Chief Mbazuluike Amaechi
BY PAUL NWOSU
The recent passing away of Chief Mbazulike Amechi, Dara Akunwafor, aka The Boy Is Good, is akin to the loss of a very huge library, a bastion of knowledge and a treasure trove of political activism. His profundity was legendary and he could be likened to one tree that made a forest.
Chief Amechi passed on as the only surviving minister of the First Republic. He built a formidable reputation as a vibrant trade unionist for many years and held full-time offices in the unions from 1949 to 1955.
Born on June 16, 1929, Amechi was inspired early in life by the fiery speeches of Nigeria’s greatest nationalist leader, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Great Zik of Africa.
A lionized native of Ukpor in present-day Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Amechi joined the Zikist Movement while he was still a secondary school student at Etukokwu College, Onitsha, where he earned the Cambridge School Certificate.
He had the habit of always being on the entourage of political campaigns, in line with the political catechism of Zik. It was reported that he took an oath with the other members of the Zikist Movement never to get married until Nigeria was liberated from British colonial rule! There was even the other dimension that Amechi and other Zikists 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 Nigeria. He was a prime mover in the Zikist Movement that included other legendary figures such as Oged Macaulay (son of Sir Hebert Macaulay), Kola Balogun, Ikenna Nzimiro, M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu, Fred Anyiam, Mokwugo Okoye, Zana Bukar Dipcharima, Nduka Eya, Margaret Ekpo, Raji Abdallah, R.B.K. Okafor and Osita Agwuna.
He furthered his studies through correspondence by enrolling with Woolsey Hall Correspondence College, Oxford, England. He then enrolled as an external candidate with Beaverly Hills University in the United States and took a BA (Hons.) degree in Political History.
Amechi was elected a member of the House of Representatives on the platform of Zik’s party, the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), in 1959.
He was a dependable ally of Zik who gave him the nickname “The Boy Is Good”. Amechi reportedly saved Zik from assassination by apprehending the assassin who was armed with a dagger! He was as ever ready to take the bullet for his leader.
He had the record of becoming Nigeria’s first minister of aviation. On the prompting of Zik, he hid Nelson Mandela for six months in Nigeria to evade arrest by officials of the apartheid regime of South Africa.
Amechi was a progenitor of the “Think Home” philosophy because he operated from his country home known as Maryland Lodge in his native Ukpor all through his life. He set up the first rural-based agro-factory in Eastern Nigeria. He was into mining and set up a hospital.
In 1985, he authored the book, “The Forgotten Heroes of Nigerian Independence.” He was also the author of “Nigeria: The Two Political Amalgams,” published in 1994. His memoir, “Simply The Good: An Autobiography,” was published in 2004. To mark his 90th birthday in 2019, he presented the book, “A Political History of Modern Nigeria: Words and Thoughts of Mbazulike Amechi.”
A dedicated family man, he was married to Iyom Chinelo Priscilla Amechi, popularly hailed as Odiukonamba. His first son, Nwachukwu, predeceased him, while the others, notably, Tagbo, Ikenna and Ncheta, have produced reputable grandchildren for Amechi.
He took the prestigious Ozo title, bearing the name “Dara Akunwafor.” He was the life vice-chairman of Nnewi Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture. The Ukpor Town Union honoured him in 2018 by unveiling his golden statue at the market square. He was a co-founder of the Anambra Elders’ Forum.
Amechi has over the years played a leading role as a remarkable political titan. He remained a paramount statesman until he breathed his last on All Saints Day, November 1, 2022.
Anambra State and Nigeria have lost a great legend in Chief Mbazulike Amechi, who richly deserves to be immortalized as one of the iconic fathers of modern Nigeria.
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