“The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain…” Does that sound familiar?
Well, if it doesn’t, then you must have forgotten the National anthem!
That’s an interesting line in the Nigerian and in the course of this post we have decided to remember 50 of national heroes and what they achieved for our noble country.
50 Nigerian heroes and their achievements
1. Nnamdi Azikiwe
Nnamdi Azikiwe was born in 1904. He is the first president of Nigeria and the founder of Nigerian nationalism. He is popularly called ‘Zik’ or ‘Zik of Africa’. Zik helped establish the University of Nigeria after independence in 1962.
2. Herbert Macaulay
Herbert Macaulay was pivotal in Nigeria’s fight to gain independence although he didn’t live to see this become a reality. He also created the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon in the 1940s along with Nnamdi Azikiwe.
3. Ahmadu Bello
Born in 1919, Ahmadu Bello was another key figure in the country’s fight for independence. He was a school teacher that later became the Premier of the Northern Nigeria
4. Anthony Enahoro
Anthony Enahoro is another famous Nigerian personality. He’s well known for his social activism. He’s popularly known as the “Father of the Nigerian State”
5. Obafemi Awolowo
Obafemi Awolowo is another undisputed national hero. He was born in 1909 and was the first Premier of Western Nigeria. Also, he was a one time minister of Finance.
6. Kudirat Abiola
Kudirat Abiola is another prominent national figure. However, she died in the middle of her struggle for a better Nigeria.
7. Hajiya Gambo Sawaba
Hajiya Gambo Sawaba was a women right activist. She was known to speak up for gender based equality.
8. Magaret Ekpo
Magaret Ekpo is reputed as the first woman politician. She fought for women civil rights in the country and she was also the founder of the Aba Township Women’s Association.
9. Murtala Muhammed
Murtala Muhammed is one of the most popular national heroes. He became the President of the country in 1975. He was assasinated while in power in 1976.
10. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti
Funmilayo Ransome Kuti is a prominent figure in not just Nigeria but all over the world. She was known for activism for female rights.
- Professor Wole Soyinka
Born in 1934, Wole Soyinka is Africa first and Nigeria’s only Nobel laurete. He is a playwright and professor of literature.
- Aminu Kano
Aminu Kano was a prominent politician and he was one of those that opposed the British rule before Independence.
- Taiwo Akinkunmi
Known as the designer of the Nigerian flag, Taiwo Akinkunmi was born in Ibadan and he studied electrical engineering at the Norwood Technical College in London.
- K.O Abiola
Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola popularly called MKO was a Nigerian politician and businessman. He won the presidential election in June 12, 1993 but the result of the election was annulled.
- Fela Anikulapo-Kuti
A highly controversial figure, FelaKuti was the son of Funmilayo Kuti. He was known for pioneering the Afrobeat music genre. And he was known for using music as a tool to criticise the government.
- Chinua Achebe
If you’ve ever read Things fall apart, then you certainly know Chinua Achebe. Achebe has been nicknamed the father of modern African writing.”
- Gani Fawehinmi
Gani Fawehinmi was a civil rights lawyer and politician. He was known for his activism and his beliefs which include the principles and ideals for the rule of law, undiluted democracy and protection of fundamental human rights.
- Alhaji Abdulsalami Abubakar
Alhaji Abdulsalami Abubakar was responsible for the evolution of the Nigerian government from military rule to democracy. He transferred power to the President-elect, Olusegun Obasanjo on 29 May 1999.
- Ameyo Adadevoh
During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, Ameyo Adadevoh was the doctor that curbed the spread of the Ebola virus by quarantining Patrick Sawyerr, the Ebola patient.
- Attahiru Jega
Professor Attahiru Jega was known for conducting the free and fair election of 2015 when he was the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
- Madam Tinubu
The slave trade in Badagry may never have been abolished without the efforts of Madam Tinubu. She was the first Iyalode of Egbaland.
- Gen OlusegunObasanjo
Gen Olusegun Obasanjo ruled Nigeria at two different times and the nation was known to witness significant development during these periods.
- Umaru Musa Yaradua
Umaru Musa Yaradua was the former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was able to successfully alleviate the unrest in the Niger Delta region during his time as president.
- Aliko Dangote
Apart from being the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote is known for his philantrophic activities which have helped alleviate poverty in the country.
- Oby Ezekwesili
Oby Ezekwesili is a chartered accountant and the co-founder of Transparency International, a global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany.
- Dr Dora Akunyili
Known for her fight against fake and sub-standard during her time at NAFDAC, Professor Dora Akunyili is certainly one hero Nigerians will never forget.
- Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala is a two-time minister of Finance. She was pivotal in writing off the foreign debt of the nation during her first period as Finance Minister.
- Mrs Grace Eniola Soyinka
Eniola Soyinka was a co-founder of the Egba Women Union alongside Mrs. Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti. She was a notable women right activist.
- Stephen Keshi
He was the Nigerian coach when the Nigerian National team won the African Nations Cup in 2013. Coincidentally, he was also a member of the nation’s cup winning squad in 1994.
- Muhammadu Buhari
He is the current President and he has been known over the years for his staunch fight against corruption.
- Enoch Adeboye
Known for his calm mien, Pastor Enoch Adeboye is a religious leader and the General Overseer of the largest church in Nigeria, the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
- Chimamanda Adichie
Popular for her award winning books, Half of Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Adichie is one literary figure that has put Nigeria on the literature map once again
- Nuhu Ribadu
Known for his anti-corruption fight when he was the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu is certainly a national hero that is loved by many.
- Ayodele Awojobi
Professor Ayodele Awojobi was a professor of Mechanical Engineering and a social activist. He studied at the Imperial College in London. He’s known for his research papers in the field of vibration which is still a reference point in many international journals.
- Emeka Anyaoku
He was the third commonwealth secretary-general. He was influential during the civil war as he tried to pacify the warring parties.
- Agbani Darego
She’s the first Nigerian and African to win the International Beauty Pageant. Agbani Darego was 18 as at the time of winning this award.
- Kanu Nwankwo
Kanu Nwankwo was the captain of the Nigerian under 23 football team when the team won a gold medal at the Atlanta 96 Olympic Games. He’s also known for his heart foundation that helped a lot of children with deformed heart.
- Mike Adenuga
Mike Adenuga is the founder of Globacom and Conoil. His company, Globacom was the first private indigenous telecommunications company in the country
- Michael Imoudu
Michael Imoudu was Nigeria’s first labour leader. He was known for his fight for better welfare for the railway workers during the colonial rule.
- Balarabe Musa
Balarabe is another national hero. He’s reputed as a political teacher and an advocate of a progressive and united Nigeria.
- Chioma Ajunwa
Chioma Ajunwa was a police officer that competed at the Olympic Games at Atlanta in 1996 and won Nigeria’s first ever gold medal at the Olympics.
- Babatunde Fashola
You can’t talk about the transformation of Lagos state in recent years without mentioning Babatunde Fashola. He was the governor of Lagos State from 2007 to 2015.
- Hogan Bassey
Hogan was the first Nigerian to become a world boxing champion.
- Blessing Okagbare
Blessing Okagbare has made Nigerians proud with her many athletic awards. She is the current Commonwealth 100 meters record holder
- Alvan Ikoku
Alvan Ikoku was a Nigerian educator and politician. He was very influential in the progress of the Nigerian educational system
- Genevieve Nnaji
She was first Nigerian actress to win the African Movie Award which she won in 2005. She’s an immense contributor to Nollywood, the Nigerian movie industry
- Oluchi Onweagba
Oluchi Onweagba was the winner of the M-Net Face of Africa as a seventeen year old in 1998.
- Olumide Oyedeji
Olumide Oyedeji is a Nigerian basketball player. He recently guided the Nigerian basketball team to win the four nation’s invitational tournament in South Africa in 2015.
He’s a philanthropist and he’s the founder of the Olumide Oyedeji Youth Foundation which is focused on helping the underprivileged.
- Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon is a legendary basketball player that played in the NBA for many years. He’s known for his trademark, ‘dream shake’ which many basketball players have claimed he’s difficult to defend.
- Segun Odegbami
He is one of the greatest Nigerian football players and has been very influential in the development of football in the country since he retired.