Benjamin Obi Nwabueze was born on December 22, 1931. He was a Nigerian lawyer, academia, politician, and constitutional expert. He was widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on constitutional law in Africa and a champion of human rights and democracy. He was also a pioneer Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, a socio-cultural organization of the Igbo people, and a former Minister of Education and Youth Development.
Ben Nwabueze Biography
Benjamin Obi Nwabueze
|Date of Birth||
December 22, 1931
|Place of Birth||
Atani, Anambra State, Nigeria
Lawyer | Politician | Writer
Beatrice Nwabueze (d. 2019)
Eni, Uche, Chidi, Obioma, Ifeoma, and Chika
October 29, 2023
Early Life and Education
Ben Nwabueze was born on December 22, 1931, in Atani, Anambra State, Nigeria. He attended St. Patrick’s College, Asaba, and later proceeded to the University of London, where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1958. He also earned a Master of Laws degree in 1960 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1964 from the same university. Ben Nwabueze was called to the English Bar in 1959 and became a member of the Inner Temple.
Nwabueze began his career as a lecturer in law at the University of Lagos in 1962. He later moved to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1963, where he rose to become a professor of law and the Dean of the Faculty of Law. Ben Nwabueze was also the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria between 1976 and 1978. He was appointed as the Minister of Education and Youth Development in 1979 by President Shehu Shagari and served until 1981. He was also a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria.
Nwabueze was a prolific writer and scholar who authored over 60 books and also wrote numerous articles on various aspects of law, politics, history, and culture. Some of his notable works include Constitutionalism in the Emergent States (1973), A Constitutional History of Nigeria (1982), The Machinery of Justice in Nigeria (1985), Democracy and Prebendalism in Nigeria (1993), Constitutional Democracy in Africa (2004), and also, The Making of an African Legend: The Biafra Story (2016).
Nwabueze was also an active participant in the political and social affairs of Nigeria and Africa. He was one of the founding members and the first Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, an organization that promotes the interests and welfare of the Igbo people. Also, Ben Nwabueze was involved in several national conferences, dialogues, and initiatives aimed at resolving the political crises and conflicts that plagued Nigeria. He was a staunch advocate of restructuring, federalism, and constitutional reform as means of achieving national unity and development.
Nwabueze was also a respected legal practitioner who handled several landmark cases before the courts. He was conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in 1978, becoming the first academic to attain that honor. He was also awarded the National Order of Merit (NNOM) in 1997 and the Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) in 2001 for his contributions to national development.
Nwabueze was married to Beatrice Nwabueze until her death in 2019. They had six children: Eni, Uche, Chidi, Obioma, Ifeoma, and Chika. He was a devout Christian who belonged to the Anglican Church.
Here is a list of some books written by Ben Nwabueze:
- Constitutional Democracy in Africa. Vol. 1. Structures, Powers, and Organising Principles of Government
- Constitutional Democracy in Africa. Vol. 2. Constitutionalism, Authoritarianism and Statism
- Constitutional Democracy in Africa. Vol. 3. The Pillars Supporting Constitutional Democracy
- Constitutional Democracy in Africa. Vol. 4. Forms of Government
- Constitutional Democracy in Africa. Vol. 5. The Return of Africa to Constitutional Democracy
- The Machinery of Justice in Nigeria
- Constitutional Law of the Nigerian Republic
- Nigerian Land Law
- Constitutionalism in the Emergent States
- A Constitutional History of Nigeria
- The Making of an African Legend: The Biafra Story
Nwabueze was widely recognized as one of the most distinguished and influential lawyers and scholars in Africa. He received several honors and awards for his achievements, including:
- The Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM), the highest academic award in Nigeria
- The Commander of the Order of Niger (CON), one of the highest national honors in Nigeria
- The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the highest rank for legal practitioners in Nigeria
- Honorary Doctorate degrees from several universities, including Harvard University, University of London, University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Abia State University, Uturu, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki
- The African Jurist Award from the African Bar Association
- The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nigerian Bar Association
- The Zik Prize for Leadership
- The Oputa Award for Excellence in Law
- The Oduah Afo-na-Isagba (the custodian of wisdom) title from his hometown Atani
Nwabueze died on October 29, 2023, at his Lagos apartment at the age of 94. His death was announced by his family and confirmed by several sources. He was mourned by many Nigerians and Africans, who paid tribute to his legacy and impact. His burial arrangements are yet to be announced by his family at the time of writing this Ben Nwabueze biography.