Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a detribalized Nigerian who inspired the devotion of people from all parts of Nigeria, who saw in him a true national leader.
An example is Mallam Habib Raji Abdullah, who became the Interim President of the Zikist Movement (an anticolonialist organization) at its formation in the 1940s.
Raji Abdullah was a committed nationalist. During the heydays of the freedom struggle to free Nigeria from colonialism, he was arrested and charged to court for sedition. It was there that he made his one of his most famous speeches. After he was asked to make a plea, he addressed the British judge and the court saying;
“We have passed the age of petition. We have passed the age of resolution. This is the age of action-plain, blunt and positive action…
“This iniquitous British Government is determined to keep us as slaves forever and the only way out, as I see it and as I know it, is for every one of us to declare himself free and independent and be resolved to stand by that declaration and damn the consequences.
“I have nothing against the person of George VI of England. But I hate the crown of Britain with all my heart because to me and my country men, it is a symbol of oppression, a symbol of persecution, and in short, a material manifestation of iniquity…
“I hate the Union Jack because, save Britain, wherever it goes, far from uniting, it creates a division. It feeds and flourishes on confusion and dissension. We must, therefore have no more place for it in our hearts-this ugly representation of that satanic institution, imperialism.” This fervour, inspired by Zik and the anticolonialist ideals he stood for, contributed in a big way to the defeat of colonialism, and Nigeria’s subsequent independence.
When it is said in our National Anthem that ‘the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain’, let it be remembered that the Zikists are one of those who laboured bravely for Nigeria’s independence.
They risked and sacrificed their lives, properties and freedoms for Nigeria, and Mallam Habib Raji Abdullah was one of them.