NWABUEZE Prof. Benjamin

A National Treasure by(Wilson Uwujaren). In his trademark black suit and parted hair, he wears the sartorial look of a colonial school teacher. He is a teacher all right but there is nothing in hisappearance thatbetrays his pro file asoneofthe most distinguished university teach ers in Nigeria. Professor Benjamin Nwabueze is an eminent scholar whose exploits inhis area of speciali zation - law- are superlative. The Faculty of Law of the University of Ni geria, Nsukka was where this brilliant scholar blos somed. For many decades, Professor Nwabueze taught law atNsukka, producing a generation of lawyers who now occupy important positions in various sectors of the society. His life as a don, however, goes beyond teaching. As a committed scholar, he invested enor moustime inresearch andwriting. Someofhis books are companions of law students throughout Nigeria and the Commonwealth. Though hedoes notbrag about hisachieve ments, Professor Nwabueze's intellectual and aca demicbrilliance have beenwidely acknowledged. At home and abroad, he is celebrated as a scholar of repute. He has made history asthefirstNigerian pro fessor to beappointed a Senior Advocate ofNigeria (SAN). He is equally a recipient of the prestigious Nigeria National Merit Award (NNMA). His profile asan accomplishedscholargavethe UNN LawFac ultythe prestigewhichithasretained. Ben Nwabueze's towering profile is not lim ited to the world ofacademia. He is a popular voice at major public lectures. Last year, when the 90th birthday ofthe late sage, ChiefObafemi Awolowo was celebrated (posthumously), Prof. Nwabueze was on hand to deliver the memorial lecture. At the fo rum,the distinguished lawteacher presenteda thoughtprovoking treatise on the political way forward for Nigeria. He comes across as a firm believer in the rule of law as an instrument for social order and progress. Applying this to the Nigerian political ferment, Professor Nwabueze urged Chief Olu Falae to challenge General Olusegun Obasanjo'selection in the February 27, 1999 presidential election, which he claimed was a monumental fraud. Not to do so, the learned professor said, would amount to a disservice to Nigeria. Dismissing theanxiety of those who claimed that litigation would endanger the nascent democracy, Nwabueze explained that employing the process of law to fight irregularities was not a recipe for anarchy, as it was better than resorting to riots and violence. This is vintage Nwabueze. His idealism and hope for a constitutional order in Nigeria have been a major influence in his writings and research. He has been critical of military rule, blaming the frequent military incursions into governance for Nigeria's political backwardness. Asa panacea, he once suggested that all Nigerians should be armed. During the Ibrahim Babangida regime, Professor Nwabueze distinguished himself as one of the fiercest critics of that regime's staggered transition programme. It is said that it was because of his hard stance against the military that General Ibrahim Babangida drafted him into the Chief Ernest Shonekan-led Transitional Council, ostensibly to help shorten the transition process. On 4 January 1993, Nwabueze was appointed Education and Youth Development minister, inheriting a ministry that was mired in a deep crisis. Soon after he assumed office, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) gave notice of a proposed strike action to protest government's decision to extend the then elongated university salary scale(EUSS), which they claimed was exclusive to the academics, to the non-academic staff. Professor Nwabueze reasoned that the teach ers would lose no income if government decided to pay the non-academic staffthe EUSS.The lecturers did go on strike, and this led to the proscription of ASUUandthepromulgation ofthecontroversial teach ing, etc. (Essential Services) Decree of 1993 which banned strikes in the ivory towers. Professor Nwabueze had no illusions about what he sought to achieve, i.e., disentangle the educational sectorfrom the snareof perennial strikes. It was not an unpatri oticagenda; unfortunately it failed to producethede sired result. The striking teachers, shocked bythe vehemence of Nwabueze's legalassault,defied the minister and his draconian measures. Nwabueze ended up having a stormy tenure. After his stint as minister - his first major political experience at the national level- he with drew from public glare until the twilight of the draconian regime of late Sani Abacha, when he staged a dramatic comeback as secretary-general of the pow erful Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohan' eze Ndigbo. Through theOhan'ezeplatform,Nwabueze aligned himselfwith some prominentNigerian citi zensto force Abachato abandon his plan to succeed himself. That group was the G34 which later meta morphosed into the People's Democratic Party(PDP). He, however, did not follow his colleagues into the PDP. Though an easygoing scholar, Nwabueze could also be stubborn, as ASUU members would readily attest to. Some years ago, not a few people were shocked when he paid for a wholenewspaper page in which he denounced Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu for crowning himself Eze Ndigbo. He stated that it was pretentious for Ojukwu to crown himself king over a republican people.According to him,the title created the impression that Igbo land has a central monarchy, which is not true. His role in Ohan 'eze brings to light another side of Nwabueze as a scholar who has not allowed his exploits in the world of academics to alienate him from his cultural roots.Through Ohan 'eze, he has been working to advance Igbo interests, one of which is the constant call fora restructuring of the Nigerian federation and the armed forces. He was quoted to have said: "A genuine patriot of this country should be able readily to perceive that the present one-sided structure of the Nigerian armed forces, heavily dominated by the North, as it is, poses the threat of disintegration, and to refuse to decentralize it into zonal commands is to postpone the evil day". A widely-travelled scholar, Professor Nwabueze has held numerous important appointments both locally and internationally. He was a member of the United Nations Study Group on the Constitutional Proposal for Namibia in 1977, and a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee for Zambia. He is also a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Born in Atani, Anambra State on 22 December 1932,Nwabueze attended CMS Central School, Atani between 1938 and1948 for his elementary education. He later attended the famous London School of Economics and Political Science,and the University of London where he obtained various degrees in law. He has published articles in many reputable local and international journals. He has also published over 10 books of international acclaim to his credit. Professor Nwabueze's life is not all academics, law and politics. He is also a boardroom player having sat on the board of some blue-chip companies in Nigeria, including the United Bank for Africa Plc. and SCOA Nigeria Pic. He is married with children.
Last Update

“Please send your updated CV to: [email protected]” – Editor

© Blerf

All entries available on this Website shall be updated from time to time in order to add, modify or amend the information or contents of an existing entry. Accordingly, no legal proceedings whatsoever shall be entertained by the biographer on account of any information deemed to be inadequate or incomplete.


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


©2024 Biographical Legacy and Research Foundation. Powered by 24hubs

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?