A great scholar, teacher, researcher, administrator is gone
Prof. Francis Idachaba
He was not born great. He did not inherit greatness. He did not have greatness thrust upon him. Rather, he was born in Idah, Kogi State, on December 4, 1943, to poor, struggling parents. His father, Baba Idachaba Idoko, was a potato farmer and his mother, Ayo Salome Idachaba, a smoked fish seller. Yet, by the time he died on August 17, Professor Francis Idachaba had, through hard work, a sense of purpose and determination attained greatness as one of Nigeria’s most distinguished sons.
Having lost his father when he was 18, it was his mother who laid the foundation for his exemplary success in life. She sent the young Francis to primary and secondary school through her smoked fish business and it was from her he imbibed the attributes of industry, discipline, routine and focus that propelled him to national and international recognition as a scholar, thinker, researcher, teacher, writer and administrator.
As a scholar, Prof Idachaba ranked among Nigeria’s most eminent men of letters. He obtained a B. Sc in Economics from the University of Ibadan in 1967 and an M. Sc in the same discipline from the University of Chicago in 1969. After obtaining his doctoral degree in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University in 1972, he commenced a most exciting and productive career as a lecturer, researcher and consultant in universities and research centres in Nigeria, the United States, Canada, the Hague, the Netherlands and several African countries. The agronomist rose to become a Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Ibadan in 1981. His prodigious output as an intellectual included six published books and over 72 academic papers on diverse issues of agricultural development.
Prof Idachaba was not content to be a theoretical, ivory tower intellectual far removed from reality. His research efforts in rural economics, crop subsector, crop marketing, commodity taxes and farm input subsidies among others, contributed significantly to enriching agricultural policy in Nigeria. He was a key brain behind such initiatives as the Agricultural Developmental Programmes (ADPs), River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs), the Green Revolution Programme and the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI). It is to his eternal credit that Prof Idachaba’s proposal resulted in the establishment of two Universities of Agriculture in Makurdi, Benue State and Abeokuta, Ogun State, in 1988.
Beyond being an outstanding academic, Prof Idachaba was also an accomplished administrator. He was pioneer Vice- Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, from 1988 to 1995 and served as Vice-Chancellor of Kogi State University between 2005 and 2008. It is remarkable that during his tenure in the latter capacity, all of the 29 academic programmes of the university were accredited. Other capacities in which he offered selfless service to Nigeria included being a member of several bodies such as the Governing Council, Open University of Nigeria (2004-2008); Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award (2004-2010); Vision 2020 Committee (1996-1997); Governing Council of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as well as a distinguished member of the Nigerian Economic Society. It was in recognition of his immense contributions to the country’s development that Prof Idachaba was awarded the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) in humanities in 2011.
Prof Idachaba offers an inspiring example that it is possible for an individual to achieve financial success without compromising his professional integrity and ethical values. In his words, “My own experience shows that even as an academic, if one works extremely hard and shuns premature politics; God will surprise one with material rewards beyond one’s wildest dreams”. Even in death, he remains an enduring role model as the country seeks to redeem her broken educational system. May his soul rest in peace.
Source: The Nation
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