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Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam (Profile)

The late Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam

The late Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam

Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam (Akanu Ibiam) was born November 29, 1906 in Unwana, Afikpo, Ebonyi State. He rose steadily in his professional and personal life to become the first Governor of the Eastern Region in Nigeria.

Akanu Ibiam was the second son of Chief Ibiam Aka, a traditional ruler of Unwana. He himself later became traditional ruler with the title of Ezeogo Isiala 1 of Unwana.

On the way to his crowning achievement as Governor of the Easter Region, Akanu Ibiam racked up an impressive list of professional, public service and personal accomplishments, including:

Educational Background:

  • Attended Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar, and King’s College, Lagos.
  • Attended University of St. Andrews (oldest university in Scotland, United Kingdom).
  • Graduated with a medical degree in 1934.
Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam (right) with Nigeria's first Premier, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (left)

Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam (right) with Nigeria’s first Premier, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (left)

Public Interest Service:

  • Accepted as a medical missionary of the Church of Scotland.
  • Superintended the establishment of Abiriba Hospital (1936 – 1945).
  • Served as a superintendent of mission hospitals at Itu and Uburu – both in Nigeria.
  • Was elected and ordained as an elder of the Presbyterian Church.
  • Was knighted in 1951 for his work as a medical missionary of the Church of Scotland.
  • Served as president of the Christian Council of Nigeria (1955–1958).
  • Appointed principal of Hope Waddell Institution, Calabar in 1957.
  • Elected president of the University College of Ibadan in 1959.
HRH, Princess Alu Akanu Ibiam, daughter of the late Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam

HRH, Princess Alu Akanu Ibiam, daughter of the late Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam

Government Service:

  • Before Nigeria’s independence: Served in the local government, Eastern Regional House of Assembly and in the Legislative and Executive Councils.
  • After Nigeria’s independence: Was appointed Governor of Eastern Region.
  • He held this position until he was removed in a military coup in January 15, 1966.

In recognition of his towering achievements in public service, the Federal Government of Nigeria named a Federal Polytechnic (Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana) and a major Nigerian airport (Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu) after Akanu Ibiam.

On account of his exemplary public service record at the local, national and international levels and his pioneering role as the first Governor of the Eastern Region, Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam merits the distinction of a Pace Setter.


  1. Mairi van der Lugt /

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    How may I contact Princess Alu Ibiam. I met her around the summer of 1953 or 1954 at the Sea Side Mission in North Berwick, Scotland, U.K., just shortly after she arrived in Scotland. I think she was staying in Carnoustie with friends of her family. We corresponded for a year or so and, like most teenagers who are busy with school, we lost touch!

    I have never forgotten Alu. She showed the children at the Sea Side Mission her toothbrush from home (a twig with a bristles at the end) and an “Afro” comb. We were both around the same age (10 or 11) and she was just lovely.

    I just happened to be googling something on the internet. This article referred to something concerning Nigeria and, somewhere in the article, the name Francis Ibiam came up. I then came across “Alu Ibiam”. I was so excited, I ran to my husband very excitedly and told him about the article, of course, he didn’t know what I was talking about at first. He said, why don’t you try and contact her to say hello. Also in her details, it said that she had spent time in Scotland and also Canada! I live in Ontario, Canada!

    If it is possible, please either pass on my message to Alu, or perhaps send me a contact address.

    Thank you very much.

    Mairi van der Lugt

    • Hello Mairi,

      We have forwarded your request for contact information to Princess Alu Ibiam, along with the email you provided. Let us know if we can be of further assistance. Greetings to you and your husband in Canada. Team

  2. Rev.Dr. John Nyren Buchanan /

    Having introduced Sir Francis to the University of B.C. c.1957, I wonder how he escaped the Civil War which engulfed the State of Biafra of which he was Governor .

    • Rev. Dr. Buchanan,

      It seems you and Dr. Akanu Ibiam go back a long way. We are delighted to learn that you introduced Dr. Ibiam to the University of B.C. We wish you many more productive and happy years! Team

  3. Akhaze Martins /

    Dr Akanu Ibiam is man that need to be celebrated in Nigeria.

  4. ogben kwayork celestine /

    a great man of his time, i am a student in the akanu ibiam fed poly i urg that this man should be celebrated every year

  5. Anne Shepherd /

    In the late 1940’s or early 50’s ALU Ibiam stayed in Carnoustie (a small town in the coastal county/region of Angus, Scotland) with the Rev Douglas Lister. She stayed for a few days with me Anne Baird at North Lodge Carnoustie. I took her to my primary school. How do I contact Alu?

    Anne Shepherd nee Baird. A

    • Hello Mrs. Shepherd,

      We will try to pass along your message and email address to Alu Ibiam and hope that this enables both of you to reconnect. Thanks for writing from Scotland. Team


    24th. February, 2016.

    Re. Princess Alu Ibiam,

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I have for many years wished to be able to contact Princess Alu Ibiam but time has elapsed and I have not made sufficient effort. I have been aware of some of her activities from information on the internet but realise that she has led an interesting life, full of accomplishments and mine seems insignificant by comparison. Thus I have not had sufficient courage to attempt to communicate with her.

    We were friends, as students, at St Andrews University, in Scotland, in 1961-62. Alu then transferred to McGill University, in Montreal, and we sadly lost touch. Some time later I did meet her sister, so I did know that
    she was in Canada. As the years have gone by, I have always felt sorry about losing that university friendship. This evening, while browsing and looking to see if there was any recent information about her, on line, I found your site and decided to write this letter.

    It would be wonderful to get in touch with her and tell her, all those years later, that she was really missed in St Andrews!

    Yours faithfully,
    Margaret Honey.

    21 Corsie Avenue,
    Perth, PH2 7BS.
    Scotland, UK.

  7. Dian Montgomerie Elvin /

    Francis Akanu Ibiam was a good friend of my father, William Montgomerie. I can remember him when he visited us several times in Broughty Ferry, Near Dundee, when my late brother and I were children, around 1946 and several years later (I am not sure of the dates). I have his biography “Born to Serve” written by D C Nwafo and given to my late father. Tucked inside the book are typewritten notes made by my father, but never sent to Mr Nwafo. I was wondering if there are children in the Ibiam family who would like to have a copy of Scottish Nursery Rhymes collected by my parents and recently re-published by Birlinn. Princess Alu Ibiam might like to email me with an address to send it to. My best wishes to the Ibiam family. I remember Akanu well.

  8. Ezeogo Akanu Ibiam is the only Igbo man i will always celebrate

  9. Dr. Akanu Ibiam Inaugural lecture Inc is non Governmental Organisation but it is a scholarly and Human Development organisation. The event is coming up on Nov. 28th – 30th every year as a part of his memorial service at Akanu Ibiam Federal polytechnic, Unwana – Afikpo. For information contact: Prof. Mike U. Awoke. DVC Academics, Ebonyi state University. Abakaliki. 08035844854. Prof. Steve Azaika. The Chancellor, Institute of Science and Technology , yenagoa. Bayelsa state. Dr. Obinna Iwueke, Head of Department, Business Administration and Management. Federal Polytechnic, Nekede. Owerri. Or 07063559541

  10. Christopher /

    Please do you guys happen to know the meaning of Ibiam? I will be so grateful if you do.

  11. Christopher /

    Please do you happen to know the meaning of Ibiam? I will be so grateful if you do.

  12. Dick, Oko Maduabuchi /

    Please, What is the Afikpo/Edda or Igbo meaning to this name ‘Ibiam’.

  13. Stanley zant /

    The Dr who delivered the public lecture at Dr Akanu Ibiam funeral…. The man is good too, how can I contact him

  14. Stanley zant /

    I think his name is Dr Israel soon or so

  15. Alan R Van Leeuwen /

    I am an old friend of Aka Ibiam from the 1960’s
    In Falkirk Scotland going on holidays and shared a
    flat in Falkirk. My home was Camelon
    We lost touch with each other when he returned to his homeland early 1970. Hopefully that this link can get to him

    • Admin /

      Mr. Van Leeuwen,

      It’s very nice for you to reach out to an old friend. Unfortunately, Dr. Akanu Ibiam passed away in July 1995. You will be delighted to know that Dr. Ibiam left a legacy of exemplary leadership and public service that is very much appreciated and celebrated in his homeland till date. admin

  16. Ifeanyi Ikegwuani /

    Are there any list of properties he owns while he was alive

  17. Prince Chiedozie Elemike /

    Dr Akanu Ibiam was a man of goodwill,a man of great courage and strong conviction as demostrated in his selfless work to humanity .He hated injustice and oppression.Dr Akanu Ibiam was a great man.

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