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Akinkugbe : The Iconic Medical Doctor

OLADIPO Akinkugbe, Emeritus Professor of Medicine belongs to the endangered but shrinking class of Nigeria’s unusual academics, for whom service and patriotism, modesty and mentoring, had remained sacrosanct, right from the beginning to the end of their illustrious careers.

EFFUSIVE, refined and incredibly analytical, the quintessential Akinkugbe, born in Ondo State on July 17, 1933, grew up to become one of Nigeria’s foremost physicians. At the age of 85, penultimate week, he celebrated his 60 years of meritorious service in the practice of medicine by hanging up his stethoscope as he meritoriously retired.

HE  attended Government College, Ibadan, where he excelled in the sciences,  gained admission into the University College, Ibadan now University of Ibadan  in 1951 to pursue a career in medicine. After various achievements outside Nigeria as a medical scholar, upon return to his home country, he took up a job at the Government Specialist Hospital, Adeoyo, Ibadan . He thereafter went to England for his Dphil, programme at Oxford and  took up an appointment as a lecturer of medicine at the University of Ibadan after his return .

HE became the foremost professor of medicine in 1968, appointed by an African university (University of Ibadan)  after he was promoted to chair of medicine at the University of Ibadan  at the  aged of 35 .

TAKING special interest in hypertension and kidney diseases, he has made tremendous contributions in these areas. He has attended over one hundred national and international professional, scientific, educational and health conferences, in the past forty years, in all the continents of the globe. He has made  remarkable presentations in many of these conferences, published many authoritative works, and received numerous awards. He is a member and fellow of over twenty international organizations, societies and institutions.

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TO mention a few of his appointments in the Nigerian scene, he served as the Foundation Chairman, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB); Principal and Foundation Vice Chancellor, University of Ilorin; Vice Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria; Chairman, Planning Committee, Ondo State University; Chairman, Planning Committee, University of Abuja and Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Port Harcourt.

ON  the international  scene ,  Akinkugbe   held various positions, some of which include, Rockefeller Visiting Fellow at John Hopkins, Yale and Washington, Seattle Medical School; member, University Grants Commission, Uganda government; Visiting Professor of Medicine, Harvard University and Senior Associate in Medicine, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston Massachusetts, USA; Visiting Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Fellow of Balliol College, University of Oxford; Secretary to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Technical Discussions on Universities and Health for All, Geneva; member, WHO Advisory Committee on Health for Research and Visiting Professor of Medicine University of Cape Town to mention but a view.

PROFESSOR Akinkugbe is a recipient of several Honorary Doctorates in Science, including Ibadan  the Searle Distinguished Research Award and the Boehringer lngelheim Award of the International Society of Hypertension.

HE once said as his philosophy: “I had always felt that I owe my community and society an obligation. I didn’t think it was good to serve other societies while my own society is impoverished and needs uplifting.”

UNDOUBTEDLY, this has guided him to resolve to give his service to our own national institutions and has excellently performed both in the areas of health and education.

IN terms of preventive clinical medicine, he has been a great believer in the fact that the profile of diseases in Africa and Nigeria is different from what one is used to in western countries, and therefore, it is important that while we teach the students, we also give the right emphasis.

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CONVINCINGLY for 60  years, the Emeritus Professor, gave it all to his community and country in at least two major areas of national development, namely, medicine and higher education.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, described him as a model to many and a symbol of what the young could achieve with commitment and hard work.

AN erstwhile Vice Chancellor of U I ,Ayodele Falase, a professor, described the medical expert as an inspiration. He stressed the need for Nigerians to be innovative.

THE Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, a Professor, described  Akinkugbe as a first-class teacher, clinician, administrator, father, husband and mentor.

THE Hope  does not  agree less with these eminent  Nigerians on the  Emeritus  Professor’s  contributions to medicine and education as a very tremendous one. He  undoubtedly  remains one of the guiding lights of the fledgling sector having served as vice chancellor in different universities, and pioneer chairman of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB).

IMPACTING this generation and the upcoming one, The Hope believes Akinkugbe has done excellently well in his service to God and humanity. He deserves a comfortable rest.  We congratulate and celebrate this  illustrious son of  Ondo  state  and  equally celebrate him for what he stands for, particularly lives he has affected all over the world and all his other pragmatic achievements.

NO  doubt,  he has become a reference point for distinction and excellence. It is our belief that all those who passed through him would be tremendous assets to this great nation.

THE Hope wishes the quintessential Akinkungbe long life as he enjoys his well deserved retirement.

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