Ishaya Sha’aibu Audu was born on March 1, 1927, in Anchau, a village near Zaria, Kaduna State, to a father who had converted from Islam to Christianity. That categorized Audu in the group often referred to as ‘Hausa Christian’. The summarization of the man could be in the words; doctor, professor, pastor, philanthropist and politician.
Early life, Education, and Academic Career
Audu started his education at St. Bartholomew’s School in Wusasa, Zaria, and eventually moved to Yaba Higher College in Lagos, then to University College, Ibadan (since renamed to the University of Ibadan) in 1948 to study medicine. He was one of the first citizens in the whole of Northern Nigeria to study medicine. In 1951 he left for the University of London in England, where he stayed until 1954. In 1955, he studied at the University of Liverpool (also in England). It was in 1958 that he married his wife, Victoria, with whom he would father eight children (7 biological and 1 adopted).
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Audu as a young medical doctor lectured in internal medicine at the University of Lagos in 1962 and was promoted to the position of the first indigenous Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1966 at the age of 39 years. He is one of the youngest to hold the position of Vice-Chancellor in Nigeria till date. He had been the personal physician of Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. He also travelled to the United States where he was employed as an associate research professor at the University of Rochester, New York, and wrapped up his education at the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio from 1964 until 1968.
Audu was a member of the Nigeria Peoples Party when President Shehu Shagari appointed him to the position of Minister of External Affairs in 1979. He served in that position till 1983. Ishaya Audu was also the vice-presidential candidate of the Nigeran People’s Party which had Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe as its presidential candidate in 1979 presidential Election. He also served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Nations. After the 1983 overthrow of Shagari’s government by General Muhammadu Buhari (and the replacement of the Second Republic with military dictatorship), Audu was detained for a year.
Later life and Death
After his release, Audu took up private practice at his own hospital in Samaru, Savannah Polyclinic often treating the poor for free; he also founded his own church, the Charity and Faith Missions Inc in October 1987. Some of his regular guest ministers were Fred Addo, David Oyedepo and many others. He mentored many ABU staff and students including Yinka Yusuf, Boye Alonge, Niyi Adegboyega, Niyi Beecroft etc.
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Professor Audu’s held about ten national assignments, even during the era of the oil-boom, at the young age of 39 as the Vice-chancellor with his school mate and brother, General Yakubu Gowon as the Head of State he would have enriched himself for the nine years. In the Second Republic, he was a Minister of prominence that would have prepared him for the rainy days especially when there was a national feast of public funds. Yet, the man’s impeccable integrity has been unquestioned in Nigeria’s history. An exemplary leader and an epitome of honesty.
Before his death, he was the Chairman of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
He passed on to glory at the age of 78 on August 29, 2005, while in the United States for medical treatment and his remains were laid to rest in Zaria on September 24, 2005.
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