Urhobo Historical Society |

**Guardian Editorial Tribute to
the Memory of**

**Chike Obi (1921-2008)**

** **

Culled from:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

**O**N
Thursday, March 13, 2008, Prof. Chike Obi, the first Nigerian to obtain
a
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree in Mathematics, passed on. He was
aged 87.
While he lived, he acquired international renown as a consummate
mathematician,
a maverick politician, an international scholar and a passionate
patriot. He,
along with Adegoke Olubunmo, the late first Professor of Mathematics
and
Professor James Ezeilo simplified and revolutionised Mathematics
research in

Prof. Chike Obi was born in

It was in this seemingly unnavigable
labyrinth of Mathematics that Chike Obi, who became a world-acclaimed
mathematical virtuoso, gave scientific proof to a 361-year old
mathematical
puzzle known then as Fermat's Last Theorem, named after the 17th
century French
mathematician, Pierre de Fermat: This theorem stated that "xn + yn =
zn;
where x, y, z and n are positive integers and has no solution if n is
greater
than two". For over three centuries, Western mathematicians strained at
this theorem until 1994, when they solved it, with the aid of modern
technological gadgets, such as the computer.

Soon thereafter, however, Chike Obi,
relying
only on his fertile brain, presented in 1998 an elementary proof of the
arcane
Fermat's Theorem which had been described as one of the most famous
problems in
Numbers Theory. A Fellow of the

He started his career as a
Lecturer/Senior
Lecturer, University of Ibadan, 1959-62. He became an Associate
Professor,
University of Lagos (UNILAG) in 1970, and a full Professor (of
Mathematics) of
the same university, a year later. From 1971-73, he was Dean of the
School of
Mathematics and Physical Sciences of UNILAG, and Chairman, Department
of
Mathematics, UNILAG, from 1971-77. From 1981-82, he was acting Dean,
Faculty of
Science of the University, and in 1985, he became Emeritus Professor of
the
University.

In 1986, this illustrious polymath
won the

A maverick politician, the late Prof.
Chike
Obi was a man of great conviction. He was passionate about the politics
of

He, however, was such a "fanatical"
believer in one

In appreciation of his laudable
services to
humankind, particularly in the realms of Mathematics, for which he
became world
famous, and politics, in which his positive non-conformism was
generally
acknowledged, the late Prof. Chike Obi was honoured with garlands of
national
and international awards, including, Commander of the Order of the
Niger (CON),
and the Sigvard Ecklund Prize of the International Centre for
Theoretical
Physics (1986). In

Additionally, he had numerous
publications on
Non-Linear Differential Equations in both national and international
journals
to his credit. Survived by a widow, Melinda, herself a Mathematician
and
midwife of note, and four children, the late Prof. Chike Obi was a
martinet, a
stern disciplinarian, and an optimist who insisted that all equations
must be
equal.