In the gathering of men who rose from obscurity to transform their societies, Late Senator Dr Offia Nwali, will prominently take a front seat. Born on 2nd February, 1942, in Amajima Ameka village in the present Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, to the family of Mr Nwali Offia (a customary court bailiff) and Mrs Oguzor Nwali, he embraced Western education in his early days. He began at the Native Authority Elementary School, in the old Ezza Local Government Area, and at the Government College, Umuahia, from where he obtained his WASC and University of Cambridge, Higher School Certificate (HSC), passing with Division One.
With his brilliant performances in his secondary education, he left for the United States of America (on scholarship) in search of the Golden Fleece; and was educated at both the Brown and Havard Universities, where he obtained B.Sc and Ph.D Degrees in Computer Studies and Analysis, in 1960 and 1966 respectively.
“At the Havard University, the late Senator Nwali made history as the First Black Man to obtain a P.hD in Computer Studies. Late Dr. Nwali in all modesty, was a computer wizard, an erudite scholar and Researcher, who had variously used his intelligence, training and experiences for the socio-economic wellbeing of the society.
Beginning as a Mathematics teacher at the Izzi County Secondary School Abakaliki before his sojourn in the Americas, Dr. Nwali, subsequently worked with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research as a Research Officer, and was instrumental to the computerization of the United Nations Technical Assistance Programme. After his stay with the UN, he went to work with the Computer giants – IBM of Tokyo and New York, where, as an Associate Research Officer, he developed a Data Base for Japanese Multinationals.cared nothing for their lives so long as they could preach the Gospel”
On his return to Nigeria in 1970 (at the end of the civil war), Dr. Nwali was among the talented Igbo intelligentsia who patriotically responded to the clarion call by the Ukpabi Asika administration for collaboration to reconstruct the war-ravaged East Central State. In this respect, he at various times served as Special Assistant to the Administrator of the East Central State; also served as Sole Administrator, East Central State School Board; and became the first Executive Director, Eastern Data Processing Center.
The late Senator’s stint in the Public Service opened his eyes to the gross marginalization and neglect his people were suffering. Hence, he joined active and partisan politics when the ban on political activities was lifted in 1978, and was the First elected Senator to represent Abakaliki Senatorial District in the old Anambra State, under the platform of the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP). While in the Senate, Dr. Nwali was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications. He was acclaimed as one of the vocal and cerebral Senators that were well respected for their well-researched contributions to debates in the National Assembly. As a politician, Senator Nwali had no interest in the primitive accumulation of wealth. This was one of the qualities that made him a man of the people and he was idolized as a political oracle. Senator Nwali was conferred with the National Honour of the Order of the Niger (OON).
Senator Nwali’s exit from the National Assembly launched him into a new phase of National politics. He was at a time, the National Chairman of the Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJ) and later proceeded to join the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Under the PDP, he aspired for the office of the Governor of Ebonyi State. In 2014, Sen. (Dr) Nwali was among the Ebonyi State delegates to the National Conference. He was also a member of the Ime-Obi of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, and one time Pro-Chancellor of the Ebonyi State University.
Senator (Dr) Offial Nwali was one of the protagonists of the thirty-nine (39) years struggle for the creation of Ebonyi State and was actually the first individual, on 10th October 1979, to submit a memorandum for the creation of Ebonyi State. Dr. Nwali stunned the world by appearing before the Justice Irekife Commission in Enugu (a commission established by the then Federal Military Government to look into the demands for the creation of more States in Nigeria), to defend the request he wrote for the creation of Abakaliki State out of the former East Central State. In that occasion, the late Senator Offia Nwali was jeered at, shouted down, and booed by the proponents of the more popular demand for the creation of Enugu/Wawa State; but Dr. Nwali could not be stopped.
Upon his election as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1979, Dr. Nwali with other elected members in the National Assembly representing the old Abakaliki and Afikpo Senatorial zones, carried the struggle for the creation of Ebonyi State to the floor of the National Assembly, where they formally presented the request for the creation of Ebonyi State. Senator Dr Offia Nwali became the Deputy National Leader and the first National Chairman of Ebonyi State Movement from 1979 to 1983 (when the Military took over government); while the late Ezeogo Dr Akanu Ibiam was the National Leader of the Movement. This struggle culminated in the creation of Ebonyi State on 1st October 1996.
Senator Dr Offia Nwali was to suffer a great tragedy that would hunt his memory as long as he lived. On 28th November 1983, the Nigerian Airways Flight WT 250 travelling from Lagos to Enugu crashed at Emene Enugu, as it was trying to land. All the fifty-three (53) passengers on board the aircraft perished, and these included the wife of Senator Offia Nwali, their three children and a house maid.
Apart from been an educationist, an administrator, a seasoned politician, and a farmer, Dr. Nwali was also a respected community leader, and held the traditional titles of Ishiozo of Kpakaji and Eze Ogbunya 1 of Amajim Ameka. On May 22, 2016, the great sage passed on at the age of 74. His death, to say the least, marked the end to an era, and a depletion in the ranks of courageous and incorruptible statesmen. He will be remembered as a servant leader of his people and for his selfless and dogged struggles for the creation of Ebonyi State.