The former Senator of Anambra, Senator Emmanuel Andy Uba, wished Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe on his posthumous birthday. The senator shared a long note on his social media on the occasion. In his message, Senator Andy Uba reflected on Dr Azikiwe’s impact on Education in Igbo land.
One of the greatest achievements of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was his impact on education, especially in Igbo land. He believes that many can view the accomplishment of Ndi Igbo closing the education gap between them and Yoruba people who encountered Western education ahead of them by 1960 as a miracle. In the same breath, he added, You cannot possibly remove the impact of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe from this achievement.
Dr Azikiwe returned from America to Nigeria in the 1930s, leading the most provoking education growth in Igbo land. Further, He mobilized Ndi Igbo to pursue education and human capital development. They became capable of striving for higher education in Igbo land through the great Dr Azikiwe.
Further, In 1938, he facilitated moving to America by 8 Nigerians the pursuit of University education. According to Azikiwe, ‘The Eight Argonauts’ would go to America to win the Golden Fleece back to Africa. Meanwhile, On November 28, 1938, seven out of eight left for the United States. The lineup included Nwafor Orizu, who joined the same year. It is worth noting that the ‘eight argonauts’ as Zik referred to them, returned and fueled a new drive for higher education and Nationalism in the country.
The Igbo drive for higher educational advancement began in the 1930s, and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe played a key role in this, and we must acknowledge it. He started by giving lectures and mobilizing Ndi Igbo to embrace education. Azikiwe began by calling for wealthy individuals and communities to provide scholarships for bright students.
For example, educated Igbo residents in Lagos and other urban centres throughout Nigeria started organizing themselves in villages, towns and clans as improvement and progressive unions.
This marked the beginning of a pan-Igbo movement whose main purpose was to advance Igbo in education at that time. It is on the record that during the Igbo Federal Union, Lagos branch meeting in the early 1940s, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe donated 100 pounds sterling for an Igbo Education development plan. As Premier of the Eastern region, he ensured that Eastern Nigeria invested 45% of its budget in Education development.
Meanwhile On May 18, 1955, the Eastern House of Assembly, the regional legislature for Eastern Nigeria, moved a resolution to establish the first university in Eastern Nigeria. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe gave a speech seconding the motion introduced by the Eastern Region Minister of Education. Accordingly, That eastern university became the University of Nigeria. Extract from Azikiwe’s remarks given on May 18, 1955, appear below:
“It is my fondest wish that when the University of Nigeria ultimately becomes a reality. Our young men and women will find opportunities for gaining experience in life’s battles so that lack of money will not deter them from obtaining higher vocational education in any of the faculties or institutes of the university. I hope that the training in self-help and the experience in self-reliance will make them more confident of themselves and enable them to puncture the myth of the proverbial lack of initiative and drive on the part of the Nigerian worker.”
Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe should have a special place in the history of the development of education in Igbo land. Senator Uba confessed that impact of Dr Azikiwe on education development also influenced his intervention in education development in Anambra. He buikt a Mass Communication department at Nnamdi Azikiwe University. He further instituted ‘The Philip Uba scholarship foundation’ has trained many students in different fields.
Emmanuel Andy Uba talked about the former education pioneer’s influence on his work style. He confessed that as a senator, one of his legislative focuses was rebuilding and equipping schools. As the world celebrates this great colossus, I call for improved investment in Education development in Anambra State.