Converting the mausoleum into an institute, Saturday Vanguard gathered, is one of the outcomes of a battery of meetings among Federal Government officials, the Azikiwe family and some stakeholders.
Apart from the mausoleum, President Muhammadu Buhari is also expected to play a leading role in the burial of Azikiwe’s first son, Owelle Chukwuma, who died recently, aged 75.
At one of the meetings held last week, Saturday Vanguard learned that attendees included: Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Housing, Arc. Okafor Onuorah; Director, Federal Ministry of Housing, Mrs. Patricia Odogwu; Amb. Azikiwe, Dr. Nwachukwu Azikiwe, Akunne Arah, Mrs. Obiesie,
Mrs. V. Onuorah, Mrs. C. Iwobi, Mrs. Ifejika, Mrs. N. Emeaogwali, Mr. George Ossi, Nwanyelugo Azikiwe, Chuks Njaka, Mrs. Ifejika , Bar Emejulu, Bar Kate Onwe, Arah Nwobu, Umuada Azikiwe and Zik’s younger sister, Mrs. Molokwu.
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting, a source said: ‘’The Azikiwe family agreed that the responsibility for the burial of their son Owelle Chuma Azikiwe should be determined by his friend, President Buhari , who may assign any responsibility to any of the state governors that have shown interest in the funeral activities such as the Governors of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano;
Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai; Oyo State, Mr. Abiola Ajimobi; Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, whose headquarters is situated very close to Ile Zik, which used to be the home of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe; and Enugu State, Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and so many other governors who were directly or indirectly linked with the Azikiwe family.
‘’The centre as a federal asset will take the shape of that of Gandhi in India and Mandela in South Africa. The work of the contractors at the mausoleum site is to give the complexes a face lift sufficient for a Presidential event and thereafter to continue with works at the site for the completion of the projects therein.
In this way, President Buhari will certainly endear himself to millions of Nigerians across the country as the President who was able to complete the works at the Onitsha complex.’’
Already, a committee of friends of Owelle Chuma Azikiwe, has swung into action to give Chuma Azikiwe a befitting burial apart from the immediate Azikiwe family at Onitsha, Chuma’s two children, the deceased brothers- Ambassador Emeka Ayo Azikiwe and Dr. Nwachukwu Abiodun Azikiwe and the Obi of Onitsha Igwe Alfred Achebe, who will preside over the traditional funeral rites.
Members of the committee of friends include Dr. Idika Kalu, Chief Guy Ike Ikokwu (Lagos), Chief Maxi Okuta (Nsukka), Amb. C.B. Orike (Rivers State), Mr. Okri, Senator Chris Ngige, Dr. Orue (Abuja), Dr. Rex Onyeabo, Chief Supo Shonibare (Lagos),
Mr. Anule Maliki, Alhaji Yusuf, Mr. Onitiri in Lagos, children of late Adeniran Ogunsanya and TOS Benson, Barr. Nick Okoye, Engr. Uchenna Nwankwo and Chief Udoka Udeogaranya among others.