An Encounter with ANPA’s Eminence Grise
I was your typical ANPA skeptic – never been to an ANPA event, nor even met an ANPA member, but felt certain that ANPA was a “waste of time”.
All changed in the summer of 2008 at a welcome party in Columbus, OH, for a Nigerian who had recently moved into town. I found myself held spell-bound by a man with a deep baritone voice, sporting a shiny frontal bald pate, and a clean-shaven mustache. His beard was adorned by luxuriant gray hair, sprouting as if in eagerness to give a willowy testament to the man’s wisdom and knowledge. He told an epic story of graduating from UNN, Nsukka in 1966, winning a scholarship to a US college, and training to become a top scientist. He obtained a Ph.D. while agonizing over the civil war that consumed the country he left behind, and then in 1970, after the war ended, rushed back home to help, taking up a teaching post at UCH, Ibadan. The story of his many sacrifices for our country went on and on.
To say that I was mesmerized by this man would be an understatement. He was possibly the most patriotic Nigerian I had ever met.
During the discussion, I had mentioned an upcoming trip to Freetown, Sierra Leone, on a surgical training mission.
“Good, good”, he said. “ANPA needs people like you. You should join ANPA. You must join.”
But, wait a minute, I thought. Did he just say ANPA? The same ANPA I had mindlessly, perhaps needlessly vilified?
This chance meeting with Professor Ajovi Blessing Scott-Emuakpor left me with a litany of confusing emotions. Among these, his revelation that he had been in the UNN class of 1966 (Zoology), rung home. That placed him in the same class as another young man, Peter Nwomeh (Mathematics and Physics), who would later give up his own scholarship award to serve a different cause. Did he know my late father? I was desperate to find out but would hold my curiosity for another day.
For now, there was a more urgent task. ANPA did not have an Ohio chapter, so that night I went online, found anpa.org and joined.
Why did I join ANPA? Was it in response to Prof’s patriotic call? Was it a self-serving chance to fill some gaps in my family story? Was it both?
One thing I would learn later about Prof helped define my own path of service in ANPA. Although no one was more qualified to be president, he chose instead to serve all the presidents loyally as program chair. He had earned the mantle of ANPA’s eminence grise. He taught us that you could have a lasting impact in ANPA without being elected to office.
My primary interest in ANPA has always been to help deliver a quality scientific program, so I joined the program committee after attending my first meeting in 2010. Along the way, I have served in numerous committees, as Chair of the IT Committee 2010-2012, and since 2014, as Co-Chair/Chair of the Program Committee.
This is my ANPA@25 story. What is yours?
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Professor Ajovi Scott-Emuakpor
Chair, ANPA Program Committee