Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo CFR, Governor of Anambra State, has paid glowing tribute to Late Chief Mbazulike Amaechi (Dara Akunwafor), whom he described as a true zikist unto death who believed in what Zik stood for, Nigeria’s unity.
The Governor made the remarks during the Anambra State Day of Tribute, which was held at the International Convention Center in Awka.
“Today is a special day. We have come to mourn Nigeria’s greatest patriot and statesman, who laid the groundwork for the country’s independence.
“Anambra laments on a day when the world celebrates love. Late Mbazulike Amaechi joined the zikist movement as a student and dedicated the majority of his life to the love of Nigeria. In his home state, we are mourning him today.
“He spent his entire life in Anambra; didn’t reside in Lagos or Abuja. His home state today is hosting the national tribute. He spent his life mentoring and assisting others in their growth. “Anambra mourns but also rejoices in the memory of a glorious life,” Soludo said.
In his tribute, the Governor expressed condolences to the family of the late Chief Mbazulike Amaechi while welcoming everyone who took time out of their schedule to attend the tribute and wished them all a happy Valentine’s Day.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chairman of the National Planning Committee, Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Distinguished Sen Ndii Obi, Retired Justice Umeadi, Prof. Amucheazi, all the traditional rulers in their various communities, and others who have come to celebrate one of the finest souls to pass through Nigeria,” he said.
The Governor urged them all to spend their time honoring heroes while they were still alive, because every day of our lives is worth honoring.
“We have gathered to commemorate the late Mbazulike Amaechi’s life and times.
“Our paths did not cross much on a personal level. I first learned about him in a lecture. They talked about their tenacity and their belief in what Zik stood for, in Nigeria’s unity, and were willing to lay down their lives for what they believed in.
“They were desperate for independence and were willing to resort to violence to achieve it, which is when Zik distanced himself from them and they were imprisoned,” he explained.
Soludo went on to say: “I also had a brief encounter with him in his home in January 2010 during a courtesy call, and we only spoke for a few minutes before we had to leave. I’ll never forget the conversations we had. His presence was enveloping, and he spoke with appropriate authority, admonishing us to carry out the manifesto we were presenting to him.
“He lived in Anambra, specifically Ukpor, and traveled from the state to Abuja or elsewhere whenever he needed to.
“One of our greatest gifts to the world is no longer with us. Giants were born in Anambra. Anambra has more than its fair share of people who have helped shape this country.
“Our future is in our past, Umunem ndi Anambra, ndi Igbo, and ndi Nigeria.
“When I think back on the lives of our founding fathers of the first generation, they were patriotic, nationalists, and valued service above self,” Soludo emphasized.
“M.I. Okpara, the Premier of the Eastern Region used taxes paid by peasant farmers to construct the modern cities of Onitsha, Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Aba, and Umuahia, all of which have adequate supplies of piped water, clean streets, electricity, and pedestrian walkways.
“The South Eastern Region, comprised of the current nine states, had the fastest growing economy in the country, growing at a rate of 9.8% per year. Everything came to an end after fifty years.
“During the civil war, he went into exile, and when he returned, he didn’t have a hut in Umuahia. It took some generous people to construct a home for the late M.I. Okpara “Soludo stated.
“The late Mbazulike Amaechi left us with the legacy that Ndigbo’s future lies in the fundamental values of the past. He demonstrated the importance of walking the walk.
“I consider myself a new Zikist! The late Amaechi had faith in his homeland!!
“I’ve told our people that if they want me to honor their invitation, they should always organize anything involving Igbos in the state. I can’t leave my job to represent ndi Anambra at events outside of the state “Soludo stated.
Governor Soludo stated that the late Mbazulike Amaechi made a strong call for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s release, and that call was justified.
“The issue of Nigeria will be at a table of dialogue with all stakeholders involved.
“When I visited Nnamdi Kanu in prison, I told him about how criminals posing as freedom fighters are kidnapping and killing people. He called it an abomination.
“Ukpor the home of the late Amaechi was overtaken by these hoodlums, they created camps everywhere when we took over office.
“My goal in calling for Nnamdi Kanu’s release is to separate the wheat from the chaff. When he is released, we will know who the true agitation fighters and criminals are. This is why I’m pleading for his release, not because his release will automatically end insecurity. “I am confident he will be released,” Soludo said.
“The late Mbazulike Amaechi’s Zikism philosophy, particularly in the aspect of Pan-Africanism ideology, sees the black race as an integral part of the world and the future of Ndigbo, which he believes is better in a united Nigeria.
“It is a future that will benefit Nigeria in the zikist Pan-African movement. The future of Ndigbo lies in the restructuring of Nigeria, which is one of the legacies left to us by late Mbazulike Amaechi.
“While we mourn, let also celebrate but not forget that the greatest tribute is to keep the flames of his legacies, ideas, the values he espoused burning. “Ndi Anambra and ndi Igbo will continue to win if we stick to the values he lived and died for,” Soludo concluded.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the State Day of Tribute, High Chief Ben Ndii Obi, thanked God for the people he has given to Anambra, from the great Zik to the rest of the others. He praised the Governor and urged the people to support Soludo in taking the state to the next level.
He expressed his joy that Anambra is finally giving their dues, describing the late Amaechi as a great man whose loyalty to Africa’s great Zik was unrivaled. He prayed for his soul to be at peace.
Rt. Hon. Uche Okafor, Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, described the late Amaechi as one of the most important Nigerians who ever lived, saying he spent much of his public life and had a passion for the nation’s development.
Her Excellency, Dim Virgy Etiaba, Nigeria’s first female Governor, stated that the late Amaechi was the last of the zikist! She went on to say that he is a man that won’t be easily forgotten; always speaks his mind, physically and intellectually strong, and today, ndi Anambra celebrates him for all he has done for the Igbos.
“The epic of his life was how he brought together Ndigbo elder statesmen and brokered peace between the South East and the rest of the country,”
“We are proud to honor him as an onye Anambra. It is something we should praise God for,” she said.
Prof. Peter Umeadi, APGA Presidential Candidate, paid tribute to the late Chief Amaechi, saying that what he learned from him is that if you put your mind to anything, you will achieve it.
The Deputy Governor Anambra State, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, Former Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Emeka Sibeudu, Speaker Anambra House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uche Okafor, Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, Chief of Staff, Mr. Ernest Ezeajughi, Head of Service, Barr. Theodore Igwegbe, Members of the Anambra State EXCO, Members of Anambra State House of Assembly, Your Lordships, President-Generals, Transition Committee Chairmen, Traditional Rulers, Women Leaders, Youth Leaders amongst others attended the Anambra State Tribute