BY LAJU IREN
Although there were various challenges with the process, experts have hailed the just concluded presidential elections as the most credible Nigeria has had since 1999. The doggedness of Gen. Muhammad Buhari, the gentlemanly grace of President Goodluck Jonathan, combined with the resilience of the Nigerian people were determining factors, but the contributions of quite a number of renowned professors working behind the scenes did not go unnoticed. There were quite a number of them, but here are some that really stood out:
Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega
As Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Jega is arguably one of the most respected persons in Nigeria today. Despite attacks on his person by the opposition in 2011 and from some quarters of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP in these elections, the former Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, has worked efficiently and kept his calm in the face of adversity.
Jega was the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities between 1994 and 1998; a time when the union constantly opposed Major Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s military government. Jega earned a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, Illinois in 1984 after which he returned to his alma mater, BUK as an Assistant Lecturer.
Professor John Etu-Efeorto
Not many people will forget the collation officer of Rivers state in a hurry. Whether it is post-election ruckus which ensued in the oil producing state, or the mild drama that preceded his reading of the election results, Prof. John Etu-Efeorto is part and parcel of the 2015 elections history. Beyond that however, Etu-Efeorto is an astute academic. He was appointed Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun in 2013.
Before then, he was Director, Centre for Petroleum Geosciences at the University of Port Harcourt. He studied at the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he earned a First Class Honours Degree in Geology in 1971. He later proceeded to the Harvard University, U.S.A in 1972 and obtained a Masters degree in Geology in 1974. With these academic degrees, he was appointed a Lecturer in July 1977 at the University of Port Harcourt and he rose to the rank of Professor on May 8, 1999.
Prof Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi
Despite the insecurity in Yobe state, elections still held there. It was no mean feat and Prof Ibrahim Abubakar Njodi was the collation officer in charge of the state. Njodi is currently the Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri and reportedly scored 90.1 per cent in the selection interview jointly conducted by the council and senate selection board which is the highest for all interviewed. He joined the institution as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Physical and Health Education in 1987 and became a Professor in 2006.
Professor (Mrs.) Comfort Memfin Ekpo Professor (Mrs.) Comfort Memfin Ekpo was the Collation Officer for Cross River state, was the only woman among the Collation officers. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof. (Mrs.) Comfort Memfin Ekpo is a professor of Educational Technology. Her university career started in March 1981 when she participated in part-time lecturing at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
She was appointed lecturer III in January 1983 at the then College of Education, Uyo which became the University of Cross River State (UNICROSS) and later, University of Uyo in 1991. Prof. (Mrs.) Comfort Ekpo was promoted to Associate Professor in 1998 and Professor (the first female professor in the University of Uyo) on October 1, 2001.
PROF. OBITOR GEOFFREY OKOGBAA
Prof. Okogbaa also played a sensitive role in the elections as he was collation officer in charge of Adamawa state; a state still plagued by insecurity. He is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Wukari, Taraba state. He obtained his B.S.I.S.E and M.S in Industrial and System Engineering at the Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio in 1977 and 1979, respectively and PhD in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering in 1984 from University of Cincinnati, Ohio.
He joined University of Cincinnati as an Assistant Professor in 1984. He is currently Professor of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering and Guest Professor of Public Health at the University of South Florida. He served as Interim Director (1999-2000) and Director (2000-2006) of the Institute on Black Life and Centre for Africa and Diaspora at the University of South Florida (USF).
Prof Isaac Adewole
During the 2015 Presidential elections, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof Adewole was the collation officer in charge of Lagos state. Adewole was for many years the Head, Department of Obsterics and Gynaecology at the College of Medicine before becoming the Vice Chancellor of Nigeria’s premiere university in 2010. Adewole gained his MB BS degree from the University of Ibadan in 1978 with the Glaxo Allenbury prize for the best performance in Paediatrics.
He joined the services of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology as a Senior House Officer in 1981 and underwent further medical training to become a Senior Registrar in the Department in 1984. Professor Adewole was appointed Lecturer I at the College of Medicine in the University of Ibadan in 1989.
Prof. Hamisu Muhammad
The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja was a defining terrain for the 2015 Presidential elections. Former Vice Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, ATBU, Bauchi, Professor Hamisu Mohammad was the collation officer of the state.
Muhammad finished from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria with Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) degree in 1985. From the same university, he obtained his M.Sc in 1990 also in Mechanical Engineering He bagged his Ph.D in Production Engineering from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi in 1998. Prof. Muhammad started his working career as a graduate assistant in 1986 in ATBU and rose to the rank of Professor in 2005. Prof. Muhammad holds the membership of four different professional bodies and has actively participated in many consultancy projects.