University of Ibadan Alumni Association
Enugu State Branch

PROFILE OF PROFESSOR WILSON ONUIGBO
FMCPath, FRCPath, FRCPGlas, OON

Nnia Nwodo
Prof Wilson Onuigbo

The first child of Joseph and Margaret (nee Imonugo) of Awor, Ifite, Oraifite, in Anambra State, he was born on 28.4.28 when they were teaching at St. John's Church, Agbaja, in the present Imo State. He took Infant Classes at Oba Central School when Mrs. Janet Mokelu was the Headmistress (1934-1936) and his father, fresh from CMS Training College, Awka, was the Catechist. That College's Practising School was where Wilson did Standard Six as a boarder in 1941. His terminal report was "He has all round efficiency." Having come third in the Entrance Examination to the famous DMGS, Onitsha, his CMS Scholarship Money came to £3 per term, i.e., £9 yearly. Since this amount was exactly what the CMS authorities had been deducting from his father's salary on spurious charges and without the option of defence, Wilson, then 13 years old, became aware of God's judicial majesty. Next, he was his set's sole winner of the Government's "Major" Scholarship to the then Higher College, Yaba, in the Biology Section in 1945. With both Inter BSc (1947) and Inter BA (1950) of London University, and the unique combination of Passes in Zoology, Botany, Physics, Chemistry, English, and Latin, he gained accelerated entry to read Medicine at the University College, Ibadan, in 1951. He himself paid for the first year and thereafter received the Eastern Region Government Scholarship for the rest of the course. Incidentally, he was there elected the Honorary Secretary of the Association of Medical Students of Nigeria. Having moved to Glasgow University in 1953, his clinical student days there were crowned with several successes. Thus, he obtained Certificates of Merit in Pathology and Bacteriology, Materia Medica, Clinical Medicine, Systematic Surgery, Intensive Surgery, Otolaryngology, Urology and Orthopaedics as well as in Child Health in which he came first and won the Mary Ure Prize. He also got the John Reid Prize in Medical Research. Meanwhile, reading concurrently as an External Student, he passed the BSc (General) Degree of London University in Anatomy, Physiology and Psychology with Second Class Honours. Concerning the Medical Students' Essay Competition organized for the whole world by the British Medical Association in 1957, he won the First Prize. That same year, he not only published an article on 1000 cases of lung cancer in the prestigious British Journal of Cancer, but also qualified as a medical doctor with the double MB, ChB Degrees of Glasgow University. In 1958, his name appeared in his Professor's world famous Muir's Textbook of Pathology. In 1961, he privately obtained the PhD Degree in Medicine as an External Student of London University. He typed the Thesis himself! By 1968, his scientific status had become so high that his biography appeared in World Who's Who in Science. In it, he was the only Nigerian medical man included. He has published 13books and over 300 scientific articles. He has put Nigeria on the World Map of Learning by publishing in Australia, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Apart from his main field of pathology, he has published on the medical aspects of administration, history, geography, law, ethics, ethnology, economics, psychology, parasitology, thanatology, pharmacology, theology, sociology, education, genetics, child abuse, informatics and even journalism, having been the pioneer Editor of the Nigerian Journal of Surgical Sciences and currently the Editorial Adviser to many medical journals published in Lagos, Calabar, Enugu, Nnewi, Aba, Owerri, Abakaliki, Warri, and Zaria. The Zaria invitation was "in recognition of your immense contributions to surgery and research in surgical sciences, both locally and internationally." His many posts have included Chief Consultant Pathologist, Ministry of Health, Enugu; Honorary Chief Consultant Pathologist, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu; Dean of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus; Adjunct Professor of Pathology, Abia State University, Uturu; and Adjunct Professor of Pathology, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu. He runs his own General Practice Clinic, consults as a medico-legal expert, and carries out reference laboratory work on surgical specimens submitted by numerous doctors from all over much of our country. One such specimen enabled him through what is called serendipity to become in 1974 the world's discoverer of the human-living worm called Paragonimus uterobilateralis. The collected specimens also facilitated the establishment of Pathology Museums at Abakaliki, Nnewi, Aba, Orlu and Enugu free of charge. Chosen as the Ichie (Chief) of his Awor kindred, the Igwe of Oraifite conferred on him the Chieftaincy Title of Onowu (Prime Minister) of Oraifite in 1978. By 1980, he obtained the MD Degree of Glasgow University in the rare field of Geographical Pathology. In 1982, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association at Enugu. In 1996, he received the Vocational Service A ward of Rotary International District 9140. In 1997, the A w ka Branch of the University of Nigeria Alumni Association gave him the Honorary Merit A ward in Recognition of Professional Excellence in Medicine. By 2000, the Medical Women Association of Nigeria bestowed on him the Selfless Service Award at Enugu. In the religious field, where he belongs to 3 Dioceses, he received Certificate of Honour, Agbaja Anglican Parish, Okigwe North Diocese (1992); Knighthood (KGS) of the Order of the Good Shepherd, Enugu Diocese (1996); and Father of Faith, St. Jude's Church, Oraifite, Nnewi Diocese (2000). In 2001, he was one of the 500 persons selected from all over the world and invested with the International Order of Merit (10M) by the Cambridge-based International Biographical Centre. The year 2003 saw him receiving the special ad eundem Fellowship of the over 300-year-old Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (FRCP), this being "awarded to individuals of exceptional distinction who have rendered outstanding public service." His other Fellowships are FMCPath (1970), FRCPath (1975), FWACP (1979), FICA (1984), PICS (1986), PIHEN (1999), and FSPUCA (2004). What he merited in 2005 was the National Honour of OON. On the family plane, he has since 1960 been happily married to Edith (nee Odukwe) with whom he has children who have graduated in chronological order in Sociology (Unilag), Fine Art (UNN), English (UNN), Law (UNN), Medicine (Unizik) and again Medicine (Unizik), the last in medicine by ABSUT. Prof. Onuigbo Who, with an avalanche of papers and books in pathology, and many of his works widely quoted in our foreign textbooks, remains a living legend of remarkable professional discipline. We love and wish him longer days as a reference ORACLE of pathology.

 

 
 

 

 
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