How do you honour, celebrate or write a tribute to a soldier of admirable conviction, a man of astonishing distinction and a leader of courteous audacity? A man who dedicated his entire life to the liberty, well-being and uplift of others, a man who lived for the freedom and unity of his country?
It is even more emotionally traumatic when you realise that this soldier of selflessness and valour is no more and would have no opportunity to behold this effulgent monument engraved with the epithet of his accomplishments.
Major General Eugene Chiazo Godwin Nwanguma was born on July 12, 1954. He was the third child and second son of his parents, the late Mr. Godwin Chilaka Elijah Nwanguma and Mrs. Grace Okwuwuodu Chimezie Nwanguma (nee Eme).
Those born on the 12th are said to be extremely innovative, focused, courageous, ambitious, determined and confident. They run a circle around the world and always achieve their goals. This is true of Maj. Gen Nwanguma. He was truly an epitome of these ennobling traits.
It is difficult to rationalise his reason for choosing to become a soldier. But having been born 12 years before the Nigerian civil war and with a childhood experience of the war, he must have admired the high-moral ground that an altruistic soldier stands on, those George S. Patton Jr. ascribed with the finest qualities of “discipline, self-respect, pride in his unit and his country; a high sense of duty and obligation to comrades and to his superiors, and a self-confidence born of demonstrated ability.”
In life, he shone like a northern star in the firmament. In all he did and engaged in, he fluttered in resplendence.
Widely travelled and harmoniously in love with nature, his early education took him through a number of primary schools as his parents, who were renowned educationists, taught at various communities in the then Owerri Province of Eastern Nigeria. On the completion of his primary education, he proceeded to Government Secondary School, Owerri, in 1967. This was disrupted by the Nigerian civil war. But a dogged finisher and fighter he was. He returned to the same school in 1970 and passed with distinction in the West African School Certificate examination in 1974.
Lavishly endowed with integrity of the intent and the intellect, he passed the entrance examination into the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, in 1975 as an Officer Cadet of the 18th Regular Course. His sterling and distinguished military career began in December 1977, when he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and posted to the Nigerian Army Artillery Corps.
His hunger for knowledge and excellence was insatiable and he followed this up with a BSc. (Hons.) Business Administration from the University of Lagos and MSc. in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan.
Maj. Gen. Nwanguma had a meritorious and rewarding military career. His dedication and hard work took him through a higher career path with a series of advanced military training, nationally and internationally. These include, Artillery Basic Officer’s Course, Army Junior Staff Course, and Artillery Survey and Target Acquisition Course – India. He also attended Artillery Staff Officer’s Course, Artillery Battery Commander’s Course, Rocket and Artillery Armaments Course – U.S.S.R and Command and Staff Course (Senior Division). Others include the Long Gunnery Staff Course – India, the War College, Abuja, and the United Nations managers’ course.
Maj. Gen. Nwanguma held various staff, command and instructor appointments and headed various troop battery and regimental commands, including Staff Captain Administration/Quartermaster. His illustrious military career also saw him as Battery Commander (ECOMOG, Liberia 1990-1991), Combat Development – Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Minna, Niger State; Brigade Major, 34 Field Artillery Brigade, Obinze, Owerri, Directing Staff, Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna, General Staff Officer Grade 1, Army Faculty, Command and Staff College, Nigeria.
He was also General Staff Officer Grade 1, Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Oshodi, Lagos, Chief Instructor- Survey and Target Acquisition, Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Colonel General Staff, Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery, School of Artillery, Kontagora, Niger State, Commander 301 General Support Artillery Regiment, Gombe, Colonel Field Artillery, Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery and School, Directing Staff, National War College, Abuja, and Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta.
He held other top staff commands, including Deputy Commandant, Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Chief of Army Operations, Army Headquarters, Abuja, and, finally, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Lagos.
As GOC Lagos and Ogun, these states witnessed relative peace and tranquility. Former Governor of Lagos State and now Minister of Housing, Babatunde Fashola, was so enthralled by the achievements Nwanguma recorded that he described him as an amiable gentleman and a fine officer to the core.
A true leader with the courage and compassion for accomplishments and results, one of his greatest leadership traits was that he never failed to assume responsibility when things went wrong or when they were right.
He was strategic in motivation and inspirational in reproof and discipline. He was gifted with an infectious aura and an alluring fragrance that captivated superiors and subordinates.
No wonder he won many awards. These include Forces Service Star, ECOMOG Service Medal; Meritorious Service Star and Distinguished Service Star. He was also decorated with the following service medals: Passed Staff College (psc), Qualified Gunnery Staff and Fellow of War College (fwc).
He was also honoured by the Government Secondary School Owerri Old Boys Association, Ikoro Oke of Oke clan, Aboh Mbaise Lorji, and Lorji Association for Progress (LAP), now Lorji Nwekeukwu Association for Progress (LNAP), among other awards.
Having excelled in his career, he retired to Owerri to work in private business. He was also a man of the people and never forgot his roots. He was a member of a few social/cultural associations, including the aforementioned that honoured him with awards.
Nwanguma was a linguist and communicated effectively in five languages: Igbo, English, French, Hausa and Yoruba. His major hobby was music and he played the guitar, the keyboard and the saxophone.
He was a charming family man to the core. He was married and was blessed with two children.
Death has an uncanny way of snatching the best from humanity. For Nwanguma, his journey across the river started in December 2019 when he travelled to the United States for better medical treatment. He was to return to Nigeria where he continued to receive further treatment.
However, on April 27, 2021, he breathed his last and was transported beyond in a blaze of glory.
In life, Maj. Gen. Nwanguma illuminated the corners where he was. In death, the sparks of friendship and benevolence he ignited are even glowing brighter and brighter.
On Friday, June 25, 2021, the military strategist, historian and gentle officer will be committed to Mother Earth at his country home, Lorji, in Aboh-Mbaise LGA, Imo State.
Mary Scott said, “At your end is the beginning.”
Major General Eugene Nwanguma, the journey has just begun. Gwurus, within your short lifespan, you left indelible footprints in the sands of time.Your friends love you but God loves you the more.You have gone to wait for us all at the Resurrection Morning, when we shall meet to part no more.
Adieu Gwurus, a fine officer of international repute. Adieu Chiazo. Wait for us, we are coming.
Source: The Sun News