Tribute to Nigeria’s first Emeritus Professor Umaru Shehu, 1930 – 2023
Story from Ibraheem Hamza Muhammad
Professor Umaru Shehu is a Nigerian Professor of Medicine and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is a Professor Emeritus, Community health, University of Maiduguri and former President of the Nigerian Academy of Science. Professor Umaru received a Bachelor of Medicine degree, MBBS from the University of London. He also received a fellowship of the Institute of Cancer Research and he is the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal.
Professor Umaru Shehu was born on December 8, 1930 in Maiduguri, Nigeria. He attended Elementary School, Maiduguri 1935-1940; Middle School, Maiduguri 1941-1943; Kaduna College, Kaduna 1944-1947; University College Ibadan 1948-1953; and was at the University of Liverpool between 1953-1956, and 1966-1967. Professor Shehu holds MBBS (London), IRCF (London), MRCS (England), DPH (Liverpool), FMCPH, MFCM, FFCM (UK), FFCM (Nigeria), FAS, FWACP, DFMC (Nigeria).
Professor Shehu started working as a Pre-registration House Surgeon, Southport Infirmary, United Kingdom in 1957. He came back to the Government of Northern Nigeria as Pre-registration House Physician that same year, and was promoted Medical Officer 1957-1963; Senior Medical Officer 1963-1965; Principal Medical Officer 1965-1966; Assistant Chief Medical Officer 1966-1967; Chief Medical Officer (Preventive Services Division) 1967-1968.
Professor Shehu was then redeployed to North-Eastern State as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Chief Medical Officer, an offer he declined only to move on to Ahmadu Bello University to take up appointment as Reader and Acting Head of Department of Community Medicine 1968-1970; Deputy Dean, Faculty of Medicine 1968-1970; Acting Director, Institute of Health 1969-1970; Professor of Community Medicine 1970; Head of Department of Community Medicine 1970-1978; Director, Institute of Health 1970-1977; Deputy Vice Chancellor 1975-1976; Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) 1977-1978.Professor Shehu held visiting professorships in various universities, including the School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA 1976-1977.
He was appointed Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Nsukka 1978-1980. He also worked with the World Health Organisation as Short Term Consultant (Working Group on Health Services and Manpower Development Mechanism) in Geneva, September 1970; Appointed Temporary Adviser, October 1970; Short Term Consultant, 1971-1973; Consultant (Technical Discussions), 24th WHO Regional Committee for Africa 1974; National WHO Program Coordinator/Representative in Nigeria 1980-1985; Director, WHO Sub-Regional Health Development Office 111, 1985-1989; WHO Representative to Ethiopia, 1990.At the University of Maiduguri, Professor Shehu was appointed Honorary Consultant Physician since 1991 to date, and became Professor Emeritus in 2000.
He was also the Provost of the College of Medical Sciences 1991-1993; and Sole Administrator of the University of Maiduguri 1993-1994. At the University College Hospital Ibadan, he was the Chairman, Board of Management 1991-1994. At Bayero University, Kano, he was Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council 1993-1996, and also Pro-Chancellor and Chairman Governing Council of the University of Lagos 1996-1999.He has held memberships and offices in several committees, councils, panels and commissions at both national and international levels.
He was President of Medical Schools in Africa 1973-1975; and External Examiner in Public Health at the University of Ghana Medical School. He is the current Chairman Board of Governors of the STOPAIDS organization; Chairman Governing Board of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA); Patron Guild of Medical Directors; Patron Nationwide Network for Health; Patron Nigerian Medical Forum of Great Britain and Ireland; Patron Nigerian Institute of Stress; Trustee National Foundation on VVF; Member Board of Trustees, Nigerian Tuberculosis and Leprosy Association; Member Editorial Board, West African Medical Journal; Consulting Editor, the Nigerian Medical Practitioner; Editorial Adviser, the Nigerian Postgraduate Medical Journal; Joint Editor-in-Chief, British Medical Journal (West Africa) Edition.
Apart from holding active memberships of Professional bodies as the Nigerian Medical Association, The Society of Health (Nigeria), Science Association of Nigeria, Association of Community Physicians of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Academy of Science, Professor Shehu is also a Foundation Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria; Foundation Fellow of the West African College of Physicians; Foundation Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science; and Foundation Fellow of the Faculty of Community Medicine (Nigeria).
Professor Umaru Shehu is mentioned in Who is Who in the world; Men of Achievement; Dictionary of International Biography; Africa Year Book 1977—Who is Who in Africa; Who is Who in Nigeria; and A Dictionary of African Biography.
He holds Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. In 1979, the Government of Nigeria awarded him the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), and in 2000 he was awarded the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).
He is married with children.
Many medical, science and other scholars mourned the death of the world renowned professor.