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Ex-NUC boss, Okebukola, mourns Nimi Briggs

Ex-NUC boss, Okebukola, mourns Nimi Briggs

A former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Emeritus Professor Peter Okebukola has expressed shock over the sudden death of Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs in the early hours of Monday.

He described the late Nimi Briggs as one that was endowed with superb academic and administrative leadership qualities, saying that in spite of his ill health, Briggs attended the weekly virtual NUC Strategy Advisory Committee (STRADVCOM) meetings, the last one being on Wednesday, March 22.

Okebukola, who is also the Chairman Governing Board of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), said that he was to leave for Port Harcourt on Tuesday morning to pay a get-well visit knowing he had been slightly indisposed for a few weeks, when the sad news of his passing was broken to him by the wife, Mrs Briggs early Monday.

In a statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, the former NUC boss said he could not come to terms with the news of his demise.

He was until his death, the Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Federal Universities and Pro-Chancellor of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike. He was also Chairman of the Council, Bayelsa Medical University.

Okebukola said: “A message from Mrs Briggs at 4:30 a.m. on April 10 that he had passed on at 3:30 a.m. was beyond what I could come to terms with.

“For 22 years, I had close-quarter interaction with late Emeritus Professor Briggs. When I was Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission in 2001, he was one of the vice-chancellors with such exemplary performance that earned him first position in the 2004 ranking of vice-chancellors in the Nigerian university system.

“This was during his service as vice-chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt (2000 to 2005). The 2003 edition was won by late Professor Oye Ibidapo-Obe who was vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos.

“Briggs, Ibidapo-Obe and I cemented friendship which flourished until death took my two buddies away. I am thankful for these great friends and for the legacies they left behind. I am in mourning of Nimi Briggs (February 22, 1944 to April 10, 2023).

“He was one of the best vice-chancellors the Nigerian university system has ever had- endowed with superb academic and administrative leadership qualities; prudent in the management of resources; committed to quality and impactful research; and he was a globally renowned medical scientist in the obstetrics and gynaecology specialisation.

“We worked together on several national and international assignments, and you never find him to be slack in delivering on tasks,” Okebukola said.

While further eulogising the virtues of the late Nimi Briggs, Okebukola said: “He was prompt to and never want to miss meetings, immense and deep in his contributions and always well dressed, looking fit with his signature haircut.

“He never missed his early morning exercises, jogging about an hour every day. He was not a careless eater and had water as his best drink.

“My first choice of partner for any national or international consultancy or academic engagement during the last fifteen years, had always been Nimi Briggs.

“When the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed put a team together in 2017 to advise him, I was glad that Nimi Briggs made the list. In the NUC Strategy Advisory Committee (STRADVCOM) which the Executive Secretary gave me the honour to chair, Nimi Briggs who we fondly called “Grandpa” was a strong pillar.

“He ably coordinated many projects including leading several strands of the curriculum re-engineering project, playing facilitatory roles in the operations of the Virtual Institute for Capacity Building in Higher Education (VICBHE) and co-leading the Medicine and Dentistry Discipline of the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) document, a major legacy of Professor Rasheed. Until his last breath, he successfully coordinated Project 3 which is the development of textual materials for the CCMAS”.

He disclosed that the first in the series of books are expected to be presented to the public by the Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu on May 16.

“Nimi Briggs drafted the Coordinator’s Note for the books two weeks ago! He was such a goal-getting, highly disciplined and pleasant team player,” he stated.


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