Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe

Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe (1915–1990) – Nationalist, First Republic Minister

Dr Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe (K.O. Mbadiwe) was one of the most colourful politicians of the First Republic. He was known as a Man of Timber and Calibre. He was born in 1915.Dr. Mbadiwe hailed from Arondizuogu in Orlu district of Imo State.

He had his primary education at St Mary’s Catholic School, Port Harcourt and Government School in Aba. He then attended Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu, Igbobi College, Lagos and the Baptist Academy, Lagos. He met Teslim Elias, Horatio Thomas and Justice F.O. Coker at Igbobi College. In 1937, after secondary school, he established Mbadiwe Produce Association, a trading venture.

He later studied at Columbia and the New York University for collegiate education where he helped to form an African student’s association, a platform he gained the attention of then American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who received him and his organization in the White House.

After returning from the U.S., he started his own business and established a research institute on African Arts. He soon entered the Nigerian political scene and joined the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons. In 1951, he was elected into the Eastern Region House of Assembly. He was re-elected in 1954, and made Minister for Lands and National Resources. In 1957, he was made the Minister for Commerce.

However, his political success was to undergo a great challenge when in mid -1958 he and Kola Balogun attempted to remove Nnamdi Azikiwe as the leader of N.C.N.C. Mbadiwe set up his own newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, as an organ of protest. He later re-joined the party and was appointed Minister for Trade and Communications; and also served as a special adviser to the Prime Minister, advising on African affairs.

He built and inhabited the landmark, The Palace of The People, at Ndianiche Uno commissioned by Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in 1965. The Prime Minister was said to have been surprised at the expansiveness and opulence of the edifice that he asked from which source it was funded; to which Mbadiwe reportedly replied “from sources known and unknown”.

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