Legendary Nnamdi Azikiwe, now abandoned and forgotten 21 years after is our brother, a great brother indeed – one of the Patriarchs of modern Africa, not even Nigeria or Igboland.
Even, the wife of the late Sage and nationalist, Professor Uche Azikiwe, cried out reminding the world that it is now 21 years after Federal Government promised to immortalize the remains of her late husband but have done nothing 21 years after.
She asked the Federal Government to swing into action and complete the mausoleum in honour of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, her late husband as the failure of the Federal Government to complete the project, is embarrassing, reminding that it is the only way to preserve her late husband’s legacies.
She lamented that every year, money is budgeted for the project, yet no meaningful progress has been made on the project and thanked all who took it upon themselves to ensure that the Zik’s Lecture Series is being held yearly.
Thursday, the 16th day of November, 2017 marked the 103 years the great Zik and first President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was born at Zungeru, Niger State. Last 16th November was his 21st years memorial anniversary and as usual the Faculty of Social Sciences Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, a university named after Zik celebrated him with a lecture tagged the Zik annual lecture series.
Zik is yet to rest in peace and has been abandoned, forgotten as a great Igbo Leader by almost all including his people.
The lecture since its inception seven years ago has attracted eminent personalities as guest speakers including the Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, a former Ghanaian president, Ft. Lt. Jerry Rawlings, former commonwealth secretary, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former ASUU leader, Asisi Asobie; Comrade Adams Oshiomole; the CEO of Success Africa Kampala Uganda, Ethan Musolini; chairman Emerald energy and one-time special adviser to President Jonathan on petroleum matters, Dr. Emma Egbogah among others. Just last month Governor Nyesom Wike and others were at the Great Unizik for the same lecture series.
Former special adviser to former president Jonathan on political matters, Sen. Ben Ndi Obi is the promoter. The lecture series started when Prof Au Nonyelu was the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, but today Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna is the Dean. There were other Deans before her.
Dr. Egbogah had described Dr. Azikiwe as a hero who fought for the salvation, restoration and dignity of man in Africa and called on stakeholders and leaders in different strata of government to work in line with the motto of Zik’s West African pilot newspaper, which says, “Show the light and the people will find the way”.
The Zik Lecture Series, an annual event, was geared to immortalize the first president of Nigeria, Chief Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku, praising the ideals of the late Zik, which inspired nationalism in Africa, said, ‘The great Zik was an astute fighter who fought colonialism with the pen. Zik gave meaning to the saying- Pen is mightier than sword’.
Despite all this, Zik’s mausoleum which was conceived to give the late first Nigerian President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, a befitting resting place as man who worked hard for Nigeria, as well as promoted its unity as an indivisible entity has been abandoned 21 years now and Great Zik of Africa has never been able to “rest in peace.”
Zik’s first son, Chukwuma Bamidele, died without seeing his father’s Mausoleum and it is indeed annoying that after 21 years of commencement of the construction of the Zik Mausoleum, the only thing Nigeria agreed to immortalize Zik with, the late Owelle’s Inosi Onira residence in Onitsha, Anambra State, still has the mausoleum standing as an uncompleted edifice.
The project was initiated in 1998 by the military administration of Sani Abacha and for the fourth time, the Federal Government awarded the contract for the construction of the mausoleum for N350 million.
The project was re-awarded January 14, 2013 at N1.49 billion, “and is expected to be completed within 13 months,” according to Project Coordinator of the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Pat Odogwu.
As if the project was under a curse, about N125 million fraud was uncovered in the award of contracts for the Mausoleum.
According to Chukwuma, former Minister of Works, Dr. Nduesse Essien, discovered that some ministry staff awarded the reconstruction of the compound to the tune of N100 million without the knowledge of the minister.
Chukwuma before his death said President Muhammadu Buhari assured his father’s final resting place would be completed. A committee led by Senator Chris Ngige and some Igbo leaders were asked to assess the Zik’s mausoleum and speed up the reconstruction of the historic site but nothing is yet to be done.
Then, Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, has expressed concern over stalled works on Zik’s Mausoleum, saying it has become a national embarrassment that the Nigerian government had not honoured late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and the mausoleum project that the Federal Government started over 21 years ago had not been completed.
But our President, Muhammadu Buhari, signed the official Anitkabir memorial Book of Honour at the Misaki-i Milli Kulesi (National Pact Tower), within the precincts of the mausoleum, and toured the museum.
Hear Buhari: ‘‘It is an honour and privilege to visit Anitkabir, the mausoleum of a great patriotic, visionary and courageous leader who shaped modern Turkey, during my official working visit to Ankara and the ninth D-8 summit in Istanbul.
Buhari was happy for that but the Greatest Zik of Africa’s Mausoleum has been abandoned even when Zik’s son was his bosom friend.
I appeal to Governor Willie Obiano to push for the completion and commissioning of the Mausoleum in memory of Zik as former Governor Peter Obi made the memories of late Ikemba Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu memorable with a befitting burial. Obiano is a close friend of Buhari and could get that done. I am grateful he is now planning to immortalize Dr Alex Ekwueme but why would Zik be left to be unsung. Is it not a shame?
Indeed, abandoning of the Mausoleum is a national shame and disgrace, especially when Billions have been budgeted for the project year in, year out. Shame unto you! I ask again, when shall Zik rest in peace?
This piece is excerpts from Cornucopia by ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU, a journalist, Editor , and Online Publisher and Blogs @ www.odogwublog.com . He could be reached on 08060750240 . E mail firstname.lastname@example.org