Nowamagbe Austin Omoigui: 1959-2021

Dr. Nowamagbe Austin Omoigui, pre-eminent interventional cardiologist in Columbia, South Carolina and foremost Nigerian-American civil-military historian, shed his earthly bonds and was called to the Lord on April 18, 2021.

Preceded in passing by his beloved mother, Mrs. Grace Onaiwu Omoigui, Dr. Omoigui is survived by his wife Moira Omoigui, their children (Ikpomwosa Omoigui, Ighiwiyisi Omoigui, Iyegbekosa (Egbe) & Izevbokun (Izzy) Omoigui, Iyare Omoigui and Iriagbonse Omoigui), his father, Surveyor Daniel Aiyanyo Omoigui and his four siblings (Dr. Sota Omoigui, Ifueko M Omoigui Okauru, Eghosa Omoigui and Nosa Omoigui), their Spouses and In-laws, Nephews and Nieces; Aunts, Uncles and Cousins; Friends and Colleagues.

He was a precocious talent who set records everywhere he went. He graduated from high school (with the ordinary level school certificate as it was known at the time) at age 15, from Federal Government College, Warri in Nigeria. He graduated with distinction and set a record as the first in the history of the school (and one of the first in West African History) to obtain a Grade A1 in Fine Arts. In 1975, after a year at King’s College in Lagos, Nigeria (where he had entered for the advanced level, higher school certificate as it was known at the time), he gained admission to study Medicine at the Nigeria’s premier Medical School, the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. In 1981, he graduated at the top of his Medical School Class with distinction and delivered the valedictory speech. After Internship, he spent a mandatory year of service at the Brigade of Guards where he set new records by coordinating an air, sea and land Military disaster drill, and received a National Award from the Nigerian President Shehu Shagari in 1983.

In the U.S., he did Medicine Residency at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, NY and served as Chief Resident at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. He obtained a master’s degree in public health with particular interest in Health Resource Management and Policy, from the University of Illinois. He trained in Cardiology at Stanford University and in Interventional Cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic (America’s best heart center). Nowa continued his tradition of collecting awards and setting records in the U.S. He was awarded the Timothy Beckett (1992) and Hewlett Packard (1993) Awards, and Awards for excellence as a post-doctoral fellow in Cardiovascular Disease.

He set the all-time record among clinical fellows at the Cleveland Clinic for the highest number of abstracts submitted and presented (as first author) at a single National meeting (American Heart Association 1994). Dr. Omoigui also published numerous research papers in many of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. Importantly, he set a new record when he became the first Nigerian (African) immigrant to be Chief of Cardiology at the University of South Carolina in December 1994 at the age of 35. Perhaps the youngest to do so.

In 1996, he was the Chief of Cardiology, the Program Director of Cardiology Fellowship, Director at the VAMC, and the Chairman of the Governing Board of Regents. During the war of Desert Storm, Nowa logged into the high-level war-room that was full of Military Generals, discussing Tactics and Strategies of military warfare.

Dr. Omoigui was an academic researcher, a masterful orator, a precociously gifted painter, a world-renowned military historian and was widely recognized for his scholarship on national security, civil-military relations, national and traditional history, and politics. In fact, a genius.

Even before the advent of the Internet, Nowa would give you facts and figures about events. By the time you checked, he would be correct about the date, time, place and everything else. His brain was like a walking encyclopedia. Despite his record-setting achievements and his intellectual prowess, he was always humble, easily approachable, and always ready to help friends, family and his younger colleagues who sought his counsel.

Known for his intellectual sagacity, his polymathic breadth and depth of knowledge, expertise and interests, and his charmingly disarming sense of humor, Dr. Omoigui was a force of nature. Ever simple yet beautifully complex, he combined the perspicacious erudition of a sage with the boundless curiosity and passion of a child. He had an encyclopedic brain and a beautiful heart. He was sui generis, one of a kind, and just a genuinely good person. We will miss him dearly.

We are immensely grateful to God for the life he lived, the service he gave to family and country, and most importantly, his love, care for, and devotion to, his wife, children and family and friends. We are also thankful to all those that supported him in health and in sickness.

Nowa was a shooting star traveling high above on its earthly journey, and lighting up the world below, in an incandescent myriad of colors, before flaming out in a blaze of glory. He has shed his garb of mortality and transcended into immortality, at the throne of God. Nowa belongs to the ages now. May his soul Rest in Peace.

Dr. Omoigui was buried in Columbia, SC on May 15, 2021. While on this earth, Nowa ensured that his name was engraved in record books for the ages, and we pray that God engraves his name among His greatest servants and grant him glory and eternal life in Heaven.

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