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Remembering Professor Fatiu Akesode (1) - Prof. Siyan Oyeweso

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Prof. Siyan Oyeweso, FHSN, is the Executive Director, Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, Abere, Osun State.

He started his academic career in 1985 as an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of History, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos State.

In his tribute to commemorate the 19th memorial of the 4th Vice Chancellor of the Varsity, tagged Remembering Professor Fatiu Akesode via TheNews Platform, Oyeweso gave a detailed background to the brilliant academic, accomplished public health physician, a compassionate paediatrician and an outstanding Vice Chancellor.

Read on and enjoy...

An esteemed member of the academic community and medical profession in Nigeria departed for the great beyond shortly before the midnight of 30th March, 2001.

The medical icon - Professor Fatiu Ademola #Akesode , a foremost paediatric endocrinologist and the former Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University (1997-2001) lived a useful and purposeful life that is beyond doubt given his relevance in the passage of time and the great affection people still have for him.

His good deeds and works speak for him. Like all mortals, he paid his debt. But why should good people die prematurely? This is a question society often pose but 1 have found solace in the Yoruba world-view that “Igi to ba to, ki i pe ni’gbo” “Very stately and tall trees are often felled in the forest.

Nineteen years after this demise, Fatiu Ademola #Akesode is still greatly missed and he will continue to live in the hearts of many who came across his path and under his influence.

Fatiu Ademola Akesode was born on May 18, 1940 to the family of Alhaji Sulaiman Akanni Akesode and Alhaja Bintu Ajide Akesode (nee Olukolu) both of Okepopo and Bajulaiye clan of Lagos Island respectively. He was the fifth child of the family. Fatiu (the Victor), Ademola (the one who combines wealth and the crown) Akesode (the one who summons the for duties hunters) grew up as a muslim. He was enrolled as a pupil at Ansar-ud-deen Primary’ School, Amuto (Okepopo)in 1946.

In 1954 he proceeded to the Methodist Boys’ High School (MBHS) for his secondary school education.

Right from his formative years, Fatiu Akesode distinguished himself among his peers. He was the School Prefect at the MBHS and he was later appointed to a similar leadership role at the Abeokuta Grammar School where he studied for his Higher School Certificate.

In 1962, Akesode was offered admission as a pioneer student of the University of Lagos College of Medicine, Idi-Araba, from where he graduated with honours in 1967.

Indeed, his achievement was phenomenal considering the fact that there were only two medical schools (Akoka and Ibadan) then in the ’60s in Nigeria admitting a total of 100 students. Some of Akesode`s classmates at Idi-Araba, i.e. the 1967 set included Kola Danisa, Anya Emetu Anya, Sunny Folorunso Kuku, Stephen Kitchener, Yinusa Isola Salami, Phillip Okeowo. Patrick Okeke, Felix Oladipo, Ajesola Ozobia, Samuel Ajomo, Gregory Akenzua, Wilberforce Olumide Aina and Reuben Ajiboye, among others. During his undergraduate years, Akesode was a Federal Government Scholar.

As a young paediatrician, Akesode received his training under the feet of Professor. H.W L. Thompson, Robert Wright, and O. Akinla all of the University of Lagos.

Along with two other alumni of the University of Lagos, he proceeded in 1968 for a Masters’ degree in Public Health at the world renowned John Hopkin’s University, United States of America.

On his return to Nigeria in 1969, he worked under the supervision of Prof. Olikoye Ransome Kuti, Prof. F. E. Afolabi Lesi and Prof. Ishaya Audu. The trio had a strong influence on his career as a paediatrician.

Fatiu Akesode had many other professional and intellectual training from various institutions across the world. In 1976, he received a Certificate in Paediatric Endocrinology at John Hopkins University.

In 1978, he became a Fellow of the Nigerian Medical College (Public Health); and in 1980 he also became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Canada).

By 1981, he was also a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians; and a Research Fellow and Instructor in Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.

In addition, he served as a Lecturer in Public Health, University of Lagos (1976-1982), Visiting Consultant Paediatrician, University of British Columbia, Vancouver B. C. Canada (1978 1980) and Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics, University of Lagos (1982-1987); Dental Consultant Association of Nigeria, Treasurer of the Nigerian Society of Endocrinologists, Member of Association of Community Health Physicians of Nigeria and Society of Occupational Health Physicians of Nigeria.

Akesode`s robust scholarship and abiding commitment to excellence also saw him benefitting from many academic honours and research support.

In the 1968/1969 Session, he was a beneficiary of the Ford Foundation Fellowship. Between 1971 and 1997 when he was the Chief Resident in Paediatrics, he got Fellowship Award from the American Heart Foundation Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Between 1975 and 1976, he also won the United States National Institute of Health Research Award in Paediatrics. In the interval between 1987 and 1996, Akesode also received research grant support from a number of institutions: University of Lagos, 1987; Ogun State University, 1988; WHO Research Award on Breast-Feeding, 1988- 1993; WHO Material Supplementation and Breast Milk Production Grant, 1994; and the British Overseas Development Agency Award for the study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 1996.

Fatiu Ademola Akesode was appointed a Professor of Paediatrics in the Department of Paediatrics of the Ogun State University in 1987. Seven years later, in July 1994, he delivered his Inaugural Lecture titled The Child is Not A Little Man: Promises of Tomorrow, which is generally acknowledged as a seminal contribution to the field of Paediatrics.

He later became the Provost and Chief Medical Director of Ogun State College of Health Sciences. Indeed, Akesode’s nine-year tenure at Ogun State University was productively used in building relationship with the people and in the service of Ogun State.

During this period, he forged strong personal relationship with the Oyewole Twins, Prof. Soyanwo, Dr. Bayo Banjo, Alhaji Shote, Late Chief Adesegun, Mr. Akinsanya, Alhaji Bola Adegunwa, of Fototek Fame Oba Michael Sonarinwo, the Akarigbo of Remoland, to mention a few. His life at the Ogun State University was, unarguably, one of fruitful service in the cause of the people and absolute commitment to the promotion of medical education and health care delivery.

Apart from his job at Ogun State, Akesode served Nigeria and the world at large in different capacities. He was a Consultant to the Federal Government of Nigeria on Occupational Health, a Radio Doctor on the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Lagos, and a Consultant to the Federal Government of Nigeria on Nutrition, Child Health Planning and Management.

Akesode was also an External Examiner in Paediatrics at various universities including Ibadan, llorin, Nsukka, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Ile-Ife, Calabar and Lagos), and the National Post-Graduate Medical College. He was also international an examiner at the Universities of Zimbabwe and Ghana.

In the international arena, Akesode also served as Consultant to UNICEF on Nutrition and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Breast Feeding, Nutrition and Fertility. For those who know the mark of true and accomplished academics, Professor Akesode published his articles individually and in collaboration with respected colleagues nationally and abroad in reputable international journals.

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