Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu CON, CFR (8 December 1930 – 2 October 2023) was a distinguished Nigerian Professor of Medicine whose contributions extended far beyond the confines of academia. His illustrious career left an indelible mark on the fields of medicine, education, and international health organizations. Let’s delve into the life and achievements of this remarkable individual.
Early Life and Education
Born in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on 8 December 1930, Umaru Shehu’s early education set the stage for his future accomplishments. He attended elementary and middle school in Maiduguri before pursuing higher education. His academic journey took him to renowned institutions, including Kaduna College, University College Ibadan, and the University of Liverpool, where he honed his medical expertise. Shehu obtained his Medical degree from the University of London, laying the foundation for his impactful career.
Umaru Shehu embarked on his medical career in the United Kingdom, working as a Pre-registration House Surgeon at the Southport Infirmary. His dedication to medicine led him back to Nigeria, where he served in various roles within the Government of Northern Nigeria. His ascent through the medical ranks included positions such as Medical Officer, Senior Medical Officer, Principal Medical Officer, and Chief Medical Officer, Preventive Services Division.
Ahmadu Bello University
Shehu’s journey in academia began when he joined Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). At ABU, he assumed multiple roles, including Reader, Acting Head of the Department of Community Medicine, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and Director of the Institute of Health. His dedication and leadership culminated in his appointment as Professor of Community Medicine and Head of the Department from 1970 to 1978. He also served as Deputy Vice Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor during his tenure.
University of Maiduguri
Transitioning to the University of Maiduguri, Professor Shehu continued to make significant contributions. He served as an Honorary Consultant Physician and later earned the title of Professor Emeritus in 2000. His leadership extended to the role of Provost of the College of Medical Sciences and Sole Administrator of the University during a crucial interim period.
Beyond ABU and the University of Maiduguri, Umaru Shehu held leadership positions at various institutions. He served as Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and as Chairman of the Board of Management at the University College Hospital Ibadan. Shehu also contributed as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council at Bayero University, Kano, and the University of Lagos, where his strategic insights guided these institutions.
Contributions to Health Organizations
Professor Shehu’s influence extended to international and national health organizations. He served as the President of Medical Schools in Africa and contributed to the University of Ghana Medical School as an External Examiner. His roles included chairing the boards of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and STOPAIDS. Shehu was a patron of various healthcare-related organizations, emphasizing his commitment to healthcare advancement.
Work with WHO
Umaru Shehu collaborated extensively with the World Health Organization (WHO), contributing his expertise to various initiatives. His roles ranged from Short Term Consultant to National WHO Program Coordinator/Representative in Nigeria. He also served as Director of the WHO Sub-Regional Health Development Office III and WHO Representative to Ethiopia, where he promoted health and healthcare services.
Awards and Honors
Shehu’s exemplary contributions earned him numerous accolades. He received Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees from Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In recognition of his outstanding service, the Nigerian government honored him with the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) awards. In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan presented him with the Centenary award, a prestigious recognition commemorating Nigeria’s 100 years as a nation.
The passing of Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu CON, CFR, marked the end of an era in Nigerian medicine and education. His dedication, leadership, and contributions will continue to inspire future generations, leaving an enduring legacy in the fields he touched.