THE journey of life and rise to stardom is always determined by many factors. While some made it to the top because they were born with the silver spoon, others were not, but were able to make it by a dint of hard work and dedication. Which class does Chief Andrew Ndidi Nwadike belong to? How did he handle his challenges of birth and poor upbringing to become a deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria? These and other issues are what the octogenerian put down in his autobiography entitled: From Grass to Grace.
The author, who functioned as Gardner for Catholic Girls’ College, Agbor, Delta State, was also a subsistent fisherman but rose to the peak of his profession through God’s parenting love and care and by dint of of hard work even though he started life as an industrial orphan.
The book, From Grass to Grace, from all indications, runs contrary to Prof. Soyinka’s view of some autobiographies which he labelled as scripts written to burnish and massage the ego of the writers as it gives a vivid account of life experiences of the author in all areas including areas where he failed and others that fell into the critical areas of national development in Nigeria including the civil war years. The 460-page book published by Prompt Enterprises Nigeria Limited, Lagos is a graphic narration of the author’s life’s trajectory from his initial rural setting of abject and shared poverty to the global world of success beyond all expectations.
In the 26-chapter inspirational book designed to unlock the imagination and creativity of readers, the author, chapter by chapter, narrates his early years, attempt at early education and frustration by his father; life as a gardner, shop keeper, fisherman, teacher, student activist, banker, economist, community leader and achiever.
In the first three chapters, the author, exhibiting his gift as a good historian, takes the reader to the origin of the components of Ika nation, the exploits of Edukun, his early life as a son of a prominent timber merchant, how he was brought up and the Ika landscape which produced the Nwadike family. The indirect rule system in Ika and the punitive wars in Ikaland and the impact of the West African Frontier Force were also discussed. The book goes further in the next chapters to discuss an overview of his early education and how it was sabotaged by his father. The sacrifices to acquire education, eg being a subsistent fisherman, a gardner at Mary Mount Girls’ College and his post-primary school education and experience as a trained teacher, which marked a turning point in his life.
After becoming a teacher, how did Nwadike find his way to Lagos for university education? His life in the University of Lagos, participation in students union politics, the different vacational jobs he did and his contribution towards the academic enlightenment that led to the establishment of academic and examination clinics in Ikaland.
Another issue that receives adequate attention in the book is the Nigeria/Biafra War, how did it start, what was its impact on his personal life, the society at large and other areas? Here, again, the author took out time to educate many about the civil war, its impact on Ikaland, how he escaped death when a colleague sold him out and he escaped.
The author also captures his professional services in Central Bank of Nigeria, his active participation in the retrieval of Bafrian notes and coins that exposed him to the devastating effects of the war on the Igbos. His marriage to a unique and virtuous woman, Veronica, her education, career and philantropic nature and her role in his life were also handled by the author. The marriage was blessed with six surviving children before her death.
The book also narrates his commercial banking services with UBA Plc, the various capacities in which he served for example, appointment as Debt Recovery Chairman, Assistant General Manager and Head, in charge of Lagos Central Division of the bank etc, plus his ugly experiences and others.
How Nwadike became a part-time lecturer in some Nigerian universities, an external examiner and WAEC’s chief examiner in advanced level economics were also highlighted.The author dedicates the next two chapters to his interactions with his siblings and an overview of the life of his surving six children and how he lost one of them.
His life, in general and his role in the establishment of a Catholic church in Satellite Town, Lagos, were also exhaustly discussed.
His life as a rotarian, leadership roles in his community, active role in Ika Divisional Union, Anioma State Movement and others, were handled.
Finally, the author in the last chapter reflected on the high points of the issues discussed in the book. The coming of the book at this period in our political life is timely as it shows that in this corruption-ridden era where many made it to the top through the wrong way and were celebrated, there are still few Nigerians who have the courage/conviction and will not compromise their principles in all areas of life. I therefore, recommend it to all.