Anambra State government has declared Monday, November 16, a work-free day in honour of Nigeria’s first president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was born on November 16, 1904.

According to a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, all government offices, except those which provide essential services, will not open for business, just like the organized private sector and open markets in the state.

This is the second time Anambra State will observe Azikiwe’s birthday as a work-free day since Governor Willie Obiano announced the annual observance in January 2019.

Meanwhile, Governor Obiano has reiterated his call on the federal government to declare November 16 a national holiday in honour of Dr Azikiwe who led Nigeria to independence on October 1, 1960.

In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Obiano noted that “the failure thus far to declare the birthday of the Great Zik of Africa a national holiday has become not just a national embarrassment, but also an international scandal.

“The Ghanaians observe President Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday as a national holiday. Angolans observe Dr Agostino Neto’s birthday as a national holiday, just the way Tanzanians do the birthday of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

“Interesting enough, it was the Great Zik of Africa who mentored Dr Nkrumah whom he discovered when he was editing the African Morning Post in Ghana and sent him to his alma mater in the United States, Lincoln University, the first historically black university in America, to study the humanities just like himself.

“Zik inspired a generation of Africans, including Nigerians, into African nationalism.

The list includes Chief Obafemi Awolowo who wrote that he decided to study law in the United Kingdom after watching Zik address the Nigerian Youth Movement in Yaba, Lagos, and in appreciation Awolowo launched his Nigerian Tribune Newspapers on November 16, 1949, Zik’s 45th birthday.

Governor Obiano declared that Dr Azikiwe remained Nigeria’s most detribalided leader in Nigerian history.

“When he founded the University of Nigeria at Nsukka in 1960, he named key places on the campus after such Nigerian leaders as Chief Samuel Akintola, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Professor Eyo Ita and Sir Abubakar Tafewa Balewa, even though they were his political opponents.

“At a time most people in the world did not reckon with women, The Great Zik of Africa ensured that halls of residence at the UNN were named for Mrs Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Mrs Margaret Ekpo.

“Dr Azikiwe lived ahead of his generation. That was why he could establish the country’s first indigenous university and also the nation’s first indigenous bank when Africans were discriminated against in various endeavours,” Obiano stated.