A forum of journalists of Southeast Nigeria origin, IZUNWANNE, has called for the declaration of Nov. 16 as a public holiday in honour of the first indigenous President of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.The late Azikiwe held a top ranking traditional Chieftaincy position in Onitsha Kingdom as Owelle of Onitsha.
In a letter they sent to the Southeast Governors’ Forum, signed by its Chairman, Sir Abuchi Anuenyiagu, and Secretary, Mr Ugwuoke Ugwuoke, IZUNWANNE laid a historical background to its call to honour the legendary late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.According to the body, Nigeria attained Republican status on Nov. 16, 1963, which coincided with the birthday of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
They averred, “it’s is a known fact that Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, as President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was instrumental to the inauguration of Nov. 16 as Nigeria’s Republic Day.The concept was to make that day a National Day. “it is regrettable that 57 years after, the significant historical omission has yet to be addressed’’.
In outlining more reasons whyZik should be so honoured, IZUNWANNE noted that Zik was the symbol of Nigeria’s Nationhood, considering his leading role in the pre-independence struggle for self-rule by Nigeria.His initiative to end the civil war, and his great ideas and liberal ideals that never discriminated against any Nigerian tribe.
It is on the basis of all these that IZUNWANNE urges the Southeast Governors to support and spearhead the initiative for the dedication, recognition and declaration of Nov. 16 (being the birthday anniversary of Zik) as a National Day, to be marked as a public holiday in honour of Zik.Since charity begins at home, the group urged the governments of the five states in the Southeast geo-political zone to emulate their southwest counterparts, like in the case of June 12, and take the lead to declare Nov. 16 a work free day in honour of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.Given the fact that he was a South Easterner, who once led the defunct Eastern Region and recorded great achievements for the region in his time, before advancing the campaign to the National level.’’