Chido Nwangwu in this piece pays tribute to the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof George Obiozor, a former diplomat and academic, who died recently aged 80
George Achulike Obiozor (1942-2022), lived an accomplished life as an individual and among his community, lineage and heritage.
Professor, diplomat, author, traditionalist, modernist, strategist on politics, state power and influence, lived most of his post-academic life with several distinguished engagements in his special area of training: international relations and global affairs.
Only a few scholars had the skills of interpreting and speaking rather clearly on a multitude of global issues and situating the most practical implications and connections.
Prof. Obiozor had those remarkable capacities of elucidation on, searching for, situating and effectively communicating Nigeria’s “national interests” in the perennially competitive arena of diplomacy.
He served, notably, as former Ambassador of Nigeria to the United States (2004-2008), when I interviewed him for USAfrica magazine and USAfricaonline.com at the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington DC. He was Ambassador to Israel and High Commissioner to Cyprus (1999-2003).
Also, Prof. Obiozor led as Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and served as Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria, on International Affairs.
I was introduced to him in 1988 by my uncle, Chidi Ofong, while Obiozor was Special Adviser to then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Ike Nwachukwu (now, retired General).
I have maintained the friendship with the Obiozors.
Since, 1988, I have listened and watched this uniquely gifted man substantiate his intellectual sagacity delivered in his local accent and scholarly diction.
As a student and analyst of international affairs, power and politics, I have followed his analyses of a forest of issues.
He wrote the book, ‘Nigeria and the World: Managing the Politics of Diplomatic Ambivalence in a Changing World’, among others.
He was born in August 1942, and grew up in Awo-Omamma, in the recently dangerous and embattled Oru-East Local Government Area of Imo State. Only a few months ago, his precious library and country home were burnt….
Before his death on December 26, 2022, he maintained and spoke to the necessity of a Nigeria that will be more inclusive of its component units – especially his lineage ethnic nation of the Igbo. One of his persuasive eruditions on the cross-ethnic and national quest to elect in February 2023 an Igbo as President of Nigeria has returned viral across the social media.
But unlike some of his kinsmen, he knew how to engage other sections of the country – without any apologies for the quests for the Igbo with the competence, character and capacity to lead Nigeria!
In a note sent to me by Prof. Obiozor, titled “Why I want to serve as President-General Ohanaeze”, he wrote “my decision to contest for the office of President general of Ohaneze ndi Igbo is based on my personal capacity, professional experience, proven dedication and commitment to the overall interests of the Igbo nation….. The fact is for almost 50 years of professional and personal activities… by my career history and age, I have the antecedents and record of knowing how to manage and navigate our interest amid a number of existential threats.”
He continued that this is “a critical time for us in Nigeria’s history. Especially, taking cognizance of the realities of Nigeria. Indeed not only has governance become both difficult and complex, there are dangerous and challenging circumstances that require the deft skills and experience of a hard nosed and experienced diplomat and respected person in the power equation in Nigeria such as myself. It requires a careful advancement of the relationships between ndi Igbo and other nationalities and power elites.”
On January 9, 2021, he was elected President General of the Igbo topmost social, civic and cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
More than 55 years ago, he attended the Institute of African Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, Albert Schweitzer College in Vaud and earned his degree in Political Science from the University of Puget Sound in 1969. He moved to New York’s Columbia University where he earned his PhD. He returned to Nigeria in 1979 and remained engaged in public service.
Thank you for the decades of striving towards a better and more equitable society and world. Personally, I thank you for your direct mentoring and your boundless sense of humor! Rest in peace, Ambassador Extraordinaire!
-Dr Nwangwu, is Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston. @Chidö247