ON CHIEF JIM IFEANYICHUKWU NWOBODO
ON THE OCCASION OF THE CONFERMENT ON HIM OF THE
LL.D. DEGREE, HONORIS CAUSA,
ON SATURDAY, 11TH MAY, 1991.
Chancellor, Sir, it is my exceptional privilege and pleasant duty to present
to you Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, on the event of the Seventh Convocation
Ceremony in the twelfth year of the Anambra State University of Technology,
for the conferment on him of the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, an illustrious son of Nigeria, an astute
businessman, publisher and industrial developer equipped to operate within
the international economic arena, ascended the high office of first Executive
Governor of Anambra State at the young age of 39. The Anambra State University
of Technology salutes you in recognition of your manifold contributions
as a philanthropist, as an energetic supporter of sporting and various
social activities and above all as an administrator, leader and statesman.
His Excellency Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo was born on 9th May, 1940;
started his primary school education at St. James School in Lafia but
completed this stage of his education at Government School, Awka. In 1956,
he entered St. Peter's College, Zaria, and completed his studies in 1959
by which time the College, still bearing the same name, had moved to Kaduna.
After one year a the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and technology
(1960-61), once again first at Enugu and next at Ibadan, he obtained his
"A" Levels and moved up to the University College, Ibadan in
September, 1961, to read English. In 1964, he graduated with an honours
degree in English. As an undergraduate, Chief Nwobodo served as Secretary
of the Students' Union; and during his tenure of office the Students Bursary
Scheme was introduced to the benefit of many. Furthermore, the young undergraduate
Nwobodo participated in many International Conferences and also represented
Nigeria for 4 years as the only student nay the only African executive
member of the World University Service at the Organization's Conventions.
- We may catch a glimpse of the first signs of the brilliant future career
as go-getter, politician and statesman.
his graduation, Chief Nwobodo was employed as tutor in King's College,
Lagos -a post he held from 1964 to 1966. In 19661 Chief Nwobodo took up
an appointment with the Shell Company of Nigeria as Development Manager,
Lagos. Later that year, he was seconded to Shell BP, Port Harcourt, still
in the capacity of Development Manager, a post which he occupied throughout
the Nigeria-Biafra War.
war in 1970, with his twenty pounds in his pocket (like ever other defeated
Biafran), Chief Nwobodo embarked on a business career which flourished
into a, multi-million corporation of many Divisions. The flag-ship of
the Nwobodo Corporation is Link-Group International, Limited. Since its
incorporation in 1972, Link-Group International, Limited, in association
with Fisher Scientific Company of U.S.A. (its Principals) has played a
major role in the stimulation of awareness in the teaching and learning
of sciences in Nigeria. The company is specialized in the supply and servicing
of laboratory equipment and as a leading name in this field boasts of
the following achievements:
1. Supply of various laboratory equipment for the re-equipment of the
post- war University of Nigeria at a cost of N3.5 Million.
2. Supply of 156 new Teacher's Training Colleges in Nigeria to the tune
of $16 million in 1974 and 1975. .
3. Supply of 52 Federal Government Colleges with General Science and Domestic
Science equipment to the tune of $6.7 million in 1976 alone.
4. Furnishing of Agricultural Science Laboratory and Workshop of Ahmadu
Bello University at a cost of $2.15 million in 1978.
5. Supply and furnishing of a complete quality control laboratory at the
Moscow Road Office of NNPC in Port, Harcourt at a cost of $1.1 million.
6. Supply of Science Equipment for Physics, Chemistry and Biology to 45
Secondary Schools in Anambra State at a cost of $0.66 million.
7. Supply of drugs and dressing to the Anambra State Ministry of Health
at a cost of $0.6 million.
The list goes on and on. Suffice it to add that Link-Group International,
Limited, in order to ensure that it keeps pace with the accelerating rate
of developments in science and technology, provides 15% of its yearly
profits for the training of its staff and other manpower development schemes.
Division 15 Link Pharmaceuticals which represents the UPJOHN WORLDW1DE,
one of the 5 major drug manufacturing companies in the world and based
in Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A. Link Pharmaceuticals intends to publish
Health News and Parma Review; and the public launching of one or both
of ; these journals is expected later this year. The Chairman -Publisher,
Chief Nwobodo, started Jupiter Publishers Limited as a subsidiary of Link-Group
in 1981. But the Jupiter of old has been transformed into a vibrant and
thoroughly modern Satellite Press Limited which publishes Satellite Daily
and Sunday Satellite. Its book publishing sub-division is to move boldly
into textbook publications later in the year. Those of us in Academia
and our countrymen everywhere who watch with increasing alarm as the cost
of textbooks soar beyond the reach of student and staff alike must fervently
pray for a rich harvest of text books of lasting value and affordable
As a philanthropist
and long before becoming Governor, the young Jim Nwobodo took the first
step of donating N50, 000.00 for the construction of a Church building.
This initial sum was subsequently enlarged by several installments and
to the glory and praise of God, that church building was consecrated on
Sunday, 25th April, 1982, as St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Amechi-Awkunanaw
by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie,
Archbishop of Canterbury. An acclaimed masterpiece of Art Deco design,
the Church stands proud, beautiful, spiritually enriching and a joy forever.
As a champion
of post-war sports in Anambra State, the young businessman Nwobodo took
the ancient Latin adage to heart: "mens sane in corpore sano".
Anxious to put his money where his eloquent mouth was, he assumed the
position of Chairman of Rangers International Club in 1975, and held that
position until 1979. Within one year as Club Chairman he had with the
right mixture of fatherly support and steely drive for success, propelled
Rangers forward to the capture of the Africa Cup Winners' Cup (now renamed
the Nelson Mandella Cup). Alas, it was to take another 14 years before
another Nigerian clubside could follow in the footsteps of IICC football
club and Rangers! Having attained success in business, Chief Jim Nwobodo
was persuaded in 1979 to run for Governor of Anambra State. He became
the State gubernatorial candidate of the now 'banned Nigerian People's
Party, was endorsed by the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Owelle of Onitsha,
and he won by a landslide. Within two years of assuming office, the energetic
and irrepressible Jim, as he was popularly called, had rebuilt his war
tom State and had used his proven- business acumen to make the State of
Anambra solvent. Therefore, he was able to secure -and Without Federal
Government guarantee -from a coalition of international bankers (hard-headed
and with zinc-lined stomachs as well) who represented a consortium of
44 American banks a package loan worth $150 million for the development
of infrastructural facilities of post-war Anambra State.
financed the following:
1. The Greater Enugu Water Project.
2. The Abakaliki Water Scheme..
3. The Nike Lake Resort.
4. The Ikenga Hotels at Awka and Nsukka.
5. The flour Mill at Emene.
6. The Aluminium Products Factory at Ogbede in Igbo-Etiti Local Government
7. The Building Materials Factory at Ezillo in Ishielu Local Government
Area. Other externally funded $chemes include:
8. The $16 million First Phase of the Rural Electrification Scheme financed
under the first contractor-finance arrangement with Turnkey.
9. The Greater Onitsha Water Scheme financed by the World Bank. Futhermore,
there were Federal Government guaranteed loan arrangements which financed
the following projects:
10. The Metallurgical. Factory at Ozubulu.
11. The Specialist Hospital at Abakaliki was started as the first of three.
A second would have been sited at Nkpor and the Park Lane General Hospital
here at Enugu would have been up-graded to complete a triad of Specialist
Locally generated finance was not spared; and the following projects were
12. The construction of the Nnamdl Azikiwe Stadium was initiated in the
13. The Anambra State Television Channel 5-0 was built and ranks among.
The best of its kind in all Africa.
these projects have cost now? The mind boggles! In response to, this massive
life-blood transfusion, the Anambra State Gross National Product (GNP)
increased by 50%, job opportunities shot up; the old Enugu-Onitsha road
was rehabilitated and other road systems were developed; school attendance
tripled. And, as one says in French: "quanele le vin est tire, il
faut Ie boire.” In spontaneous response and to the sound of the
popping champagne bottles of sheer satisfaction, and, in full praise,
the people of Anambra State rejoiced and the Rangers Football club, in
full bloom, kicked harder, ran faster and jumped right back to the top
of League and Cup competitions in response and to the greater joy of the
Between 1979 Excellency amassed a total of nearly 50 Chieftaincy titles
from Anambra State. Let me recite but a few:
Your Excellency, Sir, You are
1. Ezekwesili 1 of Nsukka
2. Agbawodike-izu 1 of Umunnachi
3. Ezeanaekwu 1 of Oraifite
4. Igiligi nadaluora of 1 Akwu- Ukwu
5. Ezejiofor 1 of Amawbia
6. Ezeora 1 of Enugu-Agidi
7. Eze Okwelume 1 of Abacha
8. Agunechemba 1 of Ukpo
9. Ezeudo 1 of Abatete
10.Anyanwuna-etiroah 1 of Nkanu
speaks for itself. And it is an eloquent testimony to the high esteem
and touching adoration the great people of Anambra State have for their
Governor. The Anambra State Administration of Chief Jim Nwobodo has an
impressive list of achievements in the field of the establishment of institutions
This list includes Colleges of Agriculture and Education spread out over
Anambra State. But perhaps the greatest achievement of Chief Jim Ifeanyichukwu
Nwobodo as Governor of Anambra Sate, and an achievement which will forever
stand, was his decision, following in the footsteps of his mentor and
political Godfather, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, to build the first
University of Technology in Nigeria within his first year in office. To
achieve his vision of a Nigerian Institute of Technology, in the mould
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he relied on the international
stature and proven innovative and experienced administration of the late
Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Professor Emeritus of Harvard University and the
scientific know-how of Dr. Heskia Heskia of the New York Institute of
Technology. Anambra State University of Technology was founded along the
lines of the ~ original blue-print on a multi-campus basis so as to broaden
the base of its impact on and stimulation of the native industry and technology
of Anambra State in particular and those of Nigeria in general.
In consideration, therefore, of the achievements of our founder, as the
philanthropist who built a Church of God of stunning beauty, as the businessman
who equipped and re-equipped scientific laboratories in universities,
other academic institutions and hospitals throughout the Federal Republic
of Nigeria, as the entrepreneur publisher of newspaper journals of crucial
social and political relevance, and especially in consideration of his
outstanding achievements as the custodian of the Laws of Anambra State,
Senate unanimously decided to award to him the degree of Doctor of Laws,
Hon. Chancellor, Sit, we all in the continent of Black Africa may be restless
in the quagmire of under-development; but a few of us, like Chief Jim
Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo, have their eyes fixed firmly to the skies, burning
with an unquenched and unquenchable passion for excellence. Even fewer,
Sir, reach those rarefied stars of achievement par excellence. Chief Jim
Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo is a brilliant achiever, an internationally successful
entrepreneur who made his people proud of themselves, an acclaimed philanthropist
and statesman, the founder of the first University of Technology in Nigeria,
and on him I request that you, by the authority of Council and Senate,
confer the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
11th May, 1991.