Rt.Revd. Dr G.I.N Okpala(JP) was elected the first bishop of Nnewi on December 2nd 1995 following the inauguration of the Diocese on February 14, 1996. Bishop Godwin was born in ikenga village, Adazi-ani on September 17, 1949. The youngest child of his pagan parents, Mr Uzokwe Okpala-oguaju Okpala and Mrs Onyeghalunkeya Okpala who on conversion to Christianity by baptism renamed Mrs Josephine Okpala and was later conferred with a “mother of honour”.
Young Godwin had his primary school education at St Jude’s primary school, Adazi Ani. He passed the entrance examination into ife grammar school, mbaise in 1964. Unfortunately that same year, he lost his father at a very tender age of 15. VEN. (BARR.) ALEXANDER EDICHIE (JP) writes “The bishop still remembers very vividly that in 1966, while in secondary school, he gave his life to Christ, a fundamental necessity for any who longs to truly be a child of God.” Also, Bishop Godwin has passionately dreamed of being a medical doctor but this desire changed with his encounter with Christ and he began to have the longing to be a priest. “it was a war that aggravated people’s sufferings and left many impoverished” Alexander posited against the Nigerian Biafran civil war brake out, which young Godwin and other students of his school left for their respective homes in 1967.
He had a deep interest to be enrolled into the Biafran Armed forces at the early stage of the war. He desired to join the Air force and fly planes as a pilot. He was initially disqualified severally on account of age. However, he was conscripted into the army when the war became severe, trained and given a number in the Biafran army although he was later decamped. Young Godwin returned to school (this time at Oraukwu Grammar School) after the war ended in January 1970. He remains eternally grateful to his mother who weathered the storm of poverty and difficulty to give him an education. In 1971, he took his final exams and passed his papers.
The principal, Revd. A.C. Chiwuzie took him to the then Bishop on the Niger, the Rt Revd. L.M. Uzodike who briefly interviewed him and posted him to St Andrew’s church odoakpu, Onitsha as a church teacher. He was later re-transferred to St.Mark’s Nnewichi to commence his church teaching ministry in 1972. This was indeed what later metamorphosed into the episcopacy – Ven. (Barr.) Alexander Edichie(JP) wrote.