Professor Frederick Idiem’ Opute
Professor Frederick Idiem’ Opute was born on 15th November 1940 in Orogun town, now Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State to lowly peasant farmers. He entered Government College, Ughelli from September 1953 to 1958. A keen sportsman with special interest in Cricket, he represented his house in inter-house competitions including football and athletics. He sat for the Cambridge West African Certificate Examination in December 1953 with a pass in Grade 1.
For the advanced GCE programme, he attended the Federal Emergency Science School, Lagos from 1960 to 1961 obtaining the London GCE A/L in Botany, Chemistry and Zoology before proceeding to the University of Ibadan in 1962 where he read for a degree in Botany, graduating in 1965 with a 2nd Class Honours Degree, Upper Division. The same year, he join the start of the Nigerian Institute for Oilpalm Research (NIFOR) near Benin City as Research-Officer-in- Training. A year later, he enrolled for postgraduate studies at Westfield College, University of London on Federal Government scholarship, obtaining a Ph.D degree in Plant Physiology in 1969. He returned to Nigeria in December 1969 back to the NIFOR as a Research Officer.
From NIFOR, he joined the staff of Institute of Technology, Benin City, a fledging young university established by the then Midwest State Government, as a foundation pioneer staff. The Institute of Technology later changed name to University of Benin. All staff of the institute faced the daunting task of establishing curricula, assembling and building teaching and research facilities, teaching and lecturing and carrying our research and administration. It was from this daunting background that most of the pioneering staff developed, depending on their intellect, hard work and their intrinsic ability. From Lecturer II, a position he was appointed in 1970, Dr Opute rose gradually but steadily through the ranks to become a Professor in October 1979.
Professor Opute served the University of Benin uninterruptedly for 40 years, 31 of which were as professor, before and after retirement at the mandatory age of 65 years in November 2005. While serving in the University of Benin, he was the substantive Head of Department of Biological Sciences and Botany Department at different times. He served as Dean of Faculty Science and the pioneer Provost of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering during the collegiate system. As a senior academic, professor and mentor, he supervised and directed a number of research projects leading to the awards of master’s and doctorate degrees to students in different departments across the Faculty of Science. He attained the pinnacle of his academic career when on 23td May 1990 he gave the 31st University of Benin Inaugural Lecture Series titled “The Botanical Frontier: With Periscope on the Nigerian Coastal Environment”
Professor Opute was a distinguished member of the University Senate from the very inception of the Institute and the university, severally beefier 1979 when he occupied the chair of Professor of Botany. He served as external examiner, external assessor and in interview panels for appointments and promotions in various universities in Nigeria and West Africa. His administrative experiences span the various facets of the University administration contributing either as chairman or member of different committees and bards in the university. His services to the nation and country were varied touching on sports administration, membership of Boards of Institutes and companies of Agricultural commodities, educational institutions including libraries.
Professor Opute’s working career of more than 50 years, were all spent in the academic field. This distinguished career was supported by scholarships, fellowships, awards and international grants. His research activities took him to several countries where he participated in international conferences, workshops, seminars and courses. His world-wide scientific travels and contact established international cooperation and research links and collaborative studies with researchers in Canada, West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Britain.
After leaving the University of Benin and still in retirement, Professor Opute in October 2012 took up appointment with Western Delta University Oghara as a contract staff in the Department of Environmental Management and Toxicology, College of Natural and Applied Sciences. He is presently the Dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.
To date, he has spent 52 years in the university system, engaged in research and teaching, 38 of which he served as a Professor. In retirement, in addition to his academic engagement, he occupies his time partly as a fish farmer.
He is married to Esther Obatavwe Opute, a retired Chief Medical Records Officer, of the Health Services Department, University of Benin and they are blessed with six children and many grandchildren.