Chinwoke Mbadinuju (1945 – 2023)

Chinwoke Mbadinuju (1945 – 2023)

Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, died on April 11, 2023, after a brief illness at the National Hospital, Abuja. He was aged 78. Born in Uli in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State on June 14, 1945, Mbadinuju, fondly called Odera, attended Mgbidi Central School, Oru, in Imo State in 1955. Though he didn’t have a formal secondary education, he passed the General Certificate of Education (GCE) papers in flying colours both at the Ordinary and Advanced levels. From 1959 to 1962, he was at Bishop Lasbery Teachers’ College, Irete also in Imo State.

He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at the State University of New York where he studied on a scholarship. He also had a degree in law from the University of Southampton in England and a doctorate degree in government from Cornell University in New York. He later became an associate professor of politics and African studies at the State University of New York.

He was governor of Anambra State from 1999 to 2003 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Before he became governor, he was personal assistant to the former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, between 1979 and 1980. From 1980 to 1983, he was a personal assistant to former President Shehu Shagari.

Between 1977 and 1978, he was lecturer, Times Training School, Lagos; General Manager and Chief Executive Officer, Star Printing and Publishing Company Limited, Enugu, from 1979 to 1980. He was also editor of Times International and was reputed to have written 10 books on Christian spirituality.

Mbadinuju was also a keen sportsman. As an athlete, he made waves in track and field events at Bishop Lasbery Teachers’ College Irete in Imo State. As a footballer, he also excelled in his undergraduate days in the United States (US) and represented the US in different competitions.

During Mbadinuju’s tenure, workers were owed arrears of salaries. Pensioners were also not paid. At some point, teachers went on strike for about one year while other civil servants stayed off work for months. Although some critics blamed Mbadinuju for some of the problems he encountered during his tenure, it was obvious that some political godfathers made governance difficult for him. He governed the state for only one term as the godfathers frustrated his efforts to get a second term.

With the help of the godfathers, Dr. Chris Ngige edged him out of the PDP primary election in 2003 to become the standard-bearer of the party in the state. Ngige himself faced the same problems with the godfathers, leading to his being kidnapped as a sitting governor and forced to sign his resignation.

Mbadinuju tackled rising criminality in the state with his creation of the vigilance group called Bakassi Boys. Unfortunately, the group later became lawless and brutally killed some suspects extra-judicially.

In all, Mbadinuju was a good man. In his tribute, the acting President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke Ogene, said Odera was a good man and did a lot for the socio-economic development of Anambra State. Anambra State governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, noted that Mbadinuju would be remembered for passing a law that created the Anambra Vigilante Services, and established the Anambra State University, now known as Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli, among other projects.

Mbadinuju’s successor in office, Ngige, said his death was a huge loss to his family, his hometown, Uli and the entire Anambra State. Ngige added, ‘Mbadinuju was a good family man. In his dealings as a politician, he was humble, open, honest and frank. He was a good Christian and showed profound care and compassion to others. Odera did his best for Anambra in spite of distractions from political godfathers who held sway in the state until I came into office and led the struggle to liberate Anambra from the parasitic godfathers.’

Mbadinuju was a good singer and organist. We commiserate with his family, friends and the people of Anambra State over his demise. We pray God to grant his soul eternal rest.

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The Editor of The Heartlander. - News & Views from Imo State, the Eastern Heartland of Nigeria

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