Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, has enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to give a national honour to the first President of Nigeria, the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, by declaring his birthday, November 16, a national public holiday.
Obiano, in the same vein, hailed Buhari for naming the National Stadium, Abuja, after the late Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
In a statement by his Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, Obiano said nothing done for Azikiwe would be seen to be too much, putting into consideration his sacrifices for the country.
The governor said it had become imperative to remind Buhari of the request he made to him on behalf of the government and people of Anambra State when he (Buhari) visited Onitsha to commission the Zik Mausoleum, that he should declare Azikiwe’s birthday a national holiday.
The statement read in part, “Ghanaians observe the birthday of their first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, himself a Zik protégé; Tanzanians observe a national holiday in memory of their first President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, as Angolans do in memory of Dr Agustiono Neto, their first President.
“The Great Zik of Africa was not just Nigeria’s first President or the man who led Nigeria to independence in 1960; he was Nigeria’s first indigenous Governor General and the first Senate President.
“He was the first Nigerian to build a bank, thus inspiring his colleagues as regional premiers in the 1950s to establish their own banks. He was also the first Nigerian to set up a university, and consequently challenged his peers to follow in his footsteps.
“A Nigerian nationalist of incomparable status and a man of letters through and through, the Great Zik of Africa had established as early as the 1950s newspapers in Ibadan, Zaria, Kano, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and, of course, Lagos, to fight for Nigeria’s liberation from oppressive colonial rule.
“Zik inspired a generation of Africans, including the late President Nkrumah of Ghana, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nwafor Orizu, who became Nigeria’s second Senate President.
“It has, therefore, become a national scandal that a national holiday has yet to be declared in honour of this great African son.”
It added, “The people and government of Anambra State once again call upon President Buhari to end this national blight by declaring November 16 of every year a national holiday in commemoration of Dr Azikiwe’s birthday.”
The governor commended Buhari for honouring Chief Moshood Abiola, who is believed to have won the 1993 presidential election, with a national holiday and for the naming of the National Stadium in Abuja after him.
He described the gesture as “the icing on the cake in the steps taken so far to immortalise a national figure who won the 1993 presidential election fair and square but was denied victory and, more painfully, incarcerated solitarily”.