For devoting his 31 years stint in the Diplomatic Service to the service of Nigeria and Nigerians in very special and creative ways, such that he became one of Nigeria’s most accomplished diplomats who left special marks in all the posts he served at, and for outstanding friendships he built and secured for Nigeria, for which he was decorated with a National Award; for insisting that the crowning duty of a diplomat is to translate and transport the benefits of the contacts and relationships he built while on duty tours for development at home, AMBASSADOR OKECHUKWU NWADIUTO EMUCHAY, MFR, is The AUTHORITY Icon.
Nigeria’s award-winning diplomat was born at Aba, in today’s Abia State on November 9, 1960, with what could be regarded a ‘silver spoon in his mouth’, as his father was Dr Dick Waobianyi Emuchay, who had left indelible marks through his medical practice, once he returned from Europe, which provided rural service in different parts of Eastern Nigeria, especially the famous Cottage Hospital which he built at his home, Azumini.
After the primary school at Aba, Okey Emuchay attended the prestigious Government College, Umuahia and Federal Government College, Enugu, where his friendly and national outlook was honed by the fact of his early meeting and association with Nigerians from all the cardinal crannies of thecountry, at the ‘Unity school’.
His tertiary education was University of Nigeria, Nsukka, from where he graduated with Honours in Political Science and Diplomacy, preparing him for the successful career that he took up after his national service.
Starting his diplomatic service with a tour of the United Kingdom, he also served at Austria and Angola before being posted to South Africa as the Consul-General, and which was the crowning glory of his service.
He arrived in South Africa at a time of great and dynamic events, which made Ambassador Emuchay’s stay there both challenging and demanding of enormous creativity and capacity to navigate with dexterity. That was the era when the country and the world were trying to adjust to the fall-outs of the post-apartheid politics and economics, as well as the period when Nigerians and other African immigrants were having a very raw deal in the hands of the locals who believed that Nigerians were the author of South Africa’s myriad of socio-political and economic challenges. Therefore one of the key issues that Ambassador Emuchay had to manage was the xenophobic attacks on Nigerian nationals in that country.
Emuchay also had to deal with the issue of criminality of some Nigerians which was one of the things that put a wedge in the relationship between the nationals of the two countries. He travelled to the major cities of the country with his consular staff and issued passports to Nigerians, thus ending their endless runs with the South African security agencies. Not to talk of visits to prisons where Nigerians were languishing, often undeservedly.
The Consul-General further organised the hundreds of thousands of Nigerians in that country and for the very first time, he organised the first-ever convention of Nigerian Union of South Africa (NUSA). Generally, he was able to purchase better respectability for Nigerians as individuals and groups.
Because of the respect which Ambassador Emuchay enjoyed from the government and institutions in South Africa, many knotty aspects in the relationship were untied. He was there when Nelson Mandela died, attempts in some quarters to play down Nigeria’s participation in the epic funeral were straightened, especially as a masterstroke, Ambassador Emuchay brought over from Nigeria, Honourable Mbazulike Amaechi, the gentleman who Zik had detailed to take care of Nelson Mandela, when he was on the run from the apartheid masters and landed in Nigeria. It was very touching to make South Africans to remember that gesture.
It would be an unnecessary to point to the numerous business linkages and connections that were effected by Ambassador Emuchay, MFR as the Consul-General, but it is remarkable that during that era, most people forgot that Nigeria had a High Commissioner based at Pretoria, as emphasis and attention shifted to Johannesburg where the Consul-General was based, and thus, where the action was.
The government of Dr Goodluck Jonathan honoured Ambassador Emuchay with the national award of MFR.