A PROFILE OF
MRS. OYIBO EKWULO ODINAMADU (NEE AKWUBA)
MON.. B.A., M.A., K.S.C.
K.S.C.(Knight of St. Christopher of the Church Of Nigeria, Ang. Com)
Retired Public Servant;
Life Member, National Council Of Women's Societies;
National Vice President, Unity Party Of Nigeria (UPN) 1978-1984;
Deputy Gubernatorial Candidate (UPN) for Anambra State 1979;
Activist for Fundamental Human Rights For Women.
Inductee, Nigerian National Women’s Hall Of Fame 2004;
Now, visiting in the City of Garner, in the State of North Carolina, U.S.A.
She was born to Mr. Jacob Ekemezie Akwuba and Mrs. Dinah Mgboye Akwuba of Awkuzu town in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State of Nigeria, on 2ndJanuary, 1928.
Had her early education in Nigeria before proceeding to the United States of America in 1948, for further studies. She graduated Bachelor of Arts in Education (History/Sociology) from Lincoln University of Missouri in 1952, and Master of Arts in Education (Social and Philosophical Foundations) from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, U.S.A in 1953.
Returned home early in 1954, the first woman of Eastern Nigeria origin to graduate with a University degree. Was employed as the Assistant Secretary with the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation in 1954 up to 1957 and, thereafter, as an Education Officer with the Ministry of Education.
She was appointed to various Government Boards and Parastatals between 1955 and 1999 including: Member of the Film Censorship Board; was a founding member of the Eastern Nigeria Women’s Amateur Athletic Association and served as its first Secretary; joined the Festival of the Arts Committee in 1955 on which she served until 1972 after the Nigeria versus Biafra War.
Married Benedict Obidimma Odinamadu in 1957 and they were blessed with four children – 2 boys and 2 girls.
In her career she rose to the rank of Inspector of Education and retired voluntarily in 1971.
After retirement was appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors of Queen’s (Secondary) School, Enugu. Others were as a Member of: the Anambra State School Board; the Eastern Nigeria Orthorpaedic Hospital Management Board. Others are: the Judicial Commission of Enquiry Into Examination Leakages 1975 (JUDICEEL’75); the Governing Council of Bendel State University (now Ambrose Ali University); the Anambra State Development Board; the Anambra State Local Government Service Commission; the Governing Council of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, among others.
The Beginnings of Voluntary Non-Governmental Organizations In Nigeria.
She and some women in Enugu formed the Organization known as the Women’s Cultural and Philanthropic Organization (WCPO), Enugu 1958. She was elected the President of the WCPO and Mrs. Eluwa the Secretary. The first project of the Organization was to educate the women on what is meant by voluntary, charitable and non-profit making organization and activities.
The WCPO and a few other women’s organizations came together to form the National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS) in August 1958. The Eastern Regional Branch followed in October, 1958 and the Eastern Nigeria Branch in October 1960. She was the president of the Eastern Regional Branch; the Eastern Nigeria Branch; the Biafran Council of Women’s Societies; the East Central State Branch of the NCWS; and the Anambra State Branch, respectively, until 1979.
She And The Women of Eastern Nigeria; First Coup D’Etat And the Pogrom
She and the women were there when the coup d’etat of January 15th, 1966 happened, and watched in absolute awe and consternation.
They were also there during the ensuing genocidal pogrom of 29th May, 29th July, and 29th September 1966, on Ndi Igbo and some other ethnic nationalities of Southern Nigeria, which the North termed the counter coup d’etat of 15th January, 1966. They joined in receiving the wounded, maimed, the dispossessed and the dead pouring home from Northern Nigeria after the massacres.
Her Involvement In the Events Up To the Declaration Of Biafra and the War
They were there when recordings of the Conference were published and proliferated and the people of Eastern Nigeria espoused the agreements. She was a member of the Committee that prepared the Easterners for all eventualities, with the slogans of: EASTERNERS GET READY! ON ABURI WE STAND! SOLIDARITY FOREVER!
Her Participation With The Women Of Biafra In the War
She and the Biafran Council Of Women’s Societies joined in Biafra’s Total War Effort to WIN THE WAR Teams. They also served with the Biafran Council of Women’s Societies (BCWS), the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS), and the Council of Social Services COSS).
The women contributed money, materials and work to cook and to feed the soldiers at the war-fronts and the wounded and the sick soldiers in hospitals. They relentlessly produced dry-pack snacks in millions of packets for soldiers at the Military Camps, War Fronts, Trenches and the wounded and sick in Hospitals. Not the least of their efforts was their dedication to cooking to feed the refugees and soldiers at the camps and hospitals. The women also contributed and raised funds and materials to provide sweaters, blankets and toiletries for the soldiers.
She And Biafran Women’s Delegation And Petition to the Queen of England
In August 1968 the women, under the auspices of the Biafran Council of Women’s Societies, sent on a delegation to the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II. The delegation, which was comprised of four women: Mrs. Oyibo. E. Odinamadu, leading the delegation, Chief, Mrs. Janet N. Mokelu, Mrs. Jemima C. Uzoma, and Miss Mary Ededem, as members, carried the petition of Biafran women, embodying their needs and requests, and had it placed before the Queen through the Biafran High Commission in London.
The petition pleaded with her, firstly as a wife and mother, and secondly as the Head of the Government and people of Britain and the Church of England, to help us by looking compassionately on us and granting our petitions. It also requested for an audience with the delegation to discuss and to explain further the issues in the petition. Our petition outlined the needs and the anguish of the women of Biafra, which required very urgent and patronizing attention as follows:
End the total embargo placed on Biafra, over land, sea and air, so as to end the extreme suffering and starvation of the people.
Stop the massive military support and assistance the Government of Britain was giving to Nigeria, which has prolonged the War.
End the War immediately so as to end the unwarranted genocide on the people of Biafra.
Guarantee the observance of International Conventions, and better attitudes in the prosecution of the War, as long as it will last, by stopping the bombing of innocent civilians - our children, husbands, families and ourselves, in Market places and Schools, and the bombing of the warehouse sites of International Relief Agencies.
Support the granting of sovereignty to the Republic of Biafra, so as to put Nigeria into the correct perspective to avoid future repeats of the genocide and carnage on the people.
Help the women of Biafra by giving us Relief Materials – food, clothing, medications - for the millions of refugees and our families.
The delegation was totally snubbed by the Queen of England, her Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson and the entire Government of England. Neither the Queen, nor the Prime Minister, nor any officer of the Government gave any kind of acknowledgement or reply to our written petition. Not one of them granted the delegation any kind of audience. Mr. Wilson was said at the time to be vacationing at the Silly Island.
Rather the delegation was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who handed them over to Lord Hunt of the conquest of Mount Everest fame, who took them to an outer office room. It was he, Lord Hunt who, in turn, sent them to Oxfam with whom they had some discussion about Relief Materials. However, the Biafran High Commission arranged some international Press Conferences and BBC Televison and Radio Programmes for them. They also arranged a Mass Meeting of Biafrans in the United Kingdom with the delegation in London, and a Church Worship at the West Minster Abbey. Eventually, they heard from the Biafran High Commission that the Authorities they had wanted to see, as we knew, were not in sympathy with the Biafran cause and, therefore, not the least with their requests. Hence, they could not confront them on their requests
The delegation also went to Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland with letters of appreciation to meet with the Friends of Biafra and some executives of the International Red Cross and of the World Council of Churches.
Tried Her Hand In Business Entrepreneurship
She started the Echo Enterprises Limited and went into the business of Retail cum Wholesale of Supermarket Goods with a Fancy Goods or Boutique Section. The Company was set up in Enugu with branches at Abakaliki and Onitsha. Her husband later joined her in the business, and added a Road Haulage section by the name of Pelican Transport Company. He also floated the John Kenneth Nigeria Limited for importation of goods.
She was a delegate of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa to the 27th General Synod of the All Anglican Church of Canada in 1975.
A Bout In Party Politics and Membership Of the Unity Party of Nigeria.
In 1978 she and her husband joined the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo (now late) as its National President. She was elected the first National Vice-president of the Party, which position she held until the Party, among the others, was proscribed by the General Buhari and Brigadier Tunde Idiagbon Military Administration, after their palace coup d’etat of January, 1984. She also served as the Chairman of the National Working Committee of the Party 1978-84. However, in spite of all that was said that Chief Awolowo perpetrated on Biafra and the Igbo people, she and her husband believed in Southern Solidarity.
Unfortunately, she lost her husband by death in November 1979.
Memberships In Church And Community Bodies And Development Efforts
She organized some community development organizations and was made their Chairman, respectively. n Abatete, in Idemili Local Government Area, was the Abatete Task Force Group on Development, and in Awkuzu, in Anambra Local Government Area, she worked with the Awkuzu Youths of the Cameroons. These two organizations brought Electricity to both Abatete and Awkuzu, under the Anambra State Rural Electrification Project.
She is an active member of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion);
was made a Knight of the Church – the Knighthood of St. Christopher – in 1978; was also, for a period, the Provincial Secretary of the Mothers Union of the Province of Nigeria (Anglical Communion).
She has participated in various Conferences and Seminars and has delivered papers on a variety of topics, including Women and Politics; Widows and Orphans in the Igbo Traditional Culture. She has also delivered some keynote addresses to some conferences, the latest being the one to the 5th Annual Convention of the Abatete USA Development Organization 2004 on the topic: Community Development: Its Multifarious Presentations and Challenges.
Literary And Leisure Interests And Activities
Pursuing her literary interests, she had published a book in 1980 entitled: The Dilema of The Igbo Political Elite. She is about to finalize the manuscript of a Book, in her Igbo Customs Series, entitled: Women In Igbo Land, to be published in two parts. She is also working on another manuscript entitled: My Journey Through Life: A Part Of History.
In her leisure she loves to engage in a variety of satisfying activities, such as: home-keeping for the family; gardening; sewing; reading and writing.
Honours And Awards Received
Was among the first recipients of the Nigerian National Honours at the first inaugural, during the Independence Anniversary of 1964. She was awarded the honor of Member Of the Order of the Niger (MON).
Awarded the honour of Member of the Democratic Republic of Biafra in 1968 (MODRB).
Awarded A Certificate of Recognition and Service by the National Association of University Women 1980.
Inducted by the Diocese On the Niger of the Church of the Province of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) a Knight of St. Christopher (KSC) in the Order of the Knighthood of St. Christopher in 1982.
Nominated Woman of the Year 1986 by the Nigerian Union of Journalists of the Old Anambra State Council (NUJ).
Nominated Woman of the Year 1997 by the Enugu State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Inducted into the Nigerian National Women’s Hall of Fame by the Nigerian National Center for Women Development in 2004.
Presented her with A Plaque of Appreciation and Recognition at their 5th Annual Convention in 2004 by the Abatete USA Development Union.
She has the Oyibo Odinamadu Foundation, which works to:
i. support programs of Head-Start Kindergarten Education for children ages 2 to 5 years in Eastern Nigeria;
ii. focus attention on issues of the denial of fundamental human rights to women and children, especially to the girl-child and widows, under OMENANA practices of Igbo traditional Native Laws and Customs. The Foundation works to help sustain the clarion call for attention to be directed to these oppressive and punitive practices, locally, nationally and internationally. This is in sustained effort to bring pressures to bear continuously on the appropriate authorities for the reformation or abrogation of these laws and practices that oppress women and the girl-child.
iii. continue with the efforts that focus attention on the societal ills of Nigeria, and towards their amelioration.
Will try to accomplish Number One project through donations of materials for instruction. Will approach Numbers ii & iii above through writing and publishing of articles and books, as well as by sometimes speaking under the Igbo Customs Series programme.
Please log on to the web site: http://oyibo.netfirms.com and donate suggestions, ideas, materials and funds, generously, and as often as you can, in support of these projects. Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Rights Reserved.
Cite As: A Profile of Oyibo E. Odinamadu 2005.