News Headline

Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Ex VC, secretary to govt dies in Washington, DC

  By Laolu Akande
Washington, DC, USA

ust a few days after the announcement of the death of a former External Affairs Minister General Joseph Garba, one of the nation's foremost political scientists, a former vice chancellor and one time Secretary to the South Eastern State, Professor E. U. Essien-Udom has also passed on.

He was survived by his wife Ruby, and son, Nkeruwem.

According to his son, Nkeruwem, a lawyer, Essien-Udom died on May 27th at his Washington DC home, here in the United States, where the former University of Ibadan political science professor was based in his later life after retirement from Ibadan. He was 73.

The late professor was a former University of Maiduguri Vice Chancellor between 1975 and 1979 and also former chairman of the National Universities Commission, NUC between 1986 and 1992.

He was also a well-known administrator, who was the Secretary to the Military Government and Head of Service in South Eastern State (now Cross River and Akwa Ibom states) between 1973 and 1975. He taught political science at the University of Ibadan's Department of Political Science.

A memorial service for him is billed to hold Thursday, June 6th at 11:00 am. The service will be held at the Andrew Rankin Chapel at Howard University, Washington, DC after which the remains of the late academic would be conveyed to Nigeria where he would be buried at his Ikot Osong, Etinan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom later in the month.

There would also be a reception immediately after the service at the Hilltop lounge of the Blackburn Center of Howard University.

Professor Essien-Udom is a scholar of note and his book, "Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America" is regarded by many here as the definitive text on the Nation of Islam and the metarmophosis of Negroid identity in America. Essien-Udom has lived in Washington DC quietly for a number of years with his wife and son.

His son, Nkeruwem described his dad as a "patriotic Nigerian, a Black Nationalist and a leading scholar internationally. He strongly believed in the development of education in Nigeria and spent a greater part of his life in that mission."

He was born on October 25, 1928 and attended Holy Family College, Abak between 1945 and 1948. He came to the US and attended Oberlin College, Ohio and the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. He was President of the All-African Students Union in the Americas in 1960/61, and from 1965 to 1988, was professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan.