By MARIAM ODIAKA
via OBSERVER 03/30/2011
“No man who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward”. - Booker T. Washington
Our personality of the month is Professor Chief Emmanuel Uwumagbuhunmwun Emovon. Born in Benin City on 24th February, 1929, he had his primary education at the Baptist primary School, Benin City from 1936 to 1943. For his secondary school education, he attended the prestigious Edo College, Benin City, from 1944 to 1949 where he obtained his Cambridge School Certificate, Grade I with exemption from London University Matriculation. In 1950, he was admitted into the University College, Ibadan where he graduated with B.Sc. (Special Chemistry) London, Second Class Honours (upper) in 1955. He proceeded to the University College, London, in 1956 where he obtained his PhD (Physical Chemistry) in 1959.
Prof. Emovon is a distinguished scholar who has won several awards and honours, too numerous, that space and time will not allow us to refer to all of them here.
Notable among them are the local government study scholarship by the Benin Divisional Council from 1950 to 1956; the postgraduate scholarship awarded him, first by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1956 and then by the Western Region of Nigeria between 1956 and 1959. The others are the Royal Society of London Fellowship in 1963 and the Commonwealth of Australia and Asia programme scholarship in 1967. He became Fellow of the Science Association of Nigeria in 1975; Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science in 1977; Honorary Fellow of the Bulgarian Medical Academy in 1983 and Fellow of Chemical Society of Nigeria in 1992. He was among the ‘Who is Who’ in Africa in 1984 and International Who is Who in 1994. He obtained a diploma for men/women of distinction in 1990 and 1993; the Oba of Benin honoured him with a chieftaincy title, Obayagbona of Benin. He was decorated with American Biographical Institute’s Medal for Man of the Year in 1998 and
another Medal for 2000 outstanding persons in the world by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge in 1999. In recognition of his immense contributions to the nation, the Federal Government of Nigeria honoured him with Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2000. In 2005, he became Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management and in the same year, the University of Benin awarded him a Doctor of Science (Honoraris Causa).
This humble man served diligently in many learned societies: Member, Chemical Society of Great Britain in 1960; Vice-President and President of the Chemical Society of Nigeria, 1970 – 1972 and 1972 – 1975, respectively; Treasurer, West African Science Association of Nigeria, 1964 – 1968; Vice President, Science Association of Nigeria, 1977; and President, Nigeria Academy of Science from 1982 to 1984. From 1987 to 1995, he was National Representative in International Council of Scientific Unions. He was also Secretary, Third World Academy of Science (TWAS) / ICSU Committee on Environment (Beijing, China), 1988; and a member of Council at various times. He became member American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1984 and a member, New York Academy of Science in 1995.
He has numerous academic appointments to his credit. He was an Examiner and Chief Examiner, West African Examinations Council from 1962 to 1964; External Examiner to University of Sierra Leone (University College, Njala and Foray Bay College), 1971 – 1974; External Examiner to University of Cape Coast, 1971 – 1973 and to University of Legon, Ghana in 1974. Within Nigeria, he served as External Examiner to several universities, including the University of Ibadan, 1974 – 1976; University of Lagos, 1972 – 1975; University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 1973 - 1974; University of Ile-Ife (OAU) in 1970 and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1970 to 1971. It is worthy of mention that he was a member of Critique Panel on Nigerian Secondary School Science Project (CESAC) from 1970 to 1971 and a member, planning committee for the establishment of Obafemi Awolowo University in 1961. While on study leave in 1969, he was a Research Fellow at the University of
Birmingham, U.K. and from 1969 to 1970, he was a member, Planning Committee for the establishment of the University of Benin.
His work experience spanned over a period of 46 years, from 1950 to 1996. He served in various capacities in the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy. He was a staff member-in-training under the African Timber and Plywood, Sapele in 1950; Adult Education Organiser under the Benin Native Authority (BNA) in 1952; Chemistry Teacher, Edo College, Benin City in 1956; Graduate Demonstrator, Chemistry Department, University of Ibadan, 1955 - 1956 and Research Assistant, Imperial Chemical Industry (ICI), Bellingham, Durham Co., UK, in 1957. Between 1959 and 1978, he was at the University College/University of Ibadan, where he started as Lecturer Grade II in Physical Chemistry and rose to the post of Associate Professor of Physical Chemistry in 1968. He moved to the University of Benin as Professor, Chemistry in 1971. While at the University of Benin, he was Head, Chemistry Department, 1971 – 1974; Dean, Faculty of Science, 1974 – 1976; Deputy
Vice Chancellor, 1976 – 1978; and Chairman of the Association of University Teachers, 1972 – 1974. He was appointed Vice Chancellor, University of Jos in 1978 and Honourable Minister of Science and Technology by the Federal Government of Nigeria from 1985 to 1989. As a Minister, he, among other things, reorganised the Research Institutes in the country and established the Raw Materials and Development Council; the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development and the Sheda Science and Technology Complex, Abuja.
He served in several State, National and International Boards and Committees, including member, Scholarship Board Western Region of Nigeria, 1961 – 1962; Chairman, Midwestern Region Scholarship Board, 1964; member, Industrial Research Council of Nigeria, 1971 – 1974, to mention but a few.
He has published several academic papers in National and International Journals, articles in books and also reviews and conference papers.
Our Personality of the Month is not only an academician, he is also a sportsman. At Edo College, Benin City, he was the Captain of the School Cricket/Football team in 1949; and member of the School Tennis Team in 1948. He won the school honours in football and cricket in 1949. While at the University College, Ibadan, he remained a strong member of both the football and cricket teams. He captained the College sports team to the Inter-Collegiate competition with the University College, Legon, Ghana in 1956.
Prof. Chief E.U. Emovon is happily married to Prof. Princess Mrs. Adesuwa Emovon, a humble and illustrious daughter of Oba Akenzua II of blessed memory. They are blessed with children who are doing well in their various fields of endeavour.
We present to you, Professor Chief Emmanuel Uwumagbuhunmwun, CON, the Obayagbona of Benin, a man of many parts, a scientist to the core; a distinguished scholar of international repute, technologist par excellence, an educational administrator, a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a sportsman extraordinaire, a humane individual, a loving father and husband, a Chief of the Benin Kingdom, a man who is on the list of “Who is Who” in Africa and the world, a dependable leader of his people, particularly in times of crises, and above all, a Gentleman.