By Adimike George
About N125 million fraud has been uncovered in the award of contracts for the renovation of Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. This is coming just as part of the perimeter fence of the mausoleum collapsed.
The eldest son of Zik, as the former nationalist is widely known, Mr. Chukwuma Azikiwe alleged that officials of the Federal Ministry of Works looted the money marked for the completion of the abandoned mausoleum in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Addressing journalists, he disclosed that since the death of his father, a lot of fraud has been perfected in his name by fraudulent ministry officials.
According to Azikiwe, who has replaced his father as the Owelle of Onitsha, the federal government efforts to rebuild and complete his father’s mausoleum had always suffered set back as a result of sabotage and scam from the ministry of works.
He alleged that the major setback in the completion of the project which was started since the death of his father in 1996 was uncovered when the former Minister of Works, Dr. Nduesse Essien discovered that some ministry staff awarded the reconstruction of the compound to the tune of N100 million without the knowledge of the minister.
Zik’s son said that successive governments in the country had tried to complete the project but decried that a lot of people have cashed in on the opportunity to loot the country dry.
“Apart from the efforts (former president Olusegun) Obasanjo made to truncate the completion of my father’s mausoleum, there are other setbacks being witnessed in the projects. The mismanagement of electricity, water and other funds had also been the major problem we have. But these people allegedly had N25 million for water project without breaking down the effective cost.”
He disclosed that the contract for drilling ordinary borehole in the compound was allegedly awarded to a Lebanese company, Al-amir, which he said came to site without any drilling machine but relied on labour for the project.
He also disclosed that the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua approved N250 million for the completion of the project but this was later slashed and yet remain unreleased.
According to him, “Yar’Adua approved N250 million and I think they said it was slashed maybe because of austerity measures but I am asking what of the remaining money. We don’t need some of the projects they are doing like the giant generator, it has been lying there outside thinly covered”
He also disclosed that the only transformer in the compound was vandalized by suspected hoodlums about three weeks ago and called on the federal government to intensify efforts to facilitate the completion of the projects.
When the Nation visited the Inosi Onira retreat centre where Zik was laid to rest, part of the fence adjoining the All Hallows Seminary Onitsha has collapsed leaving the compound unprotected.
Azikiwe said the fence collapsed as a result of the ongoing renovation of the Onitsha-Enugu Express way. He decried the level of neglect by the federal government on the final resting place for the Great Zik, lamenting that despite repeated promises by successive governments the place has been neglected for too long.
Source: The Nation, 16th October 2011.
Anambra May Take Over Zik’s Mausoleum
By Emmanuel Obe, Awka
The Anambra State Government said on Monday that it would take over the Zik Mausoleum if the Federal Government failed to complete it before October 1.
The Commissioner for Information and Culture, Mr. Maja Umeh, at a post- Executive Council meeting press briefing, on Monday, said the state government considered the completion of the mausoleum as a fitting honour for Nigeria’s first President, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
He said the State Executive Council noted that, given the national significance of the mausoleum and the iconic status of the late former president, the golden jubilee independence anniversary was a proper occasion to inaugurate the project.
Umeh said the council was not impressed with the slow pace of work at the mausoleum and appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action at the site.
The commissioner said the state government was prepared to complete the project and get reimbursement if the Federal Government was not prepared for the task.
The commissioner said to complement the building of the mausoleum, the state government would build and rehabilitate the Zik’s Park in front of the late politician’s Inosi Onira home.
The state government is to also beautify the environs as its contribution to the golden jubilee anniversary celebration.
The non-completion of the mausoleum has raised a lot of dust. The most recent issue is the decision of some Nigerians and Ghanians living abroad to raise money to complete the mausoleum.
A contract for the project was awarded by the Federal Government in 1997 after the burial of Azikiwe, who died in 1996.
But the contract was abandoned because the Federal Government did not pay the contractors.
Sources: Punch, 14th September 2010.
. . . . an article on ZIK OF AFRICA written Jun 09, 1947
A man got off the train from Montreal at New York's Grand Central Station last week and asked, "How are the Pittsburgh Pirates doing?" What made the question a little surprising was that this Pirate fan —six feet tall, handsome and ebony black —wore a long white velvet gown which, when it flapped, revealed a startling blue-and-white-checked undergarment and a pair of tan brogues. He is the leader of millions of his fellow Nigerians who want independence from Britain. Some call him the Negro Gandhi, the jungle George Washington. His name is Nnamdi Azikiwe (rhymes with click away); he is the acacia thorn in the British lion's paw, the Bertie McCormick (see PRESS) of the Niger Delta, a coconut grove Jim Farley, and one of the few people in the world who got a high opinion of the U.S. from washing dishes in a Pittsburgh waffle foundry and having Pugilist Jackie Zivic poke thumbs in his eyes.
A Man in the Way. They call him Zik. He was born in Onitsha in southern Nigeria on Nov. 16, 1904. His father was a hard-working Government clerk who carefully saved his money to educate his children. In 1925, with $1,200 of his father's retirement gratuity, Zik reached the U.S., enrolled at Storer College.* His current U.S. trip is to get an honorary Lit.D. at Storer this week and to deliver the commencement address. His text: Tom Paine's "These are the times that try men's souls."
As a student in the U.S., Zik stretched his father's money by working at odd jobs. Besides working in Gammon's Restaurant on Pittsburgh's Liberty Avenue and as a sparring partner for one of the thumb-poking Zivic brothers, he once unwittingly signed on as a coal miner, found himself strikebreaking. He still thinks the U.S. "a country of opportunities for ambitious, energetic young people."
After nine years away from Africa he returned in 1934 as editor of the Africa Morning Post in Accra, Gold Coast. It was here he first squared off with the British. Three years later, charged with being a political agitator, he was tried for sedition but the case was quashed. He wrote two books: Liberia and World Politics and Renascent Africa. With his royalties he returned to Lagos, Nigeria and founded Zik's Press Ltd. in 1937.
A Man of Style. Nigeria is about twice the size of Spain. Its population of 22 million is jammed into 373,000 square miles of jungle, swamp and grasslands. Its people are divided into three main tribes: the tough Moslem Hausas who live along the lower edge of the Sahara and despise the southern Nigerians; the town-dwelling Yorubas; and the farming Ibos. Mutual antagonism, sometimes exploited by the British, has kept the tribes apart. Since Zik's return, however, there has been a rapprochement. Zik, an Ibo, now wears a combination of Hausa and Yoruba style clothes to symbolize the new trend.
Nowadays, whenever Britain's imperial eye turns south towards Africa, there stands Zik astride a large slice of rich Nigerian cocoa and palm nut holdings, coal and tin and bauxite deposits. Zik has a handhold on a rich chunk of the Empire and he will not let go.
A Man to Be Watched. His newspaper, the West African Pilot, has grown into a chain of five, spanning southern Nigeria with a total circulation of over 25,000. Ex-Strikebreaker Zik has been accused of inciting coalfield workers to strike and has won and lost a string of libel suits. By flamboyant and often crude tactics, Zik has built an enormous (7,000,000, says Zik) following among Nigerians, most of whom are illiterate. To keep tabs on him the British have CID detectives watching him constantly. He shrugs them off, says, "A man with a free conscience has nothing to worry about."
A Visitor in the Night. To raise money for his political organization, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, Zik spent months driving trucks over Nigeria's bumpy roads, walking when there were no roads, visiting hundreds of villages. He collected £13,500. According to Zik the tour was a success. Says Zik, "Some of the Hausa emirs who were appointed by the British came to see me in the night. They promised me money and moral support."
Zik's dream is Nigerian independence. He would like to see it come in a 15-Year Plan: ten years of equal British-Nigerian government, then five years of Nigerian government with Britain standing by. Next to that he wants the country developed industrially. He doubts that the present-day Briton will do it. "The type of Britons who come . . . now," he says, "are not as intelligent as those who came before. Either we have progressed or they have degenerated."
A Gentleman & a Student. When Zik leaves the U.S. in four weeks, he will join six other Nigerians in England for a barnstorming tour to tell the Nigerian story. He hopes to say a few words about his preference for the next Governor of Nigeria. If it must be an Englishman, Zik hopes it will be the Duke of Windsor (see PEOPLE), whom he considers "a gentleman, a student of human nature, a man with a sense of justice." But in the long run he wants an African governor for Nigeria and, like the Pirates on the day he arrived in New York, Zik might be only 2½ games out of first place.
*Storer College at Harpers Ferry, W. Va., has a magnificent view of the Potomac gap, which Thomas Jefferson thought was ". . . worth a voyage across the Atlantic." On Storer's campus stands the Arsenal that John Brown held for 60 hours. Moved from the site in downtown Harpers Ferry where Major Robert E. Lee captured Old Osawatomie, it was presented to the college in 1909.