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Azikiwe, Benjamin Nnamdi "Zik" (1904-1996)

Nnamdi Azikiwe was the first President of Nigeria and wasinstrumental in founding a string of newspapers across Nigeria.

Azikiwe was born on November 16, 1904 in Zungeru which wasthen the capital of Northern Nigeria.  His father, Chukwumeka Azikiwe, was a civilservant in the British colonial government. Azikiwe began attending school in 1912 after enrolling in the ChurchMissionary Society (CMS) Niger Mission in Onitsha.  Between 1912 and 1921 Azikiwe switched mostlybetween CMS and Wesleyan Boys High School,both in Lagos,at the request of his father.  In 1921Azikiwe passed his civil servant exam and was assigned to work in the TreasuryDepartment in Nigeria.

Believing that education was his key to advancement inAfrica, Azikiwe left Lagos in 1925 to attend Storer Collegein West Virginia in the United States.  He also attended HowardUniversity for a time beforegraduating from LincolnUniversity in 1930 withhis Bachelor"s Degree in Political Science. By 1933 Azikiwe would also earn two Master"s Degrees in Arts and Sciencefrom Lincoln Universityand the Universityof Pennsylvania.

In late 1934 Azikiwe returned to Africa, settling in Accra, Ghanawhere he became the editor of the newly founded African Morning Post.  Withthat position he began his career in the newspaper industry where he promotedAfrican nationalism and later African independence.  After returning to Nigeriain 1937 Azikiwe founded the West AfricanPilot and the Zik Group of Newspapers which by 1944 controlled five majorpublications across Nigeria. 

In 1947 Azikiwe was elected to his first government positionin the Nigerian Legislative Council.  By1954 he was the Premier of Eastern Nigeria where he was forced to relinquishhis business interests.  On October 1,1960 Nigeriabecame independent of the British government and Nnamdi Azikiwe became itsfirst indigenous Governor General.  Threeyears later, on October 1, 1963 Nigeriawas declared a republic and Nnamdi Azikiwe was elected as its firstPresident.  He shared power with thenewly elected Prime Minister

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