ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU writes that Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka Anambra State aka Unizik was aglow last Friday during the 7th Zik’s annual lecture series and Birthday of former first President of Nigeria , Rt Hon Dr Nnamdi Chukwuemeka Azikiwe, Owelle Onitsha’s 114th Posthumous celebration held at the University’s auditorium.
The event was attended by the Senate President of Nigeria, Senator Bukola Saraki who was the chairman of the occasion, Vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Mr. Peter Obi, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, represented by Engr. Obidigwe, Anambra state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu and Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister for Science and technology.
Others were member representing Anambra South in the National Assembly, Senator Andy Uba, members of the National Assembly, royal fathers including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi Gibson Nwosu, the benefactor of Zik’s annual lecture, Senator Ndi Obi , Prof Joseph Ahaneku, the Vice Chancellor Unizik , Prof Chinyere Stella Okunna , Dean Faculty of Social Sciences as well as Prof Au Nnonyelu , Director Unizik Business School among others.
Former Prime Minister of Tanzania, His Excellency Benjamin Mkapa, presented the keynote speech entitled: “Taming the Monster of Corruption in Africa”.
Mkapa was not alone in the support on an impartial war against corruption as all the other dignitaries that attended the Zik’s lecture series supported the war against corruption, especially in African countries.
Mkapa said that corruption is a global phenomenon and not a Nigerian issue as being projected by international anti-corruption agencies and the western media.
He noted with regret that corruption in African countries, especially in Nigeria is being over bloated to attract global undue attention, even as he insisted that some western countries are more corrupt than most countries in Africa. He further described corruption as deadly to good governance, a threat to democracy and rule of law which, according to him, diminishes the capacity for development of facilities, erodes trust in the rule of law and a threat in the case of multi ethnic society like Nigeria.
He noted that greed for power was the major cause of corruption and explained how he tamed the monster of corruption when he was the president of Tanzania, adding that the culture of fairness, justice and equity are being affected in a corrupt society.
“Fight against corruption should be all inclusive. There is need to develop the right strategies, partner with ministries and NGOs, be financially disciplined, public awareness on the dangers of corruption, media should report corruption without fear or favour. With all these in place, the war against corruption in any country can be won”
In a remark, the chairman of the occasion and Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Bukola Saraki recalled zik’s contributions to Nigeria independence, adding that Zik fought for Nigeria’s freedom from slavery which he said, cannot be forgotten in a jiffy.
Saraki pointed out the need to work together as a nation to lift Nigeria from its present state of economic woes, noting that Zik used his intellectual to unite Africans.
He averred that Corruption is a problem not just for Nigeria as a nation but also as a continent, stressing the need to tackle it with honesty and every sense of purpose.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, said Zik of Africa played the role of building the bulwark against colonialism in Africa and restoring the dignity of black man.
He highlighted the import of the Zik’s annual lecture to the university, saying that it provided opportunities to ruminate on the ideals and legacies of Great Zik of Africa and how it could be leveraged on, to build the ethno-religious and cultural African states into vibrant nations.
Ahaneku described the theme of the lecture as quite germane especially in an era where poverty indices in the nations of Africa have plummeted to alarming proportions, noting that it had resulted from the humongous sums of money lost to corruption.
On his part, the former governor of Anambra state and the Vice Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi, regretted that corruption in Nigeria is being fought as economic policy, rather than cankerworm, adding that corruption kills hard work, entrepreneurship and professionalism which, according to him, every Nigerian is guilty of.
Obi who concurred with Mkapa, described corruption as hydra headed monster that “kills professionalism, entrepreneurship and hard work”, thus rendering societies and countries incapable of any meaningful development.
“Hard work is behind the development of many countries of the world. In these countries, where citizens’ have equal access to opportunities each citizen is challenged to work hard, you see their entrepreneurial spirits being challenged. In such a situation, each professional strives to achieve his full potentialities. But in a corrupt country the contrary is the case for one can even find a councillor living larger than universities’ professors because they have access to the treasury”, Obi said.
As a panacea to the menace of corruption, Obi said that the Atiku Presidency would build institutions and entrench processes that will naturally check corruption.
Further, exploring his days as the Governor of Anambra State, Obi said it was because of his ability to strangle corruption that he was able to pay all contractors, settle arrears of pension of over 35 billion Naira, developed all sectors without borrowing a dime from any financial institution and above all left over 75 billion Naira in the treasury.
He said that the present administration was only shouting corruption without dealing with it, pointing out that Nigeria had risen from 136 to 148 in the corruption index under the current administration, a situation, he described as worrisome.
Wife of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Prof. Uche Azikiwe and the benefactor of Zik’s lecture series, Senator Ben Obi commended the participants, especially the dignitaries, remarking that the lecture was a worthwhile initiative in honour of great Zik of Africa. She aid that they look forward to every Sixteenth of November when her late husband would be celebrated, thanking all who made the occasion successful.
Governor Willie Obiano represented by Professor Chukwulobelu who said that the theme of the lecture was apt, maintained, that Anambra has been enjoying good governance since the Inception of former Governor Peter Obi’s administration, added that the present administration enthroned transparency and accountability through the introduction of Single Treasury Account which adjudged Anambra the most transparent state in the country by the World bank. He said that Anambra State Government has done a lot on fight against corruption by building on the template inherited from Mr. Peter Obi.
Speaking to the press, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna said the choice of the topic was apt, because, as most speakers said, without fighting corruption, Nigerian and other African countries would continue to lag behind in development.
In their separate speeches, the Minister of Science and Technology Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, and the Secretary of the Government of the Federation Mr. Boss Mustapha, commended the organizers of the lecture especially the benefactor, Senator Ben Obi, saying that the labours of the heroes past like the late Zik shall not be in vain if all should uphold the legacies they left behind.
Photo: Senate President , Senator Bukola Saraki (Middle), flanked right by Prof Joseph Ahaneku and Senator Andy Uba (right) Anambra SSG, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu ,the Benefactor, Senator Ben Ndi-Obi Obi Alfred Achebe of Onitsha and Obi Gibson Nwosu then wife of Late Owelle , Prof Uche Azikiwe among others