THE Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano has praised President Muhammadu Buhari for honoring the late Chief Moshood Abiola by renaming the National Stadium, Abuja after him but wants November 16 as public holiday for the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
In statement Friday in Awka, Anambra State, by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C Don Adinuba, the governor sought for the same recognition to be accorded the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
According to the statement, “Ghanaians observe the birthday of their first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, 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.”
Adinuba noted how President Buhari changed Nigeria’s Democracy Day from May 29, in commemoration of the military handover to elected civilians to June 12, in remembrance of the historic election between the late Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
In the process, Buhari bestowed on Abiola the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, (GCFR) Nigeria’s highest national honour given to only heads of state.
He noted that the renaming of the National Stadium “must have been the president’s personal idea and initiative.”
Abiola, he stated was an unrivaled sports philanthropist in the African region, which earned him the honour of Pillar of Sports in Africa from the Association of African Sports Confederations.
He was also a boxer, who was “guided and assisted by an indigene of Nnewi, Anambra, Dr George Akabogu, who was to become a famous school principal and later an academic.”
He added, “Abiola never left anyone in doubt that he was greatly inspired by the nationalism, patriotism and sportsman-like spirit of Nigeria’s first president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, GCFR, PC. He remained an avowed Zikist up to his death.
“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.”
Obiano stated: “The people and government of Anambra once again call upon President Buhari to end this national blight by declaring November 16 a national holiday in commemoration of Dr Azikiwe’s birthday.”