Prof. Reuben Olu-Udochukwu Ani (1942-2016)
Renowned educationist and exemplary leader
Professor Reuben Olu-Oludochukwu Ani (Olowa Nwani), who has died was born to the family of Chinevu Nwani Anyamu of Amankpo Umuezike, and Ogo Nwadiyoke Oyiogu of Amegu-uwani Mgboko, both in Aku, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State on February 27, 1942.
In his tribute, his first son, Arc. Chikwado Ani said: “Prof. Ani started his education career at the then St. Thomas Church Missionary School, (C.M.S), now Community Basic School Aku.
“He was very close to his mother that he often carried her wares to the local market before going to school and would carry them back home after school. The name okpokoteibe (one who likes to gather his people together and render assistance to them) was given to him by the prestigious, Ozo Ezikenechi, during his Ozo title coronation, because of his compassion for humanity and strong aversion to the maltreatment of anybody.
“The norm during his childhood and youth days in the town was high discriminatory tendencies between the Catholic adherents and the Anglican faithful, but he exempted himself from the practice. Rather, every Christmas period, he often brought Christians in Amankpo together for closer relationship and co-operation by organising Christmas carols. This continued until the outbreak of the Nigerian civil war.
“Also in his youth days, he had exceptional flair for agricultural activities such as palm wine tapping, animal rearing and the cultivation of varieties of crops, especially yams, a practice, he continued during his sojourn in Benin City and Enugu. He was also a lover of Aku culture and tradition. As a youth, his special type of “Egboro” (the sound of the locally- made wooden gun) marked him, the best among equals during New Yam festivals.
“During his primary school days, pupils lived in boarding houses, but there was no standard five and six in Igbo-Etiti Local Council for Church Missionary Schools between 1932 and 1955. He used to trek on foot with his foodstuffs and books from Aku to St. Paul’s Church Missionary School Nsukka.
“His eldest brother, Ezike Nwani (Ekwomibe), usually solicit for assistance from close neighbours to pay his school fees. Ani completed his primary school education at St. Paul’s Church Missionary School Nsukka in 1952 and taught briefly at St. Thomas Church Missionary School Aku from January to August 1955. He also taught at Church Missionary School, Elu-Agu Obukpa from September to December 1956.
“In 1957, when the Eastern Nigeria Government introduced free primary education in the Region, he was given employment by the government and was posted to St. Stephen Church Missionary School Aka-Iyi Umulokpa where he taught from February to December 1957.
Fame, prestige and pride that characterised the teaching profession in those days did not quench his burning desire for secondary school education. In January, 1958, he gained admission into the famous Western Boys’ High School, Benin City and the Igbo-Etiti Country Council, School Scholarship for 1958- 1962. While in Western Boys High School, he was a school prefect and distinguished himself in many activities namely Boys Scout Movement, Photography Club among others.”
Chikwado continued: “He also established cordial relationship with some notable Nigerians who were his class mates. Notable among them were Professor Victor Uwaifo, Brigadier General Samuel Osaigbeto Ogbemudia (rtd) and two former INEC bosses Abel Gwubadia and Ephriam Akpata respectively.
“He completed his secondary school education in 1962 and was employed in the Ministry of Finance, Board of Internal Revenue as a clerical officer from 1963 to 1964. He was posted to Umulokpa where he met his heartthrob, Miss Esther Ositadinma Onuigbo from Umualum, Umuaga in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. He got married to Esther in 1964 and also gained admission into the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1964.
“He later got the Federal Government Scholarship for undergraduate studies from 1966-1971. When the Nigeria civil war broke out in 1967, his University education was halted. The pogrom of the Easterners touched him seriously and he enlisted in the Biafra Army, a decision his siblings and relations did not support, but being a person who was fanatical in what he believed in, he remained in the Biafra Army until 1968 when his elder brother, Eric, died in the hands of the Nigerian Army. He succumbed to the pressure from his relations and quit the army.
“He went back to University of Nigeria Nsukka after the civil war to complete his education in 1971 with a B.Sc Honours in Zoology. During his graduation ceremony in 1972, he pledged that he was going to sponsor any Amankpo child that gained admission to secondary school. This he followed up by house-to-house and farm-to-farm campaign for enrolment into secondary education. He gave scholarships to so many students in Amankpo, Umuezike, Aku, Ukehe, Diogbe, Opi, Enugu-Ezike from primary to secondary school level and others from secondary school to university level. He even took over the responsibility of his friend’s family, late Monday Ugwuoke from Opi, who disappeared and has not been found till date.
“He was offered employment in September 1971 to 1972 as a Science teacher by the then Mid-Western State government and was posted to St. Anthony College, Ubulu Uku. It was there that WAEC appointed him as an examiner and he was sent to University of Ghana for orientation. He was later re-deployed to the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) Benin City in 1973. He later did his P.G.D.E. programme at the University of Benin from 1978 to 1979, before proceeding to University of Ibadan for his Masters between 1981-1983. He later did his Ph.D with Federal Government Scholarship for Postgraduate Studies in 1988.
“He was a Lecturer 2, Lecturer 1, Head of Biology Department, Senior Lecturer and Head of Science Department from 1975 to 1985 at the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) Benin City. He was later offered employment by the Anambra State University of Science and Technology (ASUTECH) in 1985.
While lecturing at ASUTECH, the Management of Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) Benin City that sacked him, reviewed his case and recalled him with a promise to pay all his entitlements for the period of his sack. He jettisoned the offer and preferred to continue with the University system. However his services were later transferred to Anambra State University of Science and Technology (ASUTECH).
“ The Faculty of Education of the university was moved to the Awka Campus in 1989, where he continued lecturing until the creation of Enugu State in 1992. Anambra State University of Science and Technology (ASUTECH) later became Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU) a Federal University. He had the option of remaining in Awka or returning to Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), but he chose to remain in Awka.
“While at Awka as a lecturer, he had many local and international publications to his credit. He authored and co-authored many books. He was a member of Examination Monitoring Committee from 1988 to 1990 and held other prominent positions as a renowned academic.”