Good­bye UCD Okoye, the Ad­min­is­tra­tor Par Ex­cel­lence

THISDAY - - TRIBUTE - Sam Ekpe ––Sam Ekpe is a me­dia con­sul­tant based in Abuja

Soon af­ter the Nige­rian civil war of 1967 – 1970, a new lex­i­con was used to re­fer to the select group of Fed­eral Per­ma­nent Sec­re­taries who held the reins of the Fed­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion and ad­vised the Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment of Yakubu Gowon dur­ing the war. They were called Su­per Perm Secs. The likes of Philip Asiodu and Al­li­son Ayida be­longed to this group. In the Old East­ern Re­gion of Nige­ria, there was also this select group of Per­ma­nent Sec­re­taries - well ed­u­cated and ex­pe­ri­enced in ad­min­is­tra­tion and con­trib­uted im­mensely to the huge po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic suc­cess that the Gov­ern­ment of East­ern Re­gion ably led by the vi­sion­ary Dr Michael Ok­para had be­come. This select group led by Chief Jereme Udoji in­cluded UCD Okoye, G.I Nwokike and JBC Anyaeg­buna.

Uchen­woke Chuk­wue­bonam Dick­son Okoye, Ide Nnobi was born on 16th May 1922 to the Umuezisike kin­dred of Umuagu Vil­lage, Ngo Quar­ters Nnobi in Ideneili South Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of Anam­bra State. He had four sis­ters as well as two younger broth­ers. His fa­ther Al­fred Okoye was an Angli­can Cat­e­chist who did mis­sion­ary work in many places, far away from their lo­cal­ity in­clud­ing Egbu in Ow­erri. At age of 10, his fa­ther sent him on tute­lage to live with fel­low cat­e­chists and other Church work­ers. They in­cluded Cat­e­chist and Mrs Mode­bela of Aba­gana and later with God­win Ezeama, a school teacher at CMS Cen­tral School Aba­gana. In 1939 he be­came a pupil teacher at ibagwa Ihaka CMS Cen­tral School in Nsukka where his par­ents had re­lo­cated and from there sat for the en­trance exam to sec­ondary school.

In 1940, he was ad­mit­ted into the very fa­mous Den­nis Me­mo­rial Gram­mar School (DMGS) Onisha. Af­ter four years in the school, he passed the Se­nior Sec­ondary School Cer­tifi­cate Ex­am­i­na­tion in fly­ing colours. Even be­fore the re­sult came out, he was of­fered ap­point­ment as a 3rd class clerk at the East­ern Re­gion Sec­re­tar­iat in Enugu. Af­ter 3 months in em­ploy­ment, he was trans­ferred to the Dis­trict of­fice in Udi, where for the first time, he worked un­der a white man. Mr E.K Chad­wick. His work ex­pe­ri­ence un­der Chad­wick dur­ing which he learnt typ­ing and short­hand within two weeks, pre­pared him for his var­i­ous fu­ture chal­lenges in the pub­lic ser­vice. At the ini­tial stage of his ca­reer, he at­tended many cour­ses over­sees in­clud­ing 12months Se­nior Of­fi­cers Course in Lon­don School of Eco­nomics and Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence in 1956/57 and six months course at the World Bank Wash­ing­ton DC un­der the In­ter­na­tional Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment, where un­der the aus­pices of the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute, he was trained in Bud­get­ing, Pro­ject Eval­u­a­tion and Ap­praisal, Trade & Le­gal Obli­ga­tions, Eco­nomic Pol­icy and De­vel­op­ment, Fis­cal Pol­icy and Pub­lic Fi­nance, Mon­e­tary Pol­icy, In­ter­na­tional Trade & Fi­nance, Agri­cul­tural Fund­ing, In­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and So­cial Trends in De­vel­op­ment. It was at one of these in ser­vice train­ings in the United States of Amer­ica that he got to meet the then Amer­ica Pres­i­dent Ly­nadon B. Johnson dur­ing a visit to the White House.

On his re­turn from ad­di­tional grad­u­ate level ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing Over­sees in Bri­tain and the United States, he took up the po­si­tion of As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of Fi­nance. From here his ca­reer rock­eted to the next level. In 1962, hardly a year later, un­der the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Dr Michael Ok­para, he was ap­pointed Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Town Plan­ning for the whole of Old East­ern Re­gion of Nige­ria now com­pris­ing 12 dif­fer­ent States. The next year, 1963, he was as­signed to the Min­istry of Es­tab­lish­ments. He also served as co-head of the Gov­ern­ment Re­view Com­mit­tee that came to known as Carter Okoye Salaries Re­view Com­mit­tee. This was also the year in which the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment brought in United Nations De­mo­graphic ex­perts who su­per­vised the use of IBM ma­chines for col­lat­ing fig­ures for the Min­istry. In recognition of UCD’s lead­er­ship role in this pro­ject, ef­fec­tively one of the ear­li­est de­ploy­ments of com­put­er­ized ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ploy­ments, he was in the same year made a mem­ber (one of two or three from the East­ern Re­gion) to serve on the Fed­eral Cen­sus Board, with sim­i­lar representatives from the other Re­gions of Nige­ria.

His ef­forts along with those of his col­leagues and over­all boss Jereme Udoji in con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide un­par­al­leled lead­er­ship in the Civil Ser­vice of East­ern Re­gion of Nige­ria was in­ter­rupted by the Nige­rian Civil War which caused mas­sive dis­lo­ca­tion and dis­rup­tion of gov­ern­ment poli­cies, pro­grammes and projects.

When refugees fled to the East from their places of abode in North­ern Re­gion of Nige­ria, he was ap­pointed Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Com­mis­sioner in 1967. Dur­ing the three years of the war, UCD took up many po­si­tions of lead­er­ship in the Bi­afran Civil Ser­vice, in­clud­ing Head of the Bi­afra Mili­tia (he had de­clined be­ing com­mis­sioned as a Mil­i­tary of­fi­cer but took up the Di­rec­tor­ship ap­point­ment as a non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer).

UCD re­tired from Pub­lic Ser­vice in 1978 But since a gold fish has no hid­ing place, he was still in­volved in pub­lic ac­tiv­i­ties un­til his demise re­cently. Soon af­ter the Civil War, he worked briefly as Chair­man of the Nige­rian Wa­ter Plan­ning And Con­struc­tion Com­pany (Min­istry of In­dus­tries) in the Uk­pabi Asika ad­min­is­tra­tion and Co-Di­rec­tor of the post war East Cen­tral State Gov­ern­ment owned-Ori­en­tal lines from where he re­tired to es­tab­lish his pri­vate busi­nesses. UCD also had non pro­fes­sional com­mit­ments and in­ter­ests. Through­out his life, he re­mained a devoted Chris­tian and was very ac­tive in his home church, St. Si­mon’s Angli­can Church Nnobi, serv­ing as Chair­man of the 1975 Build­ing Com­mit­tee of the Church. A life mem­ber of Bi­ble So­ci­ety of Nige­ria, UCD Okoye was a first gen­er­a­tion Knight of St Christo­pher (Dio­cese on the Niger).

A pro­lific writer like his fa­ther, Sir UCD Okoye wrote an 86 page au­to­bi­og­ra­phy which has not been pub­lished. His fa­ther had also main­tained a 63 page his­tory note book. Ide Nnobi was widely trav­elled and had vis­ited many cities all over the world in­clud­ing Nice, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Mil­lan, Ham­burg, Zurich, Lon­don, New York and Mi­ami.

Late Ide Nnobi was mar­ried to late Agnes Ifeoma Okoye Nee Anyadiegwu of Oba, Mmili­doluedo who died in 2000. They are sur­vived by many chil­dren and grand chil­dren. His re­mains will be laid to rest on Tues­day De­cem­ber 13 2018 af­ter fu­neral ser­vice at St Si­mon’s Angli­can Church Nnobi.

A man who did many good and great things, who touched many lives pos­i­tively and left in­deli­ble foot­prints on the sands of time can­not die. He lives in the minds and hearts of those he left be­hind. So it is with Chief Sir UCD Okoye, the Su­per Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary of Old East­ern Re­gion of Nige­ria, Ide Nnobi, the very ami­able, tall, el­e­gant and hand­some gen­tle­man. May your very gen­tle, dy­namic, forth­right and kind soul find eter­nal rest in the Lord, Amen.


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