The gentleman sitting to the right of Lord Frederick Lugard in this picture (see above) is Obed-Edom Chukwuemeka Azikiwe. He was the father of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the last Governor-General and first president of Nigeria.
Obed-Edom Azikiwe was a very influential member of Lugard’s administration.
You can see from the photo how highly Lugard regarded him.
More About Zik’s Father
Obed Edom Azikiwe was Lord Lugard’s private secretary.
Sadly, he passed on in 1958, two years before Nigeria’s independence, at the age of 78.
Undoubtedly, he would have loved to see his son Zik sworn in as Nigeria’s first Head of State. But fate had a different plan.
Peace Through Negotiations:
It was Obed-Edom Chukwuemeka Azikiwe that drafted – and humanised in accordance with his abillity – all the treaties Lugard signed with our traditional rulers.
It was him that drafted treaty Lugard signed with the Obong of Calabar, the Sultan of Sokoto, the Oba of Benin, the Alaafin of Oyo that came before Lugard amalgamated Nigeria.
Historians have suggested that Azikiwe softened the harshness of many of these treaties.
By so doing, he was said to have prevented bloody wars between the British and Nigerian groups by not only softening the harshness of the protectorate agreements, but also persuading both Lugard and powerful Nigerian traditional rulers to come to agreement.
Speaking on the issue, a history expert, Omoluabi Olayomi Koiki, suggested that these traditional rulers must have been happy to sign once Mr Azikiwe presented the agreements to them. They seemed to have a lot of trust in Mr. Azikiwe.
The only traditional ruler who flagrantly refused to sign any treaty unless the phrase “protection” was explained to him was Mazi Jubo Juboha, also known as Jaja of Opobo.
Obed-Edom Azikiwe was based in Lugard’s head office at Zungeru. Zungeru was Nigeria’s amalgamation capital.
Zungeru was then what Abuja is to Nigeria today.
And Lugard’s office was the colonial version of Aso Rock villa.
The senior Azikiwe’s job can be summarised as negotiating to prevent or reduce violence between colonial Britain and Nigerian kingdoms.
Obed-Edom Azikiwe should be thanked and honoured for his work in preventing or ending wars between the colonial masters and powerful Nigerian kingdoms.
He was a master negotiator who seemed to have the trust of both Lord Lugard and our powerful traditional rulers.
And he used that influence to bring about peace. Had he not been there, we could only have imagined what would have happened.
He didn’t succeed in all his efforts. His son, Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Zik of Africa, used a very different approach that, together with the efforts of our founding fathers and the Zikist Movement, persuaded the British to grant Nigeria independence. But clearly, he was a father of Nigeria in his own time.