Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo was an erudite Professor of Analytical Chemistry at Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Amassoma. He was best known for his intellectual prowess in demystifying inexplicable logical Chemistry.
Who was Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo?
Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo (1946-2016) hails from Odi community of Kolokuma-Opukuma Local Government Area in Bayelsa State. His father named him after a renowned professor in Ghana his birth place, and his maternal uncle encouraged him to fancy teaching as a professional career in 1970s. As destiny may have it, Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo became an admirable lecturer of Chemistry at two major Universities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and with over twenty academic publications in refereed journals in his portfolio; he was made a Professor afterwards in 2006. He died peacefully in 2017 at the age of 71.
Early Life and Education
Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo was born in Ghana on 19th September, 1946 to Late Mr. Lolo Izonfuo of Ogien-Ama Community and Late Mrs. Geeyou Aganaba of Obori Bengha Community, all in Odi, Kolokuma-Opukuma Local Government Area in Bayelsa State. His father Mr. Lolo Izonfuo, was a chef at the University of Legon, Ghana and Mr. Lolo Izonfuo named his son, Welford-Abbey, after a Professor at the University. In the early 1950s, young Welford as fondly called left Ghana to live in Odi with his maternal uncle, Late F. A. Aganaba, a school teacher. He attended St. Stephens Primary School, Odi and much later he moved to Lagos to live with his paternal uncle, Late Mr. Aaron Izonfuo and attended another elementary school at Salvation Army Primary School where he got his First School Leaving Certificate; he was quite an intelligent and dutiful student and he spoke Yoruba language fluently. He later got admission into CMS Grammar School, Lagos, the oldest secondary school in Nigeria, where he obtained a Grade II in the West African Certificate Examination. Afterwards in 1966, he was granted full United States Government Scholarship to study Chemistry at Cuttington University, Liberia. In 1970, he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.
Studied In the USA
In the early 1970s, he proceeded to the United States of America and was offered a graduate assistant position at the Tuskegee University, Alabama, USA. He accepted the position as he pursued his Master’s degree simultaneously. Young Welford was awarded a Master’s degree in Chemistry in 1976.
Subsequently, in 1978, Prof. Izonfuo’s quest for knowledge led him to Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA for his Ph.D. programme. In 1984, he was awarded a Ph.D. in Chemistry.
His Career Life
Firstly, after he got his West African certificate in the late 1960s, Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo got a job as a Clerk in the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Finance Lagos. Secondly in the early 1970s his Uncle, Mr. F. A. Aganaba (now late), then principal at Bishop Demiari Grammar School (BDGS) Yenagoa was instrumental to Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo becoming a teacher. He offered him a pastime job as chemistry teacher at the school. Some of the students he taught amongst others were, the late Chief D.S.P Alamieyeseigha, Executive Governor of Bayelsa State (1999-2003), Prof. John Buseri, Senator Emmanuel Paulker, Professor Ogoni, a once Vice Chancellor, Niger Delta University, etc.
Eventually, after getting his Master’s degree in the United States of America in 1976, he returned to Nigeria and was employed as a lecturer of chemistry in the old Rivers State College Science and Technology, now Rivers State University. Subsequently, during his Ph.D. pursuit in the United States of America in the 1980s he worked as a Quality Control Chemist at Colgate-Palmolive Company, New Jersey, USA (Sept – December 1980) and as an Adjunct Physical Chemistry Lecturer at Jersey City State College in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. . He returned to Nigeria and continued his teaching career at Rivers State University of Science & Technology (RSUST). Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo served in various capacities as an employee of RSUST including, Head of Department. During his second stint at RSUST, he was made a Senior Lecturer (1990) and also served as a member of the RSUST Governing Council (1994-1996)
As Pioneer NDU Staff
After the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996, Niger Delta University Amassoma was eventually established in 2000 and Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo left RSUST and continued his career at Niger Delta University (NDU). He served in various capacities at NDU including Member of Governing Council (2002-2007; 2009-2011), Senior Lecturer (2001-2006), Acting Dean, Faculty of Science (2001-2006,), Dean, Student Affairs (2007-2008), Dean, Faculty of Science (2008-2011)
Afterwards In 2006 thereabout, his lifelong dream was fulfilled, he was made a professor of Analytical Chemistry at the Niger Delta University Amassoma. Professor Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo had 29 academic publications in refereed journals. He also wrote a couple of lab manuals for his students.
Professor Izonfuo was a formidable personality, many personalities rolled into one. Achieving results was his hallmark in and out of the academia.
He represented RSUST as a member of the Governing Council of Rivers State College of Arts & Science from 1994 to 1996 and He also represented Bayelsa State at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) from 2001 to 2004.
Prof Izonfuo retired from the Civil Service in 2011 and continued teaching as a contract staff with Niger Delta University-Amassoma, Rivers State University Port Harcourt and Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, until his untimely death.
Prof. Izonfuo was a member of Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society of America, Tuskegee University Chapter, Tuskegee, Alabama USA. He was also a member of the Chemical Society of Nigeria.
His Sports Life
During his secondary school days at CMS Lagos and even at the University at Liberia, Young Welford as he was popularly called was a renowned footballer that won laurels with the school teams. In 1970 he was the university’s football skipper. However, till his death He was a member of Goldashe United Football Club in Port Harcourt.
However, it was reported Professor Welford-Abbey Lolo Izonfuo died of natural causes in his home town Odi on 6 February, 2017 at the age of 71. He was married with five biological children and three grandchildren.