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Nigerian democracy and political personalities: The 100 Outstanding Politicians That Shaped Our History


Author: Godson Azu
Reviewer: Dr Segun Johnson

Godson Azu’s book hasonce again opened the controversy about the leadership vacuum in Nigeria. He has surveyed and x-rayed 100 Nigerian leaders that were involved in the democratic Nigeria, deliberately leaving out the military boys that were equally involved in the ‘shaping’ of Nigeria.

One must say the task of who to include in this 100 years of the democratic process from the amalgamation of the southern and northern protectorates is a difficult one. He divided the era into six parts starting from the struggle years against colonialism to the first, second and the short lived third republic and the fourth republic.

Respectable personalities like Herbert Macauley, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo were the ones that dominated the pre-independence era. With such great efficient and focused leaders that wrestled with the British colonialists, how come that they did not shape Nigeria for development, 57 years after independence? Should we blame the traps laid by the British rulers or the inevitable division of the peoples into visible geopolitical zones?


Personality after personality, Azu displayed the good qualities of these men and women without attempting to critically examine their flaws for reasons best known to thim. There is no doubt that this book is another attempt to look at the history of Nigeria from the angle of the political actors. Any research student would find these names very useful in their various roles in shaping the future of Nigeria.

Name after name as Azu rolled them out like a convocation list, one discovers that the Nigerian leaders were not actively shaped by the different available ideologies on the ground. Many of them studied in the West and obtained various degrees from medicine to law to political science, without any colouring of their thoughts with ideology.

It has been said that there is nothing sacrosanct about ideology, but a country without it hardly knows it’s left from right. Only Awolowo of the Action Group, Aminu Kano of the Northern Elements Progressive Union, Hajia Gambo and Balarabe Musa had hints of socialism in the presentation of their manifestoes.

Why do these leaders struggle to attain power without informing their followers how they would govern them? The simple answer could be the continuity of struggle against anticolonial power for self-governance, as opposed to the determination for welfarism, capitalism or socialism. Hence, many believed that almost three years after taking over power from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) still behaves like the opposition party. Get power for it’s sake appears to be what has permeated over the different eras. That perhaps explains why Nigeria has not developed as it should and nobody is asking any questions. This is because party faithful have no tool to challenge their leaders, as in the developed countries. The Blairites are always challenging the Brownites and vice-versa, though they all belong to the same party.

And that leads us to the issue of oppositions in the Nigerian politics. Most of the leaders herein discussed could not be good opposition hence the ability to fine tune governments’ policies did not arise. In the current dispensation of President Muhammadu Buhari, there has been practically no opposition to the government. That was how the leaders shaped the Nigerian history.

This Godson Azu’s latest book is a must read, filling a gap of some unanswered questions. Dare I say, there are more works to be done in getting the total picture of the history of Nigeria when we juxtapose the civilian and the military.

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