By Sunny A. David, Onitsha
Anambra State is billed to declare November 16 of every year a work-free day to commemorate the birthday of Nigeria’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who led the country to independence on October 1, 1960.
Governor Obiano announced this in his response to the completion of the Zik Mausoleum which was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in Onitsha.
Governor Obiano said an appropriate bill will soon be forwarded to the state House of Assembly for the legislature to pass it into law.
The Governor also asked the federal government to declare the birthday a national holiday as the United States has done to its heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., who successfully led the movement for the full restoration of human dignity to African-Americans and other minorities in America by fighting racism in the 1960s.
Describing the late Azikiwe as the greatest Nigerian who has lived in the last few centuries, who inspired the likes of former Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah whom he supported to go to the United States to study in order to have a better understanding of the black and African condition, Gov Obiano recalled that African nations like Ghana and Tanzania have honoured their pan Africanist leaders like Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere.
The Governor said that Zik also inspired such Nigerian nationalists as Chief Obafemi Awolowo with his intelligence, eloquence and public oratorical skills as well as stupendous literary gift.
He described the late Azikiwe as the most detribalized Nigerian politician who spoke all three main Nigerian languages, gave his children names of other ethnic groups and named key institutions for
leaders of different ethnic groups, including his opponents.
According to the governor, when he established the University of Nigeria at Nsukka in 1960, Zik named its halls and residences after Sir Ahmadu Bello who was then the Premier of the Northern Nigerian Region, Chief Samuel Akintola who was the Western Premier and Chief Awolowo who was Leader of the opposition in parliament.
He recalled how Zik’s bold and imaginative development strides resulted in the country’s rapid development saying that Zik’s establishment of the African Continental Bank, Nigeria’s first indigenous bank, led to the Western government’s establishment of the National Bank and the Northern Region’s Bank of the North.
Commenting on Zik’s strides in journalism, literature, sports, entrepreneurship and national integration, Governor Obiano observed that the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) founded by Azikiwe and Herbert Macaulay was the country’s first mass movement.