Professor Umaru Shehu is not just a renowned Nigerian professor of medicine, he is a genuine Icon, true elder statesman and great role model. He is one of those few who still command genuine public respect on account of the quality of his person at a time when integrity and honor are in short supply.
He is the first HOD, Dept of Community medicine ABU Zaria; former vice-chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; former sole administrator of the University of Maiduguri; former Pro-chancellor and chairman governing council Bayero University Kano and University of Lagos; professor emeritus, community health, university of Maiduguri; former president of the Nigerian Academy of Science and former president, medical schools in Africa.
Professor Umaru Shehu bagged his first degree in Medicine, (MBBS), from the University of London and capped the feat with a fellowship of the institute of cancer research while serving as the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal.
Professor Umaru Shehu was born on December 8, 1930, in Maiduguri, born state Nigeria. He attended elementary school Maiduguri, from 1935-1940; middle school Maiduguri, from 1941-1943; Kaduna college Kaduna, from 1944-1947; University college Ibadan, from 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 Umaru Shehu’s Career
Professor Umaru Shehu started work as a Pre-registration house surgeon, Southport infirmary, the United Kingdom in 1957. He returned back to Nigeria and served the government of Northern Nigeria as Pre-registration house physician, same year, and was promoted to the rank of medical officer, from 1957-1963; senior medical officer, from 1963-1965; principal medical officer, from 1965-1966; assistant chief medical officer, from 1966-1967 and chief medical officer, (Preventive Services Division), from 1967-1968.
He was then redeployed to North-Eastern State as permanent secretary, ministry of health and chief medical officer, an offer he declined and moved to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria to take up appointment as reader and acting head of department of community medicine, from 1968-1970; deputy dean, faculty of medicine, from 1968-1970; acting director, institute of health, from 1969-1970; Professor of community medicine, in 1970.
He became head of department, community medicine, from 1970-1978; director, institute of health, from 1970-1977; deputy vice-chancellor, from 1975-1976; Pro vice-chancellor (Academic), from 1977-1978. The professor held visiting professorships in various universities, including the school of medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, from 1976-1977.
The renowned prof was appointed vice chancellor, university of Nigeria, Nsukka, from 1978-1980. He also worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) as short term consultant, (working group on health services and manpower development mechanism) in Geneva, in September, 1970; appointed temporary adviser, in October, 1970; short term consultant, from 1971-1973; consultant (Technical Discussions), 24th WHO regional committee for Africa, in 1974.
He was a national WHO program coordinator/representative in Nigeria, from 1980-1985; director, WHO sub-regional health development office 111, from 1985-1989 and WHO representative to Ethiopia, in 1990. At the University of Maiduguri, Prof Umaru Shehu was appointed as an honorary consultant physician, from 1991 to date, and became Professor Emeritus in 2000.
He was also the provost, college of medical sciences, from 1991-1993 and became the sole administrator of the university of Maiduguri, from 1993-1994. At the university college hospital Ibadan, Shehu was appointed the chairman, board of management, from 1991-1994.
At Bayero university, Kano, he was appointed Pro-chancellor and chairman governing council, from 1993-1996, and also doubles as Pro-chancellor and chairman governing council of the university of Lagos, from 1996-1999. He served as a member of several committees, councils, panels and commissions at both national and international levels.
Prof Umaru Shehu was president of medical schools in Africa, from 1973-1975; and an external examiner in public health, 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)
He also served as 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 practitioners; editorial adviser, of the Nigerian postgraduate medical journal; joint editor-in-chief, British Medical Journal, (West Africa) edition.
Membership of professional bodies
Apart from holding active membership of Professional bodies such 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, Prof Umaru 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).
Awards and recognition
Prof Umaru Shehu is mentioned in who is who in the world; men of achievement; a dictionary of international biography; Africa yearbook 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 happily married with children.
Prof Umaru Shehu is simply an icon and role model. In him is a life well-lived, in service to humanity through a continuous commitment to public health in Nigeria. His integrity and service are worthy of admiration and emulation.