47 years ago on 17th November 1973, the voice of University Orator of the University of Ibadan rang out sonorously at the 1973 Convocation ceremonies that also marked the 25th Founder’s Day anniversary of the institution: ‘’Today, we shall be honouring three distinguished persons with degrees of this University. One of them is Professor Ishaya Audu, a distinguished Foundation student and a former member of staff of the University and at present the Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University.’’ One of those distinguished awardees of honorary degrees of the University was PROFESSOR ISHAYA SHA’AIBU AUDU, who was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws and was presented to the CHANCELLOR for the presentation of that honour.
Prof. Ishaya Audu was as at then, as the orator announced to the distinguished audience the Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, and he held Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree of the University of London, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Honorary Doctor of Humanities of Ohio, Honorary Doctor of Science of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Distinguished Paediatrician,.’’ In many ways, Doctor Audu’s life has followed a different pattern from that of his contemporaries from Northern Nigeria. As a boy, his early education was not in the koranic school but under Christian Missionaries. From St Bartholomew’s Anglican School in Zaria he proceeded to the Lagos Anglican Grammar School in 1940. When he completed his secondary education in 1946, he joined that small but select band of Nigerian Youth who studied at the famous Yaba Higher College.
‘’And when University College, Ibadan was founded in 1948, Audu was one of the foundation students who were transferred here from Lagos. In those days, Mr. Chancellor, no one told the U.C.I. students that they were destined to become the leaders of Nigeria. They simply knew it. Fortified with this knowledge Audu chose the path of rectitude, modesty, and industry as the quickest and surest way of achieving that goal. His preclinical course having been successfully completed at Ibadan, Ishaya Audu proceeded to King’s College Hospital Medical School in London where he obtained the degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1954, Having obtained the College prize in Pathology. This period of his life was very formative from the point of view of his international professional status. Upon returning to Ibadan in 1955, he undertook apprenticeship at the University College Hospital under Professors – Collis, Alexander Brown and Jown Lawson-names which will forever resound along the corridors of our teaching hospital.
Dr. Audu’s second sojourn to Britain in 1959 was to obtain the stamp of professional competence and maturity. This he quickly did to everybody’s admiration. The Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh was conferred in 1959; the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in the same year. The Diploma in Child Health came the following year. Naturally, he chose to bestow on his own people, first and foremost, the fruits of his professional achievements. And so he served with distinction for the next two years not only as a Consultant Physician/Paediatrician to the Government of the then Northern Region, but also as a personal physician to the late Premier, SirAhmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto (May the Peace of Allah abide with him).
METEORIC CAREER PROGRESSION: ‘’ Dr. Audu’s services were soon to be required in a wider sphere of activity. He was offered, and he accepted, an appointment as a Lecturer in Paediatrics at the newly founded Medical School of the University of Lagos. Audu quickly rose from lectureship to senior lectureship and to Associate Professorship in four years. A dozen interesting papers emerged from his researches during this period. The Lagos University Teaching Hospital provided further opportunity for the development of Dr. Audu’s administrative talent. He served on the Senate of the University of Lagos as a representative of the Council of the Medical School and was Deputy Chairman of the Board of Management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
BECAME A VICE-CHANCELLOR AT THE AGE OF 39 In 1966, this great son of Nigeria was called upon to proceed to a higher sphere of service as Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University. The seven years Dr. Audu has spent there constitute a veritable saga. By his quiet disposition and temperate habits, he has established beyond any doubt that he is a leader of men, and that the ingredient of leadership does not consist of aggression or ebullience. As Professor of Clinical Medicine and Associate Professor of Paediatrics at Ahmadu Bello University, Dr Audu has exploded the Nigerian myth that a Vice-Chancellor cannot combine his academic and professional pursuits with his administrative duties.
AS CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE OF VICE-CHANCELLORS: As Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, Professor Audu has further demonstrated his administrative skill. As distinguished as he is as a pediatrician, it is for his brilliant success as a University administrator that the University of Ibadan is honouring him today. We wish Professor Audu more success in the future. We are not the first, Honourable Chancellor, to recognize in this quiet and dedicated young man the qualities of leadership and industry; the Universities of Ohio and of Nigeria in Nsukka, have already conferred on Dr Audu their highest honours in ‘Humanities and in Science respectively. As an Alumnus, Dr Audu deserves and merits our special salutation *today. It is with pride that I request you, Mr Chancellor, Sir, by the authority of Council ancenate to confer on Professor Ishaya Sha’aibu Audu the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris cans a.
Ishaya Sha’aibu Audu was born on March 1, 1927 in Anchau, a village near Zaria, Kaduna State, to a father who had converted from Islam to Christianity. Initially educated at St. Bartholomew’s School in Wusasa, he moved to Yaba Higher College in Lagos and then to University College, Ibadan (since renamed to the University of Ibadan) in 1948 to study medicine. He was one of the first citizens in the whole of Northern Nigeria to study medicine. In 1951 he left for the University of London in England, where he stayed until 1954; in 1955 he studied at the University of Liverpool (also in England). It was in 1958 that he married his wife, Victoria, with whom he would father eight children (7 biological and 1 adopted).
PERSONAL PHYSICIAN TO SIR AHMADU BELLO A funeral tribute written by Paul Mamza when Ishaya Audu passed on at the age of 78 captioned: Nigeria’s Unsung Heroes — Selfless Service: The Legacy of Professor Ishaya Shuaibu Audu reads: ‘’Audu as a young medical doctor lectured in internal medicine at the University of Lagos in 1962 and was promoted to the position of the first indigenous Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1966 at the age of 39 years. He is one of the youngest to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor in Nigeria till date. (He had been the personal physician of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. He also travelled to the United States where he was employed as an associate research professor at the University of Rochester, New York, and wrapped up his education at the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio from 1964 until 1968.
AS A CHRISTIAN & PART-TIME UNIVERSITY CHAPLAIN: Prof. Ishaya Audu was not a minimal Christian. He participated effectively in activities of the Scripture Union alongside Revd (Dr) Mike Oye in the earliest days of the Nigerian Civil War Revival. Northern members of the university community such as Ishaya Audu and Reuben Ariko were already on fire for Christ and influenced Rev Mike Oye who joined them and eventually moved to the forefront as president of Ibadan Varsity Christian Union. A publication of GOREM Inc reveals that: ‘’In those early days of the moving of the Holy Spirit in campus revival there was no sense of either denominationalism or tribalism. It was only in later years that people began to divide themselves into Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal groups. Holiness and love were the two strong pillars that undergirded the campus revival. The thrust for evangelism both within and outside the campus was remarkable.’
Paul Mamza cited earlier wrote in his tribute that The Charity and Faith Mission which Reverend (Prof) Ishaya Audu established within the trekking premises of University also aided in transforming the lives through reformations of the predominantly young people mostly students of Ahmadu Bello University into a model emulative of the life of Jesus Christ that emphasizes selflessness and sacrifice. At one time he was a part-time Chaplain of the University, several years after his retirement from active service in the University. The Charity and Faith Mission Inc., which he established ran a center for Continuing Education that award diploma, certificates in public health care, with pastoral discipleship training and extra moral lessons barely free of charge. He left a big and long shoe that can hardly be warred by diligence, patriotism, selflessness, prudence, the fear of God and open-mindedness. As a humanist, he had left a big vacuum that would for long-time be left intact due to the self-centered tendencies of the majority of Nigerians. Professor Ishaya Audu was a true Christian by the attributes of exemplary life, a true academic by the urge of acquisition of qualitative education and a true administrator by the show of gracious inspiration. Nigerians must thread the path exhibited by this great man of God in order to find the succour of national restitution and true progress.’’
IN POLITICS Ishaya Audu was the vice-presidential candidate of the Nigerian People’s Party which had Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as its presidential candidate in the 1979 presidential elections. Audu was a member of the Nigeria Peoples Party when President Shehu Shagari gave Audu the position of Minister of External Affairs in 1979. He also served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Nations. After the 1983 overthrow of Shagari’s government by General Muhammadu Buhari (and the replacement of the Second Republic with military dictatorship), Audu was detained for a year. After his release Audu took up private practice at his own hospital in Samaru, Savannah Polyclinic often treating the poor for free; he also founded his own church, the Charity and Faith Missions Inc in October 1987. Some of his regular guest ministers were Fred Addo, David Oyedepo, and many others. He mentored many ABU staff and students including Yinka Yusuf, Boye Alonge, Niyi Adegboyega, Niyi Beecroft, etc. He passed on to glory at the age of 78 on August 29, 2005 (exactly 12 years today) while in the United States for medical treatment and his remains were laid to rest in Zaria on September 24, 2005.
HONOURED POST-HUMOUSLY Deji Beecroft in his tribute stated that: Professor Audu’s held about ten national assignments, even at an era of the oil-boom, at the tender age of 39 as the Vice-chancellor with his school mate and brother, General Yakubu Gowon as the Head of State, he would have enriched himself for the nine years, in the Second Republic he was a Minister of prominence that would have prepared him for the rainy days especially when there was a national feast of public funds. Before his death, he was the Chairman of National Health Insurance Scheme. But here was a man who could not sponsor himself for medical treatment abroad! Here was a man who established a Clinic (Savannah Polyclinic) and a Church (Charity and Faith Mission inc.) with his meager resources just for the service of humanity. I could remember accompanying a sick colleague to the Savannah polyclinic at the outskirt of Samaru town (Zaria) but was marveled both with services rendered and the architecture of the Clinic. No doubt the services rendered are the best but the lacking flamboyance of the buildings made me initiate a study of the personality of the gentleman Professor Ishaya Shuaibu Audu.
He continues: ‘’One additional desire was when Professor who treated my colleague that day ask him to go and bring the charge fees anything he is ready! Unbelievable, I murmured in my heart. I was later to found out that the gesture is a piece-meal of Professor Audu’s concern and sympathy for the underprivileged and distressed humanities. His psychological attachment to the want of the local community was no doubt a rare feat. In his tribute, the Emir of Zazzau noted that: “Late Rev. (Prof.) Ishaya Audu had lived an exemplary life as a Medical Doctor, educationist, academician, and seasoned administrator of high repute. His great contributions to the development, peace and progress of Nigeria as whole stand him out amongst the likes of few eminent Nigerians”. Amongst his contemporaries, one can hardly count ten Nigerians that had the leadership qualities of Professor Ishaya Audu. Here was a man that left Ahmadu Bello University in 1975 as its Vice-Chancellor but still attached to the university in character-building, consultancy, and advisory capacities without anticipation of any reward. When he established the School of Basic Studies in 1970 he had in mind a vision for encouragement from the educationally disadvantaged areas in mind without compromising merit’’
NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES AND NATION BUILDING Prof Albert Ojo Ozigi, OON, who at some point was a director of ABU’s Institute of Education described Prof. Ishaya Audu as follow: ‘’an outstanding and accomplished scholar, an intellectual giant, a competent, diligent administrator, a medical colossus, a humanist who cares for people, a totally detribalized Nigerian, and a patriot, a committed and practicing Christian. His virtues of simplicity, humility, absolute integrity, self-discipline, courage, firmness, steadfastness, straightforwardness cannot but strike anyone who might have had some dealing or interaction with him. ”Prof. Ishaya Audu delivered the Convocation Lecture at the 25th Founders’ Day anniversary of the University of Ibadan captioned NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES AND NATION BUILDING on 16th November 1973. He touched on a number of issues that showed clearly his nationalistic posture and patriotism.
INEQUALITIES & UNIVERSITY GRADUATES: As of 1973, Nigeria had a population of 65 million with only six universities. On the basis of the records kept by the University Health Services at Ahmadu Bello University, I have done a bit of computation and projecting on a similar basis with respect to the other five Nigerian University communities, and have arrived at an approximate total of their populations, and this comes to a figure of about 65,000. This includes all categories of staff and their families, including cooks, stewards, and gardeners of senior staff with their families. This figure compared with the approximate total population of Nigeria of 65 million gives a proportion of 1:1,000 or 0.1%. If instead of working on the all-inclusive membership figure we confine ourselves to the senior staff and students only who are more likely to influence the community at large in a radical manner through their intellectual equipment and professional skills, the proportion comes down to something like 1:5,000 or 0.02?-an even more insignificant proportion. But for better or for worse this tiny proportion of people are vastly more influential than many larger sections of the country. The reason for this is simple: they are highly skilled persons and modern society depends more than did any society of the past on the skills of its most educated persons.
Let me make what I consider to be two crucial points-one dealing with graduates and the other with the nation. First, I have spoken about inequalities within the country. We must prevent them from getting out of hand. But there will always be some inequalities. It is not realistic to expect a highly trained civil servant to live in a mud house, have no medical treatment, and eat badly. He needs to be able to five reasonably if he is to use his skills. He forms part-through his education-of an inter-national class. But if he is well housed, well doctored and well-fed, we can ask him not to forget the mud-housed the poorly doctored and the badly fed. If he gets a privilege, it is for the sake of the whole country. In other words, we can accept some privilege and certain inequalities, but we do so only on the condition that the privileged retain a concern for the under-privileged and that they work hard and cherish integrity. Privilege is not a right but a condition of service.
For the nation let me express hope. We are some sixty-five million people living together. For better or for worse our future lies with one another. We have not had an easy past, bedevilled as it has been by distrust and conflict. I would like to appeal now for trust which is the basis of unity. We must trust one another, and the only way to create trust is for a determined minority to go on trusting one another in spite of misunderstandings and awkwardness. In particular, we who have received the gift of education need to be generous with our time and skills not only to our own section of Nigeria but to the whole country. We have to learn that in the long run what helps one section is for the good of the whole just as what is for the good of the whole is for the good of each section. We have a potentially great country. It is in large measure up to us to ensure that it should become actually great.
NATION-BUILDING According to Prof. Ishaya Audu, nation-building is three-fold: First, it means that we try to create better conditions of human living-healthier food, greater control over the environment, babies not dying young, more comfortable houses, clean water, recreation centres, more purchasing power, good education, and better human conditions all round. Second, it means unity among the peoples of the country, the growth of understanding among them, the destroying of false stereotypes, a competition that is kept under control, and a decent tolerance between them. Third, it means that the country holds its head high among the nations of the world, contributes to international discussion and action, controls its economic relations with other countries, and contributes both to African and human unity. But in all these three aims of nation-building, there must be justice.
Nigeria is a multi-national state and the process of nation-building includes the uniting of these different nations into one Nigerian nation. I believe I have said enough about this on a different platform and would not wish to labour on it at this time. It suffices to reiterate my belief in the crucial role that the Universities can play. We can certainly give leadership by example with respect to fostering understanding and harmony among the various ethnic groups in our country through ensuring the participation of all sections of the country in the various going-one of the country. With regard to the more specific practical measures that the Universities can adopt I can do no better than reproduce the proposals I put forward in an earlier lecture.
BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE IN A SOCIETY The most meaningful and most likely way to succeed bringing about change is to start with people as they are with respect to whatever sector of their life it is. If we start with what they are and fully understand this baseline and try to improve and bring about change from it we are likely to succeed. Pushing aside what exists as primitive, uneducated, uncivilized is one of the greatest follies we are committing, not necessarily consciously but by the error of omission. I would like to appeal to all our academic staff, full-time and part-time research workers, about the need for this beginning at the heart of the problem. A few years ago in our new medical school, we asked our students to do sample surveys on the consumption of drugs after careful prescriptions and dispensing to the people in the village areas. The result was staggering. Drugs meant to he took three or four times a day were consumed all at once! Expensive anti-biotics were thrown away as the expectations were injections rather than tablets or capsules. The simple explanation for failures was that we brushed aside the existing situation and imposed something exotic from the top which had no roots in the soil.
Ishaya Audu continued: ”But if I stress the role of skills and the place of influence that the universities hold, let me also in this introduction say what I think nation-building is. It is three-fold: First, it means that we try to create better conditions of human living-healthier food, greater control over the environment, babies not dying young, more comfortable houses, clean water, recreation centres, more purchasing power, good education, and better human conditions all round. Second, it means unity among the peoples of the country, the growth of understanding among them, the destroying of false stereotypes, a competition that is kept under control, and a decent tolerance between them. Third, it means that the country holds its head high among the nations of the world, contributes to international discussion and action, controls its economic relations with other countries, and contributes both to African and human unity. But in all these three aims of nation-building, there must be justice-