The Anambra State House of Assembly on Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare November 16, which was the birthday of the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, a national holiday.
The call followed a motion sponsored by Obinna Emeneka and 11 other lawmakers, seconded by Dr G-Nnamdi Okafor, the Majority Leader of the House, under matter of urgent public importance.
Emeneka (Anambra East) said that the late Azikiwe, as the first President contributed to the unity, independence and progress of the country and deserved to be recognised.
He said: “On January 24, President Buhari visited Onitsha and inaugurated the Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Mausoleum which was completed by Mr President. He described that Mausoleum as a symbol of `National Unity’.
“Late Azikiwe, who was born on November 16, 1904 and died May 11, 1996, laboured to make Nigeria’s independence a reality and our National Anthem says ‘ The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain’.
“The legacy of Zik of Africa need to be sustained to promote patriotism, peace and unity of Nigeria, as well as the spirit of genuine service to humanity.
“We need to extend this motion to the National Assembly for them to extend it to President Buhari and begin to think on how to come up with a Bill for a Law to declare Azikiwe’s birthday a national holiday.”
Contributing, Doughlas Egbunna, described the late Azikiwe as an architect of democratic values and principles in the country.
According to Egbunna, declaring November 16 a national holiday will be a way to appreciate Azikiwe’s sacrifices.
Also, Chuka Ezewunne (Idemili South), said that Nigeria’s political history had the footprints of Azikiwe and he should be well recognised.
He said: “Azikiwe’s counterparts — Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and others are being celebrated in their countries. Why can’t we do same for Azikwe?
On his part, Carter Umeh (Aguata l) said that the motion be sent to Governor Willie Obiano to declare November 16 a public holiday in the state in honour of Azikiwe.
According to him, charity begins at home.
He said: “When we start with our state, other states in the South-East will take a cue from us.
“We can then send the motion to our representatives at the National Assembly to further sponsor the Bill and lobby other members so that it can be passed into law. ”
The Speaker of the House, Uche Okafor, said that Azikiwe’s ideas and philosophy had kept the nation united till date.
He said: “This declaration is something that should have been done a long time ago but we will keep asking until it is done.
“We are going to support this motion and from this hallowed chambers, we will pass it to our senior colleagues at the National Assembly and then take it to the Governor.
“We therefore, resolve that Anambra State House of Assembly urge President Buhari to declare November 16, a national holiday in honour of our late President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe,”