- By Ikeji Aro
Below are some of the worthy sons and daughters of the great Arochukwu Kingdom who have distinguished themselves in their chosen careers and other areas of human endeavors and as such, have left indelible ink in the surface of this earth.
There is no doubt that the names mentioned in this piece is not in any way exhaustive, but we will keep updating as information about other worthy sons and daughters of our great Arochukwu Kingdom becomes available.
The names are not written in any given order. The names and their brief biographies as follows:
1). Eze Kanu Oji (1900 – June 28, 1987)
He holds the world record of the first longest monarch to ever reign for 73 years followed by Emperor Hiro Hito of Japan He ascended the throne in 1914 as the Eze Aro of the great Arochukwu Kingdom.
Although, not much is known about his educational achievements, however, records have it that he was able to read and write due to his early association with the Europeans as palm produce trader at Obubra, in present day Cross River State.
Mazi Kanu Orji was one the three recognized chief by the defunct East Central State Government.
His Majesty, Mazi Kanu Oji, received early British recognition following the innovations introduced into native administration that facilitated indirect rule in the then Eastern Nigeria.
He was honored with Queen Elizabeth II coronation medal of June 2, 1953, and was also honored as Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1956. Some of his children include Prince Joshua Kanu Oji, Kanu Oji Kanu, etc
2). Dr. Alvan Azinna Ikoku (August 1, 1900–November 18, 1971)
Alvan Ikoku was the first Nigerian who founded co-education in 1931 and named the secondary School James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, a Ghanaian missionary and his former teacher at Hope Waddell College, Calabar.
The name of the School is Aggrey Memorial Secondary School, located in Arochukwu, his home town in Abia State.
From 1911 to 1914, he attended Arochukwu Government Primary School. Also, from 1915 to 1920, he attended Hope Waddell College, Calabar where he was a student under James Emmanuel Aggrey whom he immortalize by naming Aggrey Memorial Secondary School after him.
Dr. Alvan Ikoku was in 1946 was nominated to the Eastern Nigeria House of Assembly and assigned to the ministry of education. In 1947 he became part of the Legislative Council in Lagos as one of three representatives of the Eastern Region.
Dr. Alvan Ikoku called for an ‘Education Bill of Rights’ for primary school education to be free for six years across Nigeria in 1962. This was later accepted by the Federal Military Government led by Chief Dr. General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976.
Dr. Alvan Ikoku is blessed with intelligent sons among whom are Samuel, Chimere, Ekanem, Gloria, Enyinna and Fide.
3). Mazi Vincent Ogbonnaya Okoro (26th March, 1932 – 31 October 2020)
Ogbonnaya Okoro was appointed a pioneer Head of Department of Laboratory Technology at University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu and also a pioneer Technologist in charge of third year medical students of the MBBS class.
Besides, he served as a part-time lecturer in Medical Microbiology at the School of Nursing also of the UNTH. He finally retired as Chief Medical Laboratory Scientist at the UNTH in 1988.
He started his quest for education around 1939 at Jubilee School Arochukwu but completed his primary school education at Aggrey Primary School also in Arochukwu.
He later left for Ibadan where he completed his Secondary School education at Ibadan Boys’ High School. He got employed by University of Ibadan and served as a laboratory technician in the Faculty of Agriculture.
In 1960 he left Nigeria for London to further his education. At the end of his studies in several Colleges in London, he graduated with two Advanced Certificates (i) in Microbiological Techniques and (ii) in Laboratory Administration, both of City and Guild of London.
He later became a Fellow of the Institute of Science Technology, (FIST) London.
CFR, celebrates his twenty two years (1995 – 2017) on the famous ancient throne of Arochukwu Kingdom. He was, in 1988, chosen to ascend the throne of his forefathers but was not officially crowned the Eze Aro until 31st May, 1995, about 7 years in waiting.
He was crowned by the then Eze Ibom Isii (late Mazi Okorafor Imouh, whose duty it was to crown him), at a brief public ceremony held at Amaikpe Aro event square.
The coronation of Mazi Vincent Ogbonnaya Okoro on May 31st, 1995 automatically brought to an end the hitherto protracted Eze Aro stool tussle that had lasted for 7 years in the high court, Ohafia.
4). Prof. Chimere Eyo-Ita Ikoku (Born 3rd July, 1928 – 31 October 2002)
He was the first Vice Chancellor of UNN to serve full two term.
He was a renowned Nigerian professor of Pure and Industrial Chemistry who served as the 8th Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The department of Pure and Industrial Chemistry held its First Professor Chimere Ikoku Memorial Lecture / Department of Pure And Industrial Chemistry Homecoming in his honour.
Ikoku was killed in his house at Enugu, on 31 October 2002. Chimere Eyo-Ita Ikoku was born on July 3rd 1928, the third child of Dr Alvan Azinna and Mrs. Goomsu Ikoku. Both his parents were consummate teachers.
His father was for long the President of the Nigerian Union of Teachers and also founder of Aggrey Memorial College in 1936. Located in their hometown of Arochukwu, Aggrey was one of the first six secondary schools in the former Eastern Region of Nigeria and the very first co-educational in West Africa.
Chimere’s mother Goomsu, popularly known as Nne Sam, was a founding teacher of the school and a social worker in the community. She taught Domestic Science and so had the privilege of mentoring countless girls.
A great philosopher and statesman, his father Alvan, is one of five national heroes of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and appears on the ten naira currency note.
Chimere began his education, of course, in Aggrey Primary and Memorial College. In spite of the hardship of World War II, he graduated from secondary school in 1944, aged 16, with a Grade One Cambridge Overseas Certificate.
Because of his father’s desire for a Science teacher at Aggrey, Chimere proceeded to C. M. S. Grammar School in January 1946. The school was in Lagos, the then capital city. It is still one of biggest commercial cities in Africa, as well as one of the most culturally diverse.
Here the teenage Chimere would make many livelong Yoruba and Muslim friends; through he himself was Igbo and a Christian. Within a year of his enrollment at C. M. S. Grammar School, he obtained O Level in Biology and Physics with Chemistry.
1960 was a pleasantly memorable for Nigeria and many other African countries who regained their independence from Britain. It was equally for Chimere and his young bride; they travelled to the United States, where Chimere returned to his doctoral studies at the University of Chicago.
Their first child, who sadly lived only a few minutes, was born soon after in Chicago. Between 1964 and 1965, Dr Chimere Ikoku had a brief sojourn in Canada as lecturer and postdoctoral research fellow (medicinal Chemistry) in the University of Manitoba.
Desiring to make their own contribution to the new nation of Nigeria, Chimere and Edem returned in September 1965. Chimere joined the young Chemistry Department of the University of Nigeria and was quickly promoted to Senior Lecturer and then Head of Department by 1970.
In the meantime, he and Edem had three more children: Goomsu Affiong, Ikenna Otu-Ita and Erinma Hannah.
Only a year after their return, Nigeria was embroiled in a bloody massacre of Igbos in the north; which led to the secession of Biafra (the erstwhile Eastern Region) and later the Civil War. The University of Nigeria suffered huge physically and psychological damage.
Dr Ikoku and his colleagues spared no pains in attempting to rebuild the battered institution. Along with a few colleagues (including the renowned Nigerian writer, social critic and later Prof Emeritus Chinua Achebe), Dr Ikoku was active through Nsukkascope – the campus magazine – in drawing attention to the problems while proffering solutions.
Frustrated by the insensitivity of the university administration to its failures, he quit his job in September 1973 and joined the North East College of Arts and Science as Principal Lecturer. By 1975 he had risen to Principal of the College.
The upgrade of the college to the University of Maidugari in April 1976 would begin another phase in Dr Ikoku’s career; that of pioneering universities. He was made Dean of the Faculty of Science. In June 1977, he transferred his services to the then University of Sokoto (now Usman Dan Fodio University), receiving an elevation to Professor.
Only a year after, his track record was again recognized in the appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic). He held this position until 1982 when the Federal government required his pioneering role as Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Abeokuta.
Just two years later, the reins of government changed, and the brand-new university was merged with the older University of Lagos.
Professor Ikoku was now free to engage in full-time research of a project close to his heart: coal. He first set up the Coal Utilization Research Unit at the Project Development Institute (PRODA) in Enugu. He then proceeded to the University of Leeds in Britain; on his long-postponed sabbatical earned while with Usman Dan Fodio University.
5). Mazi Samuel Goomsu Ikoku
In the 1950s, Goomsu Ikoku was appointed the first Nigerian Organizing Secretary to Action Group which then had a strong organizational structure. In 1957, he won regional House of Assembly election, in the assembly he represented AG and served as the first leader of opposition.
During the campaigns preceding the election, Ikoku’s father was contesting the same seat under the United National Independent Party
He was a Nigerian trade unionist and politician. As a student at University of Southampton, Ikoku supported Nigeria’s independence movement, writing articles printed by the West African Pilot.
After his degree, he joined the radical arm of the independence movement, working as an adviser to the Nigerian Federation of Labour led Michael Imoudu and later co-founding the United Working People’s Party in 1952.
A year later, the party was officially disbanded, the government did so after branding the organization as subversive and communist. Ikoku later began a relationship with the Action Group (AG) that span majority of the First Republic.
Ikoku sometimes spoke on national issues with a sense of candor, this style led to him being called a controversial figure by former Science and Technology Minister, Sam Momah.
Ikoku graduated from Achimota College and later studied at University College, Southampton. Beginning in 1946, Ikoku took interest in the independence movement led by Nnamdi Azikiwe.
He began writing articles in Azikiwe’s West African Pilot criticizing the Legislative Council, in which his father was a nominated member, arguing against the council as an imposed government and aligning with Azikiwe’s ideas about immediate independence.
6). Col Anthony Okoro Eze ( 23rd December, 1932 – March 2016)
Col Anthony Eze became the first Nigerian commander of Signal Regiment in 1964.
His Army Number, N35 indicates that that he was the 35th personnel enlisted into the Nigerian Army.
Mazi Colonel Anthony Okoro Eze was born on 23 December, 1932, in Ekka present day Ebonyi State, as a scion of the Eze-Ole dynasty of Amangwu-Arochukwu. His parents were the famous Customary Court Judge, Mazi Eze Ole and Madam Grace Nwaite Eze. He was born into a large polygamous family as his father married twelve wives.
His early education was at Joint Community School, Achiagu and St Theresa’s School, Abakaliki. Following his academic propensity, he won a scholarship to the prestigious Government College, Umuahia in 1949. There, he not only distinguished himself academically but also in the sporting arena notably at football, hockey and cricket.
Due to his leadership qualities in the Boys Brigade, his School Principal – Mr. Simpson – advised him to pursue a career in the army. This he wholeheartedly accepted.
He had a brief stint at P&T Engineering School, Oshodi before joining the Nigerian Army officers’ cadre. After basic training, he was sent to Teshie Military Academy in Ghana from where he was chosen to attend the prestigious Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in January 1957.
In 1959, he headed to the Royal School of Signals, Catterick where he undertook several courses in military communications.
It was while on a course in England that he met and married his darling wife Mrs. Joan Angelina Eze, a nurse, in 1961. She was from Grenada in the Caribbean and would be his rock through thick and thin.
Not long after his return to Nigeria, Col. Eze was sent to t Congo as part of the UN peacekeeping force. On his return, he rejoined the Signals Regiment and became the first Nigerian commander in 1964. He served there with distinction till he was made the Lagos Garrison Commander in January 1966.
It was from this post in Yaba that he had a miraculous escape during the coup of July 1966 when mutinous Northern troops tried to assassinate him.
During the ill-fated Nigeria-Biafra Civil War from 1967-70, he served as GOC 12 Division of the Biafran Army as Brigadier. The environment brought out the best in him as he served with merit in a severely depleted Biafran army.
At the end of the war in 1970, he had to deal with premature retirement but in his usual way forged ahead and set up a Communications Consultancy Firm that helped bring Siemens into Nigeria. He had extensive consulting services with Federal Ministry of Communications and the Signals Regiment over the next decade.
In the 1980s, he became Chairman of the Nigerian Hockey Federation where he pursued a vigorous path of growth for Nigerian hockey and distinguished himself with his upright and forward-thinking leadership.
He also became Chairman of Land Use Allocation Commission in Old Imo State. He was a Board member of Nigercem Cement Company, Nkalagu. In all his business dealings, he was always watchful of anything that would besmirch his family name.
He was very passionate about his community affairs, notably his village, Arochukwu. He served Nzuko Arochukwu as the President of Lagos Branch and first Vice President-General at the national level. He helped champion the formation of Eze Aro Advisory Council and served in it for many years. He was a member of Okpankpo Arochukwu.
He was a devoted family man with three children – Andrew, Yvette, Chukwuma – and seven grandchildren. He was also a man whose hobbies included tennis, photography and travelling. He travelled extensively with his immediate family in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. He was a devout Catholic and was quite passionate about social justice and the betterment of society.
He was a deeply humble, intelligent and articulate man with high self-esteem. He never hesitated to help others and was always available to advise people. He believed passionately in Scholarship and helped many Aro sons and daughters to attain their educational dreams.
A distinguished Aristocrat who never tolerated mediocrity.
7). Senator Mao Arukwe Ohuabunwa (born 24th May 1957)
Mao Ohuabunwa is a Nigerian politician, businessman and served as a Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District in the 8th National Assembly having served in the 4th and 5th National Assembly as Member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia constituency of Abia State under the People’s Democratic Party between 1999 and 2007.
Mao Arukwe Ohuabunwa was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 24 May 1957 to parents who were business people at Atani a town in Arochukwu local government area of Abia State.
He attended Orevo State School where he completed his primary education and Enitona High School, Borokiri where he completed his senior school education.
He went on to obtain an HND and B.Tech in Applied Biology and Microbiology respectively from Rivers State University of Science and Technology.
He also went on to attend Enugu State University of Science and Technology where he obtained his PGD and M.Sc certificates in Public Administration and Human Resources Management respectively.
8). Dr. Nwakanma Okoro
Dr Nwakanma Okoro was the first Igbo Senior Advocate of Nigeria and also the first man East of the Niger to lead the Nigerian Bar Association and the first Nigerian to have a PhD in Law. He was the first National Secretary of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) that later produced Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 1979 to 1983.
Dr Nwakanma Okoro belonged to the first generation of Nigerian lawyers, having been engaged in law practice since pre-independence. Nwakanma belonged to the second set of lawyers elevated to the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). The first set had only two persons – the late Chief Rotimi Williams and the late Dr Nebo Graham Douglas(1975).
He was of the 1978 set and his contemporaries were the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo (SAN), Chief Remi Fani-Kayode (SAN), Prince Tanimose Bankole Oki (SAN), Mr E.A Molajo (SAN), Mr Kehinde Sofola (SAN), Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN) and Chief Olisa Chukura (SAN).
Others of the 1978 set are Chief G. O. K. Ajayi (SAN), Dr. Mudiaga Odje (SAN), Mr. P. O .Balonwu (SAN), Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), and Dr Augustine Nnamani (SAN), who later became a justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
He was the President of the Nigerian Bar Association between 1976-1978.
Dr Nwakamma Okoro later resigned his position as NPN National Secretary to contest the vacant gubernatorial position in Imo state then but lost to Chief Sam Mbakwe of the Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe-led Nigerian People’s Party (NPP).
9). Ivy Uche Okoronkwo (Born 1st August 1956)
Ivy Uche Okoronkwo holds the enviable record as the first female officer to be appointed Commissioner of Police for a state command and that was when she served in trouble-pruned Ekiti State. Immediately after their decorations, the DIGs were assigned offices.
Ivy Okoronkwo, from Abia State, made history by becoming the first female Deputy to the IGP in the history of Nigeria Police.
She is also the first woman to head a zonal command in the 148-year history of the Force as she currently presides over the affairs of Zone 7 Police Headquarters at Abuja, overseeing operations in the Federal Capital Territory, Niger and Kaduna states.
Ivy,a native of Arochukwu in Abia State, enlisted in the police as Cadet Assistant Superintendent on August 1, 1978 after her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Criminology at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1977.
On November 3, 2007, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Women in Nigeria and she is the president of Women Police Officers in West Africa.
10). Benjamin Okike (Born 22nd November, 1970)
Benjamin is the first Nigerian Professor of Information Encryption, a sub-field of Computer Security. He is currently a Faculty Member of the Department of Computer Science] of the University of Abuja.
Benjamin was born to the family of Mr Okike Onwuasoanya and Mrs Nwannedia Okike.
His parents are from Amangwu Arochukwu in present-day Abia State, Nigeria. He parents were both traders.
In 1977, Benjamin started his primary School education at Community School, Okoffia in Ezza LGA of present day Ebonyi State, but later completed his primary education at Umunnabuo Community School, Umuchi-Akuma, Ihechiowa in Arochukwu Local Government Area in Abia State.
In 1982, he started his secondary school at Izzikworo Secondary School in Ezza Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. From there he proceeded to Abakaliki High School (Presco) in Ebonyi State and eventually completed his secondary education in Mary Slessor Secondary Technical School, Arochukwu in 1987.
From 1988 to 1992, Benjamin attended University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) [where he obtained a combined honors degree in Computer Science and Statistics.
On completion of his Bachelor of Science degree, he embarked upon a mandatory National Youth Service in Governor’s Office, Edo State, Nigeria. After the completion of his National Youth Service in 1994, he proceeded for Masters of Science degree in Computer Science between 1995 and 1998 in University of Benin, Nigeria.
Between 2001 and 2006, Benjamin bagged his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) degree in Computer Science with emphasis in Information Encryption from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, ATBU, Bauchi, Nigeria.
Benjamin Okike is a Professor of Information Encryption who has interest in meeting people and working with those he meets as a team. Similarly, Benjamin is interested in learning other cultures. Because of his interest in learning and meeting new people, in 2013, he left his country, Nigeria to Ghana as a Visiting Scholar and served in the Department of Computer Science, University of Ghana.
Also, in 2016, he left his university to embark on a Cyber Security research in Fayetteville State University, North Carolina, USA. There he learnt so much in the area of Cyber Security such that when he returned back to his university, he drafted a proposal for his university to establish a Cyber Security Centre which was unanimously approved with little modification by the Senate of the university.
Although, the said Cyber Security Centre is yet to take off because of financial constraints, the university has marked it as priority project to take off as soon as COVID-19 pandemic is over within the country.
The Cyber Security Centre is to prevent, deter, defend against and recover cyber attacks for governments at all levels and organizations whether publicly and privately owned across the nation which is rapidly evolving. He has made significant contributions nationally and internationally.