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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Arthur Nwankwo Of Fourth Dimension Publishers Passes On

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By Ndu Chris Nwannah, ATM Guest Writer and Chudi Okoye

The Anambra State government has commiserated with the family of Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo over the death of the patriarch.

Dr. Nwankwo, aged 77, died on Saturday, February 1, 2020, at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozala, Enugu State, following a brief illness.

In a statement released in Awka, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, described Dr. Nwankwo’s passing as both painful and glorious. “Painful because Nwankwo was one of the few people in the world who should never die,” Commissioner Adinuba said, and glorious “because he was able to achieve so much for not just his country but also humanity.”

Mr. Adinuba further noted that Dr. Nwankwo “was a most accomplished publisher, poet, novelist, historian, political scientist, pan Africanist, activist and fighter for justice.”

Recalling the start of Dr. Nwankwo’s publishing career, Mr. Adinuba said that Dr. Nwankwo had been “worried about the dearth of indigenous publishing firms in Africa in the early 1970s,” and so, in partnership with Dr. Sam Ifejika, co-author of his well-received 1969 book on the Nigerian Civil War, he established a firm named Nwamife Publishers Ltd in Enugu. This firm, as Adinuba recalled, published not only books on the war but also well-known books by other authors including a seminal work by Professor Ben Nwabueze, described by Mr. Adinuba as “Africa’s most influential scholar of constitutional law.”

This original publishing firm was later liquidated when Dr. Nwankwo’s partner, Dr. Ifejika, relocated to Canada. Thereupon, Dr. Nwankwo started his own personal outfit in the late 1980s, known as Fourth Dimension Publishers, also in Enugu, which became a runaway success.

Fourth Dimension was to become a prolific publishing house, accumulating almost 2,000 highly respected books in various genres, ranging from fiction to literary criticism, history, religion, philosophy, political science, sociology, poetry, physical and biological sciences, autobiography, law and more. Mr. Adinuba said that “it was, indeed, a thing of honour for scholars around Africa to be published by Fourth Dimension.” He also noted that “through Fourth Dimension, many academics attained the professorial rank in the universities.”

Dr. Nwankwo himself wrote several popular books including:

  • The Making of a Nation: Biafra (1969)
  • Nigeria: The Challenge of Biafra (1972)
  • The Igbo leadership and the future of Nigeria (1985)
  • Nigeria: The Political Transition and the Future of Democracy (1993)
  • The Igbo nation and the Nigerian state (1999)
  • Nigeria: The Stolen Billions (1999)

Dr. Nwankwo was actively involved in progressive politics. He became the Vice Chairman of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). According to Mr. Adinuba, Nwankwo was “a natural member” of the NADECO. He noted that on the platform of NADECO Nwankwo had “addressed critical audiences around the world on the Nigerian condition under the military dictatorship. He was to pay a price for all this.”

He was also the founder and chancellor of Eastern Mandate Union (EMU) on which platform he vigorously campaigned to advance the rights of the indigenes of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria.

He was well-known as a strong advocate of the so-called ‘Handshake Across the Niger’, an initiative which aimed for greater political concert between the Nigerian South West region and the East.

Dr. Nwankwo found a natural political home in the progressive camp of the late Mallam Aminu Kano. He was an ardent follower of the political icon, becoming an active member of his Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). He contested the governorship of old Anambra state during the Second Republic on that party’s platform.

With such a stellar career, Commissioner Adinuba said that “the Anambra State government recognized Dr. Nwankwo as a foremost fighter for social justice.”

Mr. Adinuba recalled that Dr. Arthur Nwankwo had come back to Nigeria after his studies in the United States at a sensitive time in the country. He had studied at the US Eastern Mennonite College in West Virginia and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, returning to Nigeria just as the 1960s political crises were beginning. Mr. Adinuba praised him for this, saying that Dr. Nwankeo “could have returned to America or travelled elsewhere [as hostilities started], but he chose to stay with his people with all the sufferings and deprivations and deaths of that era.”

Dr. Nwankwo remained true to his radical politics, according to Adinuba who recalled that Nwankwo was often “at loggerheads with different governments,” challenges which saw him incarcerated a few times.

Mr. Adinuba said that Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State sent a message of thanks to the Nwankwo family “for keeping in touch with his government in the last few weeks of their leader.”

The governor also condoled with the Nwankwo family of Ajalli in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State on the passage of this remarkable writer, publisher, social crusader and pan Africanist.

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