Posted by News Express | 17 June 2018 | 2,790 times
His Majesty, Obi (Professor) Chukwuka Okonjo, the traditional ruler of Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State, and notable academic and intellectual who developed the famous double intake system and other innovations to improve education in Africa, turns 90 on June 21.
Investigations by News Express showed that series of activities have been lined up to mark the event.
Okonjo is author of over 100 articles and books, including “University Tertiary Education for All”, a 2017 publication by Safari Books. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Okonjo, who was crowned Obi in 2007, began his career as an academic at the Economics Department of the University of Ibadan in 1963, where he founded the first Center for Demography in Nigeria in partnership with Prof John Caldwell of the Australian National University.
He moved to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, during the civil disturbances that preceded the Nigerian civil war, where he served as Head, Department of Economics and later Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences.
An alumnus of Kings College, Lagos, Okonjo had earned his first degree – a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics – as an external candidate of the University of London at 23 and became Principal of Boys High School, Ibadan in 1952 at the very young age of 24.
In 1955, he proceeded to Germany on a German government scholarship, where he spent the next eight years distinguishing himself with two Master’s degrees in economics and statistics and a Doctorate degree in Mathematical Statistics.
During the civil war, Prof Okonjo was a Brigadier in the Biafran Army and Head of the iconic Biafran Organization of Freedom Fighters (BOFF).
Prof Okonjo left the University of Nigeria in 1973 and joined the United Nations as Director of the UN Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) located in the University of Ghana, Accra. He served in the UN for 15 years before taking up appointment as Education Advisor to the Ghanaian government. It was in this position that he developed the double intake system designed to achieve significant increase in student enrolment rates.
He is the recipient of honors too numerous to list including honorary doctorate degrees, and high national awards from the governments of Ghana and Nigeria.
He and his wife of 65 years, Prof Kamene Okonjo, have seven children, 21 grand-children and great grand-children.
Former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is the first child of Obi (Prof) Okonjo.
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