By Linus Chukwuma
On Tuesday this week, nothing was worth my time than being at the memorial lecture of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He was a man I have a great admiration and respect for, a Pan-Africanist, respected Nationalist and statesman venerated by his contemporaries. Considering what the Great Zik of Africa were to us in Africa, he deserves even more recognitions and honours to his name.
As a polymath, the Nationalist would not have wished for a better theme, “Security, Governance and Nation Building” as conscientiously chosen by the Organizers of the memorial lecture. Of course, by the time the programme of event of the combined 9th and 10th Zik Lecture Series was exhausted – the event officially ended- I had envisioned how good it would be for me to remain at the venue, ASUU Secretariat, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Like the biblical Peter in Matthew 17:4, I had wished to sought the kind permission of the Vice Chancellor of the varsity, Prof Charles Esimone to make three tents, one for Ekwunife, one for the Governor of Ekiti state, HE John Kayode Fayemi, and one for other speakers whose intellectual fecundity spiced up the occasion.
This year’s lecture, which was embarrassingly my first experience, unveiled the enriching knowledge many of my ilks had missed in the preceding editions since the inception of the great Zik lecture series. However, the good news is, what I gained from the fruitfulness of intellectual giants like Ekwunife, Fayemi and co are, perhaps, in enough supply to compensate for the missed lectures.
If there was one message from a female speaker that echoed forth from the venue, Ekwunife’s remarks stood tall. Prior, I had listened to many female leaders at different times, none in recent times came close to assertive tone, authority and confidence Ekwunife employed while delivering her remarks. The style of delivery and message were everything spellbinding, inspiring and reassuring to the capacity-filled audience.
Not only was the Owelle of Onitsha extolled with the best adjectives, Ekwunife exemplified what Zik was known for: a crusader of peace, unity and shared prosperity. To the awe-inspiring of the guest speaker [Governor Fayemi], the Vice Chancellor of the host varsity and other high profile dignitaries present, the lawmaker whose teeming supporters like to refer as the doyenne of the Senate refused to politicize the event. She intrepidly created a picture of the future that inspired Ndi Anambra.— In less than 15 minutes she restored the people’s trust, by reassuring that the state is indeed the light of the Nation and very conducive enough for investors and businesses to thrive.
For the guest speaker?
Governor Fayemi has earned, for himself, a badge as a detribalized Nigerian, promoter of National unity, progress and bridge builder. As a PhD holder in war studies, his lecture was laden with knowledge, particularly for every Nigerian who shares the same ideology and principles Zik was revered for. And I feel touched and inspired by his parting words, “There is absolutely nothing heroic about dying foolishly for a cause for which dialogue and negotiation can provide pathways to workable solutions. Whatever is worth fighting for, is worth staying alive for. I can very much hear this refrain flowing from the life experience and legacy of Nnamdi Azikiwe. And if the Great Zik were alive, this is precisely what he would be telling this august gathering.”