Nkechi Chima, Abuja
Notable businessman, lawyer, politician and philanthropist, Prince Ned Munir Nwoko hails from Iduluje-Ugboko, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State.
He is the president of Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation and Initiator, Eradication for Malaria in Africa.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, he went down memory lane on his background, experiences when he was a lawmaker, why he aimed at eradicating malaria in Africa, especially in Nigeria. He also disclosed why his wife is the global ambassador.
Could you tell us a bit about your background, how was your growing up?
I was born on December 21, 1960 into the royal palace at Idumuje-Ugboko, in Aniocha North LGA, Delta State. My heritage and environment allowed me to excel academically and professionally. I had a wonderful growing up experiences. Then, I had my primary and secondary education in Nigeria before I proceeded to England for my university education at University of Keele in Staffordshire, United Kingdom, followed by King’s College London where I graduated with a Masters in Law. Thereafter, I got my honorary doctorate from the Commonwealth University College in Belize. Then, in 1999 to 2003, I represented Aniocha North-South and Oshimili North-South, I was at the National Assembly. Nonetheless, I set up and maintained a law firm in the United Kingdom, where I practiced as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. I am a senior consultant with Ned Nwoko Solicitors, a London-based law firm engaged in management and verification of foreign debts of third world countries, including their component states. I also served on the Vision 2010 Committee and I am a member of the capital market. I served as Chairman of the External Committee of Vision 2010. I am the Chairman of Project Tourism Nigeria, a Nigerian government initiative aimed at advancing the country’s struggling entertainment and tourism industry. I am also the founder of the proposed first sports university in Africa, Stars University, Idumuje Ugboko Delta State. I am married with children. Also, I am a Muslim.
How was your experience as a House of Representatives member?
I focused on people-oriented bills that have to do with national youth service projects, Nigeria workers, housing issues.
What were those constituency projects you executed that will ever remain evergreen in your heart?
I worked to ensure that the road between Asaba and Benin was constructed. In fact, a lot of bills were passed which I can’t start counting them now.
What is your stand in politics presently?
I don’t play politics, I believe in addressing issues of great interest and human benefits.
How would you describe Nigeria politics?
Honestly, Nigeria politics is bad because it shouldn’t be played with bitterness. Politics should be perceived as a means to serve the general public with good governance. Advisably, politics is giving or providing basic social amenities, infrastructure, good health care facilities, among others. Politics should be played regardless of tribe, religion, ethnic or gender differences to better the lives of its citizens and country at large.
Could you talk about the state of the nation?
Nigeria is a giant waiting patiently to be woken up. We just need to understand that we have God-given resources for every individual to benefit. I want to talk about Nigeria not Nigeria politics, because we need to grow as a nation.
What do you think is the way forward to achieve sustainable development?
Honestly, it pains me that people are not earning enough in Nigeria to take care of their basic needs. I was saying to someone recently that we don’t have much respect for human lives. If you are an average European citizen regardless of your position whether a driver or policeman goes on holiday any where in the world once a year, because it’s their right, but in Nigeria the case is different. Can you imagine a policeman, driver, journalist or teacher in Nigeria making it a practice once a year they travel on holiday? Honestly, our system is not favorable.
So, what do you think is the solution to Nigeria’s problem?
We have to manufacture and produce things, our workforce development is not encouraging. Our fashion industry should emulate their European counterparts in producing our local products. We need to play less of politics and embark on changing the lives of Nigerians.
You are the founder of Eradication of Malaria in Africa, how did you come up with the initiative?
Malaria is known to many of us as a common illness that also kills people every day. As Nigerians we should know that malaria shouldn’t be part of us, so my mindset is totally different; that’s why I embark on sensitising the public on the need to eradicate malaria. We need vaccine to eradicate or protect ourselves against malaria. Then, the government is not doing enough. The private sector is not taking it seriously. Also, the drug manufacturers in the United Kingdom are making available drugs for treatment, instead of providing vaccine to eradicate it. Presently, as a foundation we are trying our best to handle the problem of malaria in Africa, especially in Nigeria. So, we are making available funds to universities to help us discover anti-malaria vaccine. We are also sensitising the public on how they can clean their environment. Malaria is caused by dirty environment and stagnant water, refuse dump. Commendably, in my village there are no mosquitoes, because the environment is clean and the community is doing their best to maintain good environment.
How far have you gone on this project?
We have set up committees to handle the long time projects. In fact, they are divided into two. The long time project is the research for the vaccine, then the short time is the sanitation and fumigation.
Why focusing on malaria?
Why not, it’s the biggest killer. Though, there are other illnesses in Nigeria, which other people specialise in focusing on them, but the huge way malaria kills gave me concern. Malaria kills almost 5,000 people annually. Nigeria among other countries has over 80 per cent. So, I felt it’s the best thing to do by eradicating malaria in Africa, especially in Nigeria.
Do you receive any government support?
We are partnering with the government, we are not asking or looking for money from the government, but we are in partnership to achieve the fight against eradicating malaria.
What are your advice to Nigerians on preventive methods against malaria?
There are other non-governmental organisations dealing with formative methods, they should continue doing what they are doing while we do ours differently. We are looking at holistic solutions to eradication of malaria in Africa.
Why did you make your wife the global ambassador?
My wife is a celebrity influencer, who has about seven million followers on social media, so we made her global ambassador to pass the message across the world.
Why did you go to Antarctica?
Antarctica is like another world going there is like going to another planet. It’s a country that is in another part of this world. It’s the coldest country in the world, it’s bigger than Africa. If you keep water outside in one minute it’s blocked. It’s a continent that many people travel to, but never came back, because of the extreme weather condition. I traveled to Antarctica in January 2020, hoisted Nigeria’s flag in Antarctica being the first Nigerian to visit the South pole to draw global attention to the scourge of malaria in Africa. I met with scientists who are ready to partner with my foundation to clean up Nigeria. Interestingly, I have made available the sum of $750,000 malaria vaccine research grants to be accessed by five universities across Africa.
Aside malaria which other areas do your foundation focus on?
My foundation also focuses on sports development, education, health, culture and tourism in Africa.