007.
Late Chief Kola Balogun who died in 2002 was one of Nigeria’s most charismatic politicians of the fifties and sixties. Although an NCNC (National Council of Nigerian Citizens) loyalist and a political son of the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kola Balogun was nevertheless seen and regarded as a progressive politician throughout his career. At a point, he was a regional minister in the defunct Western Region. None of his children is into active politics. However, the most visible of his children is Stephen, who was invited home from the United Kingdom last year by the Rauf Aregbesola administration in Osun State. Stephen was appointed commissioner for Youths and Sports.
Ibrahim Imam (1916 – April 1980), a Kanuri politician from Borno, was the secretary of the Northern People’s Congress and later became a patron of the Borno Youth Movement. He was elected into the Northern House of Assembly in 1961. At the inception of the NPC, which later became the dominant party in the North, he was the party’s secretary-general; he joined a large number of his colleagues from the regional house who enlisted on the political platform of the new NPC. His son, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam is active in today’s politics. He was twice the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate for governor of Borno State in 2003 and 2007, losing both times. During the short-lived Nigerian Third Republic Kashim was Borno State chairman of the National Republican Convention. Kashim was appointed Presidential Liaison Officer to the Senate at the start of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 1999.
Chief Solomon Lar was a member of the first national parliament when Nigeria gained independence in 1960. He was elected to the Federal Parliament on the platform of United Middle Belt Congress. He was re-elected in 1964, and from then until 15 January 1966, when General Yakubu Gowon took power in a coup, Lar was parliamentary secretary to Balewa. He was also a Junior Minister in the Federal Ministry of establishments. His daughter, Beni is the only child that has taken after him in politics. She has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2007, under the platform of the Political Party: Peoples Democratic Party. Beni, a law graduate represents Langtang North/Langtang South. She is the Chairman of the House Committee on Human Rights. During the Obasanjo regime, Beni was Special Assistant to the President on Women Affairs.
Dr. Samuel Imoke was a medical doctor who became a cabinet minister and leader of parliament in the former Eastern Region. In the period leading to Nigeria’s independence, he was an ally of Zik and a key member of the NCNC. The most visible of his children is Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State. Liyel was elected governor in 2007. He is a member of the PDP. In 1992, Liyel was elected a Senator at the age of 30 during the Ibrahim Babangida transition government. His term ended with the dissolution of the government in November 1993 by the military regime headed by late Abacha. In 1999, he was appointed a Special Adviser on Public Utilities by Obasanjo.
Festus Okotie-Eboh (1919-1966) was former minister for finance during the Balewa administration. In 1951, after some influence from Azikiwe, he contested for a seat and was elected into the western region House of Assembly. In 1954, he was elected treasurer of the NCNC. In 1957, was made Minister of Finance. Okotie-Eboh was assassinated along with Balewa in the January 15, 1966 military coup. One of his children – Adolo is active in politics. Adolo is the incumbent chairman of the Delta State chapter Action Congress of Nigeria. His brother, Ben is not into politics. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Crown FM Radio, Warri, Delta State.
Late Raymond Amanze Njoku was minister for Transport in the Balewa administration. He was Vice President NCNC. Njoku 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 Nigeria’s independence on 1 October 1960 was moved by Balewa and endorsed by Njoku, his cabinet colleague. None of his children is into politics. His only visible son is Tony Njoku, who is a Lagos-based businessman
Late Dr. Akanu Ibiam worked with Zik in the NCNC in the quest for Nigeria’s independence. After Nigeria gained independence in 1960, he was appointed governor of Eastern Region, holding office until the military coup of 15 January 1966. He was also the traditional ruler of his native Unwana-Afikpo. Ibiam died in December 1995. He had three children. They include: Alu Ibiam (MON), traditional ruler of Unwana-Afikpo, Ebonyi State; Tolulope Tasie, 69, (Nee Ibiam), a Port Harcourt-based medical doctor and Akaa Ibiam, 65, the only son, a retired mechanical engineer from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. None of the children is into in politics.
John Ugwuamakofia Nwodo
Nwodo was a member of the defunct Eastern Regional House of Assembly who later became regional minister of Commerce and Industry under Okpara and later a Minister of Local Government. He was the patriarch of the Nwodo family of Ukehe, near Nsukka, Enugu State. Three of his children are into politics and have held key positions in government. This was started by the appointment of his third son, John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr) as a minister in the Second Republic under Shehu Shagari and again a minister (information) during the military government of General Abdulsalam Abubakar. The second son, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, became the governor of Enugu State during Ibrahim Babangida’s botched transition and later became the first national secretary of the ruling PDP. Okwesilieze also contested the Nsukka senatorial seat in 2003 on the platform of ANPP, but lost to Senator Fidelis Okoro of the PDP. The first son, Dr. Joe, was in the race for the governorship of Enugu before he was stopped by Babangida, the family’s benefactor, as a result of the fierce contest between him and his rival, Hyde Onuaguluchi. He was immediately replaced by his younger brother, Okwesilieze. Joe went further to contest the presidential primaries of the then National Republican Convention but came second after Bashir Tofa, who picked the ticket. The Nwodo sisters are not left out in the dynasty. One of them was elected senator in Delta State, her marital home, during the Babangida’s botched transition. Their eldest sister, Mrs. Grace Obayi, has held positions as a commissioner in various administrations of Enugu and old Anambra State. And the trend has continued thereafter such that no matter the dispensation, there must be at least one Nwodo in that set up either at the state level or at the federal level.
Late M.A Okupe was the main financial backer of Awolowo and his Action Group. He was also the first Nigerian to own a bank – Agbomagbe Bank. Okupe later fell out with Awolowo and teamed up with Akintola. His most visible son in politics is Doyin Okupe who is at present the Special Assistant, Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan. Doyin also worked with Obasanjo as special adviser, media.
Musa Daggash was an active member of the NPC and very close to late Sir Ahmadu Bello. Musa later became a minister in the Balewa government. His son, Mohammed Sanusi Daggash was elected a member of the National House of Representatives in 1999, and became Senator for Borno North in 2003. Late President Yar’Adua appointed him Minister for the National Planning in 2007, and relieved him of his post in October 2008. He was again re-appointed as Minister for Works in April 2010 by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
Late Matthew Mbu was an active NCNC politician, diplomat, and a regular face in Nigerian political affairs for more than fifty years. His son, Matthew Mbu Junior was elected Senator for the Cross River Central constituency in 1999 on the platform of the PDP.
Samuel Ladoke Akintola
He was premier of the defunct Western Region and one of the founding fathers of modern Nigeria. After he was trained as a lawyer in the United Kingdom, Akintola returned to Nigeria in 1949 and teamed up with other educated Nigerians from the western region to form AG under the leadership of Awolowo. He later fell out with Awolowo. This led to the 1962 crisis in western region. He was one of the leading figures killed during the January 1966 coup. Akintola had five children, two of whom were later to become finance ministers in the third Republic - Chief Yomi Akintola and Dr Bimbo Akintola. Yomi served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Hungary and Samuel Akinola’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Dupe Akintola was Nigeria’s High Commissioner in Jamaica. His fourth child, Chief Victor Ladipo Akintola, dedicated much of his life to ensuring the continued accurate accounting of Samuel Akinola’s contributions to Nigeria’s position on the world stage. He published many works including a biography that highlighted his fathers love of his country and lifelong commitment to its progression (Akintola: The Man and the Legend). Akintola’s youngest son, the late Tokunbo Akintola, was the first black schoolboy at Eton College, United Kingdom, enrolling two terms prior to the arrival of Dilibe Onyeama (author of Nigger at Eton).
Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi was a Private Secretary to late Sardauna of Sokoto. After independence in 1960, he held several posts in the Northern Regional Government, including that of Secretary to the Executive Council, where he worked with the Sardauna. Awoniyi held Sardauna as a symbol of good governance, and was known as “Sardauna Keremi”, or “little Sardauna”. His third child Abayomi Awoniyi is currently Kogi State deputy governor. In a chat with THISDAY, Yomi said: “My foray into politics is as a result of my father’s passion for Nigeria. He loved the country so much. He was passionate about the well-being of everyone.”
Late Chief Daniel Okumagba was an active member of the Action Group in the first republic. Albert Egbaroghene Okumagba is one of those who have successfully toed the line of their fathers in active politics. Albert, who is also the chairman of the BGL group was governorship aspirant in Delta State in 2007 under the platform of the PDP. His brother, Benard is also a member of the PDP. He is a member of the Delta State executive council and current Delta State Commissioner for Economic Planning.