• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Work does not give hunchback: Celebrating Prof Adikwu at 60

Work does not give hunchback: Celebrating Prof Adikwu at 60

In a sense, one can decipher the values of a society by the type of people that the society celebrates. In medieval Europe, saints were celebrities. Today, in most parts of the world (Nigeria included) we celebrate celebrities- people who are famous for being famous.

Without prejudice to anyone, it can be affirmed that many times we are taken by the external actions of persons, most times their ‘products.’ Here, I will cite two examples drawn from the world of entertainment and sports. First, the Burna -Boy phenomenon. Second, the rave of Victor Osihmen. Behind the superlative quality of their output lies a lot of insanely hard work.

However, the author wishes to submit that we ought to aim a little bit higher. Let us value a little bit more intellectual achievement and appreciate a little bit more the cultivation of the intellect of man and its corollary -its impact on integral development.

On that note, I wish to celebrate Professor Michael Umale Adikwu at 60. The man who has just attained the diamond age was born in the remote village of Edumoga in Benue State on 19 April 1963 – just three years after Nigeria got her independence from the British. His parents were of modest means, yet they were able to send him to St Paul’s primary school, Utonkon.

At the end of his primary school studies, he was able to proceed to Federal Government College Jos (from 1976 to 1981) from where he obtained his West African Education Certificate with distinction emerging as the best graduating student of his class. Afterwards, he proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) where he studied Pharmacy and graduated in 1986.

He started his professional career as a hospital pharmacist with the Hospital Services Management Board of Benue state in 1988. There, a supervisor once remarked to him that he had a critical mind and ought to be in academics.

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After a brief stint with the University of Jos, he joined the services of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka his alma mater in 1990 at the age of twenty-seven. By 1996, he had already published enough research papers that could qualify him to be professor. Along the way, he obtained his PhD in Pharmaceutics in 1994 under the supervision of Prof Udeala.

In less than a decade of active research and academic mentorship, he supervised persons who have had a meteoric rise in academic realms- we can speak of the three musketeers who are his former PhD students – Anthony Attama, Charles Esimone and Kenneth Ofokansi, all now professors.

These men like their master went on to hold the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship which is held in Germany. Adikwu also went on to Japan to do research on a Matsumae Foundation Fellowship. To date, he has trained more than 40 postgraduate students.

What can be gleaned from this abbreviated account of the life of Adikwu is the power of education and self-application. Nelson Mandela wrote in his memoirs titled a Long Walk to Freedom that education is a great engine of personal development and the transformation of societies.

Today, the story of the department of Pharmaceutics of the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UNN cannot be complete without including the Adikwu chapter. His impactful life reminds one of the dictum stated by Jean Monnet – one of the promoters of today what has become the European Union- “Nothing is possible without men nothing is lasting without institutions.”

What Adikwu achieved is impossible in isolation. He will be the first to tell you that he owes it to his parents and siblings and the foresight and vision of those who established the institutions where he studied. He will point to his mentors like the great Indian academic Agrawal and his first head of department, the no-nonsense Chiori.

At a time where it appears that high standards of scholarship are being sacrificed for cheap popularity and mediocrity, it is good to reflect on the labours of our heroes’ past as the National anthem reminds us.

Adikwu was head of the department of pharmaceutics at UNN from 1995 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2004. He has published more than 200 research papers. He served as the National Coordinator of the Science and Technology Education (STEP-B) Post Basic Education Project, a World Bank funded project aimed at solidifying the roots of science education in Nigeria from 2007 to 2013.

Afterwards, Adikwu became the vice chancellor of the University of Abuja on 30 June 2014 and finished his tenure in 2019.Since the end of his tenure as vice chancellor, he has remained active in teaching and research. He is happily married to Victoria and the marriage is blessed with children and grandchildren.

Akpa is a lecturer in the faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UNN