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Zik’s Mausoleum: A National Shame, By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu

By News Express on 31/01/2018

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Legendary Dr 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 Igbo land.

Even, wife of the late sage and foremost nationalist, Prof Uche Azikiwe, cried out reminding the world that it is now 21 years after the Federal Government promised to immortalise the remains of her late husband, but have done nothing 21 years after.

She pleaded with the Federal Government to swing into action and complete the mausoleum in honour of the late great Zik of Africa, failure to complete the project, is embarrassing, insisting that it is a special way to preserve the legacies of the political colossus.

She lamented that every year, money is budgeted for the project, yet no meaningful progress has been made on it, even as she thanked all who took it upon themselves to ensure that the Zik's Lecture Series is being held yearly.

Thursday, November 16, 2017 marked the 103rd birthday of the legend and first ceremonial President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who was born at Zungeru in today’s Niger State. Last November 16 was the 21st year memorial anniversary of his transition. As usual, the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, celebrated him with a lecture tagged the Zik Annual Lecture Series.

Somehow, the late Owelle of Onitsha is yet to rest in peace, as he has been abandoned, forgotten as a great Igbo leader and first premier of the defunct Eastern Region, 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-general, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Asisi Asobie; ex-president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and immediate past governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; the CEO of Success Africa, Kampala, Uganda, Ethan Musolini;  and Chairman of Emerald Energy and onetime Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Petroleum, Dr Emma Egbogah, among others. Last month, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, and others were at the Great Unizik, for the same lecture series.

Former Special Adviser to President Jonathan on Political Matters, Senator Ben Ndi Obi, is the promoter. The lecture series started when Prof AU Nonyelu was the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, but today Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna is the dean. There were other deans before her.

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 immortalise the patriotic ideals and nationalist fervor of Chief Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.

In his tribute, Chief Anyaoku praised the ideals of Zik, which inspired nationalism in Africa. He 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.”

Notwithstanding, Zik’s mausoleum, which was conceived to give the first Nigerian President, Rt Hon Nnamdi Azikiwe, a befitting resting place. This is sad for a man who worked hard for the emancipation of Nigeria from colonial rule, as well as promoted her unity as an indivisible entity.

Zik’s first son, Chukwuma Bamidele Azikiwe, died without seeing his father’s mausoleum and, it is indeed regrettable that after 21 years, 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 late Gen 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 in 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 Azikiwe, 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. 

The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, has expressed concern over stalled works on the mausoleum, saying it has become a national embarrassment that the Nigerian government has not completed the mausoleum project started over 21 years ago.

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. 

Buhari’s words: “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 Great Zik of Africa’s Mausoleum has been abandoned, even when Zik’s son was his bosom friend.

Through this medium, I appeal to Governor Willie Obiano to push for the completion and commissioning of the mausoleum, as former Governor Peter Obi honoured the Ikemba, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu with a befitting burial. Obiano is a close friend of Buhari and could get that done. I am grateful he is now planning to immortalise 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 officials involved in awarding and partial execution of the project since 21 years ago. I ask again, when shall Zik rest in peace?  

•Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, editor and online publisher, blogs @ www.odogwublog.com and could be reached on 08060750240; e-mail: odogwuchampionawka@yahoo.co.uk

Source News Express

Posted 31/01/2018 12:37:11 PM

 

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