Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Friday converted old Premier’s Lodge of the defunct Eastern Region to Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe Centre for Historical Monument of Great Zik.
Newsmen reports that the centre houses Zik’s interviews, showcase of his leadership qualities, exhibition of his life, scholarly awards, media releases in form of documentaries and movies as well as his dressing.
Inaugurating the centre, Ugwuanyi said it was conceived to serve as a historical, educational, cultural and tourist monuments in honour of the late Zik.
The governor, who described Zik as a scholar, foremost nationalist, an outstanding and inspirational leader, said he was pleased that his administration came up with the idea which started five years ago.
He, however, emphasised the need for people to appreciate the past leaders for their contribution and efforts for the wellbeing of the country.
The General Manager, Enugu State Housing Development Corporation (ESHDC), Mr Chukwuemelie Agu, thanked the governor for remodeling the centre earlier earmarked for demolition.
According to him, the place serves as official office of the Great Zik of Africa while the other side was his residential home known then as Premier Lodge.
Agu said the centre would preserve the lyrics and history of the Premier of the then Eastern Region, and the corporation had placed high premium on preserving his relics such as shoes, eye glasses and cloths.
“ESHDC is highly privileged and excited to be part of this memorable and historical project,” Agu said.
Also, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, while thanking Ugwuanyi for not making the great works of Zik swept under carpet, said the centre would help to uphold the legacies of their son, Owelle of Onitsha.
He stressed that the gesture was not ordinary, particularly in Nigeria where people easily forgot the efforts and suffering of past leaders.
“Children coming behind us will not know about Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Michael Okpara and others unless they visit centre like this to appreciate their efforts, legacies and philosophies.
“With this, they will emulate their leadership principles and sense of humanity, so that in future more like them will emerge,” he said.
Achebe, who lauded Federal Government for reintroducing History in school curriculum, said: “It is worst policy decision a nation can make by denying their people the knowledge of their history and place in the world.
“It is a common knowledge that the most effective way to conquer a nation is not by physical arm like Russia, the real conquest is when you deny people the sense of their history, language and culture.
“That was what Colonial Masters did to us but Zik and others fought for it but we Nigerians subsequently denied ourselves history.”
Thanking Ugwuanyi on behalf of the family, the wife of Zik, Prof. Uche Azikiwe, said the family would not forget what the governor did for them.
She said: “The centre is going to be a legacy project in Enugu and a centre where anybody visiting Enugu will come to see as well as tourists attraction for many.”
Earlier, Zik’s son, Mr Uwakwe Azikiwe, said that Ugwuanyi conceptualised the ideal of immortalising his father by renovating the old Premier Lodge where Zik resided and worked as Premier of Eastern Region from 1954 to 1960.
Uwakwe, who is the Special Adviser to Ugwuanyi on Special Duties, stressed that it was presented to them in 2016 and renovated by ESHDC.
“There are sections for his personal life, independence, first and second republic, places named after him,” he added.