By Chiedu Uche Okoye

Talking about Chief Emeka Anyaoku fills our hearts with immense joy as he is a good man, who embodies virtues in his personality and did good things for us.

Is Chief Emeka Anyaoku not known to countless people in many countries of the world? This is a rhetorical question that needs no answer. Chief Emeka Anyaoku, a native of Obosi, Anambra state, is one of the greatest Nigerians in living memory. And, he had a sterling, commendable, and memorable career as an international diplomat, which culminated in his serving as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth between 1990 and 2000. As the leader of the Commonwealth of Nations, he helped to restore political stability in many politically-troubled countries of the world.

That Chief Anyaoku played pivotal roles in deepening democratic governance in many countries of the world is an incontrovertible fact. So, now, the mere mention of the name, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, evokes sweet memories in the minds of millions of people, who belong to such diverse races as the Caucasoid race, Australoid race, Mongoloid race, and the Negroid race. His doings, which have formed his legacies, are forever etched in our minds. And they are indelible footprints on the sands of time.

So Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who is a man of deep learning, is not unmindful of the stark fact that his bequeathing of his legacies to younger generations of Nigerians will spur them to strive hard to realize their potential and contribute their quotas for the rapid development of Nigeria. As to that, he had built the “Emeka and Bunmi Anyaoku Foundation Centre”, which houses a library and a museum. The centre, no doubt, is a monument to the memories of Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who served humanity as an international diplomat with rare distinction.

The Emeka and Bunmi Anyaoku Foundation Centre, which is a magnificent edifice, is a stone’s throw from Chief Emeka Anyaoku’s house at Ire village, Obosi, Anambra state. The venerable and affable Chief Anyaoku built the centre with the money he salted away when he worked for many years as an international diplomat.

The director of the Emeka and Bunmi Anyaoku Foundation Centre is the youngish, affable, and personable Ms Oluchi Nguzoro. The prepossessing and self-effacing Ms Nguzoro, who possesses a degree and a master’s degree in Library Science, is well-equipped, both mentally and physically, to direct the affairs of the centre. A bluestocking of no mean repute, Ms Nguzoro is rounding off her doctoral programme in a Nigerian university.

Ms Nguzoro said that Chief Emeka Anyaoku built the centre as a way of documenting and preserving his experience, diplomatic peregrinations, and achievements as an international diplomat. And according to Ms Nguzoro, he wants to use the centre to refocus the minds of young people on education, against the background of young people’s waning interest in the acquisition of knowledge.

We all know that the existence of a functional educational system in a country is a fillip to the rapid development of that country. And it is a common knowledge that educated people have the social skills and intellectual wherewithal with which they can navigate their ways in the world and achieve their various lofty goals. The Emeka and Bunmi Anyaoku  Foundation will aid the young people in their quest and pursuit of education.

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The centre is a conflation of a museum and a library. The library, which is well-stocked with books, has three sections, namely Library one, Library two, and Library three. Library one has a section named Nigeriana, which contains books written by Nigerians. While Library 2 has books on religion, philosophy and pure science, Library 3 contains books on technologies and literature. The library has repository, which contains the speeches given by Chief Emeka Anyaoku and the awards and honorary degrees he received.

And the museum, which is part of the centre, has five museum galleries, viz Adazie and Ugoma Hall of Fame, Bio-Diversity Gallery, kingdoms and Symbols Gallery, Nigerian Cultural Artefacts Gallery, and Gifts from Nations Gallery. Each of the five museum galleries has unique and enchanting collections, which can enrich the knowledge of arts curators, and broaden the mental horizons of people, who visit the museum. The arts collections in the museum reflect  Chief Anyaoku’s love and appreciation for works of arts.

More so, Chief Emeka Anyaoku is hopeful that the Emeka and Bunmi Anyaoku Foundation Centre, Obosi would collaborate with the Emeka Anyaoku Institute of International Studies at Unizik in organizing talks and seminars on how to find solutions to Nigeria’s seemingly intractable problem of disunity. Chief Anyaoku holds the belief as well as the opinion that most pluralistic states in our today’s world face the daunting challenge of managing their diversities.

Njgeria, like the dismembered Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, is a heteregenous country that is hobbled by the centrifugal forces of ethnicity and religious conflicts. Nigeria would have disintegrated on several occasions but for providential intervention. That is why Nigeria is called a cat with nine lives. Didn’t she survive the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, the political conflagration caused by the cancelled June 12, 1993 presidential election, and several ethno-religious conflicts?

Chief Emeka Anyaoku, who married across ethnic lines, holds the belief that the efforts we are making to achieve national unity in Nigeria is not utopia. He nurses the hope that someday Nigeria will become an organic whole, that is, a true nation. And he is of the opinion that sub-nationalities in Nigeria will benefit materially and otherwise if they stay in the Nigerian nation-state as the greatness of Nigeria lies in her diversities.

Chief Anyaoku opined that before Nigeria can become a true nation-state, the ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria must reach consensus on the basis of their co-existence and solve the national questions and conundrums. Thereafter, they will conduct a referendum on their resolutions, which will lead  them to produce a people’s constitution.

The Emeka and Bunmi Anyaoku Foundation Centre, which will be opened on January 18, 2024, will play  critical and pivotal roles in raising discourses that will try to offer solutions to Nigeria’s national problems. And the centre is a gift for young people, who are questing for education so as to improve their lives and become good citizens of Nigeria.

*Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State