There was an outpouring of accolades for distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Prof. H. A. B Coker, recently as he retired from active service, after 37 years of unblemished, meritorious and fulfilling career at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos.
Following his retirement, friends, family members and associates, on 24 August, 2021 celebrated his meritorious service in the academic community. The virtual occasion marking his retirement with the theme “Pharmaceutical Chemistry Fantasies: Celebrating an Academic Icon” was adjudged to be significant in the life of the distinguished professor.
While speaking at the event, the speaker, a former Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Dutsinma, Prof. Haruna Kaita, who is also a Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, described Prof. Coker as a remarkable man and scholar who has made an indelible and lasting impression on the world through the lives he has touched.
The speaker said “Permit me to say, that Prof. Coker is an icon of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacy profession along the length and breadth of Nigeria. Coker was so versatile that he was once a Deputy Provost of the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, and has served in numerous committees of the Faculty of Pharmacy, College of Medicine and the university.
“He was once Chairman of the Beautification and Environmental Committee at the College of Medicine, and later at the University Main Campus (under Tolu Odugbemi, as Vice- Chancellor). Professor Coker was deeply and extensively involved in the groundbreaking and construction of the present Faculty Building along with the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jelili Omotola, a very challenging exercise indeed. No doubt, Coker has served the Faculty of Pharmacy, the University of Lagos, the Pharmacy profession and the nation tirelessly, with personal zeal, vigour, and patriotic might”.
Prof. Kaita specifically lauded the retiree for his laudable contribution to the Pharmacy profession and Nigerian universities while hoping that many people will emulate his selfless service. The speaker said “Prof. Coker, we dare say you are indeed an icon of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the Pharmacy profession. Your passion and devotion to duties especially to the Pharmacy profession, the University of Lagos, other sister universities in Nigeria and Ghana, your beloved homestead, Lagos State and our great nation Nigeria, have endeared you to uncountable people.
“Your prodigious contributions, kindness, generosity, and willingness to assist at any point in time have marked you out as an exceptional gentleman of Lagos. You are one remarkable man and scholar who has made an indelible and lasting impression on the world through the lives you have touched”.
That Prof. Coker contributed immensely to the Pharmacy profession and the academic community is not a hoax. He had his primary and secondary school education in Lagos and Ibadan after which he went to study Pharmacy at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, after which he observed his Youth Service in the then Bauchi State.
He started his professional career with the West African Drugs Limited and Roche Pharmaceuticals in Lagos and after about 3 years proceeded to University of Strathclyde, Glasgow where he bagged Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry on Lagos State Government Scholarship. He returned to Nigeria in September, 1984 after completing the Ph.D. programme.
Prof. Coker joined the services of the University of Lagos as Lecturer I in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in December, 1984, and rose to the rank of Professor in October, 1994. Until his retirement, he has been actively involved in teaching and research at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the areas of General Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Analysis, Biopharmaceutics, Natural Product Chemistry, and Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. He has participated in collaborative researches with other scientists in various units of the College of Medicine.
Coker has served as Head of Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and the Dean of Faculty of Pharmacy at various times. He was a Council member of the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria where he was appointed to lead PCN accreditation panels. He is a member of many professional bodies including the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN); the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (ISSX); the Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria (IPAN); the Lagos University Medical Society (LUMS);
He is a Fellow of the Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm) and West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacy (WAPCP). Prof. Coker’s contributions at both national and international levels include appointment as Federal Government of Nigeria designated Analyst in Food, Drugs, Cosmetics, Environmental Pollution and Industrial Wastes (FMH No. 277).