The Government of Anambra State has declared Monday, November 18, 2019 a Public Holiday in honour of the great Owelle of Onitsha, Right Honourable Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. Following this declaration, Monday, November 18, 2019 shall be observed as a work free day in Anambra State.
The Public Holiday which was declared to mark the birthday of Nigeria’s only indigenous Governor General and pioneer President should have held on his actual birthday which is Saturday, November 16, 2019 but has to be observed on Monday November 18 for obvious reasons.
A statement from the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Anambra State, Mr James Eze says that the declaration came on the heels of repeated appeals by the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano to the Federal Government to declare a national public holiday in honour of the great Zik as has been done for other illustrious leaders across the continent who led their respective countries from the shackles of colonial rule to independence.
According to him, Governor Obiano had used the opportunity of the commissioning of Zik Mausoleum in January this year to appeal that Nigeria should set aside a Public Holiday in honour of the great Zik just as Ghana did for Kwame Nkrumah, as Kenya did for Jomoh Kenyatta, as Tanzania did for Julius Nyerere and as Angola did for Agostinho Neto.
He pointed out that the Great Zik of Africa had so much influence on the nationalist struggles for independence across Africa and played a unique brand of all inclusive politics that left no place for ethnicity and religion all of which make the case for a national day in his honour very compelling.
Therefore, from this year onwards, November 16 has been set aside in Anambra State to commemorate Right Hon Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, celebrate his legacies and reflect on the ideals and values that the great statesman lived and died for.
It is expected that in blazing the trail by setting a day aside for Zik, Anambra State Government is making the case for a national holiday in honour of Zik a compelling one.
It must be remembered that the Great Zik of Africa was one of the greatest Pan-Africanists who devoted his life and times to the struggle for the emancipation of Africa and people of African descent.
Till today, Zik remains the only Nigerian President who spoke Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba fluently and the only one whose children bore names that reflect the three major ethnic groups in the country.
In addition, Zik made great sacrifices and placed his life in so many grave dangers while leading the struggle for Nigeria’s independence and he also made so many concessions and compromises after independence to give Nigeria the chance she deserved.
A national public holiday in his honour is therefore an equivalent of giving honour to whom it is due.