Lagos - President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday extolled the selfless qualities of Nigeria’s first President, the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, and urged Nigerians to emulate him in order to move the country forward.
Jonathan made the commendation in Nsukka during an anniversary lecture in honour of `Zik’, organised by St John’s Anglican Church, Onuiyi, Nsukka, the church Zik attended while he was alive.
He said that it was Zik’s patriotism and selfless service that made Nigeria’s independence possible.
"Zik was a detribalised Nigerian, who invested his knowledge, energy, time and money to see that the country gained independence from colonial masters.
"Nigerians should emulate his shinning exemplary life, shown through dogged struggle, to free his country from colonial rule,’’ he said.
The president, who was represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, said that for the country to develop, there had to be attitudinal change.
He said Nigerians also had to be ready to render selfless service to the country at all times.
"We must know that Nigeria is the only country we can call our own and therefore, must contribute selflessly to make it great.
"We should make sacrifices so that the struggles of our nationalist heroes will not be in vain.
"We must shun bribery and corruption in every position we find ourselves in order to move the country to an enviable height,’’ he said.
A former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, who was the Chairman of the occasion, said the contributions of Zik to the country could not be quantified.
He said Zik denied himself luxury and enjoyment of life to see that Nigeria gained freedom from the colonial masters.
"Nothing will be too much to honour and immortalise Zik’s selfless service to the country.
"Zik is a good example of a servant leader, who laboured day and night to promote unity in the country,’’ Ekwueme said.
He commended the church for organising the memorial lecture, which was another way of honouring the former president.
He pledged to contribute 10 per cent of the N67 million required to build the church to have a befitting edifice for a church Zik worshipped in while alive.
A lecture titled "Transformational Leadership and the Quest for National Transformation’’ was delivered by a former Vice- Chancellor of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Chinedu Nebo.
Nebo, who is currently the present Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, said for transformational leadership to take place in the county, every citizen must be accountable and transparent in whatever was entrusted to him or her.
Until our leaders emulate people like Zik in being accountable and transparent in their various positions, the level of bribery and corruption will continue to increase.
"We should consider our future generation in everything we do; it is bad habit for us to eat all and leave our future generation begging and hungry,’’ he said.
The Anglican Bishop of Nsukka, the Rt. Rev. Aloysius Agbo, said that the church had a plan of building a centre to be called “Zik Memorial and Tourist Centre”.
Agbo said that when completed, the centre would attract tourists nationally and internationally.
"With the help of our esteemed guests, we will ensure that St John’s will have a building that one will be proud to say that Nigeria’s first president worshipped in it while alive.
"The Anglican Church will continue to honour the late Zik because of his countless contributions to the country,” he said.
In a vote of thanks on behalf of Zik’s family, Mr Uwakwe Azikiwe, the last child of Zik, thanked the organisers for honouring his late father.
"I am happy, organising this memorial lecture for my late father, shows that some people still remember his immense contributions to the nation.
"Our present leaders should try to emulate selfless contributions of our nationalists, who fought doggedly to ensure the country gained its independence.
"We should be patriotic and transparent in serving our country so that the struggles of our heroes will not be in vain,” Azikiwe said