As someone who believes in celebrating, remembering and telling people what you want to tell them when they are alive and not when they are dead and cannot hear or reply, today, I celebrate one of the finest of his contemporaries, a great man, elder statesman Hon. Chief Mbazulike Amechi as he joins the exclusive club of nonagenarians and mark his 90 years today.
As a growing up child, I admired him so much especially whenever he appeared in a television program in those days. I enrolled as one of his sons and student in 2008 when I was in the University. He was one of the notable ndi Anambra that wrote a Foreword to the first ever Who is Who in Anambra State (First edition).
Hon. Chief Mbazulike Amechi (the boy is good) was born in Ukpor in the present day Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra state on June 16, 1929. As a young boy, Mbazulike Amechi developed the passion and desire of liberating his people. He had a burning zeal of extricating his dear country Nigeria from the clutches of the colonial masters.
This made him to join the Zikist movement while he was still a secondary school student. He was a vibrant trade unionist for many years and held full –time offices in unions from 1949 to 1955. As a trade unionist, he demonstrated extreme boldness and spirit of sacrifice.
For instance, after the gruesome murder (for no just cause) of eighteen(18) colliery workers in November 18, 1949 while they were participating in a sit-down strike to press home their demands for seniority pay for the underground workers by a team of about hundred policemen led by a white Superintendent Philip, the young Mbazulike Amechi who was then the General Secretary of Armels Transport Union, Secretary of Benin Council of Labour and Assistant Secretary of Benin and Warri District of the Zikist movement organized a protest rally of all workers in Benin and environs and demanded adequate punishment for the perpetrators of the repulsive and disgusting crime in Enugu..
As a member of the Zikist movement, Mbazulike Amechi together with other members took an oath never to marry until Nigeria regained her independence. Also as members of the Zikist movement, they took another oath that “no Zikist arraigned before any court should make any plea of leniency or show any sign of regret for fighting for the freedom of the nation”.
Such was “a Spartan” spirit which is seriously deficient in the present day Nigerian youths. Members of the Zikist movement includes: Kola Balogun, M C K Ajuluchukwu, Mokwugo Okoye, Nduka Eze, Ogedemgbe Macaulay(son of Sir Hebert Macaulay), Raji Abadallah, Mbazulike Amechi, Ikenna Nzimiro(later Prof Nzimiro), Magaret Ekpo, Zana Bukar Dipcharima from Northern Nigeria, Fred Anyiam, Osita Agwuna, R B K Okafor to mention but a few.
This and other wonderful youths of Nigeria stood out and spoke without fear against the evils of imperialist government and the need for independence of Nigeria . Their stance was at variance with that of the colonial masters and they suffered both physically and emotionally for daring to speak the truth.
Mbazulike Amechi was later elected on NCNC ticket as a member of the House of Representatives in 1959 and was appointed Minister of Aviation and Transport in 1962 and remained a Minister until the first military coup in 15th January 1966 . Chief Mbazulike Amechi gave out his life and burned up his life and is still doing so to see that Nigeria becomes a toast of all nations.
He was victimized; jailed, maimed, wounded, mercilessly beaten but his spirit was never dampened or his patriotic spirit dulled. He and others lost many things in the process of ensuring that Nigeria gained her independence.
The gift of independence of Nigeria or better put, the independence of Nigeria was a bye-product of the struggles and active nonviolent resistant of Nigerian youths of Mbazulike Amechi era especially the members of the Zikist movement.
It is however disheartening that after sacrificing their lives and youthful age for the independence of Nigeria, a larger chunk of the nationalist and heroes of our independence have totally been neglected and their dreams or wishes for a prosperous Nigeria almost forgotten.
In the first stanza of the National Anthem, we sing that “the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain” but it seems that we have totally forgotten the dreams of our founding fathers altogether. The idea of not celebrating genuine heroes and legends has become a common culture in our country.
Such is a country where nationalist are never remembered or celebrated, where total disservice is meted on our national heroes and where contrary to general expectation and belief, political rogues, embezzlers of public fund and advance fee fraud kingpin are conferred with earth breaking chieftaincy titles and awards.
As we celebrate a man whose words are powerful, his deeds exemplary and his thoughts mind blowing, let us remember to put in action those values he stands for.
Chief Amechi is still with us and so are his feats and contributions. Happy birthday Hon. Chief Mbazulike Amechi (Dara Akunwafor, the Boy is good). Welcome once again to the exclusive club of nonagenarians.
Henryking Onyedikachukwu Adibe