Pius Nwankwo Okeke was born on the 30th October, 1941 to the humble family of Daniel Ndubisi Okeke and the Beatrice Ugogbe Okeke, both from Oraukwu in Idemili Local Government Area of Anambara State. Following his initial education at Oraukwu primary school where he obtained his first school leaving certificate, attended Emergency secondary school in Lagos. He was offered admission to study physics in 1965 at the University of Lagos.
The young P.N Okeke was the best student both in the department of Physics and the faculty of science and was awarded a scholarship for further studies anywhere in the world. Unfortunately the Nigerian Civil War disrupted Prof. Okeke’s plans. He was forced to transfer to the University of Nigeria Nsukka where he completed his B.Sc degree second class honors upper division in Physics in 1971. He was appointed a Junior Research Fellow of the University of Nigeria in 1972
Uniquely .P.N Okeke was the first person to received PhD of the University of Nigeria in 1975.
He settled down to a most active, eventful and productive career. He carried out his Postdoctoral research in the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1979 under the supervision of very distinguished Astronomer Professor M.J. Rees. He rose to the rank of a professor and leader of Space Research Centre University of Nigeria in 1989.
He tackled many challengings in Astronomy and collaborated with researchers worldwide to become a distinguished international scholar. This led to series of International Awards that includes: Visiting Scientist Harvard Smithsonian Centre USA, 1997, Senior Research Fellow National Astronomical Observatory, Tokyo, Japan 1993, Visiting Scientist, University of Tubingen, Germany 1995; Visiting Professor South African Astronomical Observatory 1996; External Board Member , South African National Science Foundation 1994-2000. A distinguished Professor of Physics,
He is a Fellow of Royal Astronomical Society, London; FRAS, Fellow of Nigerian Academy of Science (FAS), Fellow of Nigerian Institute of Physics, (FNIP), Fellow of Planetary and Radio Science, Fellow of International Astronomy Astrophysics FIAA, and United Nations Consultant in Space Science in Africa,
In the course of his dedicated research, he made the following outstanding discoveries: Discovery of a new eclipsing cataclysmic variable; Prediction of observational consequences of mini black hole; Proposed a Nuclear Beam Model in Radio Sources. Contributed immensely in Astrophysical Spectral Research, Conducted massive postgraduate training for Nigerian Space Science scholars using facilities at home and abroad
In the University of Nigeria, Prof. P.N. Okeke proved to be a sound administrator: He served as the Head of Dept of Physics & Astronomy between 1988 – 1992 and 1996 -1997, Dean of Faculty of Physical Sciences, 1999 to 2002; Chairman, Sports Council, Chairman ICT, and Chairman Strategic Contact Committee
No doubt, Prof. Okeke has therefore left an indelible footprint in the building of human resources in academics. He has produced over 20 PhDs and 30 MScs in Space Science and he is still currently supervising another 5 PhD students.
Over 6 of his students are now professors, heading Space Research programs in other Nigeria Universities. About 3/4 of Astronomers in Nigeria are the products of Prof. Okeke
To crown them all, Prof. P.N. Okeke was the African recipient of the UN/NASA award in 2007 in Japan for his tremendous contributions to the development of Astronomy in Africa.
As the Director for Centre for Basic Space Science, Prof. Okeke is efficiently collaborating with over 20 Nigerian Universities and research Institutes on series of projects: Building one of the largest Radio Telescope in Africa –a 25 metre Dish in collaboration with China,
Setting up a motorized Dome for optical Observations, successfully setting up a network of twenty automatic weather stations operating through wireless telemetry for monitoring Nigerian Climate, as well as studying Radio Propagation in Nigeria, setting up other fundamental experiments in Atmospheric Sciences such as Magnetometers, SI monitors, GPS, etc
With his effort, the Centre has also recently been upgraded to African Regional Centre for Space Weather Research and has recently signed MOU with several countries for various research programs and over 50 scientists from Nigeria have received training under these MOUs: National Astronomical Observatory (NAO), Japan, South African Astronomical Observatory, Cape Town, HartRAO Observatory, South Africa, Harvard Smithsonian Centre, USA, University of Delaware, USA, Altteche Technology, China. And Urumqi Radio Astronomy Observatory, China.
Prof Okeke has over 70 Research journals and articles mostly in reputable international journals. He has written 15 textbooks in Physics and Astronomy at both secondary and tertiary levels. These books are today the most popular in Nigeria.
Pius Nwankwo Okeke is a distinguished Professor of Physics in Nigeria, the Current President of African Astronomical Society, Director, Centre for Basic Space Science, Nsukka and member of Technical Advisory Board, NASRDA, Abuja
As can be seen above, the TWO major ambitions of Prof. Okeke are almost achieved
(………………………….) I present to you this accomplished scholar, and intellectual giant, a writers writer, a man who embodies the scarce quality of excellence, integrity, a shining star of Nigeria to the world and inspirer of young and old alike. Prof. P..N Okeke’s tremendous achievements and his meritorious Service to the University of Nigeria and humanity, the University has recently approved his appointment as Professor Emeritus of the University of Nigeria.