A characterization of Prince Ned Nwoko can be daunting and enchanting.The Award-winning novel “ A Good Man in Africa “ ( 1981) by Scottish writer , William Boyd,glazed my stream of consciousness as I thought deeply about the man popularly called Ned on the eve of his birth anniversary.
Boyd’s bohemian title, incidentally set in pre – colonial Ibadan,the largest city in West Africa had to surge up as the inspiration for a candid portrait of Ned. His heart is huge like a big city.
What a man? What drama of a life at 62? What an enchanter ?
Ned is like a gallery- open and vast. Enigmatic lawyer, brilliant business man, exemplary philanthropist, fascinating politician, adventurous environmentalist and colourful champion of culture.
A Puzzling iconoclast, a man polished with British western manners, yet passionately accustomed to the norms of his African heritage.Just Ned, he regularly jets in private planes from Urban skies to the dense village, straight to the company of his rural folks.
Ned! His hands are oceans of mercy and merry. He is good with gifts .He gives to all fellows .The familiar.The stranger.From East, West, North and South. Whether at his Maitama, Abuja residence or Idumuje – Ugboko homestead, Ned is a beehive of happy honey. His wondrous Mount Ned Resort, a 24-hour city never sleeps, peopled by sundry seekers of succour, swarming the destination like Jerusalem or Mecca pilgrims.
A patron of public charities,people come to Ned for money – school fees,food, health, shelter, business, weddings, difficulties….all needs.
Even scammers come to him! By disguises- proposals,requests ,complaints … Ned is smart.You cannot hood wink him.He fools them -He gives them.Ultimately God blesses him. Day by day.More and more.
Born on December 21 1960 , with royal elan into Nwoko aristocracy, his fore father founded his Idumuje -Ugboko kingdom in Aniocha North local government area of Delta state.
Prince Ned Nwoko went to primary and secondary school in Nigeria and subsequently headed to Great Britain where he got the best of western education, which groomed him to a world -class citizen.
He had his first degree in law and history at the prestigious University of Keele, Staffordshire UK and also attended Kings College, university of London, culminating in a post graduate degree with an LLM in maritime and commercial law.
Prince Ned Nwoko was called to the English bar, at Lincoln’s inn and began his legal career with the crown prosecution service as a prosecutor and qualified as a solicitor of the supreme court of England and Wales.
A cerebral lawyer ,he had an eventful stint with the two firms (Kumars Solicitors and Pascaldiers & co Solicitors), before establishing his own firm in London: Ned Nwoko & co solicitors. At the peak of his law practice in London , he had the biggest law firm and was adjudged the best black lawyer of African descent in UK in 1995.
He returned home in 1999 to help grow Nigeria’s democracy, serving as trail- blazing Member , House of Representatives ,Aniocha/Oshimili Federal constituency, under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In 2018, Prince Ned Nwoko would contest Delta North senatorial seat, but very ugly political intrigue left the electoral process flawed, compelling him to move on and face the future. By 2022, his predestined journey to the senate came afloat, as he won the PDP Delta North senatorial primary, with overwhelming ballot.With 2023 smiling near, Ned is unstoppable, dressing up, inexorably to the senate,thanks to divine timing.
The story of Ned is a rehash of the treatise of Somalian post colonial intellectual – Nuruddin Farrah “A Naked Needle “ (1976) which counter balances clear conscience against the unblinking crudity of moral burden.
An outstanding accomplisher, he is the founder of SPORTS university,Idumuje -Ugboko, the first of its kind in Sub -Sharan Africa, initiator of the London -Paris Club Loans Refunds, which ended Nigeria’s recession, first black African to embark on expedition to the icy region of Antartica South Pole, over Africa anti Malaria Eradication project, sponsor of scholarships to thousands of students in secondary and tertiary schools as well as helper of the less privileged.
His track record of integrity and service had attracted countless honours and awards .He was awarded Honorary Doctorate degree in Letters (D.Litt.) by commonwealth university college,Belize , North America. The Federal university of Petroleum Resources FUPRE, Effurun in Delta state, also decorated him in 2019 with an honorary doctorate degree, in addition to awards by University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Delta state university,Abraka among other recognitions from organizations and individuals.
When you encounter Ned,he leaves you with a funky feeling. A man who loves his life and also pampers the euphoria of others.As a mortal he has his frailties, Yet the challenge of human circumstance never ceases to melt his heart.
A man of affluence who never forgets his roots.
He drinks exotic Moroccan Tea with his visitors thronging especially his Idumuje -Ugboko country home. Ned’s Moroccan Tea! Amber – coloured,minty and aromatic.A riddle of a cuisine.Tea with no trace of sugar or milk but yet has the sweetest of taste. More profoundly , Ned also relishes cooked corn and pear and other traditional delicacies amidst his guests.
Ned echoes true that simplicity is the imprimatur of genuine humanity. Not self aggrandizing posturing which stands like the slippery emptiness of quick sand. That is vintage Ned. Popular, never provincial. Educated,not indoctrinated. A true kinsman with no clannish boundary.
Ned is a big deal because he has no pact with the devil.
As a Senator he will never rape or ridicule Anioma.
Happy birthday to Anioma’s good son.
CHIAZOR , is a Veteran Journalist.