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31 Anambra personalities of repute

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Anambra State has been able to raise prominent people in different fields of endeavour since its creation. The laudable height attained by the state will be incomplete without these personalities who have and are continuing to put the state on the global map and on to the path of greatness.
Their contributions span across diverse strata of the society; politics, business, science and technology, arts, entertainment and sport etc. With the abundant human resources in Anambra State, there’s no doubt that the state will continue to be the Light of the Nation. EMEKA CHIAGHANAM writes:

 NNAMDI Azikiwe

Nnamdi Azikiwe, Popularly known as Zik, or Zik of Africa was a statesman and nationalist. He was at the forefront of pioneering many things in Nigeria and also occupying various positions, a former premier of Eastern Region, 1st President of the Senate of Nigeria, 3rd Governor-General of Nigeria, and 1st President of Nigeria. 

  Dr Azikiwe was an indefatigable fighter for freedom and equality, considered a driving force behind the nation’s independence and came to be known as the “father of Nigerian Nationalism.”

  He became the editor of the African Morning Post in Ghana in November 1934. There he published a piece which he titled, “Has the African a God” which led to him being charged with sedition, found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison but was acquitted after an appeal. He later founded The West African Pilot in Lagos which he used to promote unity in the country.

 Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu

  Dim Ojukwu’s theory of nationhood clearly depicts a man who saw tomorrow. He was a personality whose commitment to the Nigerian project is the least known of his multifaceted legacy.

He was Nigerian military officer, statesman and politician who served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966.

As the first indigenous Quartermaster-General of the Nigerian Army in 1963, he modernised the Nigerian Army uniform and also started the production of the uniforms in Nigeria. Previously, the soldiers wore colonial uniforms that were made in Britain.

  As a politician, he was the founding father and leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance until his death on November 26, 2011.

  Young Ojukwu had a brief spell in prison in 1944 at the age of 11 for assaulting a British teacher when he was still in secondary school at the King’s College in Lagos state.

He had an impressive academic portfolio, with a masters degree in History from the Lincoln College, Oxford University England.

Before joining the Nigerian military, Ojukwu worked as an administration officer for two years in Enugu. Ojukwu was one of the first graduates to join the Nigerian.

  Kenneth Dike

  Kenneth Onwuka Dike, was an academic and historian who made enormous contributions to the study of African cultural and historical heritage. Dike, known as ‘the father of modern African historiography’ was the first Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from 1963 until late 1966.

  He earned his Ph.D. degree in 1950. After acquiring it, Dike became the first African to “pass through professional training” in Western historical scholarship.

Prof. Dike helped found the Nigerian National Archives in 1954 and became its first Director. The Kenneth Dike Library named after him at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, is home to a significant collection of African oriented material for the study of Nigerian and African history.

  Alex Ekwueme

  Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme was the first elected Vice-President of Nigeria, from 1979 to 1983, the first Vice President of Nigeria. He served as a deputy to former President Shehu Shagari from October 1, 1979, to December 31, 1983, in the Second Republic.

   Dr. Ekwueme ran the first indigenous architectural firm in the country, Ekwueme, Associates and Town Planners.  The firm had offices in several parts of the country, before shutting down when he was sworn as Vice President.

  In 1971, he was a member of the Housing Sub-committee of the Adebo Salaries and Wages Review Commission and later served on the board of the Anambra State Housing Development Authority from 1976 when the state was created.

  The former vice-president was the first civilian to be honoured by the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). He was president, the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON). He was also Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Nigerian Institute of Architects. He was also a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Council of Elders.

  He also held different national and traditional titles including, the Order of the Republic of Guinea; Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON); the Ide of the Oko Kingdom in Anambra State, among others.

  The late Vice President founded the College of Arts and Science, Oko, which is now the current Federal Polytechnic Oko. In 2018, the Federal Government renamed Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (FUNAI) in Ebonyi State after him.

Emeka Anyaoku

  Emeka Anyaoku, one of the most decorated Africans in modern history was first black and African secretary-general of the Commonwealth (from July 1, 1990, to March 31, 2000).

  A recipient of South Africa’s Order of the Companions of Oliver Reginald Tambo for his role in initiating talks between the apartheid state and the African National Congress (ANC), his tenure as the Commonwealth Chief Executive from 1990 to 2000 is spoken about throughout the world in nostalgic terms

  One of the most respected voices across the globe, Chief Anyaoku has served as the president of the Worldwide Foundation and on the board of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. A professorial chair of international studies has long been established in his honour at the University of London.

Mbazulike Amechi

   Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, foremost nationalists, popularly known as ‘the oboy is good’ was Nigeria’s first Minister Of Aviation, a sector he revolutionised. He is the only surviving minister of the First Republic. He was first a vibrant trade unionist demonstrating extreme boldness and spirit of sacrifice, which metamorphosed into his frontline political activism. 

    Along with other members of the Zikist Movement, Amaechi took another oath that no Zikist arraigned before any court should make any plea of leniency or show any sign of regret for fighting for the freedom of the nation.

In 1959, Amaechi was elected member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens(NCNC), and was appointed Minister of Aviation and Transport in 1962. He remained a minister until the first military coup on January 15, 1966.

He got the nickname ‘The Boy is Good’ during a rally at St. John’s Field, Odakpu, Onitsha, when he swiftly intervened to hold a man who wanted to assassinate DrNnamdiAzikiwe; a feat DrAzikiwe acknowledged by saying, ”the Boy is Good.”

Cardinal Francis Arinze

  Francis Arinze, once considered a potential Pope, became the youngest Roman Catholic bishop in the world when he was consecrated on 29 August 1965, at the age of 32. He was appointed titular Bishop of Fissiana and named Coadjutor to the Archbishop of Onitsha, Nigeria. He attended the final session of the Second Vatican Council in that same year.

   Arinze was one of the principal advisors to Pope John Paul II and was considered a potential successor to Pope John Paul II before the 2005 papal conclave, which elected Pope Benedict XVI.

  He was Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments from 2002 to 2008.

  He served as the President of” Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria 1979 1984 and President Secretariat for Inter Religious Dialogue. Vatican City Rome in 1985.

  Chinua Achebe

  He was born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe. Chinualumogu (“May God fight on my behalf”) was a prayer for divine protection and stability. Achebe, often referred to as the “father of African literature,” was a novelist, poet, and critic, and arguably the most globally recognised Anambra indigene.

  His novel, “Things Fall Apart”, published in 1958, has gone on to sell more than 10 million copies and has been translated into 50 different languages, it remains one of the most taught and dissected novels about Africa.

  He won several awards over the course of his writing career, including the Man Booker International Prize (2007) and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2010). He received an Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1982 and He has also received honorary degrees from more than 30 universities around the world. He turned down the title of Commander of the Federal Republic, a national honour in 2004 and 2011.

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Chimamanda Adichie 

  Chimamanda Adichie is an outstanding writer and an advocator for feminism. She won the Orange Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2008).

  She received an honorary degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2016, and in 2017, she received honorary degrees from both The University of Edinburgh and Haverford College.

  She has been listed among one of the best writers under 40 years of age and has been elected into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is one of the highest honours for intellectuals in the US.

 Emmanuel Okala

  Emmanuel Okalain his playing days, was lionised with praise songs such as “No Okala, no Rangers!” and “No Okala, no Green Eagles!” The towering goaltender has often received encomiums for  his meritorious service to his fatherland by delivering his best anytime he turned out for both the senior men’s team (then known as Green Eagles) and Rangers International FC of Enugu.

  The maverick goalkeeper in his heydays was adored by millions of football fans and sports administrators for his skill and exploits on the pitch. Okala was the first ever winner of the African Footballer of the Year Award in 1978 as adjudged by the African Sports Journalists Union (ASJU).

   He earned his first cap in a friendly against Tanzania in Lagos that Nigeria won 3-2, and was in the team that won All-Africa Games football gold in Lagos in 1973, took bronze medals at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1978 and finished as runners-up at the All-Africa Games in Algiers four months later.

Okala was also in the Green Eagles’ squad that won Nigeria’s first Africa Cup of Nations on home soil in 1980. He was named Africa’s best goalkeeper by the Africa Sports Journalists Union in 1975 and was in the Rangers FC squad that won the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1977.

Dora Akunyili

  Dora Nkemdili Akunyili gained national recognition for her fight against fake and substandard drugs as the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), 17 December 2008 – 15 December 2010.

  As NAFDAC DG, She did an outstanding job and was widely recognised as one of the most reliable public officials in Nigeria’s history, praised locally and globally.

  She later became a former Minister of Information and Communications from 2008 to 2010. As the Honourable Minister, Prof. Akunyili anchored the Re-branding Nigeria Project driven by the slogan, Nigeria Good People, Great Nation.

Phillip Emegwali

  Philip Emeagwali’s work earned him the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers’ Gordon Bell Prize in 1989.

Emeagwali received the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer. The application used computational fluid dynamics for oil-reservoir modeling. He received a prize in “price/performance” category, with a performance figure of about 400 Mflops/$1M.

 As a doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan in the 1980s, Emeagwali began work on a project to use computers to help identify untapped underground oil reservoirs. As a young boy growing in oil-rich Nigeria, he understood computers and how to drill for oil.

  At first, Emeagwali worked on the oil discovery problem using a supercomputer. However, he decided it was more efficient to use thousands of widely distributed microprocessors to do his calculations instead of tying up eight expensive supercomputers. Emeagwali discovered an unused computer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory formerly used to simulate nuclear explosions. It was dubbed the Connection Machine.

  The Connection Machine solved a 350 year old packing problem that was considered to be one of the great unsolved mathematics problems.  Mr. Emeagwali also designed equations to explain how sperm swim, how polluted groundwater flows, how the earth’s interior moves and causes volcanic eruptions, finally how to recover petroleum safer and in larger quantities.

  He continues to work on computing problems, including models to describe and predict the weather, and he has earned more than 100 honors for his breakthrough achievements. Emeagwali is one of the most prominent inventors of the 20th century.

Cardinal Okpalaeke

  Cardinal Peter Ebele Okpaleke is the fifth Nigerian to be named a cardinal, the second-highest-ranking in Igboland after Francis Cardinal Arinze, and among the first five in the entire Nigeria.

  Cardinal Okpalaeke was appointed Bishop of Ahiara in 2012 and consecrated in 2013. His appointment was resisted by the local clergy and laity because he does not come from the area.

  He was ordained a Catholic Priest on August 22, 1992. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Bishop of Ahiara Diocese on December 7, 2012, and was consecrated on May 21, 2013, at Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Owerri, Imo State.

 But unwarranted politics came up in the church, and the people of Ahiara Diocese rejected him for no just cause, the opponents insisted on an Mbaise bishop, probably because he was not from the Diocese of Ahiara, and not an indigene of Imo State.

  The Pope thereafter took the decision to install him as Bishop of Ekwulobia, in his home state of Anambra. Cardinal Okpaleke has been Bishop of Ekwulobia since 29 April, 2020. He became a cardinal at a consistory held on 27 August. All through his and after his travail, he has never mentioned Ahiara Diocese in his sermons

Virginia Etiaba

  Dame Virginia Ngozi Etiaba stands as an Icon of hope in Igboland and beyond. One of the impressive women in Nigeria, shebecame the first female governor in Nigeria in 2006. She is a role model to women in positions of authority to use their every opportunity to serve the people with honesty and dedication.

 She is a core-educationist and a reputable scholar of note. For 35 years, she worked as a teacher and headed several schools in Kafanchan, Aba, Port Harcourt, and Nnewi. She retired from the services of the Anambra State Government in 1991 and founded the BennetEtiaba Memorial Schools, Nnewi, of which she was the proprietress. In March 2006 she resigned to assume the position of the Deputy Governor of Anambra State.

Oby Ezekwesili

  Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili is a chartered accountant, Economic and Policy Expert, former Nigerian Minister of Education, former Vice President for the World Bank and Vice-President for the World Bank’s program in Africa(2007-2012).

  She is fondly called ‘Madam Due Process’, during her stint at the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (Due Process Unit) acknowledging her eyes for details and dexterity with facts.

  She was one of the co-founders of Transparency International, served as Special Assistant and Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Budget Monitoring, and became Minister of Solid Minerals Development and later on Minister of Education.

 Ezekwesili, managerial headship of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, brought about the national implementation of the international standards and transparency model in Nigeria’s mining, oil and gas sector.

  After her stint in government, the former minister went on to become vice president at World Bank for the Africa Region and Senior Economic Advisor for George Soros’ Open Society, where she offered tips to reform-focused African leaders, such as Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.

   She was named one of 100 visionaries featured in the 3D book “Genius:100 Visionary Thinkers of the Future launched in Montreal, Canada in 2017 by Albert Einstein’s Foundations and recognised by Time Magazine as one of the Time-100 Most Influential People and by New York Times as one of the 25 Women of Impact for 2015, among several other numerous local, national and international awards.

Innocent Chukwuma

  Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma is the founder and CEO of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), Nigeria’s first indigenous automobile manufacturing company. From a small start of operating a chemist shop to importing motorcycle parts to having Nigeria’s first indigenous car assembly plant.

The company manufactures trucks, SUVs, buses, sedans, and even spare parts for the Nigerian army’s fighter jets. His plastic factory is one of the largest crash helmets manufacturers in West Africa and also the largest plastic manufacturer in Nigeria. 

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  In 1981, Innocent began dealing in spare parts. His business has since expanded into four manufacturing companies namely: Innoson Nigeria Limited Nnewi, manufacturers of motorcycles, tri-cycles, spare parts and accessories; Innoson Tech. & Industries Co. Ltd Enugu, manufacturers of Household and Industrial Plastics, Health & Safety accessories, Storage containers, Fixtures & Fittings, Electrical components & accessories; Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM) Nnewi, manufacturers of Capacity City bus, Mini & Midi buses, Pick-Up trucks and Garbage Collecting vehicles; General Tyres& Tubes Co. Limited Enugu, manufacturers of Tyres and Tubes.

  The federal government, under Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammad Buhari, has given Innoson Motors enormous patronage and support. Military formations, as well as states like Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Ekiti, Anambra, Kogi, Bauchi, and Gombe, all buy Innoson Motors for use. If adequately supported, Chukwuma has asserted that his company can transform Nigeria into a big manufacturing hub for vehicles in a short time.

 Chukwuma Soludo

  Chukwuma Charles Soludo, renowned economist,  former head of the Central Bank of Nigeria spearheaded Nigerian economic reform from 1999 to 2008 and currently the governor of Anambra State.

His sterling leadership qualities in managing the affairs of society and embodying the hope of a better society culminated in his well-deserved election as the fifth democratically elected Governor of Anambra State in 2021

  Gov. Soludo is an Igbo icon and committed patriot, scholar par excellence, astute administrator, and pathfinder who has consistently charted a course of service for the good of humanity.

  Governor Soludo has been trained and involved in research, teaching, and auditing in such disciplines as multi-country macro-econometric modelling, techniques of computable general equilibrium modelling, survey methodology, and panel data econometrics, among others.

  He has co-authored, co-edited, and authored several books, journal articles and other special publications in the area of his specialty. He was also the former Governor and Chairman, Board of Directors of Nigeria’s Central Bank, member, British Department for International Development’s International Advisory Group, member, Nigeria’s Presidential Economic Advisory Committee since 1999, among many other positions he has held in government.”

  Gov. Soludo was central in drafting and presenting the Igbo position in Nigeria at the famous “Awka Declaration” at the Alex Ekwueme Square Awka in 2018.

Peter Obi

  Peter Gregory Obi, a savvy economic manager, helped pull Anambra out of political chaos, ignoring the godfathers and insists he will not buy delegates at the party convention.

 He was the first Governor to serve a 2nd term in both the new and old Anambra State. Anambra, under Obi’s governorship was rated by the Debt Management Office (DMO) as the least indebted; the Senate judged it the most financially stable state.

  Obi’s administration won the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation prize of $1m for the best-performing state on immunisation in the southeast.

He was the first gubernatorial candidate in Nigeria to legally challenge to its logical conclusion, his governorship electoral victory that was denied him. He won in the courts and reclaimed his mandate. He was the first governor in Nigeria to legally challenge his wrongful impeachment and was reinstated by the courts.

  Obi was the first governor in Nigeria to seek the interpretation of tenures of governors when INEC allowed elections to take place in Anambra State, when his tenure had not expired; the election already concluded was cancelled and he was allowed to complete his tenure.

He was recognised as Best Governor by the Millennium Development Goals Office (OSSAP-MDGs) and the UNDP in the implementation of their programmes in Nigeria.

Cyprian Ekwensi 

  Cyprian Odiatu Duaka Ekwensi  throughout his career, pursued his diverse vocational interests: teacher, journalist, pharmacist, broadcaster, diplomat, businessman, company director, public relations consultant, photographer, artist, information consultant, writer, and general shaper of public opinion but stood out as writer.

  Ekwensi is considered by many to be the father of modern Nigerian literature and was the second Nigerian to gain international acclaim for writing with his first novel People of the City (1954).

  Ekwensi wrote hundreds of short stories, radio and television scripts. He also published a number of works for children such as The Leopard’s Claw (1950), An African Night’s Entertainment (1962) and Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975). His last published work was a collection of short stories titled Cash on Delivery (2007).

  Ekwensi’s greatest contribution to Nigerian literature is undoubtedly his success as a social realist and a commentator on current events. Jagua Nana was one of the first novels to expose the corruption within the Nigerian political system, while Iska forecasted a civil war in Nigeria.

  Ekwensi was awarded the Dag Hammarskjöld International Prize in Literature in 1969, chiefly in recognition of the success of Jagua Nana. In 2006, he became a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters. The Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) awarded him a posthumous medal of honour shortly after his death.

Christy Essien Igbokwe

  Christy Uduak Essien-Igbokwe was called “Nigeria’s Lady of Songs, a true Nigerian who sang songs in Igbo, Ibibio, Efik, Hausa, Yoruba, and English, breaking tribal boundaries. During her lifetime, she affected many lives with her NGO, Essential Child Care Foundation. Even in death, her songs like ‘SeunRere’, continue to remind us to be our best selves.

  With her ideas and husband’s support, she recorded the feat as the brain behind the formation of the only recognised national (union) body for musicians in the country aptly called Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria (PMAN) in 1982. It is meant to cater for the welfare and protection of Nigerian musicians and their rights, nationally and internationally.

  Her interventional effort helped the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) remain today as a separate entity. When it was planned for scrapping or merging with the Nigeria Police Force, she brought pressure to bear on the federal government and thus the FRSC was spared till today. This again was during the tenure of Military President Ibrahim Babangida.

  On the international scene she was awarded Silver Prize” Winner at 6th Seoul Songs Festival, South Korea in 1983. Grand Prix “ Winner at Neewollah Music Festival at Independence, Kansas, USA in 1983. International Special Achievement” Award of MUSEXPO, Acapulco, Mexico, 1983, among others.

  Posthumously she has been awarded, “Entertainment Icon” by West African Women in Leadership Conference (in Ghana) in 2011. Excellence in Outstanding Performance & Hard Work” by National Association of AkwaIbom State Students (NAAKISS) – University of Lagos Chapter 2011.

Chike Obi

  Chike Obi was a mathematician and politician. He was the first Nigerian to earn a Ph.D in mathematics. His research was on non-linear ordinary differential equations. He was famous for his work on non-differential equations; won the 1985 ICTP Prize and developed a special solution for Fermat’s Last Theorem.

  Obi was a radical politician. He was anti-establishment. Many did not know that he wrote a book, ‘Our Struggle’, published in the 50s, in which he outlined his political philosophy. He was also a newspaper columnist in the 1980s and wrote on national issues .

  He was the leader and Secretary-General of the Defunct Dynamic Party, which, despite the influence of Dr. NnamdiAzikiwe of the NCNC, simultaneously won seats in both the Federal Parliament and Eastern House of Assembly, representing Onitsha Urban Constituency. He had won the Federal Seat first in 1960.

  In 1998, and without the aid of any instrument, Obi solved the 361-year-old mathematical puzzle known as Fermat’s Last Theorem, enunciated by the 17th century French Mathematician, Pierre de Fermat.

  Chike Obi, with James Ezeilo and Adegoke Olubummo, was one of a trio of black mathematicians who pioneered modern mathematics research in Nigeria.

Ebele Okeke

  Ebele Ofunneamaka Okeke is Nigeria’s first female Civil engineer, former Head of the Civil Service of the federation, the first female to be appointed in that office.

  Engr Okeke has vast experience and a track record of delivering outlasting performance in a highly competitive engineering related sector.

  For her contributions to engineering in Nigeria, she has received numerous honours and awards which include Certificate of Distinction awarded by the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1992. Association of Professional Women Engineers, Achievement Award in 1995 and 2004. Distinguished Award for holding the Integrity of Civil Engineering Practice in Nigeria, 2005.

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Nwafor Orizu

  Akweke Abyssinia Nwafor-Orizu, more known as NwaforOrizu was a member of the Nnewi Royal family and the second Senate President of Nigeria. He served during the First Republic from November 16, 1960, to January 15, 1966.

   Nwafor Orizu, who served as Senate President was also Acting President of Nigeria from late 1965 until the military coup of January 1966. He was among those who have been purposefully omitted, or bowdlerized, from the annals of Nigerian history.

  He was among the great leaders of the Nationalist Movement, who challenged imperialism both as students in the United States and as political activists in Nigeria.

Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy

  Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy; first black artist to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II; one of the UK Women of the Year in 2002 and 2003. She was great with different mediums but was famous for her studies in Oil and Pastels, she was also an accomplished Printmaker and Sculptor.

Mrs. Roy was greatly inspired by people especially by the survival spirit and tenacity of Africans. Her decision to go into portraiture stemmed from the fact that she was more interested in people than subjects, she found capturing human characters, their outlook and more challenging.

 Chinwe was commissioned by Martin Keown to paint Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium in London. She was an avid supporter of Arsenal FC. In 2003, she represented the United Kingdom at the European Council Committee in Paris, advising on Contemporary African Art and Artists.

  She was a founder member of the renowned Sudbourne Printmakers) and exhibited her works worldwide.

Ben Enwonwu

  Odinigwemmadu Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu simply known as Ben Enwonwu, painter and sculptor was one of Africa’s most influential artists of the 20th century. His five-decade long career was an extraordinary representation of African Art and his work still inspires.

  Enwonwu was one of the first Nigerians to be trained in the European style and techniques of visual representation by the British government in the Murray School. His first solo exhibition in Lagos in (1944) won him a scholarship to further his art  education at the Slade School of Fine Arts in   London, becoming the First African to graduate from the school.

  He was the First African to be commissioned by the Queen. In 1956, Enwonwu received the greatest commission of his career as an artist. The famous life-size bronze portrait of Queen Elizabeth was conceived herself to commemorate her visit to Nigeria that same year.

  Enwonwu became the first professor of fine arts (1971) at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he taught and retired in 1975.

   Enwonwu will be remembered as one of the most prominent African artists whose works inspire the younger artist, and who helped create international visibility of African Arts in all media: wood, bronze and painting.

Humphrey Nwosu

  Professor Humphrey Nwosu – professor of political science; former NEC chairman; conducted the freest, fairest and most credible election so far in Nigeria

  Nwosu tried helping to redirect the country’s democratic trajectory in 1993 as the chairman of the electoral umpire, the then National Electoral Commission (NEC), but a country with a leadership that reveled in the self-defeating act of shooting itself on the foot failed him.

  Prof. Nwosu had delivered the freest and fairest poll in Nigeria’s history which heralded the dawn of a new nation, but in so doing he displeased the military. Prof. Nwosu was summoned to the corridors of power. Vested military interests wanted to know why NEC went ahead with the election in spite of the order of Justice BasseyIkpeme that forbade it.

Christopher Nixton Ifekandu Okigbo

  Christopher NixtonIfekandu Okigbo was a poet and literary icon with distinction. Okigbo was a literary giant whose works live on despite the fact that many of those who terminated his life 50 years ago had long been forgotten.

  Okigbo was one of the early African writers who later came to define what is today known as modern African poetry. As a member and pioneer of what literary critics today refer to as the Ibadan School of Poetry, Okigbo is unarguably the crest bearer of his generation of poets, the generation often described as the modernist or obscurantist. The University of Ibadan is proud of his contributions to the evolution of this school.

  His poetry and poetics were shaped by historical necessity in the form of the cultural encounters that produced the translation of African cultures into their modern forms.

Iwene Tansi

  Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was West Africa’s first Catholic monk who was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Fr. Tansi was the first Catholic priest from West Africa and the only Nigerian till date to be beatified.

  Fr. Tansi was beatified on March 22, 1998 by Pope John Paul II at Oba in Nigeria. In 2010, he was named a patron of Nigerian priests.

   Fr Tansi has the following institutions named after him, Blessed IweneTansi Major Seminary, Onitsha Anambra State Nigeria (Provincial Seminary), Blessed Iwene Tansi Secondary School, Aguleri, Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish, Umudioka, Blessed Iwene Tansi Parish Ugwu Orji Owerri Imo State, Blessed Iwene Tansi Chaplaincy, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (Igbariam Campus), Tansi International College Awka, Tansian University, Umunya.

Jerome Udoji

  Chief Jerome Udoji, renowned economist, lawyer, business administrator, government official, traditional ruler, and philanthropist was the first Nigerian to be made a District Officer by the Colonial Administration. He played a pivotal role in the shaping of the post-civil war history of Nigeria.

Udoji founded the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank in 1956. He worked as a Ford Foundation Consultant in Administration and Management from 1968 to 1972. He was also a consultant to the United Nations Conference on the Management of public enterprises held in 1969 in Yugoslavia. He was a member of the Evaluation Committee on the African-American Dialogue, organized by the African American Institute in 1971. He received a diploma in public administration at Makerere University, Uganda in 1973.

  He founded the Udoji Award in 1974. The award was a welfarist attempt to enhance the purchasing power of the civil servants.

Mary Onyali

  Mary Nkemdilim Onyali-Omagbemi, known as the “Queen of Nigerian Sprints” raised the bar for female sprinting in Nigeria. In her active days, she competed and dominated for almost two decades. Her emergence not only paved the way but also motivated many female athletes on the African continent. She was the first Nigerian to compete at five Olympics,

 She had won the bronze medal in the 4 × 100 m relay at the 1992 Olympic Games and in the 200 m at the 1996 Olympic Games. She also won the 1994 Commonwealth Games 100 metres title.

  Onyali-Omagbemi performed well in the All-Africa Games, winning a total of 7 individual medals in the short sprints. She won 100 m in 1991, 1995 and 2003 and took a bronze medal in 1987. Gold medals in 200 m were taken in 1987, 1995 and 2003. Furthermore, the Nigerian 4 × 100 m relay team won all races between 1987 and 2003, at the African Games.

Uche Okeke

  Prof Uche Okeke, foremost fine artist and founder of the Uli movement, was among the artists that appropriated cultural and aesthetic traditions from around the country as a means of defining a new national identity in the late 1950s.

  The artists moved away from traditions steeped in colonialism, “natural synthesis” merged the best of indigenous art traditions, forms and ideas with useful ones from Western cultures to create a uniquely Nigerian aesthetic perspective.

  Okeke drew inspiration for a new visual language from uli, an Igbo female body and wall painting tradition from Southeastern Nigeria that is based on sinuous abstract forms derived from nature (above). In Uli, Okeke saw “limitless expression,” internalising the drawing technique he learned from his mother, a renowned uli draughtswoman, to serve a modernist sensibility.

After the Nigerian Civil War, Okeke joined the faculty of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he ran the Department of Fine and Applied Arts from 1971. Under his direction, Nsukka rose to prominence as a centre of Nigeria’s artistic creativity, drawing artists like the renowned El Anatsui to its ranks.

He is the founder and Director of Asele Institute and Documentation Centre, Nimo, since 1958.

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