Thursday, 1 March 2018

Nigeria's Most Cerebral Senate President

By Desmond O. Agwunobi

The most scholastic Senate President that has ever existed in the political and intellectual landscape of Nigeria is Dr.Chuba Wilberforce Okadigbo. He was a great orator, activist, philosopher, publisher and traditionalist who displayed great mastery of political intrigues. Okadigbo brought panache and dignity to the office of Senate President. His verbosity combined seamlessly with his Igbo cultural inclinations, gave the office of Senate President the kind of elegance that was lacking in the previous Enwerem senate. He was colourful, flamboyant and sometimes controversial in his activist life. A native of Anambra State, Okadigbo was born on December 17, 1941. He was often referred to as Oyi of Oyi – a traditional title in reference to his local government council area known as Oyi. Okadigbo was married to Margery and they have children although he had other kids before then.

Dr. Chuba Okadigbo
Okadigbo had his first degree from Blackenburge College of Technology in Germany (1963), Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Karl Marx University, Leipzig, Germany (1967), another Master’s degree and PhD in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America, Washington DC in 1972 and 1975 respectively. Thereafter, he became Assistant Professor, later Adjunct Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of the District of Columbia; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Politics the Catholic University of America, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Politics Howard University. He accomplished all these from 1973 to 1975. Between 1975 and 1978, he became Director-General Centre for Interdisciplinary and Political Studies, and a lecturer in Philosophy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He also became a Professor of Philosophy, Bigard Memorial Senior Seminary [Roman Catholic Mission] in Enugu State.

Okadigbo was President Shehu Shagari’s political adviser between 1979 and 1983. He was a key negotiator for Nigeria’s government led at the time by Shagari in securing the return of Biafra’s leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. At the dawn of the fourth republic, Okadigbo successfully contested and won the election into the National Assembly to represent Anambra North Senatorial District. He became President of the Nigerian Senate, after the impeachment of Evan Enwerem. However, he was later falsely charged of corruption in the year 2000 and was impeached, officially demoting him from Senate President to a Senator. He decamped to the all Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2002 to become Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in the 2003 presidential elections.

The circumstances surrounding Okadigbo’s death in September 25, 2003, a day after campaigning in Kano State, was highly controversial. It was reported on the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service that Okadigbo may have died from the impact of an “offensive liquid” which the Nigerian police poured on ANPP leaders dignitaries at the Kano rally.

Herein lies the true legacy of an erudite orator – Okadigbo’s pragmatic philosophy of Handshake across the Niger. Okadigbo achieved most of his ambitions with an erudite mind and powerful political connections. Perhaps, he could have even achieved more with just a little more discipline. Whatever the case may be, Chuba Okadigbo’s imprints on the sands of Nigeria’s politics cannot be ignored.

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  1. Dr Chuba Okadigbo with all his scholarstic endowments was still a man of the nation, I can't forget that write up " Handshake across the Niger"