THE Ekwueme Square, the Anambra ceremonial ground – is wearing a new look as the venue awaits arrival in Awka of remains of Alex Ekwueme, a former vice-president of Nigeria.
Ekwueme died in London on November 19, 2017; aged 85.
The venue has been touched up, as the perimeter fencing has been painted in National colours – green white green – with National flags fluttering.
Giant size photos of the late elder statesman, had been adorning the venue in preparation for arrival of the remains, expected in Awka from Enugu, where Ndi Anambra and their visitors alike would pay their last respects.
The remains would later be conveyed via a motorcade from Awka to Oko, the final place of interment.
At press time, workers were still on ground at the venue putting finishing touches to preparation for an open non-denominational service.
There has accordingly been a step up in security cover in Awka and environs to forestall any untoward circumstances to successful funeral celebration.
“It is a typical bi-partisan event as Ide lived for all Ndi Anambra,’’ Tony Nnachetta, the Anambra State commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, remarked.
He noted that even though Ekwueme belonged to the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the ruling All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, was committed to playing major role in giving late Ide Anambra, a befitting burial.
“Indeed, four other south east states, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo governments as well as the Federal Government are participating in funeral of well-deserved National Burial,’’ the commissioner added.
In a bid to further underscore the significance of the funeral, Solo Chukwulobelu, the secretary to the state government, SSG, has on behalf of government of Anambra State, announced work-free day to enable Ndi Anambra to participate in the event.
Workers, Ndi Anambra and people from all walks of life, particularly civil servants, market leaders had also been enjoined to rally to pay their last respects to legendary Ekwueme.
The square was, indeed, named after Ekwueme by Chinwoke Mbadinuju, a former governor of Anambra, between 1999 and 2013.
The square had previously played similar roles in the burial town iconic figures such as Chinua Achebe and Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
It is common to name monuments after important personalities in a state that made landmark achievements. Indeed, Michael Okpara, the first premier of Eastern Nigeria, had a square named after him in Enugu, with his statue erected there.
Perhaps, the only missing aspect at Ekwueme Square is absence of his statue.
Maybe as part of making the place more enduring and immortalising him, the government might consider bankrolling the erection of Ekwueme’s statue at the facility.
– Jan. 31, 2018 @ 17:46 GMT