Mbazulike Amechi: The Last Zikist Joins The Saints.

By Monday Eze
Chief Mbazulike Iwuchukwu Amechi (1929 - 2022)(First Republic Minister for Aviation).
Chief Mbazulike Iwuchukwu Amechi (1929 - 2022)(First Republic Minister for Aviation).

History is simply an extended shadow of men who stood up for mankind at critical times and settings. Mbazulike Amechi, a first-order Zikist, foremost nationalist, former secretary-general of the youth wing National Council of Nigerian Citizens, NCNC, former parliamentary secretary and first minister for Aviation of Federal Republic of Nigeria was certainly a man of history. Born on June 16, 1929, Amechi who studied political history in Beverly Hills University fought alongside other founding fathers of the Nigerian nation for the independence of Nigeria under the aegis of the Zikist Movement and youth wing of NCNC. This firebrand nationalist and man of "timber and calibre" was a study in courage and patriotism. In 1957, young Amechi braved all odds and dared the colonial police to save Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from assassination attempt of the colonial administration in Nigeria. This gave Amechi out as a dependable and valiant ally. It was this feat that earned Amechi the sobriquet, "The boy is good", from the legendary Zik of Africa. This quintessential freedom fighter, protected iconic Nelson Mandela from the apartheid regime in his house for months before Mandela voluntarily went back home and into prison.

Chief Mbazulike Iwuchukwu Amechi (1929 - 2022)(First Republic Minister for Aviation).

Chief Mbazulike Amechi, was the last Zikist standing. A committed patriot, Amechi, alongside his colleagues like Anthony Enahoro, Osita Agwuna, Obed Macaulay, Mallam Raji Abdallah, Umaru Altine, John Umoru, etc, went in and out of prisons during the struggle for independence. The sacrificial commitment of Amechi and his contemporaries to the national struggle was legendary. Apart from the risk at which they put their lives and limbs, they resolved not to marry until independence was secured for Nigeria. This was to prevent the creation of a generation of orphans and widows since they were ready to die in the struggle. It is unfortunate that the present generation of Nigerians seem to be ready to sacrifice the Nigerian nation on the alter of private and tribal interests.

The Nigeria that Chief Mbazulike Amechi and other nationalists founded was a united country of equal opportunities for her citizens and they demonstrated it in practical terms: In 1952, a Fulani, Mallam Umoru Altine, who was vice chairman of Enugu chapter of NCNC youth wing was elected the first mayor of Enugu; an Edo man, John Umoru, won election under NCNC to represent Port Harcourt in Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly; Mallam Umaru Yushau, the Sarkin Hausawa of Onitsha, was elected into Eastern Nigeria House of Chiefs; and an Igbo man who founded Kwankwaso town, Felix Okonkwo (Okonkwo Kano), was elected into Northern Nigeria House of Chiefs in 1957. Mbazulike Amechi could be said to be the Nigerian equivalent of the Biblical Benjamin. Regrettably, he lived long but beheld a Nigeria which radically contradicted with the country they laboured to build. He saw Nigeria wherein patriotism was taken over and totally supplanted by tribalism or in most cases statism; a divided Nigeria where it was difficult for an Igbo man from Ebonyi State to dare to contest even ward councilorship election in Enugu State and a Kano man had acquired the status of a total stranger in Kaduna State. He saw a Nigeria where politics of ideology grew wings and flew away; and in its place was politics of selfish interests where truth was a rarity and citizens could be killed without moral compunctions in the pursuit of political power.

Mbazulike Amechi in his younger days

Mbazulike Amechi was a man of peace who believed in the efficacy of the round table. He was a true Zikist in that sense because Zik, the leader of the NCNC and premier of Eastern Nigeria was the father of diplomatic politics in Nigeria. For instance, each time he is called upon to give his opinion about the Nigerian civil war which was fought between 1967 and 1970, Amechi never failed to reiterate that the Nigerian civil war was unnecessary and could have been avoided if the two lead actors had shown restraint. He never hid his preference for a united Nigeria. In a similar manner, he rooted for a "political solution" to the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu/IPOB imbroglio.

Pursuant to Amechi's aforestated belief in dialogue, the elder statesman and foremost nationalist, in November 2021, led a delegation of Ndi Igbo to President Muhammadu Buhari and pleaded for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. This was also a political approach to the restoration of peace in the Southeast. Mbazulike Amechi who was 92 by then expressed the wish to see a peaceful Southeast and Nigeria before his death. This request was not granted by President Buhari until Amechi breathed his last on November 1, 2022. The first day of November is set aside in Christendom as All Saints Day. So, Dara Mbazulike Amechi, a Christian, merely joined the saints from his home in Ukpor, Nnewi South LGA of Anambra State at the ripe age of 93 after what qualified as an eventful pilgrimage on earth. His departure marked an end to the glorious era of Zikism. May the labour of past Nigerian heroes like Chief Mbazulike Amechi not be in vain.

Adieu, the last Zikist!