University commemorates former Vice-President of Nigeria

Dame Beatrice Ekwueme and Kenechukwu Ekwueme unveiling a plaque naming the Architecture PhD room in honour of Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme.

The University of Strathclyde has launched a new scholarship and named a room in honour of Nigeria’s former Vice-President, the late Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme.

A distinguished architect, Dr Ekwueme obtained his PhD in Architecture from Strathclyde in 1978.

After graduating Dr Ekwueme had a successful career in the United States with Leo A Daly and Associates and in the UK with London-based Nickson and Partners.

On returning to Nigeria he led ESSO West Africa’s Construction and Maintenance department before founding the country’s first architectural company – Ekwueme Associates, Architects and Town Planners.

He became the first elected Vice-President of Nigeria in 1979 and championed socio-economic development and proposed a regional power-sharing arrangement that remains central to the country’s stability today.

Distinguished career

The Dr Alex Ekwueme Room, for Architecture PhD students, was formally named at a ceremony in the James Weir Building at the University, attended by the Nigerian Students Society and members of Dr Ekwueme’s family, including his widow Dame Beatrice Ekwueme, his daughter Chidi Onyemelukwe, sons Kenechukwu and Jachike, and Jachike’s wife Jacquelyn.

The £5,000 commemorative scholarship in his name was also recognised, and the family were introduced to the first recipient of the scholarship, Olugbenga Fashina. The event was followed by a Nigerian lunch and a networking event hosted by the Strathclyde Nigerian Society.

Professor Scott MacGregor, Vice-Principal of the University of Strathclyde said: "We are delighted to name a room in our University, and to launch a scholarship, in honour of the late Dr Ekwueme.

"Dr Ekwueme had a distinguished career, not only as an architect, but as a public servant for his country where he championed the same values held by this University. We are delighted to celebrate his strong ties to the Faculty and to Strathclyde along with his family members at this ceremony today."

Kenechukwu Ekwueme said: “My father was a strong advocate for education throughout his lifetime. When we were growing up, he told us that a good education was the most important thing he could provide for us.

He was particularly concerned with providing those without the financial means the opportunity to receive quality education, as long as they were willing to put in the academic effort required.

"This is not surprising, as Dr Ekwueme himself benefited from scholarships: he attended King's College, Lagos on a Government Scholarship and thereafter, the University of Washington, Seattle on a Fulbright Scholarship. This partly motivated him in 1965 to set up the Ekwueme Memorial Trust, which sponsored the university education of many Nigerians. 

"The honour being given to him by the University of Strathclyde in instituting a bursary award in his name and naming a room after him in the Faculty of Engineering is particularly fitting. This institution, at which he earned his PhD, providing a scholarship for Nigerian students is precisely the sort of thing that would have pleased him greatly.

"My father spoke fondly of Strathclyde and I know that his doctoral research work there undoubtedly prepared him for his subsequent phase of life in public service."

Odira Atueyi, President of the Strathclyde Nigerian Society, said: “The knowledge that an exemplary leader in the person of Dr Alex Ekwueme studied at Strathclyde University reaffirms the belief that the University of Strathclyde is indeed a place of useful learning. This is an inspiration to all Nigerians that the values of the University can instil in us valuable leadership qualities here and beyond.”

Inebraye Abel Aboh, Founder of the Strathclyde University Alumni of Nigeria (SUAN) group, said: "This is a great step in the right direction.

"Personally, I want to thank the University under the leadership of Professor Sir Jim McDonald and his team for this commemoration and scholarship in honour of late Dr Alex Ekwueme a distinguished Nigerian and alumnus.

"University of Strathclyde alumni is a global community and the University is keen to recognise the alumni contributions to society no matter where they reside or come from.”