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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499


GATHOGO, Julius. Francis Akanu Ibiam (1906-1995): A leader who had a mission beyond ecclesia. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2015, vol.41, n.1, pp.222-238. ISSN 2412-4265.

Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam KCMG, KBE (1906-1995) was a distinguished medical missionary who was appointed Governor of Eastern Region, Nigeria from December 1960 until January 1966 during the Nigerian First Republic. From 1919 to 1951 he was known as Francis Ibiam, and from 1951 to 1967 as Sir Francis Ibiam. This article explores his profile; the profile of a man whose contribution as a medical doctor, a missionary doctor, an educationist, a statesman and a churchman is outstanding, hence inspiring to the new crop of leadership in Africa of the 21st century. Was he too emotional when conducting his political discourses? Did he make the right choices all along? Does his role in the Biafra War of 1967 with the government of Nigeria smack of his main weakness as a public servant? nevertheless, he comes out in this article as one of the early pre-colonial professionals in Africa who had received a quality education during the dark days of African history, who had worked hard to remain relevant in their days; and who are indeed relevant in the 21st century. In Francis Ibiam, the article shows a decisive leader who chose to work for the church rather than the colonial government, thereby making a strong statement that the church can be developed into an alternative forum of progress, a kind of alternative government where the deprived can still find justice, a job and other lifetime comforts. Despite the article being greatly indebted to Agwu Kalu's book, Dr Ibiam: The challenge of his life (1986), it has also derived materials from the internet and other published works. Certainly, it is geared towards celebrating a leader who had a mission beyond ecclesia.

Keywords : Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam; Eastern Region; Nigeria; missionary doctor; Biafra War.

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