Ahead of expectations that the Nigerian Government will soon lift the embargo on air and inter-state transportations in the country, in addition to taking further positive steps to open up the economy to business and social activities within the COVID-19 era, the Organising Committee for the Centenary Celebration and Leadership Award in honour of Rt. Hon. Michael I. Okpara, late Premier of former Eastern Region of Nigeria, has released activities to immortalise the epitome of good governance, climaxing with his 100th posthumous birthday ceremony in December, 2020.
Details of the activities for the centenary and award programme were contained in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, and jointly signed on behalf of the Organising Committee for the programme by Chief Uzodinma Okpara (Omekannaya), son of the late Premier, and Tobs Agbaegbu, renowned journalist and Publisher/CEO of Verbatim media group.
The Committee stated that the programme line-ups will begin with a World Press Conference and leadership awards in July/August, followed by other activities ahead of a grand finale in December 2020.
The committee said: “All the activities are meant to further immortalize Okpara, the patriot, statesman of repute and uncommon administrator under whose tenure as Premier; the eastern regional government became one of the fastest growing economies of the world between November, 1959 and January, 1966.”
The committee added, in the press release, that the idea of award to personalities is to acknowledge achievement and commend the vision of Okpara’s core areas of excellence and ideals for adoption and emulation.
“There are no tears again but memories of the good legacies in family life and good governance that the Okpara era represented,” the statement said.
In furtherance of the Centenary and award programme, the committee stated that two great Igbo leaders, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and former Governor of Imo State, Dee Sam Mbakwe, were nominated to receive posthumous Heroes Award, while Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, Engr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and Dr. Peter Odili were nominated for Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other nominees for awards include former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for Gold Medal Award, while 10 Governors from various parts of the country; Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State; Timipre Silva, Minister of State, Petroleum; and his counterpart in the Science and Technology Ministry, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; and President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, were nominated for Exemplary Leadership award.
The Centenary and awards committee stated also that former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, as well as former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba, and High Chief Obiora Okonkwo, Chairman of the Dome Entertainment Centre in Abuja, were also nominated for various leadership awards.
Okpara, 1920-1984, was a Medical Doctor and former member of Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly on the ticket of the NCNC.
He replaced Rt. Hon. Nnamdi Azikiwe as Premier of the region and served in that capacity from January 1960 to January 1966.
A native of Umuegwu-Okpuola, Afugiri, Umuahia North Local Government Area in present day Abia State, Okpara died in December 1984.