In a remarkable move aimed at celebrating cultural and intellectual icons, Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has officially announced the renaming of the Anambra International Airport after the late literary legend, Prof. Chinua Achebe.
Governor Soludo made this historic announcement during the Independence Day celebrations held at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, the state capital. While addressing the gathering, he emphasized his administration’s dedication to the comprehensive development of the state, expressing confidence that Anambra would overcome its current challenges.
The renaming of the airport reflects a departure from the conventional practice of naming public projects exclusively after political figures. Governor Soludo asserted, “We must signal that you don’t have to hold political positions to contribute to the advancement of our civilization.” He added that it was essential to recognize individuals from diverse fields who have made significant contributions to society.
Late Professor Chinua Achebe, renowned worldwide for his literary achievements, was cited as a prime example of an unsung hero who made an indelible impact without holding public office or constructing physical infrastructure. Governor Soludo lauded Achebe’s role in shaping African literature and providing a distinct voice for the continent.
“Henceforth, we shall be deliberate in fishing out and celebrating our largely unsung heroes as motivation to our children and youths in terms of what matters, including distinguished teachers, medical and other professionals, persons of honesty and integrity, philanthropists with known sources of wealth, entrepreneurs/job creators, community leaders/developers, clergy with great devotion, etc.
“An example of Africa’s unsung hero is the late Professor Albert Chinualumogu Achebe.
Governor Soludo stated, “Achebe was not a President or Governor or Minister. He did not build bridges, roads, or airports. But he will outlive most presidents, governors or ministers.” He further acknowledged Achebe as a global and African icon who, despite his worldwide acclaim, remained largely unrecognized in his homeland.
“Achebe gave African literature an identity and a voice. In a way, he rightly reconstructed and redefined who we are, and we will never forget. Indeed, he was not an Anambra hero nor a Nigerian hero. He was an African and global hero, and yet largely unsung at home.
As a tribute to the literary giant, the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport in Umueri will be renamed the “Chinua Achebe International Airport, Umueri.” Governor Soludo also expressed his intent to work with the federal government to confer full international status upon the airport.
“Consequently, we will rename the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri, to Chinua Achebe International Airport, Umueri. Yes, it has to be an international airport, and we hope to work with the federal government to give full effect to its international status,” Soludo said.
Highlighting his administration’s achievements in less than two years, Governor Soludo reiterated his commitment to the “Soludo Solution Manifesto.” The manifesto focuses on five pillars: Security, Law and Order; Infrastructure and Economic Transformation; Human Capital and Social Agenda; Governance and Value System; and clean, green, planned, and sustainable communities, markets, and cities. He promised to present a comprehensive two-year report card to the people of Anambra in March 2024.
The renaming of the airport after Chinua Achebe signifies significant cultural and intellectual recognition, emphasizing the importance of celebrating individuals who have made invaluable contributions to society across various fields. This decision is expected to resonate with the people of Anambra and the broader literary and cultural community.