The federal government has completed the construction of the Nnamdi Azikiwe mausoleum at Onitsha, Anambra State. The edifice which houses the tomb of Nigeria’s first president who passed on 11 May 1996, was conceived in his honour by the government of late Gen. Sani Abacha.
Late Chief Dr. Nnamdi Benjamin Azikiwe is regarded as the father of the Nigerian nation-State and the architect of her independence. He died at the age of 91 years.
Successive governments had been slow in completing the construction until the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan re-awarded the contract to Bouygues Construction Nigeria Limited (BNL) in 2014 but could not complete it before he left office in 2015.
Later demands by several eastern leaders began to grow loud. Last year, in 2017, during 57th Founder’s Day lecture of University of Nigeria, Nsukka held at Princess Alexandra Auditorium (PAA) of the universty, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe (Obi of Onitsha) decried the apparent abandonment of the project. “Zik”, he said “is the first President of Nigeria…, yet the mausoleum in his honour is yet to be completed by the Federal Government that offered and started the project in his memory. I urge Nigerians to help pressure government to complete the mausoleum in Zik’s honour as the first President of the country.”
Zik’s widow, Lady Mrs. Uche Azikiwe complained bitterly, “It is disheartening that somebody like Zik is being treated this way” she said. “Former minister, Ms Amal Pepple did a very good job there. She promised that as long as she was still the minister the mausoleum will be completed. She awarded the contract but was later removed.” Ms Pepple was the minister of lands, housing and urban development in the Jonathan administration.
Federal government then took notice. Mr Babatunde Fashola, current minister of works ordered the completion of the project demanding in May this year that the construction company complete the building by October. The contractor finished up the work to beat the minister’s deadline and completed work by September.
No announcement has been made about the official commissioning of the site.
But the completion of the mausoleum may calm a few nerves in the southeast region which had often alleged marginalization by the Buhari government. Aide to the president on new media, Bashir Ahmad, sent out a tweet, projecting the completion as another achievement of the government of President Buhari.
This is Nnamdi Azikiwe Mausoleum in Onitsha, Anambra State, abandoned since 1996 by previous governments and is now being completed by President @MBuhari.
Pic 1. From 1996 – 2015
Pic 2. From 2015 – 2018 pic.twitter.com/GibGVjqwxk
— Bashir Ahmad (@BashirAhmaad) November 7, 2018