Mazi Alvan Ikoku was a Nigerian educator whose face graces Nigeria’s 10 naira note, but only a few people are aware of his existence.
About Alvan Ikoku
Alvan Ikoku was born on August 1, 1900, in the small town of Amanagwu, Arochukwu – Abia State, to a wealthy merchant family. His birth came three months after his father’s death. As a result, he was named “Azinna” which means “father returns.”
Alvan attended Hope Waddell Training Institution in Cross River State, the home state of his mother.
He met his wife, Goomsu, an Efik woman from Calabar and an exceptional organist, while a student-teacher at Itigidi in Cross River. They had six children together.
Alvan Ikoku Contributions to Education
Alvan Ikoku was an educator who founded Aggrey Memorial College in Abia State, Nigeria’s first indigenous private secondary school, in 1932. James E. K. Aggrey, a Ghanaian teacher and missionary, inspires the college’s name. The college began as a teacher’s training school, but in 1935, it upgraded to a full-fledged secondary school.
He spent 39 years as the principal of Aggrey Memorial College. Carpentry, which Alvan termed the “Education of the Hand,” was introduced as a subject. Students were amazed to discover that they could construct their desks, chairs, and tables.
Ikoku was at the forefront of championing the causes of teachers in 1955 as the national president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT, and he also criticized the educational system for failing to teach indigenous languages at the time.
Ikoku established a hospital and post office for his people in Abia State as a member of the Eastern House of Assembly. He also played a vital role in constructing the two roads that connected Akwa Ibom and Abia states. He also fought for Abia State to receive pipe-borne water. In 1962, the Eastern Nigerian government formed an education committee to review the educational system, and Alvan was appointed as its chairman. In addition, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
Death and Lasting Legacy
Alvan Ikoku, a devout Protestant, died on November 18, 1971. He died at the Aba General Hospital in Abia of a stroke-related illness. He was 71 years old at the time.
Many monuments and locations bear his name. In 1975, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education in Owerri, Imo State, became the first school in Nigeria to establish a full-fledged Igbo language department. His face has been on the 10 naira note since 1979, as mentioned in the title.