Author: Abdulrahman I. Sade
Publisher: Siddwell International Ltd
Year : 2010
The book – Prof Emeritus Umaru Shehu: A LIFE OF SACRIFICE is written about a celebrated Nigerian who has built a world-class personality clad in reverence and enviable pedigree in the vast regions of intellectualism, academics and public service, with exceptional niche in public healthcare delivery.
In a two-part 564-page book, comprising 39 chapters, the writer, Abdulrahman I. Sade, takes the reader on an edifying voyage across the vast sea of Professor Umaru Shehus’s life and experiences which gleam of a fine intertwine of intellectualism, academics and public service. He shows the Professor of Medicine through the prism of his selected thoughts and paper presentations, proudly portraying him as a sage.
In the 47-page PART ONE: THE SAGE UMARU SHEHU, which opens with a pertinent quotation from a famous British parliamentarian, Edmund Burke, Abdulrahaman I. Sade unfurls the life of the medical doctor and community health practitioner par excellence from his birth in Maiduguri, traditionally called Yerwa, in far North-Eastern Nigeria in 1929, to his retirement from active service in 2000.
This section of the book, with the smoothly-flowing narration of Sade, takes the reader on a lengthy trip through Professor Umaru Shehu’s humble parentage and schooling years from his enrolment in the Elementary School in 1935, Yerwa Middle School in 1942, to Kaduna College (hitherto, Katsina College and later Barewa College) where he spent four years which he describes as exciting and rewarding, and graduated from there cum laude.
Abdulrahaman I. Sade’s narration conveys the reader on the journey to the newly established University College Ibadan, at that time affiliated to the University of London, where Professor Umaru Shehu, a foundation student, obtained his MB in 1953 and the University of Liverpool, the United Kingdom, where he obtained his MBBS cum laude in 1956, after already joining the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Perhaps the most notable feature of Professor Umaru Shehu’s life and experiences the 47-page PART ONE presents to the reader in simple, terse, but sufficiently careful progression, is the professor’s public service life which grew from its comparatively speck size in the Northern Regional Government, where the renowned community health practitioner rose to the position of permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria which he joined in 1968 as Reader and Head of Department of Community Medicine, rising to become the institution’s Vice Chancellor between 1975 and 1976 and its Pro-Chancellor between 1977 and 1978, and the University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukka where the Federal Government appointed him as the Vice Chancellor in 1978, while already being the National Coordinator of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
With the vehicle of the book’s PART ONE, Abdulrahaman I. Sade smoothly conveys the reader in ascension higher up to Professor Umaru Shehu’s global public service attainments and National Honours recognitions, showing how he strode into the hall of Who is Who and the prima in the very vital region of public health in the global class, notably serving with the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and UNDP, most notably beginning with the position of the first Sub-Regional of WHO in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1985 and his retirement from the global organisation as its representative in Ethiopia in December, 1990.
Abdulrahaman I. Sade then ships the reader across the expansive sea of Professor Umaru Shehu’s life and experiences back to his birthplace, Maiduguri, specifically, the University of Maiduguri which he joined as the Provost of the College of Medicine, concluding with the National Honours award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 1979 and Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2000.
The presentation of some of Professor Umaru Shehu’s certificates, adding some welcome aesthetics to the structure and sequence of presentation, and the encomia where the writer presents commentaries on Professor Umaru Shehu by eleven prominent Nigerians and other notable personalities combine to serve as a very significant punctuation in the overall structure and sequence of the book.
The citation on Professor Umaru Shehu by the author himself on pages 79 and 82 ushers the reader to the 39-chapter PART TWO of the book where the writer presents the reader with the selected thoughts and paper presentations of the public health expert, which produce a dazzling photograph of Professor Umaru Shehu’s comprehensive personae as the world sees and knows it, and for which the world reveres him today.
With the 39 chapters, the writer photographs the personae of Professor Umaru Shehu in a clinical intertwine of his expertise in the broad spheres of public healthcare delivery, academia and the intelligentsia, education and university administration as well as in national and global public service.
Majority of the chapters, very notably Chapter One, the professor’s paper presentation on Medical School Curriculum Development at ABU; Chapter Four, his paper on The Education of the Physician in the Nigerian Society; Chapter Seven as paer on Mental and Abuse of Drugs; Chapter Thirteen, paper on Ethics and Professionalism in Medical Practice; Chapters Fifteen, Eighteen and Nineteen, papers on Health and Manpower Development, Challenges of Medical Service in Nigeria, and National Health Policy: Problems and Prospects, respectively; Chapter Twenty-four, paper on Population, Health and Development in Nigeria; Chapter Twenty-six, paper on Tertiary Healthcare in Nigeria; Chapter Twenty-seven, on Tuberculosis; Chapter Twenty-nine on Community Medicine and National Development in the New Millennium; Chapter Thirty-three on Towards Optimal Health for the Nigerian Child; Chapter Thirty-four on Nigerian Universities and Health for All by the Year 2000; Chapter Thirty-four’s paper on the Nigerian Health Policy; as well as Chapters Eight and Thirty-nine Islam and Medicine and Islamic Medicine respectively, portray the colossal niche Professor Umaru Shehu has sculpted for himself in medicine and healthcare delivery on global scale.
The reader sees Professor Umaru Shehu as a reputable university administrator through the vistas provided by such Chapters as Three and Four presenting his addresses as the Vice Chancellor of UNN; and Chapter Ten’s paper on Nigerian Universities and Their Missions: The Case for Health for All Through Primary Healthcare. Chapter Five shows Professor Umaru Shehu to the reader of the book as a very conscious African patriot gravely concerned on the African Predicament with regard to scientific and technological development on the foundations of the continent’s cultural identity in the 20th century. Chapter Nine’s paper on Population and Development; Chapter Twenty-five’s paper on Strategic Planning in Nigerian Universities; Chapter Thirty-one’s Human Capital and Economic Planning; Chapter twenty-two’s paper on Human Resources Development Strategy for African Country; and several other chapters seeming to photograph him in multiple personalities, all show him as a scholar on population and planning as vital factors in societal development.
Chapter Six’s paper on The Education of the Physician in the Nigerian Society; Chapter Twelve’s Challenges of University Education; as well as Chapter Fourteen’s paper on Nomadic Education and Community Medicine; and several other chapters performing dual or multiple functions of photographing Professor Umaru Shehu, show him as an educationist.
Chapter Twenty-one’s paper on Sir Kashim Ibrahim (the First Republic Governor of Northern Nigeria): Educationist, Administrator, Patriot, Reluctant Politician shows Professor Umaru Shehu as knowledgeable on the most significant personalities in the construction of the Nigerian nation from its very foundation.
In the eight-page Appendix (from page 550 to 557) the writer presents the Curriculum Vitae of Professor Umaru Shehu, comprehensively showing his educational qualifications and working experience in his national and international public service forays.
Abdulrahaman I. Sade can, no doubt, be praised for a fabulous attempt at portraying Professor Umaru Shehu to the national and global public he served for forty years. He, however, deliberately or otherwise, is at pains to arrange the chapters in PART TWO in proper sequence (National Public Service, University teaching and administration, Global Public Service etc) which should have provided a smoother and well-sequenced progression in photographing the personae of Professor Umaru Shehu to its global stature.
Deliberately or otherwise also, Abdulrahaman I. Sade down-featured the commentaries of the professor’s critics (if, at all, any such thing is presented anywhere in the book) who could have sufficiently photographed his limitations and other human sides. Abdulrahaman I. Sade’s presentation of Professor Umaru Shehu as nothing less than a sage is a major limitation in his attempt. It is humanly not natural that Professor Emeritus Umaru Shehu can be all so good, and nothing less.