Tribute to Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju (1945-2023)
By Willie Obiano
I am saddened to learn of the passage, on April 11, 2023, of the first Anambra State governor in Fourth Republic, Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju, in Abuja.
Mbadinuju’s reign as Anambra governor from 1999 to 2003 was a challenging period. He did his best to grapple with insecurity, perpetrated mostly by ruthless, unconscionable robbers, who were armed to the teeth. He curbed the menace, though his method was unorthodox.
He faced severe challenges not just from contractors and the political class, but also from his own party men and women, who demanded Irrevocable Standing Payment Orders every month from the state’s share of the monthly federal allocation for jobs done for the government, regardless of the terms or performance of the contracts. He also faced politicians, who fancied to be called godfathers of the state.
Mbadinuju, who was born on June 14, 1945, must be remembered for, at least, two outstanding things, which defined Anambra people: the determination to succeed despite all odds and the love of education, which saw him establish the state university, now known as Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, with campuses in Uli, Ihiala Local Government Area, and Igbariam in Anambra East LGA.
He had pulled himself up by the bootstraps through an excellent academic record. He was always ahead of the class in primary school, and despite not having the benefit of a secondary education, he passed the General Certificate of Education papers in flying colours at the Ordinary and Advanced levels in just one sitting each.
An accomplished singer and organist, he studied Music as a private student at a leading British institution and passed with distinction.
Mbadinuju was a brilliant student at the State University of New York, where he studied Political Science on a scholarship, ending up with a doctorate from Cornell University in New York, an Ivy League institution.
He quit his job as an Associate Professor to read Law at the University of Southampton in England.
On his return to Nigeria, he joined journalism and rose rapidly through the ranks. Apart from being the Times International founding editor in Lagos, he served in Anambra as the general manager of the state-owned Star Printing and Publishing Company. He become the Director of Information and later a presidential aide in 1982.
A keen sportsman, Mbadinuju left an outstanding record in track and field events. His record as an athlete at Bishop Lasbery Teachers College, Irete, near Owerri, Imo State, remains unbroken. He was among the top 11 football student players in the United States during his undergraduate days and represented the US in different competitions.
Anambra people acknowledge Mbadinuju as the governor, ended, within a couple of months in office, the almost intractable Aguleri-Umuleri boundary dispute, which cost many lives, houses and other huge assets for years.
A humble and easily approachable man, Mbadinuju had a short memory of hate. He forgave and forgot almost immediately he had a misunderstanding with anyone. An intensely religious person, he wrote 10 books on Christian spirituality.
May the good Lord forgive the sins of Dr Clement Chinwoke Mbadinuju and welcome his soul into paradise.
*Chief (Sir) Willie Obiano (FCA) was Governor of Anambra State from 2014 to 2022.
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