Prof. Julius Onah (1939-2015): Exit Of Nigeria’s First Professor Of Marketing
Onah started his educational career at St. Jacob’s Orba and later St. Anthony’s Isielu for his primary education. He went to St. Theresa’s College Nsukka for his secondary education, and St. Charles’ College for teachers’ training course.
The lure of tertiary education took him to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka between 1961 and 1965; Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan (1966-1971); and Institute of Management Science, Delft, Holland, for his Post Doctoral Research in 1976.
In these institutions, he bagged B.Sc Business Administration, MBA in General and Food Marketing, M.A and PhD in Marketing and Post Doctoral Diploma in Marketing Management.
During his lifetime, Prof. Onah by dint of hard work, self- discipline, humility and devotion to duty reached the pinnacle of academic excellence in marketing and related fields of human endeavour, which placed him in a unique position to score a couple of firsts.
He was the first Professor of Marketing in Nigeria; the first Alumnus of the University of Nigeria to be made a professor by the university; and the first Vice-Chancellor of Enugu State University of Science and Technology, (ESUT) from 1991 to 1999.
As a Vice Chancellor, his vision and philosophy created the conviction that education must partner with industry (the concept of taking the gown to town) — a conviction that led to the establishment of the ESUT Business School in Lagos as well as the establishment and full accreditation of the ESUT Faculty of Law.
As an accomplished academic, Prof. Onah’s scholarly treatises, embedded in 15 books, 100 published articles and over 100 scholarly papers presented in national and international conferences and workshops, speak eloquently of a quintessential and incomparable brilliant education manager and colossus.
Onah’s honours and awards edify a unique icon in the field of corporate marketing and management. These include: American Overseas Petroleum Company Award; Royal Dutch Fellow- United Nations/ ECA Expert Awards in Entrepreneurial Development; Presidential Award for Outstanding Service to Public Relations Practice; University of Nigeria Distinguished Alumnus Award; Institute of Administrative Management of Nigeria Highest Award as Best University Administrator of the year 1994; Pi Sigma Epsilon Food Marketing Honours; Fellow, Nigerian Marketing Association (FNMA); Fellow, Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM); Fellow, Institute of Management Consultant, (FNIMC); Fellow, Institute of Public Relations (FNIPR); Fellow, International Enterprise Management; and Fellow, Advertising Practitioner’s Council of Nigeria ( FAPCON).
He had numerous appointments including: Member, Vision 2010 Committee; five-time Head, Department of Marketing, UNN (1997-2003); Director, NAL Merchant Bank; Director, UNIC Insurance Plc; Director, Women Action Research Organisation (WARO) (1985- 2015); Director, Magil Industries Limited, Owerri (1980-1990); Director, Mary Emmanuel Home for the Poor, Enugu (1988- 2015); Chairman of Board, Premier Breweries Ltd, Onitsha; Chairman, EDTF Planning Committee; Chairman of Board, Anambra State Marketing Committee (1985-1987); Chairman of Board, Trinitas Oil and Trinitas Water Limited, Enugu; Director, Umuchinemere Community Bank, Enugu; Managing Consultant, MANMARK Associates Ltd; Director, ESUT Business Council; Executive Director, African Marketing Foundation; Chairman, Planning Committee and member Board of Trustees, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu; and Chairman, Planning Committee and member Governing Council, Christopher University, Mowe, Ogun State.
Onah was a patriotic son of Orba to the core and despite his intellectual, academic and cosmopolitan dispositions, he was a rooted son of the soil. For his contributions to the society and his people in particular, he was honoured with the traditional titles of Okosisi and Oturu Ugo 1of Orba and lived to become the Onyeishi Eze-Chime village as the oldest man in his clan.
Onah was happily married to the late Dr. Bridget Nkechi Onah and the marriage was blessed with four children namely Ada, Nneka, Njideka and Kenechukwu.
Onah, a gallant academician, educationist, manager and corporate consultant is now banished to the W.B Yeats Byzantium- a country where people live forever, where mortal and great men like him and their actions are transmuted into immortality.
As a Knight of St. John International, may he rest in peace in the Lord in whom he believed firmly. Professor Ndolo is a staff of Enugu State University of science and Technology, Enugu.