Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Premier of Eastern Region, introducing Dr. Michael Okpara at NCNC rally in Urualla, Nigeria. 1959.
Okpara later became the Premier of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Source: Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present

Dr. Azikiwe and Dr.Okpara Combined Achievements in Eastern Region and Nigeria

Dr. Azikiwe and Dr.Okpara Combined Achievements in Eastern Region and Nigeria

Written by Ugo Harris Akandu
14th January 2014

Dr Azikwe was in power as premier of Eastern Nigeria from 1954 to 1960 and Dr. Michael Okpara was in Power from 1960 to 1966 as Premier of Eastern Nigeria. With NO OIL revenue but only  limited resources from palm oil, coal and limstone For 12 years Dr. Azikiwe and Dr, Okpara transformed all areas of Eastern Nigeria (records and lists

both below) . Dr. Azikiwe and Dr. Okpara did not even own homes or Private Jets. Today helicopters and Private jets ownership, leasing and renting with Niger Delta Governors, South South Governors and South East Governors is huge. (Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta Governors have a fleet of combined ownership of private jets and helicopters of 15). South East Governors rent and lease private jets for most of their travels and trips. This is a shame and no achievements but looting by all of them.

Compare 12 years of achievements of Dr. Azikiwe and Dr. Okpara with Palm oil to that of these present huge PETROL DOLLARS OIL MONEY LOOTING lost years of present Governors of former Eastern Region of  9 states ( Akwa Ibom, Abia, Bayelsa, Enugu, Anambra, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi and Rivers State. The Eastern Minority Governance and The  Governors of Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa and River States since there were separated from Eastern Region since 1968 have been in power  a combination for 50 years or combined terms of their self governance for 50 years and yet they don't blame their failures of 50 years on themselves. The success of Dr. Azikiwe and Dr. Okpara is hereby documented with facts and references. 

Today what you have in these former Eastern minority states is not only lack of performance(only Governor Akpabio have tried) but they are into too much division and infighting. Akwa Ibom state  seizing and taking away Cross River Oil fields, The Efik, Anangs and Ibibios are so polarized that it has became an armed gangs hate, fighting for power, killing, violence and depriving each other of resources and the political fights has made their relationships  worst. Rivers State is fighting Bayelsa State over oil Fields and the hate and   in fighting between Ijaws, Ikwerres, Okrika, Igbos etc. in Rivers State etc. has turned to violence, shooting, killing and bombing and their relationships has been damaged. 

With limited income from palm oil, coal and limestone coming from Igbo hinter land Dr. Azikiwe and Dr. Okpara were able to share it with all tribes and people of Eastern Nigeria for 12 years and Eastern Region achievement more progress than the 50 years looting of  Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Balyesa and Rivers State and south East Government that has been going on. Even today Akwa Igbom has taken away Cross River fields and reSources while River State is fighting with Bayelsa for who will takeaway oil fields and resources in their lands. If Dr. Azikiwe and Dr. Okpara COULD SHARE WITH ALL LIMITED RESOURCES AND FINANCE IN THEN EASTERN REGION , WHY SHOULD THESE STATES WITH BILLIONS IN PETROL DOLLARS CANNOT SHARE WITH THEIR OWN BROTHERS AND SISTERS. IT IS A SHAME!

Take a look at the achievements of Dr. Azikiwe and Dr, Okpara for 12 years and compare it with 50 years combine governance of Rivers State, Cross Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa State  and South East States and see the difference.

Politics / Re: Zik's Final Resting Place In Ruins by henry101(m): 3:16am On Jul 20, 2011

The collaboration of other parts of Nigeria would be understandable, seeing that by 1964, the Eastern region was already touted as the fastest growing economy in the world by research reports commissioned by the World Bank and by Harvard University in the United States. 

The Eastern Nigerian Economic reconstruction plan (1954-1964) - the ten year plan - drawn by the visionary Zik, and the eminently brilliant Mbonu Ojike, the most acute economic mind of that generation of argonauts, and later fully implemented by the inimitable Michael Okpara, had placed the East on a development route, [b]that by the 1960s all the talk of "Igbo domination" was merely a metaphor of the progress in the East.

Two banks at least  African Continental Bank and Cooperative Bank of Eastern Nigeria all once headquartered in the East  were at the centre of Eastern Nigerian post-colonial economic renaissance. Azikiwes banking policy and Mbonu Ojikes protectionist policies (remember boycott the boycottable) instigated the rise of indigenous entrepreneurial initiatives at a massive scale in the East from 1953 to 1983.

"The East  had the first industrial development plan in Africa. Note that All Eastern Nigerian "townships" / cities had designed within them, an industrial zone: 

Aba (factory Road),Umuahia (Factory Road) Calabar (Factory road), Enugu and Port-harcourt had Industrial Free zones - the Emene Industrial Lay out and the Trans-Amadi Industrial lay-out. So did Owerri, which had an industrial layout,so did Onitsha etc. etc. Owerri,Aba and Port Harcourt were already designed in what was clalled "A three city nexus" (see works plan of the Eastern Survey Dept. in Enugu) The institutions like the :

  • African Continental Bank,
  • Cooperative Bank of Eastern Nigeria
  • Eastern Nigerian Development Corporation, 
  • University of Nigeria was established in 1960 with campuses at Nsukka and Calabar
  • Obudu Tourism and Entertainment Ranch
  • Nigercem,
  • Nigergas, 
  • Nigersteel, 
  • Factory,glass industries, 
  • Hotels, 
  • Farm settlements, 
  • Aba Textile company, 
  • Golden Guinea Breweries in Umuahia,
  • Standard Shoe Factory in Owerri,
  • Portharcourt sea Port Expansion
  • A Force in Library Development in Nigeria


C.C. Aguolu and L.E. Aguolu


This is the first attempt to coherently document the immense contributions of one of Africa’s foremost nationalists and pan–Africanists to the development of libraries in Nigeria. Although he is best known for his achievements in politics, journalism, and sports, Dr. Azikiwe saw the library as a vehicle for the intellectual emancipation of Nigerians from colonial rule.

As President of Eastern Nigeria in the 1950s, the first and only indigenous Governor–General, and first President of Nigeria in the 1960s, he was able to wield sufficient political influence to ensure a legal basis for public library development in Nigeria, the establishment of the University of Nigeria Library – named after himself – and the eventual creation of the National Library of Nigeria.

  • The first International Trade Fair was opened by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe at Victoria Island on October 27, 1962.
  • Launching of the National Savings Scheme (Premium Bond) by Mrs. Flora Azikiwe at General Post Office, Marina on 8th December, 1962.
  • Opening of the ?2 million Guinness Breweries at Ikeja on 6th March, 1963 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
  • Opening of the New Engineering Base and Hangar at Lagos Airport Ikeja by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe on December 13, 1963.
  • Opening of the Royal Mint at Victoria Island on April 10, 1965 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the subsequent issuance and circulation of New Currency notes in the denomination of £5; £10s and 5s on July 1, 1965.

Opening of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka on October 7, 1960.

Two banks at least  African Continental Bank and Cooperative Bank of Eastern Nigeria all once headquartered in the East  were at the centre of Eastern Nigerian post-colonial economic renaissance. Azikiwes banking policy and Mbonu Ojikes protectionist policies (remember boycott the boycottable) instigated the rise of indigenous entrepreneurial initiatives at a massive scale in the East from 1953 to 1983.

Industrial which is still in existence and in good use today, etc. 

The products and services of these institutions and businesses were first class. Thus, people had full employment. With the economy growing annually at between 10 and 12%, the Eastern Nigerian economy was one of the fastest growing worldwide. 


DR. MICHAEL IHEONUKARA OKPARA; Premier of Eastern Nigeria (1959 - 1966)



It is unarguably true that DR.M .I. Okpara, laid a solid industrial base for the development of Eastern  Nigeria for the then period and for future generations .It was then that Nigeria’s industrial  pathway was drawn and which could have established Nigeria on a solid foundation of industrial growth had the initiative been sustained by successive administrations. Rather the opportunity was squandered like in most other area that would have catapulted Nigeria to the league of industrialized world. The story of the Nkalagu cement company has always been a striking   reminder because it was a bold, decisive, and courageous and sensible business decision to give fillip to his drive for economic independence, his government intervened and actually bought the federal Government’s shared interests which were to be disposed of. 

It was inconceivable to Dr. Okpara that such a strategic industry located in Nkalagu, a few miles from Enugu, would be allowed to be acquired by a British consortium. The political implications of that move would be catastrophic to the industrial and developmental interest of his government.

Therefore the Federal Government interests were substantially bought over by the Okpara government and sold to the ordinary people of Eastern Nigeria. 

It quickly established an industrial Estate at Emene near Enugu and quite close to the Nkalagu Cement factory.

In like manner was the establishment of the Niger-gas plant and Nigersteel industry, all in Emene! There is no doubt that these may have challenged the Federal government to realize the fact that there was an imperative necessity to embark on a bold steel production industrial policy. Many years later, the Federal government caught the fever and established the Ajaokuta, Warn, Oshogbo and Kastina steel plants, which have either remained at various stages of construction or totally abandoned many years after.

Furthermore, to open up the vast opportunities of an International Market, Dr. Okpara’s government planned and executed the completion of the Onitsha International Market which, today, has spread over a sprawling area attracting traders from many cities in Nigeria and the ECOWAS region. Added to this, was the building and inauguration of the Pepsi Cola plant in Onitsha by the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation (ENDC). In addition, there was plan for the establishment of a textile factory which was on the drawing board and actually took off after the Nigeria/Biafra Civil conflict with a combination of government and private interests running the outfit. Also the administration planned the building of a motor manufacturing plant in the region to enable Nigeria to join the league of automobile producers as well as provide employment for Nigerians. 

The industrial floodgate was really thrown open with the establishment of the Shoe Industiy at Owerri, the Aba Textile Mill with industrial gas piped from Port-Harcourt.

In Umuahia, the Golden Guinea Breweries was incorporated in nineteen sixty-one and actually put the sales of its product, Golden Guinea Beer in the market that same year. Later, the Modem Ceramic Industry came on stream producing primary sanitary wares, bath tubes as well as tiles, while the Metallic Industry was also in the offing for the production of small machine tools. 

In Port Harcourt, Dr. Michael Okpara’s visionary acumen blossomed in the establishment and development of a vast Industrial Estate which, to this day, remains the heart beat and bulwark of industrial development in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Trans-Amadi Layout was, and still remains, an unbeatable venture in vision and business savvy. Also the Alfa pioneer plant was to be built for plywood production in line with the government’s policy of massive industrialization.

As part of the Vision, model warehouses were built and solid roads were laid out with drains. Electricity, water, gas pipe lines, environment-friendly installations were put in place and industries just moved in and commenced production. The result was that the flourishing Michelin Tyre Factory was in full bloom. The Glass Factory, established by the ENDC, was in full production with the Trans-Amadi layout established by the administration not too far away from that area. There was also the Coconut Plantation in Bonny Island owned by the ENDC.

ENDC also took over some of the Bulk Oil Plant premises to establish a flourishing boatyard, manufacturing some power fired engine passenger boats for use between, Igwe-nga, now renamed Ikot Abasi, in Akwa-Ibom State, and the historic and famous king Jaja of Opobo Town. No part of Eastern Nigeria was neglected or excluded from the industrial blitz.

For instance, in addition to the vast Oil Palm, and rubber plantations in the area, the Calabar cement Company (CALCEMCO) was put on stream in 1965 using limestone from contiguous areas for their production.


As part of tourism Development efforts of the Dr. Okpara Government, apart from building the two exquisite Hotel Presidential in Enugu, and Port Harcourt, run by Hotel management experts from Europe, a network of Old Catering Rest Houses were rehabilitated and rekitted to update their services. 

In nineteer sixty four, new catering Rest Houses located in various strategic areas of Eastern Nigeria were built and run in Ogoja, Owerri and Uyo.


Similarly, Dr. Okpara, in his very intuitive character, outlined a road map he would wish to see in place in Nigeria. On fourth April nineteen eighty-one; Dr. Okpara noted that the Medical and Health problems facing Nigeria is how to take the increasing modern services to the rural areas.

He truly noted that naturally, Doctors prefer the urban towns where it is easier to make a decent living pointing out that the way to attract such personal to the rural communities would be through the provision of rural infrastructure such as roads, water supply, electricity, health centers and rural hospitals.

For him, only government can provide a rural medical service either directly in a free medical and health scheme, as in Britain, or through a Health Insurance Scheme as in West Germany to underpin without many tears a Rural Health Scheme.

Then, Dr. Okpara, undertook a public enlightenment campaign to explain in details the possible forms of the Health Insurance Scheme which he recommended, and other forms of social welfare insurance to include unemployment insurance and old age pensions.

He strongly noted that a beginning should be made in Health Insurance which should be expanded to cover every citizen within a decade. He opined that the first stage will bring in a meaningful national health service that will not burst the national purse. This was in nineteen eighty one!

Then, Dr. Okpara expressed the view and advised that, perhaps the West German model which was based on a Health Insurance Scheme in which the governments, the corporations and individuals, contributed towards the medical care of all the citizens. He then recommended that a presidential commission should be put together and empowered to study the problem in all its ramifications and make appropriate and workable recommendations within six months from April, nineteen eighty one. 

Certainly, the current health insurance scheme being applied in the country mostly among federal civil servants and a few states that have adopted the scheme point to the fact that Dr. Okpara was visionary.


The administration gave priority to infrastructural development as many rural roads were constructed throughout the region to the point that in 1996, Eastern region was acclaimed as having the best network of roads in Africa.

The whole essence was to accelerate commerce and evacuate farm produce from the rural area to make industries to thrive.

Also there was high speed development of social services as many communities enjoyed electricity and water supply because they were readily mobilized to contribute funds to project.


In the area of education, the sector achieved a quantum leap as primary and secondary schools grew in large number with voluntary agencies and churches actively engaged in the establishment of schools leading to an appreciable expansion in knowledge with the government liberalizing local and overseas scholarship. Consequently both voluntary schools and government schools existed side with each working with commitment to put education in the front seat.


Under the regime which has been aptly described as the most radical, progressive and result-oriented, agriculture was giving an outstanding position as the period witnessed real agrarian revolution and economic expansion. Indeed, agriculture was the center piece of his development policy, using the Eastern Nigerian Development Corporation ENDC as instrument.

It is indisputable that what is now referred to an agrarian revolution and economic development by succeeding administrations were first started by the Okara administrations in Eastern Nigerian. Dr. Opkara did not only talk of agriculture, he put flesh and blood into it with relentless interest and aggressive policies which culminated into a rapid social, economic and industrial transformation.

These efforts still and will remain a monumental tribute to him and many generations to come, as despite callous neglect and abandonment by successive regimes evidence of his achievements still abound.

As a deliberate approach for success, innovative farm settlements patterned after the famous Israeli Kibutz were set up in five towns, Igborariam in now Anambra state, and the one located in now Ebonyi State, Ulonna North and South in now Abia state, Uzo-Uwani in now Enugu state and Ohaji in now Imo state.

The idea was to ensure that model farms properly managed by experts were established to train young school leavers who worked in the settlement and ran their own farms inside the estates based on the experience they acquired and were supervised by the farm management. The product ranged from rice, oil palm to rubber.  

Sadly, at the end of the Nigeria/Biafra Civil War, some of the farm settlements were remodeled or sold outrightly or privatized, while many were simple abandoned and to allowed to waste. For example Adapalm at Ohaji in Imo state, was remodeled into thriving vast commercial oil palm plantation but which has been mismanaged.

Ulonna North and South farm settlement is virtually wasting and begging for urgent revival. In Anambra state the Igboaraim, palm plantation was brutally cut down and the vast plantation made part of the Anambra state University.

The scheme can, certainly, be massively recreated to provide jobs for thousands of our young school leavers and graduates.

The Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation’s ENDC enormous Estates of oil palm, rubber, cocoa, cashew and rice, with the intercropping of pineapples, banana, plantains and cassava, formed veritable bastions for cash crop and food production. These farms include the expensive rubber plantation located in Amaeke Abam, Ndioji Abam, Arochukwu, Ozuitem, the Ikwu, Imo River waterways, Ubani Ibeku, etc. understandably, the massive oil palm plantations of Kwa falls, Calaro, Ikom and others in Cross River state and Umuekune in Imo state, among many other are now lying waste with little or nothing to show for the huge investment on them.

One incontrovertible fact is that the land is still there, nature has continued to water the ground by giving us abundant rain and good free sunshine. All that is required now is to develop the goodwill, zeal, and commitment to pay more attention to the soil. One feels a sense of shame and disappointment that only three decades ago, Eastern Nigeria was in a strong position to earn reasonable funds from exporting its own population. In fact, then, about three million pounds was earned in one year from this source of export.

In the area of protein production, it was Dr. Okpara’s accepted agricultural policy to massively produce poultry product for which purpose, an expert Afro American, Mr. Davies was recruited to develop poultry productions in Abakaliki. Chicken broilers, day old chicks, old layers, and egg were available on a very massive scale for distribution throughout the Region. The People were mobilized and agriculture made conscious, available on a very massive scale for distribution throughout the Region.

Then public servants were encouraged, and persuaded, to grow their own poultry for family consumption in their back-yard farms. Almost every home produces all the egg and broilers consumed by the family and the surplus made available for sale. It was Dr. Opkara’s passion that the population should be well fed.

In fact, the slogan then was “grow your own chicken and egg”,

To show the extent to which the policy yielded enormous dividend, Egg marketing and Distribution Task Force comprising the Ministry of Agriculture, Local Government, Co=operative Department of ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Education, and Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation, was set up with a Secretary from the premier’s Office given the mandate to organize immediate egg collection centers in all local Government Areas.

Cold rooms were built in convenient centers to receive the egg and organize logistics for distribution of eggs.

For ease of distribution, the Education Ministry was asked to feed every 

Student in the secondary schools in the Region that had dormitory accommodation, two eggs a week!

Unfortunately this grand programme, no longer exists with the inception of succeeding administrations.

One striking effect of the farm settlements was that it tackled the problem of food self-sufficiency, economic self reliance and guaranteed employment. This is because following the system which allotted farms and accommodation to the farmers government followed up by setting up the marketing board which bought up the produce by farmers which were later stored in silos either for export or for the industries that sprouted in the region, the farmers were encouraged to stay on since they were sure of instant market for their produce no matter the quantity.

It was from his sound agriculture policy that he was able to generate considerable funds to finance most of his projects. For instance, the University of Nsukka was translated into realizable and concrete form to were built using the five million pounds, generated by the Eastern Nigeria marketing board through propagate Zik’s ideas and dreams to restore the dignity of man. The main structure of the University of Nigeria were built using five million pounds, generated by the Eastern Nigeria marketing Board through the sales of palm produce from  local producers and the Eastern Nigeria Development corporation’s pioneer oil mills.

There were also enormous estates of oil palm, rubber, cocoa, cashew with intercropping of pineapples, banana, plantain and cassava at Amaeke Abam and Ndioji Abam, Arochukwu, ozuitem, with massive palm plantations spread across the entire region to make region economically self sufficient even as the breeding of cattle was intensified at obudu cattle ranch.    

Really, there was no dull moment for the government then.  It is regrettable that agriculture witch formed the bedrock of not only the economy of the   eastern Region, but also a major foreign currency earner for the nation has been utterly neglected and abandoned.

 Ironically, while Nigeria continues to treat her enormous agricultural endowment with abandonment, Malasia   and Ivory Coast that that came to the country in the sixties to obtain their first oil palm seedlings have been making   tremendous impact in the world economy using agriculture as a major platform.

For instance while Nigeria can hardly point at any major leap in the sector, Malaysia’s now popular KIA Motor is produced with proceeds from palm oil. 



Building his power in the Eastern Region, Azikiwe became its premier in 1954 after a new constitution was put into effect. He instituted a new education program in his region, and had a major role in Nigeria becoming the leading exporter of students for study abroad in Africa. In 1954 Azikiwe visited Europe, England, the United States, and Canada with members of the Eastern region economic commission in order to promote investment for developments in textile, vegetable oil refineries, steel, and chemicals. Azikiwe's  political stance at this time clearly favored his Ibo tribe and the Ibibio-speaking peoples of the Eastern region. 

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/nnamdi-azikiwe#ixzz2qD628feZ


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