Prof. Placid Njoku, a distinguished academic and statesman, took a bow of honour on January 14th 2024, concluding his term as Deputy Governor of Imo State with a legacy of exceptional service and transformational leadership.

Prof. Placid Chike Njoku was born on the 10th February, 1947 in Umuri Amaimo, Ikeduru LGA in Imo State. He is a scholar with a stellar reputation in academia, administration and politics. Prof. Njoku received a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from University of Nigeria Nsukka (1974), Master’s in Poultry Science (1978) and Ph.D in (Major) Monogastric Animal Nutrition; (Minor) Physiology and Biochemistry (1980) from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, U.S.A, respectively.

Prof. Njoku’s journey into the realm of politics was an unexpected one but indeed, a definite act of God as his exceptional dedication quickly set him apart. As a seasoned academic, he rose to the climax of his career as Pioneer Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture (now Michael Okpara University of Agriculture) Umudike and became a well-respected figure in the academia community. Also as a quintessential professional, Professor Njoku was unanimously elected in 2007 in far away Ile-Ife as the Pioneer President of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science, thus making one of the few Nigerians who have pioneered two chartered Federal institutions. His performance in both institutions is laden with outstanding logacies. So many were shockingly surprised when he accepted the nomination to serve as Deputy Governor of Imo State. However, his decision was rooted in a deep sense of duty and a desire to contribute to the betterment of Imo State.

From the outset, Prof. Njoku demonstrated an extraordinary level of dedication in his role. His collaborative spirit with the Governor, His Excellency, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, was instrumental in achieving numerous milestones for the state. Their partnership became a model for effective governance, showcasing the power of unity, synergy and shared vision in driving progress. His exceptional loyalty to the Executive Governor was without repugnancy. He projected his Principal’s image bringing his wealth of knowledge and passion for positive change to the forefront of Imo State’s governance. As he stepped down from his role as Deputy Governor on 14th January 2024, the people of Imo State celebrated his unwavering dedication to public service. He gracefully attended the swearing-in of his Principal for a second term in office as Governor of Imo State at which he cheered, and received many distinguished guests with his usual warmth. Throughout his tenure, Prof. Njoku proved to be an impeccable Deputy Governor, demonstrating a keen understanding of the intricacies of governance and a commitment to the well-being of Imo State citizens. His leadership was characterized by transparency, loyalty, accountability, integrity, sense of responsibility and wonderful humour.

One of Prof Njoku’s most notable achievements was his role in promoting the image of the 3R administration and also spearheading educational reforms in Imo State. As an academician himself, he recognized the transformative potential of education and worked tirelessly to improve the quality of schools, provided quality advise for the enhancement of curriculum standards, and provided better opportunities for students of Imo State using his wide range of both national and international networks in the educational sector. Working within his Principal Distingiushed Sen. Hope Uzodimma, Imo State witnessed a significant rise in educational standards and increased access to quality learning. Institutions with programmes with denied accreditation programmes had their programmes accredited. Moribund institutions were resuscitated to provide Imo children more opportunities to actualize themselves academically.

Beyond education, Prof Njoku played a pivotal role in various infrastructural developments through his wise counsel and unparalleled contributions at the State Executive Council. His unwavering support for the Governor’s agenda and his intelligent guidance as a seasoned scholar of international repute, saw the implementation of key projects that improved the lives and well-being of the citizens of Imo State. From road networks to healthcare facilities, the impact of their joint efforts was felt across the length and breadth of Imo State. As Chairman of the State Boundary Committee, he applied his wealth of experience in resolving age-old boundary/land disputes between Local Governments. He also provided the fundamental documentations which enabled the National Boundary Commission complete the field work for the delineation of the boundaries of Imo and Rivers States. He also worked with his Principal, His Excellency, Sen. Hope Uzodimma in articulating historical documentation and arguments that saw Imo State through the Supreme Court boundary case with Rivers State.

Additionally, Prof Njoku’s exceptional loyalty extended beyond policy and governance. His commitment to inclusivity and community engagement has endeared him to the People and the Government of Imo State. His effective representation of the Executive Governor at Town Hall meetings, outreach programs, the National Economic Council, the Nigerian Governors Forum, the Progressive Governors Forum, the Southern Governors Forum, the Southeast Governors Forum and his genuine connection with the grassroots have been the hallmarks of his approach, ensuring that the government remains connected to the pulse of the people. An ardent believer in God Almighty, Prof. Njoku heavily relies on God for vision, direction and sustenance as visibly seen in his excellent participation in religious activities for self and State.

As Prof Njoku takes a bow of honour after four years of selfless and dutiful service, the people of Imo State reflect on the legacy of exceptional loyalty and the values of hard work and servant leadership he leaves behind. His tenure has been a testament to the power of collaboration, dedication, and a shared vision for progress despite visible hardships faced during times of global health, economic and security challenges. The impact of his contributions will undoubtedly resonate for years to come, serving as an inspiration for future leaders and a reminder of the transformative potential of unwavering loyalty, dedication and a sense of duty to public service.

Chinedu Nsofor is the authorized biographer of His Excellency, Prof. Placid Chike Njoku and he writes from Owerri, Imo State.