Senator Offia Nwali, a seasoned politician, administrator, scholar and community leader passed on last week at the age of 74. The passage of the renowned Second Republic senator and Harvard-trained computer analyst during a brief illness in his country home, Ameka, in Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, robbed the nation of one of the most articulate, meticulous and analytical lawmakers to have passed through its National Assembly.
The late senator represented Abakaliki Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Lagos, from 1979-1983, before the military terminated that political dispensation. An erudite scholar, he was reputed to be the first person to submit a proposal for the creation of Ebonyi State to the then National Assembly in 1979.
In his tribute to the late politician who also served as Chief of Ameka Community, the Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. Dave Umahi, described him as a foremost Nigerian, a great scientist and a highly principled and disciplined compatriot. Umahi stressed that the deceased was one of the few founding fathers of the state who stood for truth and justice, adding that Ebonyi State government and Nigeria had lost a great mind, a political colossus and a computer wizard.
After his early education in Nigeria, Nwali left for the United States of America in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece. He was educated at Brown University and Harvard University. The deceased made history as the first black man to obtain a doctorate degree (Ph.D) in Computer and Analytical Studies from Harvard University in 1966. After his Ph.D, he worked with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research before returning to Nigeria after the Nigerian Civil War in 1970. Nwali also worked with the East Central State Data Processing Centre. He served in the Ukpabi Asika administration as the Chairman of East Central State School Management Board where he left indelible marks as a consummate administrator. He was among those talented Igbos that helped Asika to rebuild the war-ravaged East Central State.
When the ban on political activities was lifted, he joined politics and was first elected senator in 1979 under the platform of the defunct Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). He later crossed over to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) due to a crisis in the state NPP.
Life was bitter-sweet for the late senator. The joy of his sterling achievements was sadly marred by the loss of his wife, Uche, their four children and a maid in the Nigerian Airways plane crash in Enugu in 1983, which claimed the lives of about 53 passengers.
He later remarried, raised children and moved on in life. No doubt, he lived with the memory of the excruciating loss of his nuclear family till he died. His later attempt to be elected governor of Ebonyi State in the last general elections was unsuccessful.
Nwali will be remembered for so many things. Apart from his scholarly and administrative capabilities, he will be remembered as one of the most cerebral and polished senators of the Second Republic. His strong Information Technology (IT) and analytical skills shone brilliantly in all his presentations on the floor of the National Assembly. His death is not only a loss to the political class but the entire nation. We call on all Nigerians to emulate his shining example.
It is regrettable that the quality of debates at the two chambers of the National Assembly has deteriorated over the years. We, therefore, call on the legislators to bring back the old days of fine oratory, good diction, sound analyses and logical presentation of issues of national importance in the National Assembly.
We sympathise with Senator Nwali’s family, Ebonyi State and all Nigerians on the death of this eminent statesman and call on the government to immortalise him for his outstanding contributions to national development.
May God grant his soul eternal repose.