By Brown Chimezie
On Friday, June 3, 2016, the entirety of Mbaise, Imo State and, indeed, Nigeria, will bid farewell to one of their very best, Sir Bon Nwakanma SAN, OON, who took his final bow on April 15, 2016, a former attorney-general of old Imo State.
Born August 11, 1938 in Umunawiri Ife Ezinihitte Local Government in present day Imo State, Sir Bon Nwakanma excelled in virtually everything he put his mind to – either as a student, lawyer, administrator, family man, Christian or community leader.
As a student the young Bon Nwakanma excelled and was consequently awarded the commonwealth scholarship to study Education at the Stranmills College, Bellfast between 1960 and 1962. In 1965 when he was called to the Nigerian Bar, he graduated top of his class. As a young lawyer he was committed to a life of service to his community, his state and his country – and would ultimately emerge as the second Senior Advocate of Nigeria to be produced by Imo state.
He was launched into public service with his election as the secretary Nigerian Bar association between 1972 and 1974, during the same period he was also a member of the National executive of the Nigerian Bar association as the deputy National secretary and a member of the Nigerian Bar Council. With the creation of Imo state, he became a member of the editorial board of Imo state of Nigeria Law reports between 1976 and 1980. He was also Chairman of the disciplinary committee of the Nigerian Bar Association Owerri. In 1980 he was appointed a federal commissioner of the code of conduct bureau, while at the bureau, he designed the asset declaration form (FORM CCB1) for public officers and in 1982 he produced models FOR TRANSPARENCE IN PUBLIC LIFE.In 1986,
He became the Attorney General and Honorable commissioner for Justice of the old Imo State between 1986 and 1987. As a commissioner, Sir Bon Nwakanma SAN again left his indelible footprints with the inauguration of the customary court in Imo state.
In 1994, he blazed the trail as the second Senior Advocate of Nigeria from Imo State. Several years later, the national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) was added to the list of recognitions.
In recognition of his commitment to quality education for all Imo Indigenes, he was appointed Ag.chairman of the Imo State university governing council between 1996 and 1997.
In 2000, he was appointed a member of the Imo State Judicial Service Commission, he held this position until 2010.
Sir Nwakanma was a Member representing Imo State at the National Political Reform Conference in 2005.He was chairman/member of several other boards, commissions and panels. He still found time to author a book,Election Petitions in Nigeria
Sir Bon Nwakanma also left his mark in both his Ife community and the Anglican Church, where he was a Knight of St. Christopher. Knighted by his Lordship late Arch Bishop Benjamin Nwankiti in 1988, Nwakanma was one of the pillars of the development of the Owerri Diocese and was always at the forefront of the building of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of our Lord. He was one of the people that championed the creation of Mbaise Diocese, he organized his people to come to gether and transformed the church in Ife into a magnificent Cathedral, he personally funded the building of the vicarage and served in many committees set up to ensure that the new diocese became a reality. When in 1992, the Mbaise diocese was finally created, Sir Bon Nwakanma SAN became the first and only Chancellor of the diocese till date; he broke another record as the longest serving Chancellor at Anglican diocese. He was also a member of the Standing committee Church of Nigeria, Anglican communion (The Governing body of the Church in Nigeria) from 1993 till death.
Outside of the church, he was a community leader par excellence. And it was not just about “Ezuruezu Mbaise. He contributed in no small measure to the educational and career development of many Mbaise indigenes. He trained and successfully facilitated the employment of many of his people in Imo state and beyond. He was honoured with numerous chieftaincy titles including ‘ Ugo Mbaise ‘amongst many. This was a clear indication of how revered and respected he was at home. For him, charity began at home. It was no surprise then,that he was offered the position of traditional ruler of his community, being a modest man, he graciously declined.
Father of many, Sir Nwakanma took his benevolence beyond his immediate children, siblings, in-laws and all.
However, that he is dying few weeks after the demise of his wife, Lady Bridget Nwakanma JP, underscores a love that could not be separated by death.
Definitely, his legacy, will never die.