Zik Memoriam Neglect: What Role for Anambra Govt?

“Mr. Ubabukoh was reacting to the news which appeared in some papers and is currently circulating on the INTERNET where some Nigerians led and supported by one Dr. Mobolaji Aluko, Ojo Valentine, Okenwa Nwosu, Azuoma Anugwom among others are said to be soliciting money from the public and donating money to restore what they called the decapitated Zik’s statue in front of his House in Onitsha.” – Breaking News Report (OIC)

I happily welcome the entry of the Anambra State Government into ongoing discourse regarding the neglect and abandonment of Zik memorials in Onitsha and elsewhere in the state. Last weekend, a major Nigerian news daily newspaper, The Sun, carried an editorial opinion which called to question the reluctance of the powers that be to assure timely completion and proper care for the Zik mausoleum which was started 14 years ago. The editorial made a powerful call on the government to assure immediate completion of the abandoned Zik mausoleum which was initiated as a national memoriam for Nigeria’s first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. Now that the government, albeit only the executive arm of the state in which the mausoleum is situated, has opted to step  forward into this discourse, the reading public should assume that the clout of officialdom has eventually been brought into the ensuing dialogue. This is another clear indication that the Zik Project’s mission is being accomplished beyond everyone’s expectation. We urge the rest of civil society to now become involved in order to learn what has happened and what the future portends for this matter from the horse’s mouth.

What I understand the governor’s aide say is that there is no longer any need for any concern, from all quarters, regarding the status of memorials sited in Anambra to honor Nigeria’s first Head of State because the decapitated statue of the Great Zik in the Oniran Retreat, Onitsha, was restored and re-commissioned in January 2007. The governor’s aide was reported to have interpreted ongoing mobilization of manpower and material resources for immediate completion and proper maintenance of Zik memorials in Onitsha as an advance-fee fraud scheme, otherwise called 419, “led and supported by one Dr. Mobolaji Aluko, Ojo Valentine, Okenwa Nwosu, Azuoma Anugwom among others”. According to the governor’s aide, Mr. Ubabuko, plans could be underway already to prosecute “those people for what is clearly a well orchestrated 419 and criminal false information”. This is some serious stuff, at least, as seen through the lenses of the voice of Obi administration at Awka. Do these preceding reckless pronouncements truly represent the viewpoint of all the three arms of Anambra government, including the legislature and the judiciary? If they do, what of the Anambra electorate whose sensibilities are obviously being trampled upon by persistence of irresponsibility in implementation of projects earmarked for honoring Nigeria’s foremost national hero? We the people are also part and parcel of Anambra government on behalf of whom Mr. Ubabuko is purportedly speaking on this matter?

There are questions that we the people of Anambra state, in particular and rest of Nigeria, in general, would like ask the government whose duty it is to assure that public sensibilities and heightened sense of national decorum are respected, at all times, by those in positions of leadership of our democracy. The Daily Champion correspondent, Adaeze Ojukwu, reported on the newspaper’s December 29, 2006 edition that “the life-size sculpture, which conspicuously stands at the Zik’s round about, Limca road, Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Onitsha was destroyed in April 2003 by hoodlums during a mayhem in the commercial city”. The incumbent administration, on behalf of whom Mr. Ubabuko primarily speaks, came into power in March 2006. When did the Obi administration know about the decapitated head of Zik’s statue and what did it do toward remedying the situation before it was restored by a private citizen who is also an Onitsha indigene almost a year later? What oversight role was exercised by the appropriate arm of government to assure that the restoration endeavor of the defaced and desecrated statue of Nigeria’s first President was properly done by trained and competent hands in order to, at least, approximate its original proportions? What plans does the government have in place to assure that there shall be adequate maintenance of Zik memorials as well as those of other historical figures as should be the norm in a well governed society?

We should also presume that the Obi administration is aware of the abandoned status of the Zik Mausoleum in Onitsha. Does the government or its spokesperson have any rational explanation to proffer why this relatively simple and straightforward project has taken more than fourteen years to implement? What is the joint position of the three arms of government of Anambra state on this vexatious matter? Or does the statement credited to Governor Obi’s aide, M. Ubabuko, also reflect the stance of both the legislative and judiciary arms of Anambra state government? What are needed now must be straightforward answers without any obfuscation. We the people have the right to be thoroughly informed about issues of great civic concern and according proper respect to a Nigerian founding father, in the stature of Zik, meets such muster. Impugning the motives of private citizens engaged in a grassroots effort to fill a vacuum in leadership or threatening them publicly with criminal prosecution cannot be adequate substitutes for a compelling need to tell the citizenry the truth about these dishonorable and negligent acts currently being meted out to the image of a nationally respected figure like the Great Zik.

It is hard to believe that Mr. Ubabuko that I know would go to the extent of labeling me a 419er out of the blue without any rationale for backing up such a wild allegation. I strongly support the Zik Project which is a spontaneous popular movement engendered to garner and channelize public outpouring of concern over the existing neglect and abandonment of the memorials meant to honor our fallen great Nigerian leader. The Zik Project has nationwide support from all Nigerians of diverse ethnocultural and sociopolitical backgrounds. Support has also come from even fellow Africans and many other Zik admirers worldwide. This is the first time, since Independence, that such a broad-spectrum coalition of Nigerians has been generated in pursuit of a unifying national cause. This coalition is a very positive development in the annals of our country’s evolutionary history which no one closely associated with the people’s government should ever deride or castigate without cause.

The Zik Project is a grassroots movement driven by a quest to ensure that creation and connivance of public eyesore in our shared living space shall be responded to by conscientious citizens in a proactive fashion, from now onward, rather than through lazy and idle punditry as we often behold in these Internet forums and other mass media frequently utilized by contemporary Nigerians. In the near future, intense manpower and material resources mobilization effort shall commence in earnest in order to empower the voice of we the people on matters that are vital to national relevance through responsible acts of good citizenship and patriotism. For the overwhelming majority, the Zik dream for Nigeria is perceived as a very inspiring one by a broad spectrum of Nigerians despite the fact that the founding President has since transitioned into the ancestral realm.

Those who wish to position themselves to become the impediments in harnessing the groundswell support for the Zik Project and its mission should, therefore, gird their loins and be well prepared to swim against a strong tide of impassioned public sentiment which is determined to bring about a much desired change in the unacceptable status quo.

Okenwa R. Nwosu, M.D.”