Nigeria’s Heroes Past: The Men Who Helped Shape Nigeria

This article is written to enlighten the reader about the men who helped shape Nigeria, those who were influential in getting Nigeria independent of her colonial master and who set the tone for modern day politics in Nigeria.

While there were several others who contributed to the Nigerian dream, these select few have been focused on because of their distinguished characters and leadership roles in their various regions.

Below are the heroes past of Nigeria, men who distinguished themselves in their day:


1. Dr. Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe:

Born in 1904, the great Zik of Africa was the Governor-general of Nigeria from 1960, when Nigeria gained independence from Britain to 1963 when Nigeria became a Republic.

In 1963, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His Presidency however ended in 1966 when the first military coup led by majors Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu among others brought an abrupt end to the first Republic which ushered in the first military government in Nigeria.


Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe died on May 11, 1996.

2. Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa:

Balewa was born in 1910 in Bauchi state. He was educated there in Bauchi where he started his early Quranic studies after which he later proceeded to Katsina College for further education where he soon acquired his teaching certificate.

Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the first and only Prime Minister of independent Nigeria. He was a trained teacher and a very vocal leader of Northern Nigeria, and one of the very few educated people from the North at that time.

Very respected across Africa, he played a major role in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now known as African Union (AU).

Balewa died on January 15, 1966.

3. Sir Ahmadu Bello:

The then Sardauna of Sokoto, he was born in June 1910. A very prominent and powerful leader of the North at the time, Ahmadu Bello was in fact, the first Premier of the Northern region from 1954-1966.

He dominated Nigerian politics throughout the early part of the Nigerian Federation and the first Republic. He was born in Rabbah, Sokoto state to the son of a district head and the heir to the Sokoto caliphate. His grandfather was Sultan Bello, grandson of Shayk Usman Dan Fodio.

He was educated at the Sokoto Provincial School before proceeding to Kaduna Teacher’s Training College after which he became a teacher.

Sir Ahmadu Bello died on January 15, 1966.

4. Chief Obafemi Awolowo:

Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) was a Nigerian nationalist, a political leader, and a principal participant in the struggle for Nigerian independence. Obafemi Awolowo was born in Ikenné, Western State, Nigeria, on March 6, 1909. He received his early education in the mission schools of Ikenné, Abeokuta, and Ibadan.

Chief Awolowo was the first Premier of the Western region from 1952-1959 and the leader of the opposition to Balewa’s government from 1959-1963.

He is popularly known as the undisputed leader of the Yorubas in Nigeria.


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The Author


I am Maduawuchi, the Editor of Nigerian Infopedia. I am a Biochemist, I love God, I love my family and I love my life. Writing is natural to me that's why I love what I do... Captain, Leader, Motivator, Brother and Friend. Saved by Grace alone.

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