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Tribute to Raymond Okafor Nwanya, ‘Prof and dean’

“Death is a necessary end which will come when it will come”.William Shakespeare in Julius Ceaser. 

 AND so death came to Professor Raymond Nnadume Chidubem Okafor-Nwanya on July 31, 2014. Born on February 28, 1940, he attended primary education at Sacred Heart School, Calabar from January 1950, to December 1956. He later enrolled into College of Immaculate Conception, CIC, Enugu from January 1957 to December 1961 and subsequently Holy Family College, Abak, Akwa Ibom State from January 1962 to December 1964 for his secondary and higher school career, respectively.

During his secondary and higher school days, he exhibited excellent academic abilities which earned him a Grade I result in West African School Certificate and a Diploma from University of Cambridge Higher School Certificate, both at principal and subsidiary levels. He joined Union College Schenectady New York from 1964 to June 1967 from where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in French and Literature. This was achieved not using his parent’s money but by winning the African Scholarship Programme of American Universities, feats only few people have achieved.

His postgraduate studies took place at Middlebury College Graduate School of French in France Middlebury Vermont in collaboration with the Sorbonne University of Paris from 1967 to September 1968 where he was honoured with a Masters of Arts in French and Literature. Finally, he bagged his Doctorate Degree at the University of Paris, Sorbonne in 1974.

Professor Ray Okafor Nwanya began his professional career in1968 under the service of Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike, first Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, as a Personal Assistant. This appointment ended in1970 as he took up yet another one, this time as an instructor in Francophone Literature Fisk University abroad programme, Abidjan, Ivory Coast. His competence at this period earned him the position of a full time lecturer in French and Comparative Literature in the same university.

As a result of his proficiency in French language, his mates and some friends advised him to come back home on assignment here in Nigeria. Thereafter, he humbled himself and returned home to take up an assignment at the University of Port-Harcourt where he served as a lecturer between 1976 and 1980; Senior Lecturer between 1982 and 1985, all in French and Comparative Literature. He also served as Member of Senate in the same school between 1980 and 1997; Member of Governing Council of the University between 1982 and 1985; Chairman, Committee on Lecturers and Cultural Activities between 1983 and 1985; Head of Department Foreign Languages and Literature, between 1982 and 1984; Director of Basic Studies Programme between 1984 and 1985; Co-ordinator, Year Abroad Programme, between 1984 and 1986; Professor of French and Comparative Literature in 1986 to 1988 and Dean of Faculty of Humanities, between 1992 and 1996. He was also a guest lecturer at a seminar organised by Association of Universities partially or entirely on French expression at the University of Ouagadougou Burkina Faso in 1997.

Apart from his academic contributions to the development of Foreign Language in Nigeria, he performed competently in other areas of endeavour. In 1983, he was a consultant with NTA on National Election Programme, Verdict 83. He edited JOFRAS, a French journal of the Association of Francophone Studies in 1986. He ran for the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the platform of the defunct NRC in 1992. He retired from service in 1997, hence an accomplished Senior Citizen of Nigeria.

The popular saying, once a soldier always a soldier, can best be used to describe Ray’s position after his retirement from service. He tried his hands in many ventures to prove that as a dynamic and thorough bred Igbo man, he will make a success of any enterprise. Due to his competence he was always called upon to offer his service appropriately. In 1999, he served as Chairman, Federal Visitation Panel, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State. In 2000, he was a consultant for PDP Training Programme for Organizing Secretaries, Abuja, as well as the consultant, NAPEP Monitoring Programme for 2001. He also consulted for the training workshop of Nigeria Immigration Service Headquarters, Abuja. He further served as Political Adviser to the Executive Secretary FCDA, Charles Dorgu. He published two books: The African Narcissus and The Inheritance of Fashoda. He was a member of many learned society and had attended various international conferences. He understood and spoke five languages. He was the immediate past Chairman of the Governing Council of the Federal College of Education Eha Amufu in Enugu State.

Prof. was deeply involved in the activities of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abuja, the Federal Capital. I recall that he organised a reception for the former National Chairman of the party, Prince Vin Ogbulafor by the PDP South East Forum Abuja. He had gone far in arranging the reception party before the unceremonious exit of Prince Ogbulafor from the seat.

He also ventured into newspaper publishing, establishing the Abuja Tempo, a weekly tabloid that circulated massively in the Federal Capital territory and environs between 2003 and 2008.

With Abuja temple he was a leading voice in the policy of restoration of the Abuja Master Plan under the administration of Mallam El-rufai as the FCT Minister. His vitriolic editorial and comments on national issues were a must read by top government officials.

Prof has run the race and did so excellently. He has written his name in gold in the annals of Nigerian history. His place in the records of the nation’s social and political development is assured.

His remains will be laid to rest in his Enugwu-Ukwu Anambra State residence on Friday September 19, 2014 after funeral service at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Enugwu-Ukwu. The gap created by the demise of Professor Raymond Okafor Nwanya, alias Pro.f & Dean, Atakataagbuo will indeed be very difficult to fill.

It is a great pity that in spite of the support given to Mallam El-rufai’s Administration Abuja Tempo had to collapse as a result of huge debts owed it by the FCT Administration. The eminent Professor pursue the payment of these debts with subsequent FCT Ministers but until his death the debts remained unpaid.

He also registered some companies which bidded for and won some building construction contracts in the FCT. “Prof” therefore made a huge success of both the Academic and Business worlds.

Prof and Dean will be greatly missed by the Academic Community of which he was a proud member, the Politicians Community especially in the Abuja Chapter of the PDP South-East Forum which he was a motivator, the Enugwu-Ukwu Community in Anambra State which he was their First Academic Professor and admitted numerous students to study various courses at the University of Port Harcourt and the Community of Philanthropists were he contributed his widow’s might and used his contacts and brilliance to improve the lot of humanity.

Having suffered debilitating illness in the past five years, we his friends and admirers can only wish him deserved rest in the bosom of our Lord. Prof has run the race and did so excellently. He has written his name in gold in the annals of Nigerian history. His place in the records of the nation’s social and political development is assured.

His remains will be laid to rest in his Enugwu-Ukwu Anambra State residence on Friday September 19, 2014 after funeral service at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Enugwu-Ukwu. The gap created by the demise of Professor Raymond Okafor Nwanya, alias Pro.f & Dean, Atakataagbuo will indeed be very difficult to fill.

 

Sam Ekpe , a media consultant, wrote from Abuja.

 


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