The Authority Icon: T. UZODINMA NWALA
For demonstrating the power of focused knowledge in positively changing the human condition and for putting Nigeria and Africa on the world map of top-notch intellectualism; for developing the NYSC blue-print which the Yakubu Gowon administration graciously adopted and for using philosophy to lift his milieu, Prof. T. Uzodinma Nwala is The AUTHORITY Icon
He is a notable philosopher, uncommon activist and visionary with a compelling perspective of his universe. Meet Prof. T. Uzodinma Nwala. He was born in Itu Ezinihitte, Mbaise, Imo State, in 1942. He is a rare intellectual genius, who with only a two-year post-primary college education took only one year to pass six papers (including mathematics) at a sitting in the GCE O’Level (1962) and just five months to pass three papers at a sitting in the GCE A’ Level (1963). All these were done through self-tuition.
He later studied at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Here, he graduated as the first philosophy honors graduate to be produced by a Nigerian University. He earned his higher degrees (MA, PhD) from the famous Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, New York, where he received the Hiram J. Haille Fellowship as the best student of his class. He was a Visiting Fellow of the USSR Academy of Sciences at the African Institute, Moscow in 1986 and a Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom from 1992-93.
He is one of the foremost African philosophers, who introduced the teaching of African Philosophy in the curriculum of the University of Nigeria in 1972 from where it spread globally. He wrote his famous book Igbo Philosophy in 1973, when his colleagues were debating whether there was anything that could genuinely qualify as African philosophy. A former President of the Nigerian Philosophical Association (NPA), 1982-84, he spearheaded the Philosophy degree programs in the University of Abuja, Kogi State University and Benue State University. He earned his professorship in 1985.
His Head of Department at the Graduate Faculty of the New School, New York wrote of him as having kept a record unmatched in the history of the Department. Another world renowned teacher, Hans Jonas, called described Nwala as a phenomenal African student. World-renowned literary icon Chinua Achebe called Uzodinma Nwala a Shinnjng Light.
He is a frontline leader in the movement for the advancement of Igbo civilization. He has served in various capacities as Secretary and Coordinator of Igbo Delegates Forum at the National Constitutional Conference (1994-95); Secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought (1997-99) with Chief Alex Ekwueme as Chairman; Secretary of Peoples National Forum (forerunner of Pan-Ndigbo Foundation) with Chief Alex Ekwueme as the Chairman (1998-99); President of the foremost Think Tank, Conference of Democratic Scholars CODES), that has engaged in critical initiatives in national and Igbo-based issues; Nwala was the acknowledged visionary and coordinator of the historic FIRST FESTIVAL ON IGBO CIVILIZATION (2008 – 2009).
He was instrumental to the birth of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), having organized the East Central State Youth Service Corps (ECSYVSC), and based on that submitted a Memorandum to the Government of General Yakubu Gowon in late 1970 urging him to nationalize the ECSYVSC as an instrument of National Reconciliation and Integration.
Nwala is appropriately called the father of modern Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU). He laid the foundation of the program and ideology of ASUU in his capacity as the one and only Executive General Secretary of the union. He led the ASUU strike of 1981 that resulted in a separate salary structure for the universities, enhanced academic freedom and university autonomy.
He is happily married with children and several grand children.