1. It is an honour and a privilege to stand before you today as Chairman of this auspicious occasion, which is the 7th Zik Lecture of the Annual Zik Series, holding here at the eponymous institution of higher learning named for the foremost nationalist and first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the immortal Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, GCFR, the one and only Zik of Africa.

2. I thank my distinguished friend, Sen. High Chief (Dr.) Ben Ndi Obi, CON, for the kind invitation extended to me to Chair this Annual Lecture, the seventh in the inspired, and inspirational, series of lectures in memory of Dr. Azikiwe. I commend Senator Obi’s vision in endowing this annual programme to bring to memory the incomparable exploits of the late Owelle of Onitsha. The Great Zik was a pioneer of African liberation movements, one of those whose intellectual rigour, vision and mission as well as tenacity helped free Nigeria from the shackles of colonialism, and won us our independence.

3. The legendary Pan-Africanist did not only move Nigeria, he moved the world. Just the other day, I was reading how, nearly 70 years ago at the British Peace Congress, held on October 23, 1949, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe made bold to demand for Nigeria’s independence; and denounced imperial rule at the seat of imperialism itself.

4. We have just seen 100 years of the Armistice and the end of the First World War commemorated all over the world on November 11; and some have raised their voices to remind the world that thousands of Africans also lost their lives fighting in that war. It does bear reminding now also that Dr. Azikiwe at that long ago congress in London, sought to imprint on the world’s consciousness that very fact: that Africans were also lost in the field of battle in faraway lands.

5. Azikiwe never stopped speaking for Nigerians, for Africans, and for Black people all over the world. He was a light of the Black race. The word ‘Nationalism’ is subject to much debate now in the West. But in the context of the independence struggles of African nations, Nationalism was the driving ideology that propelled the quest for self-determination, so that our people could be free from the yoke of colonialism. Dr. Azikiwe was at the forefront of that struggle for a free and prosperous Africa.

6. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you agree with me when I say that the immeasurable contributions of such a person as Zik must never be forgotten. In bringing to remembrance his towering achievements, we also remember what we once achieved, together, as a nation. We thus remind ourselves what we can still do to overcome the challenges of today; and we are inspired to strive for better, and to lift up our beloved country, as Zik once did.  

7. It is fitting that this Annual Lecture Series has as its setting an institution of learning in his name. I say this because Zik of Africa was a renowned intellectual, and the power of his mind connected Nigeria to the entire Black World. It is worth noting that he was a major figure in Black consciousness, interacting with Black liberation figures and thinkers from Europe to America and the Caribbean.

8. He was the first Black African to teach at Lincoln University in the United States of America, as far back as the 1940s. I note that he was followed as a teacher in that institution by none other than that other great Pan-Africanist, his collaborator and contemporary, Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister and President of independent Ghana.

9. It is fitting, therefore, that we remember the great man of learning in this place of learning. It is fitting that we walk in his footsteps in our quest to formulate ideas and devise solutions to current challenges. It is fitting that erudite lectures are delivered to advance his cause and propagate his ideals. We often lament these days that our politics is bereft of ideas. The more reason one welcomes and wholeheartedly supports this lecture in memory of a man of ideas whose example inspires us still, and can give rise to new idealists in our national life.

10. The Great Zik of Africa was not only an astute politician and statesman, he was a teacher, a publisher, an author and a poet. His collection of poetry was titled, ‘Meditations’. He thought deeply about things. He thought deeply about Africa. He thought deeply about the direction Nigeria was going, and he did his very best to steer her on the right path. We need more thinkers in our national life, and it is my expectation that today’s lecture will go some way towards nudging those of us in this audience in that direction.

11. Without wishing to pre-empt the subject of today’s lecture by His Excellency Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, which is titled, ‘Taming the Monster of Corruption in Africa’, we should ask ourselves what Dr. Azikiwe would have made of the political landscape of today, particularly with regard to the problem of corruption. Let us think upon the example he laid down, the ideals he stood for, and from which he never wavered.

12. As we listen to this 7th Zik Lecture, let us meditate upon the legacy of Azikiwe, one of the greatest Africans of the 20th Century. As founder of the historic West African Pilot newspaper, Azikiwe was for freedom of the press. He was for accountability and transparency. Born in Zungeru, the town that witnessed the amalgamation of the country, Dr. Azikiwe was a detribalised Nigerian who was able to build a broad political base. He believed in, and fought for Nigeria’s unity.

13. When I think about his legacy, I am indeed humbled; and it is a thing of pride to be chairing this event today. As we listen to the 7th Zik Lecture delivered by the eminent keynote speaker, let us recommit ourselves to defeating the monster of corruption in our country; and by so doing, set a standard for the whole of Africa.

14. It is by ridding our system of governance of the cankerworm of corruption that this country can grow to achieve its true destiny as envisioned by the founding fathers, one of whom was the great Zik of Africa.

Thank you.


Abubakar Bukola Saraki MBBS CON (pronunciationⓘ; born on 19 December 1962) is a Nigerian politician who served as the 13th president of the Nigerian Senate from 2015 to 2019.[1][2] He previously served as the governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011; and was elected to the Senate in 2011, under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing the Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in the 2015 general elections