Achebe: Senate urges Fed Govt to name highway, others after writer

By The Citizen

The Senate yesterday eulogised world-acclaimed writer, Prof. Chinua Achebe, for his contributions to the emergence and growth of African literature.

Prof. Achebe, who died on March 21, will be buried in his home town, Ogidi, Anambra State, on May 23.

The Senate, in a motion sponsored by Chris Ngige (Anambra Central) and 108 others, resolved to urge the Federal Government to name a major federal highway or street in Abuja after the late Achebe.

It also urged the government to name a national monument after the late literary icon.

The lawmakers shelved any discussion on Tuesday's declaration of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states by President Goodluck Jonathan, which many had thought would dominate discussions on the floor of the Senate yesterday. But the senators instead held a valedictory session in honour of Achebe.

The upper chamber constituted a nine-man committee, led by Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, to commiserate with the government and people of Anambra State and Prof. Achebe's family. They also observed a minute silence in honour of the late writer.

Other members of the Committee are: Uche Chukwumerije, Prof Shola Adeyeye, James Manager, Abdul Ningi, Mohammed Magoro, Philip Aduda, Remi Tinubu and Zainab Kure.

Achebe was described as a world figure and personality who brought fame and prestige to the country and humanity through his writings, including novels and essays, some of which have become instruments for his dogged activism.

Senate President David Mark said Achebe was 'a detribalised Nigerian, a nationalist to the core and a nationalist till his death'.

According to him, Achebe deserves a befitting burial from the Federal Government as a mark of honour for the virtues he stood for.

Ngige, in his lead debate, noted that Nigerians have a lot of lessons to learn from the life and writings of Achebe. Among them is Achebe's emphasis on the efficiency of Nigerian system, the senator said.

Ngige said: 'These anecdotes include his merit-based access to secondary and tertiary education and on graduation to salaried jobs. He (Achebe) referred also to the efficiency of the postal system, which promptly delivered his unregistered mail to London and brought back a reply.

'However, the cheerfully hopeful ending to Achebe's quiet musings and exhortation is that his disillusionment is not so much with the collapse of Biafra as with the failure of Nigeria of his youth's dreams.

'If this generation of Nigerian leaders can still hear and heed the calm, steady voice of Achebe, they can still save Nigeria.'

Achebe, Ngige said, was a patriot who loved his country and was always in constant touch with home, even when he was on his wheelchair in the United States (USA).

'He criticised governments at home when necessary, especially when they had not done well. He was an activist of prodigious intensity; he was very courageous and spoke truth to power.

'Through his works, like A Man of the People and The Trouble with Nigeria, Achebe deployed his literary gifts to mirror the ills of the Nigerian society with a view to building a better and prosperous country.

'As a non-effervescence radical and activist of the progressive bent, Achebe had a short stint in partisan politics as a founding member in 1978 of Mallam Aminu Kano's Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), a people-oriented progressive party that had its interest in the uplifting of the downtrodden (Talakawas) in the society,' Ngige said.

Ganiyu Solomon (Lagos West) said Achebe made great impact with his writings and that this was an indication that Nigeria has what it takes to impact the world.

Solomon said: 'Through his writings, Achebe introduced us to African culture. I learnt about the new yam festival first in: Things Fall Apart. His global impact, through his writings, shows that Nigeria has what it takes to impact the world.

'We still have a lot of Achebes in Nigeria and, by the Grace of God, they will come out one day for us to celebrate them.'

James Manager (Delta South) noted that though he never met Achebe, he admired him for his foresight about Nigeria.