PROFESSOR Chinua Achebe’s remains will arrive in Abuja on May 12 as part of a week-long burial ceremony aimed at giving the literary giant a befitting farewell.
After a series of meetings, a final burial programme drawn up by deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu, has been agreed.
According to Senator Ikweremadu, Professor Achebe’s body will arrive at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja from the US where it will be received by Nigerian officials.
As expected, the body will lie in state in Abuja before being taken to Ogidi in Anambra State, the literary icon’s home town. President Goodluck Jonathan will attend the burial in person and Nobel laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be there too.
Professor Uzodinma Nwala, the Coordinator of the Achebe National Transition Committee, said that the committee had decided to come out with the official burial arrangement as approved by the Achebe family, Igbo leaders and the governments of the five Igbo states. Senator Ekweremadu added: “The programme was arrived at after due consultations with the family and all concerned since the fact that he should be given a befitting burial.”
Senator Chris Ngige representing Professor Achebe’s senatorial district of Anambra Central, disclosed that the senate would pay its last tribute to the literary guru in its chambers, through a motion on the floor on May 15. He added that the country and indeed the academic world had lost a rare gem and a great leader.
According to the programme, the first day of the funeral, Sunday May 19 would be a day of prayers and worship. There will be a special service at 3.00pm at the National Worship Centre in Abuja and corresponding ones at other centres across the country and beyond.
May 20 will be the Association of Nigeria Authors’ symposium on the life and times of Achebe at the International Conference Centre in Abuja at 10 am. At 5pm, there would be speeches from national and international leaders as well as associates, with the cultural troops performing too.
Later, the body will be flown to Enugu and will be received by be south eastern governors. Then there will be a final interment on May 23 at the Achebe’s compound in after a cultural carnival at the Alex Ekwueme stadium where ministers and state governors would participate.