By Adeze Ojukwu
The sudden exit of Prof Charles Adisa, remains a shock to family and friends.
Tears and wailings rent the air, last Friday, Februray 19, as the remains of Adisa were laid to rest at Aba, Abia State.
His demise is a stark reminder that human life is indeed ephemeral and precarious.
It is quite emotional to script this dirge, to an erudite academic and an accomplished medical luminary, whose life and ethos epitomized excellence, selflessness, humility and godliness.
It is very difficult to adequately capture all the wonderful achievements and beautiful legacies, of the late sage, in this brief account.
Adisa, was a professor of surgery at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital(ABSUTH) and the immediate past president of Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship(NCGF). He was highly cerebral, yet uniquely humane.
The NCGF 2010 medical-cum-missionary trip to Bonthe Island, Sierra Leone, under the leadership of former NCGF president, Dr. Godwin Uwaoma and Executive Director of AVTHS, Dr. Okon Okon-Umoren provided a unique opportunity to work closely with him.
A renowned gynecologist, Late Dr. Sam Itina, Dr. Chudy Onwuegbuna, a consultant opthalmologist and Dr. Gabriel Udo-Affah of University of Calabar and several other wonderful brethren, also featured prominently in that evangelical outing.
A distinguished surgeon of international repute and consultant oncologist, Adisa exuded uncommon charisma and simplicity. He counted these earthly laurels and trophies, as nothing but God’s grace and gifts to serve humanity and God’s divine purpose.
The outpouring of encomiums that trailed his passage and pervaded his funeral, reflects the loving influence, he had over those that crossed his path.
The transition of this great and godly icon, is not only a major blow to his family, but to the NCGF, Abia State University Teaching Hospital(ABSUTH), the church and society.
National President of NCGF, Prof. Chuks Eboka, as well as the leaders of Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN), Four Square Gospel Church and ABSUTH paid glowing tributes to the departed Christian general.
He will be tremendously missed by his dear wife Chizoba and children, Daniel and Esther.
NCGF, the church and brethren are traumatized by the unexpected demise of this dear brother in Christ, a quintessential doctor and passionate evangelist.
The funeral, which featured prominent citizens from the academia, medical community and Christian hierarchy, was conducted by the District Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church, Onitsha, Rev. Chukwuka Ekeoma.
During the sermon, at the well-attended service, held in the premises of Maranatha International Schools, Aba, the Provost of the LIFE Theological Seminary, Lagos, Rev. Dr. Cletus Orgu, asserted that the Bible does not attach much theological significance to the number of years spent by an individual on earth not the manner of death. What is important is one’s legacy, while on earth.
According to him, the will of God is for believers to advance His Kingdom on earth.
The service featured tributes and testimonies on the exemplary life of Prof. Adisa and the great impact he made in the field of medicine and in the kingdom of God.
The heart-stirring words of his son, Daniel moved many to tears. ‘My father was a distinguished surgeon, a prolific writer, an accomplished farmer, a proficient academic researcher and a loving family man.’
‘He had a beautiful and wonderful journey on earth and taught us his children what it truly meant to serve God.’
‘My father’s life would always remain an inspiration to the family.’
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), represented by the General Secretary, Bar Joseph Daramola, described Prof. Adisa as ‘an astute scholar, a committed Christian, an outstanding strategist, an unusually courageous servant of God and God’s angel sent to the association to carry out specific assignments for the body of Christ in Nigeria.’
‘He deployed his intellectual acumen to fight for the freedom of the oppressed and the rights of the Church of God in Nigeria.’
‘Through him the voice of the Church in Nigeria reached the corridors of power and brought about some changes in the country, including the restoration of the teaching of Christian Religious Knowledge(CRK) in the secondary school curriculum.’
According to him the deceased believed in the unity of the Church and participated in several peace efforts among believers.
Prof Eboka commended the untiring efforts of Prof. Adisa, during his tenure as NCGF president. ‘As my predecessor, he took the fellowship to greater heights and relevance in the affairs of the country.’
President of the NCGF, Benin chapter, Mr. Dan Aigbavboa, in a statement said ‘more encomiums were rendered by representatives of the Nigeria Medical Association(NMA), Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Intercessors for Nigeria, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Aba Elders Community, Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria, Africa Vision Tract House Society(AVTHS), the missionary arm of NCGF as well as groups and prominent personalities.’
He was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, on January 5,1965 and passed on December 28, 2020.
After graduating from the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan(UI), Adisco, as he was fondly called by his friends, began a life-long journey into the world of surgery.
He did his postgraduate training in surgery at The University College Hospital(UCH), Ibadan and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital(UNTH), Enugu.
Director, HeartMasters Cardiology, Dr Abraham Ariyo, who was Adisa’s friend and classmate, wrote an emotional eulogy about him.
‘He completed his postgraduate residency and fellowship training in surgery in a record 4 years, instead of 6.’
‘I don’t know anyone else, who has done that. Further, he defended his work at the West African College of Surgeons, at the part II examination in 1995.’
‘Again, he excelled with distinction. He obtained the highest scores and was badged with the ‘Jide Ajayi Gold Medal in Surgery’ – awarded to the best graduating surgeon at the finals of the West African College of Surgeons Examinations.’
‘In medical school, Adisa and I were always in the same group because of the proximity of our last names, alphabetically. Thus, he was my fiercest competitor. In our 1985 2nd MB examination, a major make or break examination, all our classmates were studying around the clock.’
‘However, I realized that Adisa, a new Christian convert, though born by Muslim parents, was spending a lot of time reading the Bible, going to Bible lessons, and attending regular Student Union (SU) Christian fellowships on UI campus.’
‘At the examination time, he passed with distinctions again. I concluded then that Adisa was a genius and a man with a magnetic brain in a restless human body.
‘Adisa married the love of his life, Chizoba, and they were blessed with two beautiful children. He loved his wife so much that he moved his training from UCH to UNTH, so they could be closer to his wife’s home.’
‘In 1995, as a Chief Resident in Medicine at Howard University, I approached our institution’s Chief of Surgery, the All-American Oncology Surgeon, Professor LaSalle Leffall, who was also the President of American Cancer Society and the President of the American College of Surgeons, about having Adisa train at Howard University. He said yes.’
‘However, Adisa asked me. Ariyo, if all the good doctors leave Nigeria, who will take care of the poor, the indigent and the downtrodden? Tears filled my eyes. He inspired me. I passed this inspiration on to my heart colleagues and together, we started the American Cardiac Team that performs invasive cardiovascular missions for free to the poor in Nigeria, every quarter.’
‘Adisa had that kind of inspiring effect on everyone he met, with a smile. He was a very selfless human being. Again, he told me, he loved Abia State and Abia State loved him back. Abia State was home,’ hence his burial place.’
‘Upon finishing his surgical training in 1995, he was offered consultant positions at both UCH and UNTH, a rare occurrence. Again, he had a different plan. He moved back to Abia State and helped the newly-established Abia State Medical School and Abia State University Teaching Hospital(ABSUTH) in Aba. Like everything else with Adisa, he quickly rose through the ranks from Lecturer I in 1995 to Senior Lecturer in 2000.’
In 2004 he became an Associate Professor and became a Professor of Surgery from 2007, till his departure.’
‘He was the Head of Department of Surgery from 2000 to 2007, Pioneering Director of Postgraduate Residency training from 2000 and became a consultant surgeon in 1995.
A former Dean of Clinical Medicine, Aba Campus, Prof Adisa was a distinguished surgeon, an astute examiner, a prolific writer, an accomplished farmer, and a proficient academic researcher.’
‘He published over 50 manuscripts in reputable academic journals, including publications in American Journals. Until his death, he was an editor, Journal of Global Medicine, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Medical Investigation and Practice.’
‘He was an examiner for the West African College of Surgeons, the Chairman of the Outreach Committee of the West African College of Surgeons, member of the Court of Examiners of the Faculty of Surgery of the West African College of Surgeons and member, Accreditation teams of the West African College of Surgeons.’
‘He was also the West African Coordinator of the Ptolemy Project. It is a joint initiative between the Office of International Surgery, University of Toronto, Canada and the West African College of Surgeons to build capacity in academic research among surgeons in the developing world.’
‘He was a Fellow, West African College of Surgeons, Fellow, American College of Surgeons and Fellow, International College of Surgeons.’
‘When Adisa was asked about the most memorable event, during his entire medical school experience, in our 1988 graduating yearbook, his answer was amazing: The day I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the day I got saved.’
His favourite quote was: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will be added unto you.’
Throughout medical school, his hobbies were evangelism and bible study.’ A devout Christian, Adisa was the immediate past president of NCGF and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons. He was a member of Foursquare Gospel Church and held various leadership positions.
Despite his numerous professional engagements in Nigeria and abroad, he served as a Sunday School Superintendent, Chairman of Marriage Committee, Associate Pastor and member of the Advisory Committee of the Church.
‘Out of unreserved love for God and passion for the Church, in 2017, Adisa and his wife willingly and cheerfully released their property to be used, as a place of worship for the Foursquare Gospel Church free of charge.’
‘Till his demise, Prof Adisa contributed immensely to the work of the ministry and the growth of the Church.’
‘Like a comet, he moved through life with speed. He wasted no time in this world. He seemed to have had a premonition about his brief sojourn on earth and faced his assignments with uncommon speed and great zeal.’
‘In December 2019, he completed his global travels, with a visit to the Holy Land in Israel. As he sojourned in the Holy land, he daily sent pictures and accompanying biblical scriptures.’
‘He walked the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Bethlehem to Judea and Sea of Galilee, Fig tree to Sycamore tree, Jerusalem to Bethany and finally from the Garden of Gethsemane to Calvary at Golgotha.’
‘Lastly, he visited Mount Olives where Jesus ascended into heaven. At that point, Adisa appeared to have completed his journey on earth.’
He came back to Nigeria. By the summer of 2020, he buried his late father, who was his last living parent.
‘By the fall of 2020, he fell sick. By December, he got worse. Like brave and determined humans, we rallied around him.’
‘The entire medical team from Abia and Enugu States aggressively responded and offered the best available care.
‘Our friend and brother, Adisa fought the fight, but the Lord wanted him more.’
‘On December 28 2020, he answered the heavenly call from the Lord.’
‘We on earth will ensure Adisa’s name is enshrined among the West African greatest surgeons that ever lived. We also pray that God enshrines his name among his greatest servants and grants him glory and eternal life in heaven.’
‘Adisa, you have completed your journey in this world. You were a brave soldier, God’s elite warrior and you fought with distinguished gallantry and valour above and beyond the regular call of duty.’
‘It is time for you to rest. Sleep in the bosom of your Lord till we meet again. We celebrate you today, because of God’s amazing grace.’
What a heart-rending testimonial Adisa had. No doubt, he lives on in every heart that knew him up-close. For those who lived and died in faith in Christ, death is swallowed up in victory, as the Bible declares unequivocally.
Dear Prof Adisa, your departure was too soon and sudden, leaving your family and friends reeling in deep pain, anguish and agony.
Only God can wipe away such grief and sorrow, and fill the gnawing gulf in the souls of every grieving soul.
Is there any comfort in your transition to glory? Yes of course. Your beautiful legacies are huge memorials that you were a friend of God.
Indeed, God loved you so dearly and had to take you away early in life!!!
Adieu our beloved brother in Christ Jesus!!!
Adieu our wonderful surgeon!!!
.Ojukwu wrote this treatise, in honour of Prof Adisa. It is also a tribute to generations of missionaries and medical practitioners, who toil on the frontlines and often die to save lives. Ojukwu is a Fellow of Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship, publisher, journalist and advocate for improved socio-economic services, as well as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGS).
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