GOODWILL MESSAGE DELIVERED BY THE CONSUL GENERAL OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
On behalf of the Consulate General of Nigeria, Atlanta, Georgia, I would like to thank the leadership of the Anambra State Association, Dallas-Fort Worth, for inviting me as an observer to a symposium on the legacies of the late Pan-Africanist and First President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H. E. (Dr.) Nnamdi Azikiwe, GCFR, the Owelle of Onitsha.
Indeed, I commend the Association for giving honor to whom it is rightly due. I have taken a cursory look at the profile of the resource persons assembled for this symposium, and I am confident that they will x-ray and underpin the landmark achievements of one of Africa’s greatest icons of the 20th century. Even so, I feel duty-bound to underline a few salient points.
There is no gainsaying the fact that H. E. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, GCFR, was a towering personality and a statesman in every respect. It has to be said from the outset, that without the foundation, sweat and patriotic zeal of the late sage and other compatriots such as Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nigeria’s independence, freedom, and democracy might not have been achieved.
Through his unflagging efforts and determination, he contributed immensely in securing independence for Nigeria from the British Empire. He was not only a patriotic Nigerian; he exemplified it by building golden bridges of understanding across the East, West and North. He not only lived and had true friends among the three major ethnic groups, he also spoke their languages fluently (Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba); he believed that for a genuine nation-building to take root in Nigeria, there should be no boundaries.
Although the sage passed on in 1996, his legacies and larger than life image lives on. It is a truism without belabouring the obvious to say that H.E. (Dr.) Azikiwe was a patriot with impeccable credentials. He was thoroughly educated with a chain of degrees and awards from the United States; he was awarded the highest honor of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR); the Queen of England awarded him the title of the Privy Council; he was enthroned as the Owelle of Onitsha; had countless traditional titles; fourteen honorary degrees; member of several national and international associations.
He was a national symbol par excellence and immortalized in many other ways: appearance on national currency; naming of the international airport Abuja after him; naming of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Akwa, after him; other streets and avenues throughout Nigeria, and even beyond. He was also called ‘Zik of Africa’ because he made immeasurable contributions for Africa’s development and freedom from serfdom with other illustrious sons of Africa such as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Dr. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Dr. Senghor of Senegal, Dr. Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and others. It is only fitting that this occasion coincides with the celebration of the Black History month.
Amidst his academic preoccupation, he excelled in sports at competitive levels – weight lifting, jumping, swimming, soccer, tennis, cricket and writing. He published books, poetry and articles, notable among which are: ‘Liberia in World Politics’; Renascent Africa; Political Blueprint for Nigeria; Zik – A Selection of Speeches and My Odyssey.
What is more, Dr. Azikiwe believed in dialogue, cooperation and understanding in resolving Nigeria’s problems and noteworthy was his stance in helping stop the civil crisis in Nigeria.
The message which I implore our compatriots in the Diaspora to pay attention to, is the fact that he returned home in the 1930s to contribute his quota to nation –building. I expect Nigerians in the Diaspora as veritable stakeholders to emulate his example by either returning home or making meaningful contributions to the development of Nigeria; just like the Jews, Indians, and Chinese have done.
On this note, I thank you for having the foresight to honour an inestimable jewel in the making of our dear nation, and I do hope you will extend this to other patriots.
While I urge you to donate to a good cause, I wish you fruitful deliberations.
Hon. Chudi Okafor
Tags: Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Consulate General of Nigeria, Dr. Jomo Kenyatta, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Federal Republic of Nigeria, GCFR, Ghana, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Tanzania