Give Azikiwe befitting burial place, Obi tells Jonathan

By The Citizen

Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State on Monday asked President Goodluck Jonathan to give Nigeria's first President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, a befitting burial place.

Obi, who will be stepping down as governor next Monday, made the demand on the President on Monday when Jonathan performed the ground breaking for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge project at Onitsha, Anambra State.

The governor said though the Igbo were appreciative that Jonathan had come to lay the foundation for the construction of the bridge, a fulfilment of an age-long desire of the people of the South-East zone, they were not yet done with their expectations of Mr. President.

Obi lamented that 16 years after the death of Azikiwe, the people were still shocked that the foremost nationalist had not been well honoured by his country with a deserving burial place.

'If you see where and how Zik's contemporaries like late Kwame Nkruma of Ghana and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya were buried you would see that Nigeria did not give Zik a befitting burial,' Obi said.

The governor, however, thanked Jonathan for finding it proper to construct the Zik's Mausoleum that was abandoned by previous administrations.

Obi recalled how President Jonathan helped in giving the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu a befitting burial and other things his administration had done for the people of the South-East.

He said at the appropriate time the people of the zone would pay back the President accordingly.

Jonathan assured the people that the bridge project will be completed in 48 months.

He disclosed that the entire project will encompass two bye-passes and will cost N120bn.

'This is part of my 2011 Campaign promise to the people of this area. I said then that first Azikiwe constructed the first Niger Bidge and that second Azikiwe would construct the second Niger bridge,' he said. Jonathan's pet name is Azikiwe.

He said the Federal Government would contribute about 30 per cent of the project sum while the private partner would finance the balance and recoup their investment through tolling over a 25-year period.

The Minister for Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, said the bridge will improve the infrastructure and socio-economic activities of the nation.

Onolemenen said the second Niger Bridge is 1,590 metres long and forms part of the 11.90 km length project

The Chairman, South East Governors' Forum and Governor of Abia state, Chief Theodore Orji said Mr. President with this latest development has shown that South-East is of great importance in the Nigerian project and said the bridge which will serve as a gateway to the Southern part of Nigeria will boost economic activities of the people and solve the problem of loss of man's hours being spent on the existing Niger bridge

The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, described the project as a dream come true, saying Jonathan has demonstrated an uncommon love for Ndigbo and Nigeria at large by the commencement of the second Niger Bridge.

Those present at the ceremony included the Governors of Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Elechi, Delta, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Deputy Governor Enugu state, Chief Sunday Onyebuchi as well as the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Information Minister, Mr. Labaram Maku and Senators Ayogu Eze, Ken Nnamani, Andy Uba and Joy Emodi and Deputy Speaker House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha. Punch