Eni Njoku was born in Ebem, Ohafia, Abia State on November 6, 1917. He was one of three brothers and three sisters. His parents, like most in the village, were farmers of modest means. He began his education a primary school in Ebem Ohafia, obtaining his school-leaving certificate in 1928. Being considered too young to teach, as was then the custom, he began as a probationary teacher two years later in 1931. In 1933 he entered the Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar and in 1936 he obtained his Teachers Higher Elementary Certificate. In the same year he sat and successfully passed the Cambridge Senior Certificate Examination.
In 1944, he left Nigeria with a government scholarship to attend the University of Manchester, England, where he received the B.Sc, degree in Botany with first class honours in 1947. In the following year he received and external B, a degree from the University of London in Mathematics, Economics and Philosophy, in addition to performing further research in Botany leading to the M.Sc degree.
In 1948 he returned to Nigeria as a lecturer in the department of Botany at the University of Ibadan. In 1951 he entered politics, first as a representative of bende division in the eastern House of Assembly and then as the first federal minister of mines and power from 1952 -53. He continued at the university of Ibadan as a senior lecturer in 1953, and obtained Ph.D degree from the university of London in 1954. In 1959 he became Professor and head of Botany Department at the University of Ibadan, and served as Dean of the Faculty of Science from 1959 -62. From 1956 -62 he acted as chairman of the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria and from 1960 - 62 was a member of senate in the upper House of the Nigerian Federal Parliament. In 1962 he became the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
In 1965 he left Nigeria for a year to Michigan State University, USA as a visiting Professor of Botany and plant Pathology. He returned to Nigeria in 1966 to become the first indeginous Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. After disruptions of the Civil war, he resigned as Vice Chancellor, and continued with academic research and teaching as a professor of Botany. Prof Eni Njoku departed this world in 1974 in London. He is survived by wife, Winifred, Son Eni (jr) and his daughters Nkwo, Nnenna and Orieji.
Eni Njoku’s accomplishments were far reaching. He was awarded the honorary D.Sc. of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1965, the Honorary LL.D of Michigan State University, USA in 1966, and honorary D.Sc of the University of Lagos in 1973. He was the first President of the Science Association of Nigeria from 1959 - 60 and was made a foundation fellow in 1974. His publications include “Plant life in a tropical environment”
(1954) and numerous research articles in botanical journals.
From 1961- 63 he was a member of the International Advisory Committee on Research in National Science Program of UNESCO - from 1961 - 66 he was a member of the commonwealth science committee and from 1963 - 64 was a member of the Council of Association of Commonwealth Universities. He was a member of the Superior Academic Council , University of Lovanium, Zaire, from 1963 - 66 and a member of the provisional Council of the University of Zambia.
He was a member of the United Nations Committee on Applications of Science and Technology to development.
All, each in his own way, will remember Eni Njoku. A list of accomplishments cannot fully convey the dedication to family, friends, village, students, colleagues, Igbo people, Nigeria and Indeed to world peace and humanity, that individual memories will recall. For the many people whose lives he affected and for those who follow his path, the memory of Eni Njoku remains vivid now and always.
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