Family, friends and colleagues of Professor Gabriel Ediale Osuide gathered at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Sunday, 15 March 2015, to mark the 80th birthday celebration of the pioneer pharmacologist and former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
The colourful ceremony which featured a citation of the celebrant, presentation of gifts and goodwill messages, witnessed a massive turnout of former colleagues, pharmacists, representatives of professional bodies such as the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), relatives, friends, mentees and well-wishers.
Prof. Osuide was born on 15 March, 1935. He studied Pharmacology at the University of London where he graduated with First Class (Honours) in July 1963. He acquired his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree in Pharmacology in the same university, under a UK Inter-University Council for Higher Education overseas scholarship.
Describing the personality of the distinguished academic, administrator and icon of the profession, Dr Ahmed Mora, dean, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kaduna State University (KASU), disclosed that the late Mallam Adamu Dikko, the late Mallam Peter Omar Ishaku (Pa Ishaku) and Prof. Gabriel Osuide were the three distinguished Nigerian pharmacists, who pioneered the development of Pharmacy education in Northern Nigeria and effectively in Zaria from the old School of Pharmacy, Zaria (1930 – 1940 and 1947 – 1968), to the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, ABU, Zaria (1968 to 1977) and to the present Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ABU, Zaria (1977 to date).
These three teachers of Pharmacy were also reputed to have nurtured the training of pharmacists for the award of Dispenser’s Certificate, Chemist and Druggists Diploma, Pharmaceutical Chemist Diploma, Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) degree and the present Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) degree certificates in the last 85 years in Zaria.
Both Dikko and Ishaku had died on in 1979 and 1981, respectively, having taught Pharmacy at Diploma levels (which was the highest registerable qualification available for persons wishing to practise pharmacy profession from the colonial times to Independence and up to the late 1960s).
Prof. Osuide’s contribution to Pharmacy in the North and Nigeria generally was at the first degree and postgraduate levels and significantly at ABU, from 1968 to 1987.
One of the federal institutions where Osuide worked and indeed rose to prominence is no other than Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), from 1968 as lecturer to 1987 when he transferred his services to the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Benin City. For 19 years, he worked in ABU, and rose from being a lecturer to acting Vice Chancellor of the university.
Although ABU was founded in 1962 by the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, the Faculty of Medicine was not established until 1967. Interestingly, the first set of students to study Pharmacy at the Bachelor’s degree level, which included the present Vice Chancellor of ABU, Professor Abdullahi Mustapha, were given admission in 1970 with Professor Osuide as the pioneer Head of Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Faculty of Science.
According to Mora, Professor Osuide is recognised as having significantly contributed to the advancement of Pharmacy and Medicine among the youth in the North and other parts of Nigeria. Perhaps no pharmacy lecturer in any of the Nigerian Universities has this level of acceptability and recognition.
It would be recalled that on 15 October, 2011, in a show of appreciation, the governor of Taraba State, Pharm. Danbaba Danfulani Suntai, a 1984 graduate of Pharmacy and student of Professor Osuide, commissioned a twin 250-seat capacity lecture theatre, which was built and donated to the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ABU, by the ABU Pharmacy Alumni Association (ABUPAA) in honour of the professor.
The lecture theatres I and II were categorically named Gabriel Osuide Lecture Theatres, a name which students and lecturers of the university have fondly abbreviated to GOLT.
Reports say the theatres cost the Taraba State Government about N300 million. To date, GOLT is still recognised as one of the biggest capital investments initiated by any organ of the alumni association in the 53-year history of the university
For the record, Prof. Osuide was a pioneer of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ABU, and its first dean (1970). He was the initiator of the degree-awarding faculty, first as a Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology under the Faculty of Science of the University (1968). He later became the dean of Postgraduate School, ABU, Zaria (1982-1987); deputy vice chancellor, ABU, (1977–1979); and acting vice-chancellor, ABU (1986).
When the Drug Manufacturing Unit of the Ahmadu Bello University Institute of Health was established and commissioned in 1968 and 1970 respectively, Professor Osuide was made the head until he left the services of ABU in 1987. The facility was producing 20 commonly used tablets for ABU Hospital, as well as undertaking quality control tests for other drugs before procurement by the university. Presently it has been renamed Zazzau Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ZPIC), Zaria.
Prof. Osuide was also appointed the first director of the Food and Drugs Administration and Control (FDAC) department, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), from June to December 1992 and later re-assigned as pioneer director general (DG) and chief executive officer at the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in 1992 where he served for eight years until 2000.
The pharmacology icon has served as external examiner for medical and pharmacy schools in the following universities: University of Ibadan (1978 & 1979); University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1977); University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (1981); University of Benin (1976); University of Lagos (1980, 1987, 1990 & 1991); and the University of Jos (1989, 1990 & 1991).
He also acted in the capacity of external examiner for medical and pharmacy schools in Ghana, such as the University Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana (M.Sc Thesis, 1975 & 1976) and in Uganda, such as Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (1978).
Osuide is one of the founding Fellows of the Academy of Science (FAS), as well as being a Fellow of the following bodies: Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (FPSN); Council of the World Federation of Biological Psychiatry; Nigerian Society of Neurological Science; Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria; American Society of Biological Psychiatry; Association of Neurophysiologists of Nigeria; West African Society of Pharmacology; and acting editor, West African Journal of Pharmacology and Drug Research.
A recipient of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Award of Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy (December 2011), the retired don has trained several notable pharmacists such as Pharm. Danbaba D. Suntai (1984 graduate) Governor, Taraba State; Dr S. Z. Nuhu (1978 graduate) Deputy Governor, Niger State (1999-2007); Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha (1972 graduate) Katsina State University (now Umaru Musa Yar’adua University), Katsina; Professor E. M. Abdurrahman (M.Sc, Ph.D graduate), Kaduna State University (2006 to 2011) and Alhaji Hamza A. Sakwa (1970 graduate) Hon. Minister of Water Resources.
Others mentees are Hon. Isa B. Ibrahim (1980 graduate), Hon. Minister of Transport, Youth and Sports; Dr (Mrs) Dere Awosika (nee Okotie-Eboh; 1976 graduate); Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha (1972 graduate); Prof. U. U. Pate (1992 graduate); Prof. Ibrahim A. Yakasai (1986 graduate); Prof. E. N. Sokomba (foundation dean and one time chairman, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN); Prof. H. A. B. Coker (served as dean several times) (1976 graduate); Prof. C. O. N. Wambebe (former Dean, ABU and founding DG/CEO); Dr Ahmed T. Mora, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Kaduna State University (KASU) (1978 graduate); Ms. Hannatu D. Kayit (1970 graduate), PCN Registrar; and Professor K. S. Gamaniel, NIPRD (DG/CEO).