Prof Shehu Bida: First Professor of Veterinary Medicine in Northern Nigeria.

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Professor Shehu Bida, the late Marafa of Nupe was a renowned University Don, Academician per excellence, astute politician, and distinguished Abusites who was the first Professor in Nupe land and the first Professor of Veterinary Medicine in Northern Nigeria.

Professor Shehu Bida was born on October 1st, 1934. He started his primary education at Shahuci Elementary School in 1942 and attended other elementary schools at Muregi, Bida, and finally Minna wherein 1947-1948 he proceeded to Bida Middle School in the then Niger Province.

Professor Shehu Bida
Professor Shehu Bida

Between 1949-1954, he was at Keffi Secondary School where he obtained his Cambridge School Certificate. In 1955-1957 he left for Vom School where he was trained as a Veterinary Assistant. He attended Veterinary College, Tuskegee, Alabama, in the USA where he obtained his First Degree (Doctor) of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from 1962-1967.

In 1969 he returned to the USA and obtained his MSc. In Veterinary Pathology and Infectious Diseases in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Kansas, Manhattan, USA he returned home to continue his research on Bovine Dermatophilosis and at the same time to lecture the veterinary students in pathology and infectious diseases.

He had his L.L.B. Honours (ABU) Zaria between 1984-1988.

Professor Shehu Bida in 1973 made another mark by becoming the first Nigerian veterinary lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, to obtain a Ph.D. degree in Veterinary Medicine in the field of Bovine Dermathophilosis after his return from Veterinary College, University of London, where he was an academic fellow in 1975. In 1976 he was the first Nigerian Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Pathology and Microbiology. Hitherto he was Assistant Head of his Department and Assistant of the faculty for several years.

Professor Shehu took his first appointment with the Northern Government in the Ministry of Animal Health and Forestry as a 3rd Class Veterinary Assistant in training and was posted to Niger Province. He worked as a field Veterinary Assistant in Kuta, Keffi, Abuja (now Suleja), and Utachu Livestock Settlement in Kontagora.

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In 1962 Professor Shehu Bida worked as Veterinary Assistant and Assistant Technical Officer in various provinces including former Benue and Zaria Provinces. He was appointed Veterinary Officer and deployed to Sokoto in the then Northwestern State. His transfer of service as a lecturer to Ahmadu Bello University was effected in 1967.

In 1976 he was appointed as a Commissioner for Trade, Industry, and Co-operative. He, during his tenure as Commissioner, oversaw other ministries like the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural resources and Ministry of Health. Professor Shehu in 1986 became the President of NOMA (N.S.) Limited and Chairman of various commercial organizations including Niger State Livestock Company which was founded in 1986. He resigned as chairman of all commercial organizations to context for Chairman Gbako Local Government.

In the field of research and publication, Professor Bida has to his credit forty-eight (48) publications and presentations at national and international reputable journals and conferences up to 1996.

His research and professional achievements earned him the Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Technicians, Certified and Distinguished Industrial Technologists, Ambassador of Technological Discipline all in 1993, and one of the founding fellows of the College of Veterinary Surgeons of Nigeria in 1998. He reached the peak of his discipline in 1972 when he became the first professor in veterinary medicine in Northern Nigeria.

Professor Shehu was democratically elected Chairman of the Former Gbako Local Government in 1988. His election into the Local Council was a steppingstone into Nigerian politics. He came into office under zero party system.

His tenure witnessed a positive change in ideas and involvement of young, vibrant, and graduate youths in the mainstream of local government administration such as Isah Kawu, M.A. Suleiman, and Yahaya Yunusa.

The first thing he did when he mounted the seat of power was to ensure transparency and accountability. By this, he compelled all the principal officers to take an oath to justify the confidence reposed in them. He brought in young blood into the system and retired those who had overstayed in service e.g. Alhaji Muhammadu Tifin Sarkin Kudu (Cultural Officer), Alhaji Muhammadu Shafi (Senior Arabic Supervisor), former Chief Imam of Bida, and others.

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Professor Shehu Bida is an administrator of tremendous high stature and great ability. The legacy he left behind after selfless service especially on road reconstruction is yet to be equaled by any administration in the history of Bida Local Government Council.

With limited resources available to the Council then, he reconstructed eleven (11) roads. These roads are: Reconstruction of Bida Township roads; the road from Lalemi Mosque to cool sport BCCC Road; the road from Mokwala area through Masaga Area to Cirico; Iyaruwa Road links Idi Road, Hajiya Lolo Road; Road from Small Market link to Sauki Junction; Road from Efu Madami to Sabongida connected to Government Collge Road; Road from Sabongida connected to Mayaki Ndajiya Madami Road; Road from CABS to Technical College connected to Western bypass; Road from Small Market to Banyagi; Road from Bida Central Mosque through Darachita to Western Byepass; Liman Nasarafu Man Musa Kodogi Road; Laruta Edogifu Road and road within the Local Government Secretariat from 1st Gate to 2nd Gate. (Some of these roads have been rehabilitated by subsequent governments.)

He constructed street lights on the main roads of Bida town and numbering of houses, naming of streets for easy identification. He was at the vanguard against child labour (Kace hawking) which he fought to a logical end. He initiated a newspaper called ‘Gbako Voice’ for information dissemination, promotion of cultural and material potentials in Bida Local Government.

Professor Shehu Bida is among the ‘Who Is Who’ in the World Yearly Book. He was a founding father of the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN), a delegate to the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) Abuja 2005. He served as interim Chairman of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in Niger State where he contested in the gubernatorial primaries and lost. He was a member of the National Board of Trustees of the People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria (PDP).

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His contribution to the development of the ancient city of Bida is not limited to economic and political but also on the religious aspect. He was Amirul Hajj Niger State 2000 Hajj Operation, Chairman Administrative, Finance, and Fundraising Committee Qur’anic Recitation Competition, Bida, 1996; Chairman, Local Organising Committee, Qur’anic Recitation Competition, Bida, 2006; Chairman, Shurah Committee, Muslim Ummah, Bida; and patron to many Islamic organizations both within and outside Niger State.

Professor Shehu was well-liked and respected by the members of the Nigerian Society, particularly those in government circles and politicians of high repute. His efforts in his days as Chairman of Bida Local Government are well acknowledged by the inhabitants. A man of humanity who doesn’t mind his status but come so low for the sake of inspiring youth into productivity. He has secured employment for the youth in various establishments and admission into various tertiary institutions.

Professor Shehu Bida died at the age of 86 in his country home, Bida, Niger state after a brief illness on Thursday, November 19, 2020.

Prominent Nigerian including President muhammadu Buhari, Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, and the Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar described his death as a monumental loss to the Nupe Kingdom, Niger state, and the country.

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