By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka—FORMER Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said, yesterday, that Nigeria has all it takes to be a leading country in the world if citizens could solve the numerous challenges facing the country.
Speaking during the official launch of Emeka Anyaku Institute of International Studies and Diplomacy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, UNIZIK, Awka, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed optimism that once the problems were tackled, Nigeria will take her rightful place in the comity of nations.
While commending the university for the honour, Anyaoku hoped that the Institute will provide facilities for teaching and learning diplomacy, as well as studies on interdependence among Nigerian tribes to promote unity.
Anyaoku said: “It is an immense pleasure for me to be on the grounds of this university that bears the name of Africa’s most illustrious son, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and I am truly humbled to be given a lifetime honour by this university.
“I often say that at the age of 84, I have entered the departure lounge, but my prayer is that my flight should be delayed much longer.”
Half century of diplomacy
Anyaoku, who said he had been involved in diplomacy for over 50 years, expressed happiness that he had been part of conflict resolution in many countries of the world, including dismantling the apartheid regime in South Africa.
He added that as the third Commonwealth Secretary General, he had not known what to do with the large number and volumes of his books and papers, adding that Nnamdi Azikiwe University had helped him to solve that problem.
“I will now deposit all my books in this Institute to enable other people share my knowledge,” he said.
Former Minister of External Affairs, General Ike Nwachukwu (retd.), who was chairman of the occasion, said Anyaoku was someone to rely on when things went wrong.
He said: “As a member of a nine-man committee sent by the Commonwealth to handle the issue of apartheid regime in South Africa, we had to canvass for Anyaoku, who was then the Deputy Secretary General, to be elected the Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
“He later won the election and his 10-year tenure witnessed the growth of most Commonwealth countries.
“I plead with young people of this country not to break Nigeria and we, as the elderly ones, also have the responsibility to ensure peace and stability.”
According to him, Nigeria required an Institute of this nature where other people should be made to know that not all Nigerians were bad.
While also commending UNIZIK for honouring Anyaoku, Nwachukwu recalled that it was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe that advocated that a man be better honoured when he was alive, expressing happiness that a university named after Azikiwe also decided to honour Anyaoku in his lifetime.
He has golden touch—Gov Obiano
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State described Anyaoku as one person who will not be afraid to express his view on any issue, adding that as the chairman of the Anambra Elders Council, Anyaoku had been one of the key advisers to his government.
Governor Obiano said: “Anything Anyaoku touches turns to gold and that is why we believe that as the chairman of Orient Petroleum Resources, which is part of the state’s proposed Airport City, Anyaoku’s contributions will ensure quick realisation of the project.”
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said Anyaoku was one Igbo man whose advice had strengthened and sustained his position as the leader of the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation.
According to Nwodo, “at the age of 31, I was appointed Minister of Aviation and I served in the same cabinet with Anyaoku who was the Minister of External Affairs. It was a great privilege for me.”
Other personalities at the ceremony were former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar (retd.); former Chief of Army Staff, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd.); former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili; former President General of Ohanaeze, Professor Joe Irukwu; former Nigerian Ambassador to the US, Professor George Obiozor, and former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd.)
Others were Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe; the traditional ruler of Awka, Obi Gibson Nwosu; traditional ruler of Ndikelionwu, Professor Vincent Ike; former Pro-Chancellor of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu University, Professor Elochukwu Amaucheazi, and traditional ruler of Nnewi, Igwe Kenneth Orizu.
Captains of industry, including Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia, among others, were repre-sented at the ceremony.