His words always are poured like a blessed elixir into my heart and like precious treasure to everyone that has met him, and his mentorship has taught me many lessons in life.
After reading so much tributes to celebrate him on his birthday, it became incumbent upon me as a mentee to draw a few lessons from this rare gem for young ones like me to imbibe in order to revive the image of our profession and live a meaningful life. So I decided to write a tribute to a star-pharmacist who has written tributes to hundreds of people, irrespective of their race, religion, and background.
In scholarship, he was thorough and brilliant, dedicating his life to humanity, writing and mentoring. He was always available with listening ears to the low and mighty. His life is dedicated to service and advancement of human cause. I benefited greatly from his experience, guidance, advice, down to earth honesty and commitment to duties and responsibilities.
Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, who was 80 on 1 October, is one of the top Nigerian pharmacists and journalists in the past five decades. He was born on 1 October, 1939 at Okija, in Anambra State. He studied at the Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Onitsha and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) Ile- Ife, where he graduated in 1964 with Diploma in Pharmacy and 1967 with B.Pharm Second Class Upper Division.
After his career in the pharmaceutical industry, he ventured into pharmaceutical journalism with the founding of Pharmanews, in 1979. He has edited several periodicals and authored/co-authored many books. Forty years after he began the publication of Nigeria’s leading global health journal, Pharmanews, the Managing Director/Publisher, Pharm (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, launched his autobiography on Tuesday, even as he clocked 80 and to mark Pharmanews 40th anniversary.
His passion for education-for-all is not hidden. It is no wonder he has broad and profound knowledge of so many themes, due to his several years in journalism. As a prolific writer, Atueyi wrote dozens of books that focused mainly on moral themes and education. His style of writing stirred young writers like me to think smarter, write better, read more, be consistent and above all, to project into the future.
At 80, he is still very active as a mentor and rallying point to many with a razor sharp mind. He is the type who doesn’t fancy the limelight, always ducking from cameras to avoid fame. All of his contributions come from the heart without a need for fanfare.
Williams Shakespeare wrote in his famous Twelfth Night that, “some are born great; some achieve greatness, while some have greatness thrust upon them”. Sir Atueyi’s humility is not only to his friends, colleagues, subordinates, but to the common man. He was always wearing a smile on his face. I can still vividly remember meeting him for the first time at Sheraton Hotel in Lagos. As he came inside the hall, I approached him and instead of stopping at verbal greeting, I extended my hand for a hand shake which he graciously obliged. This singular demonstration of humility has continued to ring in my memory.
Another instance was his modesty and not feeling high even among his subordinates. This was a testimony by those who worked with him or under his supervision. His uprightness and credibility earned him respect everywhere. He was blunt and disposed to rationalizing ideas. He likes practical solutions to challenges. He was ever ready to defend his opinions and justify his positions on issues. In spite of his enthusiasm for proper things to be done properly, he will still be full of jokes. He is always full of cheerful expressions. He would call you and his staff with a pet name or title or call your name in a jovial manner. I can still remember the other day we met, when he jokingly said to me “you’re the only Yusuf here with one ‘F’.
His passion for professionalism of the workforce manifested in various ways. A case in point was that he remained consistent in attending the annual national conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), describing it always as his yearly pilgrimage, having not missed an edition since 1973. November 2019 in Kaduna would be his 46th unbroken attendance for the Annual National Conference. He has written over 1000 articles and papers presented at conferences and seminars. I have personally read more than 30 bulletins, magazines and books containing his biography.
As a child who speaks the minds of many of his children who take him as an encyclopaedia in learning his culture of keeping accurate dates of events and places, we say a Happy Birthday to a Mentor.
Sir Atueyi has served his fatherland well and deserves our accolades. Happy Birthday to an Icon of hope, Pharm (Sir) Ifeanyi Ateuyi, as you turn 80!
By Yusuf Hassan Wada, the first-ever winner of the Pharmanews PANSite of the year award (2019). He wrote from Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto.