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Nwafor Orizu, Nigeria’s ex-president who acted for 92 days


Nigeria’s historical narrative often overlooks significant figures, a phenomenon fueled by a general disregard for certain pivotal details. 

Even self-proclaimed history enthusiasts frequently fail to grasp the importance of specific individuals, such as Funmilayo Ransom Kuti, who is more recognized for being the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria than for her substantial role in championing women’s liberation.

Similarly sidelined is Akweke Abyssinia Nwafor-Orizu, who served as Nigeria’s president from October 1965 to January 16, 1966, and as the president of the Nigerian Senate from November 1963 to October 1965. 

Nwafor Orizu, whose tenure lasted a mere three months, found himself at the center of a military coup that led to the suspension of the legislature and a temporary transfer of power to the military, ultimately marking the end of the republic for that period. 

The public, however, remains largely unaware of these historical intricacies.

Dr. Nwafor Orizu, having taken the oath of office, is legally designated as the President and Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, even in his acting capacity. 

This status places him in a higher position than Ernest Shonekan, who led the Interim government for three months but lacks the legal standing accorded to a former Head of State of Nigeria.

The issue at hand should be a matter of concern for students of the public system, Nigerian jurisprudence, legal history, and political history alike. 

Both Orizu and Shonekan fulfilled the responsibilities of their offices and smoothly transitioned power to subsequent governments, a testament to their shared role in shaping the nation’s history.

Despite his challenging circumstances during a coup, Nwafor Orizu, while serving as acting president, received a legal transfer of presidential duties, authority, and rights from Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. 

This brief but crucial period of leadership should be officially acknowledged in historical records, granting him the constitutional honor he deserves.

Nwafor Orizu’s contributions extend beyond mere monument namesakes, exemplified by the renaming of the College of Education, Anambra, to Nwafor Orizu College of Education in Nsugbe. 

However, recognizing him as an ex-former Head of State demands more than renaming institutions; it necessitates conspicuous honor and acknowledgment within the annals of Nigeria’s history.