President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday said the Federal Government and the Government of Ghana would collaborate to rebuild the St. Philip’s Central School, Ogidi, Anambra State, where the late Prof. Chinua Achebe had his primary education.
Jonathan made the promise at the church service held for Achebe at Ogidi.
However, the promise fell short of expectations from Achebe’s admirers that expected Jonathan to rename a public institution or a monument after the renowned author.
The literary icon died in Boston, United States last March 21 at the age of 82.
Jonathan, who recalled that Achebe’s first book, Things Fall Apart, written before the country’s Independence in 1960 was prophetic, said his last book, 'There was a Country' was full of lamentations.
The President promised to lead a political and social revolution that would prompt Achebe’s grandson and namesake to write another book that would be entitled, 'There is a Country'.
Describing Achebe as a philosopher, the President said, “He used literature, a subject he loved and knew very well, to philosophise. All of us must work hard to change this country so that Achebe’s grandson will write, There is a Country.
Jonathan also did not make pronouncements as to special projects in Achebe’s geo-political constituency as requested by the Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo.
The church service had President John Mahama of Ghana, six governors, ministers and National Assembly members in attendance.
Various speakers, including Mahama and the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, on the occasion eulogised Achebe and his ingenuity as a literary legend and social crusader.
Mahama said though Achebe was a writer, “he was much more than that”, noting that the professor of Literature was active in social crusade, education and other areas of life.
“It is my greatest regret that I met Achebe at the sunset of his life,” Mahama said, and promised to honour Achebe by delivering a lecture at Achebe’s last institution, Brown’s University, Rhode Island in the US.
The Ghanaian president added that his admiration for Achebe was without comparison.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha said Achebe ranked only second to Nelson Mandela in Africa, while the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Viola Onwuliri, said the author of Things Fall Apart boosted the image of Nigeria abroad despite not being a professional diplomat.
The Anglican Archbishop of Aba, Most Rev. Ikechi Nwosu, who stood in for the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, said Achebe was a parable for Nigeria.
He said Achebe’s decision to turn down national honours twice was not an indication that he hated Nigeria, but rather a pointer to the fact that he wanted things done properly in his country.
Nwokolo thanked Jonathan for awarding contracts for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge but called for the construction of a third bridge that would link Enugu and the northern parts of the country.