Nigeria’s first professor of Medicine, and Past Vice President of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Professor Oladipo Ogunlesi writes a special tribute to his friend and foundation Fellow of the Academy, Prof, Lucas Adetokunboh 

Sunday has always been to me the best day of the week, all my life, more so, since I retired voluntarily from active service at the University of Ibadan, 38 years ago (1983), and I have celebrated Christmas with my family, fellow Christians, and others, mostly here in Sagamu, Remo, Ogun State (a few times in Lagos). However, Sunday, December 27, 2020 was different, because my joy that day was terminated with grief, late that afternoon, by a phone call from Ibadan, announcing the sad news of the death of Professor Adetokunbo Lucas, a lifelong friend and colleague, two days before, that was on Christmas Day, Friday, December 25, 2020.

That sad news brought back quickly to my memory the fact that, within the past one year or so, two other highly distinguished colleagues and very close friends, have gone to join the saints above. – Emeritus Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe, (Ibadan) and Emeritus Professor Ade Elebute (Lagos). There have also been quite a few other persons (names withheld), some of whom (unfortunately) have been younger than me in age, and whose memory I will always cherish. All the same, these are silent reminders to me, that sooner or later, it will be my turn. It is comforting to pray that – OJO A JINA SI’RA WON (that the departure times for those still alive will be far apart) but since it is God, our Maker, who decides, I always add, “May the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace”. Professor TOKUNBO LUCAS has been an exceptional person, one in a million and one of the brightest stars in the sky of learning.

Anyone who has read the 290 paged book on Professor Lucas during his life-time, written and edited by three well known Professors (Professor Bolanle Awe, Professor Oyinade Olurin and Professor Kayode Oyediran), will agree that the book is a very accurate, and very appropriate description of THE MAN, ADETOKUNBO LUCAS, (which also was the book’s title), and that his photograph on the front page, showing the grey hairs on his head and his characteristic smile showing his silvery white teeth is a true picture of this great man which will live in our memories for a long time.

I have a small personal library here in my house which has grown bigger and bigger with the years. They contain INTER-ALIA records of my years in my alma maters, CMS Grammar School, Lagos (1936 – 1940), Higher College Yaba and the Yaba Medical School (1941 – 1947), followed by Postgraduate Studies in UK and U.S.A, etc.  I have sections of that library devoted to Science, Religion, several Universities, etc. books and papers by members of the family of Tokunbo Lucas occupy a prominent section in this library, especially his father, the late Venerable Archdeacon J. Olumide Lucas. Both father and son are prolific writers of many well known books. Tokunbo’s Curriculum Vitae, (which I am privileged to have) occupies 19 pages of foolscap paper and I consider his C.V to be quite intimidating. To illustrate this, I will put here what are in the first four to six lines of the first page of the C.V, which are his professional qualifications, honours, etc.


BSc (Durham.), MD (Newcastle), DPH (Belfast.), SM Hyg. (Harvard), DTM&H (England), FRCP (London), FFPHM (UK), FMCPH (Nigeria), FWACP (West Africa), FRCOG (UK), Hon. DSc (Emory, USA, Newcastle, UK, Obafemi Awolowo, Nig., Tulane, USA), F.U.I. (Ibadan), Adjunct Professor of International Health, Harvard University, CAMBRIDGE, USA.

Even though Tokunboh was 8 years younger than me in age, (I was born on July 12, 1923) he has grown much taller, academically, than myself, especially in the area of INTERNATIONAL HEALTH as shown clearly above. A Public Health expert, he is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of U.K.

Tokunbo Lucas is an expert in choosing very appropriate titles for his books and writings. I will cite two examples – He chose the title for one of his books “IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES, from Local to Global Health”. He chose the title for his Lecture for the 5th Professor Kayode Osuntokun’s Memorial Lecture in Ibadan “HITTING THE TARGET WITH MAGIC BULLETS” Mass Chemotherapy in Disease Control.

Tokunbo Lucas and his wife Kofoworola were born of very distinguished parents, and they too have also been an equally well distinguished couple, worthy of emulation. Tokunbo was an accomplished Musicologist, performing very well on the Organ as well as on the Piano, a trait, which I understand, runs through the Lucas family.

My prayer is that, now that Tokunbo has gone to rest with the Lord, the good Lord will give Kofo, the children, grandchildren and the entire Lucas family, the fortitude to bear the loss, with long life and in good health.


Emeritus Professor T.O. Ogunlesi FAS is a Foundation Fellow of The Nigerian Academy of Science.


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