Uzodinma Nwala prepares for 80th birthday
By Valentine Amanze
Prof. Timothy Uzodinma Nwala, the president, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), clocks 80 on March 20, 2022.
Abia Onyike, the chairman, ADF Media and Publicity Bureau, disclosed this in a statement on Monday, February 7, 2022.
He stated that already, the family members, Mbaise indigenes, friends and associates of the enigmatic activist-scholar and elder-statesman were putting final touches for the celebration of the intellectual colossus.
He further disclosed that events had been lined up to mark the birthday at three locations: University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where Nwala taught for over three decades; at Enugu and finally at his hometown, Itu in Ezinihite Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State.
An intellectual giant, Nwala recorded landmark achievements in his epochal career. He was regarded as the father of African philosophy, having started the teaching of the subject at UNN in 1971-2, from where it spread globally.
Nwala was one of the founders of the modern Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and became the pioneer leader (Executive General Secretary.
He led the first ASUU strike of 1981, which resisted the commercialization of higher education in Nigeria. Through their dogged efforts, Nwala and his colleagues promoted the fundamental principles of academic freedom, university autonomy and above all, left a legacy of an effective and disciplined organization, led by an ideologically conscious leadership, inspired not by pettiness but by high moral and spiritual leadership.
Nwala was appointed a Professor in 1985, though released in 2002 after a long wait of 17 years due to his intellectual and social activism.
On the world stage, Nwala once addressed the United Nations in 1975 on the platform of the UN Economic and Social Council on the problems of the youth in the world. Thereafter, the former Secretary-General of the UN, Kurt Waldheim, appointed him as a member of the 10-member committee to advice the UN on the measures to be taken to involve the world youths in UN affairs.
He was also instrumental to the setting up of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme by the Gowon Administration in 1973, based on his submissions as the organizer of the East Central State Youth Volunteer Service Corp (ESYVSC) in 1970.
As an elected member of the 1994-95 National Constitutional Conference, Prof. Nwala initiated the idea of the six geopolitical zones and rotational presidency. He worked closely with former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, through the creation of the Institute of Civil Society (ICS), which inspired the G-34 to confront Gen. Sani Abacha, the last military dictator who refused to pave way for democratic governance in Nigeria.
He was the author of the original draft of thr G.34 document.
He was one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), author of the draft of its first Constitution and, as the pioneer Director of Organization and Strategy of the party, he laid the foundation of its original structures.
Being the first Philosophy graduate in Nigeria, Nwala pioneered the introduction of the African Philosophy Course at the University of Nigeria Nsukka from where it spread globally. A former President of the Philosophy Association of Nigeria, he received the Aime Cesaire Award for his pioneering role in African philosophy.
After his graduation in 1967 as a University scholar, Nwala proceeded to the prestigious (Post-Graduate) New School for Social Research in New York, where he bagged his Master’s and PhD and received the Hiram J. Haile Fellowship as the best graduating student in his class.
He was a Visiting Fellow at the USSR Academy of Sciences at the African Institute in Moscow in 1986 and later became a Commonwealth Fellow at Oxford University, London from 1992-93.
Since the inception of the 21st Century, Nwala has led his colleagues in the task of rebuilding and development of the Igbo nation as well as the rebirth and advancement of the spirit of her culture and civilization to place the Igbo nation as a significant player in the global community.
Nwala’s greatness lies in the fact that he has indeed lived the life of a great theorizer, organizer and leader.
In the process he has mentored several men and women who like him have been in the forefront of the struggle to promote the unity and stability of the Republic.