Conrad Dibia Chukwujimje Nwawo, M.C. Psc. N/10 was a soldier per excellence, a public servant and a dynamic leader. He began his professional life in the military after an outstanding academic career and a stint in public service. He was one of the first graduate officers of the Nigerian Army (N/10). He joined the Army on December 1, 1950 when it was called the West African Frontier Force.
Born on 13th November 1923 in Offa, Kwara State into the family of Jeremiah Dibia Nwawo of Akwubili, Ogbe-Obi, Onicha Olona, in Delta State, Conrad Nwawo started his elementary education at St. Joseph’s Primary School, Kaduna in 1929 and later moved to St. Michael’s Primary School, Kaduna to complete his Standard Six in 1939. Young Conrad Nwawo was a brilliant pupil as he completed his Cambridge School Certificate in 1943 in flying colours. Earlier he was a student Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu, 1940 and Ilesa Grammar School, Ilesha, 1941-1943. In 1944 he gained admission to the School of Agriculture, Ibadan and graduated in 1946 with a Certificate in Agriculture. Thereafter he gained admission to London University in 1950 and was awarded Part II Inter B.S.C. Econs. (London)
His early professional life as a public servant included positions as Agricultural Assistant Grade III, in the School of Agriculture, Ibadan and Third Class Clerk in the Accountant General’s Department, Kaduna, a job he held from 1948 to 1950. He resigned the appointment on acceptance for Officer Training in the Royal West African Frontier Force 9RWAFF) in December 1950 which signaled the beginning of a milestone in the life of CD Nwawo.
His military career began in earnest with series of training. First was an attachment to the 3rd Battalion, Nigeria Regiment (1951-1953), WestAfrican Command Training School, Teshie Ghana (1952-1953) where he excelled with a Grade A, making him the only student to be so graded with Alpha distinguished on the Tactical Course in 1953. Later on, he proceeded to Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School, Chester, England and was Commissioned Second Lieutenant, West African Land Forces May 1954. He served as an attachment with the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in Germany from June to August 1954, and later was posted to 4th Battalion, Nigeria Regiment.
CD Nwawo stepped up his new responsibility at the 4th Battalion (Nigerian Army), and was appointed the Platoon Commander, 1954-1955. In the same year, 1955 he was promoted Lieutenant. From there he went for further Young Officer’s Courses at School of Infantry, Westminster, Army Transport School, Bordon, England and Army School of Physical Training, Aldershot. He was also at Battalion Intelligence Officer’s Course 1957-1959. And in 1959 he was promoted Captain and appointed Company Commander. Later he was appointed Instructor in Tactics, Military Law, Map Reading and Current Affairs- Officer Cadet Wing, Nigerian Military College, Kaduna (1960-1962)
He was among the elite Nigerian Contingent to the United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in the then Republic of Congo from November 1962 to February 1963. Conrad Nwawo was decorated with the Military Cross (MC) for gallantry by her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of England. One of only two Military Cross, a meritorious award so far conferred in the History of the Nigerian Army, and late Adekunle Fajuyi was the other recipient.
In 1963, he proceeded to the United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S.A. On return in 1963, he was posted to 5th Battalion as second-in-command and later appointed Chief Instructor and subsequently, Commandant of the Nigerian Military Training College, Kaduna, and January 1964. And in 1965, he was promoted Lt. Colonel and posted to London as a Military Attaché and Defense Adviser at the Nigerian High Commission in United Kingdom (1964-1966) and appointed Counselor (Military Division) Ministry of External Affairs, Lagos. Later he was appointed Commander, 4th Area Command, Nigerian Army in Benin-City (1966-1967) and was promoted Colonel in 1967 before the Nigerian Civil War.
At break of Civil War (1967-1970). CD Nwawo found himself in what many may want to describe as between the devil and the deep blue sea. Cut in the middle, he couldn’t careless of whatever happened as things began to happen unexpectedly while in the Nigerian Army of that era. During that period, he was in the rank of Brigadier and commanded various Army Divisions at different times, in war time Biafra.
At the cessation of hostility in 1970, CD Nwawo was put in detention (January 1970- October 1974) by the same Federal Military Government that declared “No Victor, No Vanquish”. After his release from detention, he was appointed Member, Statutory Corporation Service Commission, Bendel State in 1975 by Brigadier General Ogbemudia. From 1975-1977, Nwawo served on the Board of Wood Processing Industry (Nig.) Limited, Benin City as Chairman, Board of Directors. He also attended top Management Course of the Nigerian Institute (NIM) 1976. He was appointed Managing Director, Bendel Wood Treatment Factory, Benin City (1975-1978) and in December, 1978 he retired voluntarily from active service.
While in retirement, he decided to put pen to paper his perspective in a book form of what transpired during the Nigerian Civil War. Titled, “The Facts as I saw them”. Motivated by the love of country, he joined his folks in the Military and was a founding member of Asaba Chapter of Retired Army, Navy and Air Force Officers Association (RANAO). But on Saturday, February 27, 2016, the iconic soldier who was re-integrated and pensioned by the Nigerian Army on retirement was called home by his creator at the age of 93. He died as he lived, disciplined, brave and contented. And above all he died a Nigerian!
He was survived by a Grandson, grandchildren and relatives.