Enugu state Governor , Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on Friday inaugurated the old Premier’s office( Official office of the first president of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe), renovated and converted to Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe Centre for Historical Monument of the Great Zik of Africa.
The centre showcases Zik’s leadership qualities, an exhibition of his life, scholarly awards, media releases in form of documentaries and movies, Zik’s interviews as well as his dressing.
Inaugurating the centre, Governor Ugwuanyi said he was pleased that his administration came up with the idea which started five years ago.
He said it was conceived to serve as a historical, educational, cultural and tourist monument in honour of the late Zik.
The Governor described Zik as a scholar, foremost nationalist, and an outstanding and inspirational leader.He emphasised the need for people to appreciate past leaders for their contribution and efforts for the wellbeing of the country.
Speaking, the General Manager, Enugu State Housing Development Corporation (ESHDC), Chukwuemelie Agu, thanked the governor for remodelling the centre earlier earmarked for demolition.
He said that the place serves as official office of the Great Zik of Africa while the other side was his residential home known then as Premier Lodge.
Agu said the centre would preserve the lyrics and history of the Premier of the then Eastern Region, and the corporation had placed a high premium on preserving his relics such as shoes, eye glasses and clothes.
“ESHDC is highly privileged and excited to be part of this memorable and historical project,” Agu said.
In his speech, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Engr. Alfred Achebe, thanked Governor Ugwuanyi for not making the great works of Zik be swept under carpet. He said the centre would help to uphold the legacies of their son, Owelle of Onitsha.
The monarch, who is the chairman of Anambra State traditional council, said that the gesture was not ordinary, particularly in Nigeria where people easily forgot the efforts and suffering of past leaders.
“Children coming behind us will not know about Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Michael Okpara and others unless they visit centres like this to appreciate their efforts, legacies and philosophies.
“With this, they will emulate their leadership principles and sense of humanity, so that in future more like them will emerge,” he said.
Achebe, who lauded Federal Government for reintroducing History in the school curriculum, said: “It is the worst policy decision a nation can make by denying their people the knowledge of their history and place in the world.
“It is common knowledge that the most effective way to conquer a nation is not by the physical arm like Russia, the real conquest is when you deny people the sense of their history, language and culture
“That was what Colonial Masters did to us but Zik and others fought for it but we Nigerians subsequently denied ourselves history.”
In her speech, the wife of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Prof. Uche Azikiwe, onbehalf of the family, said the family would not forget what the governor did for them.
She said: “The centre is going to be a legacy project in Enugu and a centre where anybody visiting Enugu will come to see as well as a tourists attraction for many.”
Earlier, Zik’s son, Uwakwe Azikiwe said that Ugwuanyi conceptualised the ideal of immortalising his father by renovating the old Premier Lodge where Zik resided and worked as Premier of Eastern Region from 1954 to 1960.
Uwakwe, who is the Special Adviser to Governorb Ugwuanyi on Special Duties, said that it was presented to them in 2016 and renovated by ESHDC.
“There are sections for his personal life, independence, first and second republic, and places named after him,” he added.
Speaking also, the former governor of old Anambra state, Jim Nwobodo thanked Governor Ugwuanyi for the gesture. He appealed to the Federal Government to replicate the centre in Abuja. He extols the leadership qualities of Zik.
Others who spoke at the event were Pa Max Ukuta, Hon. Justina Ezeh,, who were also Zik’s associates.