Archbishop Dr. Friday Osaro Nwator, OON, JP
Birth and Early Life
At the dawn of a new decade in 1940, was born a new baby to Mr./Mrs. Nwator of Alueken family in Ogale village, Eleme – Nigeria. That day, his father called him Friday Osaro Nwator and that became his name. He would rise from a humble background to nobility. His parents enrolled him at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church School in Eleme, as one of the pioneer pupils. There he undertook elementary studies until 1953. His success at that stage got him an admission into the Okrika Grammar School (OGS) in 1956. While at OGS, the conscientious academic efforts of the charismatic young Friday, struck the Principal, Mr. D. S. Foulkes Roberts, a missionary with the Niger Delta Pastorate who did not only facilitate his academic pursuit but also, requested the he accompany him back to England to continue his education, which young Friday eventually did in 1962.
Journey to Medical Profession
On a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Umuahia, his family met with a certain Dr. Longley, an English Physician who welcomed them with a warm embrace, despite their difference in status. This inspired young Friday as to him, it was a proof of acceptance of their shared humanity. He was touched so deeply that he resolved in his spirit to become a medical doctor, if only to extend the same humanity to as many people as possible.
In 1963, he applied for the Nigerian Scholarship at the Nigerian High Commission, England, and was denied it because they were looking for flying doctors at that time. At the intervention of the Board’s Chairman, having been impressed by his abilities, that he be given a flying doctor scholarship, Friday Nwator would not accept it. His desire to become a missionary Doctor like his Mentor, Dr. Longley was sacrosanct. He would not receive any award from the board anymore since he had rejected the one awarded to him, members of that board had told him. Rather than being downhearted by that remark, he proclaimed words of faith to himself by saying. “If the Lord that I want to serve will not provide money for my training, I better not be a Doctor”. With no hope for a scholarship, he returned to North Wales where he had been staying with the Missionary, Mr. Roberts and from where he travelled daily for studies.
“If the Lord that I want to serve will not provide money for my training, I better not be a Doctor.”F.O. Nwator
One day, he received a correspondence containing a pamphlet and list of scholarships available in Britain. He was moved to write to the National Union of Students requesting that the union should facilitate a scholarship for his education. It turned out that number 13 on that list of available scholarships was offered by the Medical Missionary Association (MMA), a group of born again Christians that awarded medical scholarships from their 31 Bedford Place, London, office to Christian students.
Friday Nwator eventually, successfully, applied for an annual 250GBP scholarship to study medicine, and in addition, he was promised an accommodation in the MMA Hostel.
Friday Nwator, was talented in athletics. He specialised in 100 metres sprint and relays and went on to represent Flintshire county, where he resided in North Wales, at the Inter-County Relay Competitions.
In the summer of 1963, he won a Gold Medal for North Wales and was awarded a partial scholarship to augment what the Missionary Association had approved for his medical degree.
With two scholarships under his belt, funded Accommodation in London and an admission into the Guys Hospital University of London to study medicine, Friday Nwator had all the tools he needed to qualify as a medical doctor.
Marriage and Family Life
While in medical school, he met with a German girl, Miss Sigrid, who was working at MMA. Their fond acquaintance blossomed into true friendship and culminated into marriage on 12th October, 1968. They were married for 47 years before is passing.
The union of Sigrid and Friday had four children; Dominic, Daniel, Miriam and Esther. He believed that parents were caretakers of children on God’s behalf and he encouraged them to choose their own path in life, education and love. These are professionals in Law, Business or Information Technology.
The Caring Doctor
During his medical practice, he became a member of the Medical Council, and, Vice President and President respectively of the Nigerian Medical Association in 1980 after Dr. Animashaun. Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti was his contemporary and secretary of the body at that time. It was his tenure of their executive leadership that the ‘Call for Doctors’ was carried out.
He established and managed a 35 bed hospital on Aggrey Road (where his youngest daughter, Esther was born) as well as a consultancy clinic in Hotel Presidential where he attended to patients privately and where he handled pro bono cases.
Rivers State College of Science and Technology
Dr. Nwator returned home, to commence work at the General Hospital under the administration of Navy Commander Alfred Diette Spiff, before transiting to the Rivers State College of Science and Technology which was at its embryonic stage. It was in that institution that Dr. Nwator nurtured the Health Services Department that in the 1983, under the state military administration of Police Commissioner Fidelis Oyakhilome, it was assessed to be the best health services department in Nigeria.
Dr. Nwator’s leadership prowess had come to the fore as Mess President at Guys Hospital and this continued seven years after his return from England, when he won an election in the Bori Local Government Area with the help of Chief Edward Kobani who lead his campaign team. In between those seven years, he served in various capacities as:
- Member, Rivers State Scholarship Board
- Member, Nursery School Authority
- Chairman, Rivers State Chapter of the Red Cross.
He served as the Chairman, Rivers State Chapter of the Red Cross for twelve (12) years and represented Nigeria at the International Red Cross Society. During his leadership in Red Cross, he was elected to head a subcommittee within the Red Cross concerned with National Emergency Relief to Nigeria.
After a sustained political term borne out of loyalty to Chief Edward Kobani, Dr. Nwator left the Nigeria’s People’s Party (NPP) to join National Party of Nigeria (NPN) where he was called to be an Adviser on Health to President Shehu Shagari, a period he distinguished himself in public service bringing to bear his training and professional experience in medicine.
Dr. Nwator lived and breathed peace whenever he went a little wonder President Shagari appointed him alongside Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Dr. Okoye and two others to resolve the crisis that threatened the life of the Benue State Chapter of the NPN. This assignment was carried out successfully.
Vociferous against injustice, Dr. Nwator, who in 1976 was a private Physician to the family of General Sani Abacha, in later years declined taking up an appointment in his new administration, as a protest of the latter’s adverse treatment to his friend, Ken Saro Wiwa. Dr. Nwator challenged the General and the Military Administrator of Rivers State, Colenel Dauda Musa Komo. Hence, he joined the trained of the self exiled back in England, where he remained until the return of Democratic Rule (1999), and Dr. Peter Odili invited him to return home.
Soldier of Christ
Dr. Nwator was recruited into the Army of Christ as boy living with Christian Missionary and from then until his passing he lived a life dedicated to God in service. This culminated in his consecration as Bishop under theTrans-Atlantic and Pacific Alliance of Churches (TAPAC), a charismatic Pentecostal group spread across the world. Through his commitment and dedication, he was appointed Director of the World Missions for TAPAC. During which he took the Gospel to Gambia, Sierra-Leone, UK, France, Belgium, Ghana and America, among other nations.
At America, after a chance meeting between him and his wife, Sigrid and a Preacher, Dr. Daniel McCain, the Nigerian Chapter of the International Institute of Christian Studies was born. Dr. McCain wanted to visit Nigeria teach at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), but was unable to do so because RSUST had no religious organisation that could accommodate the man’s area of study.
The Holy Spirit ministered to Dr. Nwator and said, “If you don’t have a place where he can teach, start one”. That gave birth to the creation of the International Institute of Christian Studies, when he returned to Nigeria, after he had persuaded the Vice Chancellor of RSUST, Prof. Banigo to expand services at the University.
In the wake of the Militant era which plague Nigeria, especially its Niger Delta region, Bishop Nwator’s heart went out, not just to the victims of the kidnappings and other sad events, but also to the perpetrators themselves. He prayed fervently for their hearts to stop devising evil and for their total repentance and he went further seeking to divert the attention of those he could from such acts.
Interestingly, the administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua offered amnesty to the boys and Bishop Nwator became actively involved, working fervently on various projects designed to rehabilitate, counsel and integrate the boys back into the society, through a Non Governmental Organisation.
During this programme, he would not only administer medical and physical healing to the boys, but also provided spiritual guidance to their souls. That amnesty project, earned the title ‘Amnesty Bishop’.
Bishop Dr. Nwator was later ordained as the Archbishop of the TAPAC Ministry. He established the Feed the Poor Initiative rendering spiritual, mental and physical assistance alongside nourishment to as many under privileged people as he could. He died a pious Christian.