Two distinguished Nigerian scholars who both enjoyed Japanese Government Scholarship, Professor James C. Ogbonna of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and Professor Mohammad Dauda (MD), of University of Maiduguri have won the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation Award for the year 2020.

Professor Ogbonna, former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), University of Nigeria Nsukka, and Professor MD,  the current Nigerian President of Japan Alumni Association, are the first Nigerian academics to receive such prestigious recognition and award.

Prof. James Chukwuma Ogbonna, a professor of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, was born on December 4, 1956 at Enugu Ezike, Igbo Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.

He obtained a B. Sc. (Botany) from University of Jos, Nigeria (1982); M. Eng. (Fermentation Technology) from Yamanashi University, Japan (1988); and Ph.D (Applied Biochemistry) from University of Tsukuba, Japan (1991).

His work experience includes Postdoctoral Research, Institute of Bioprocess and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg, Germany (1991 – 1992); Research Associate, (1992-1993), Assistant Professor, (1993 – 1995), and Associate Professor, (1995-2002) all in Institute of Applied Biochemistry, University of Tsukuba, Japan; Professor, Department of Biochemistry/Biotechnology, Ebonyi State University, Nigeria (2002 – 2006); Professor, Department of Microbiology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (2006 – Date). He was a Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan (Sabbatical leave) (2012 – 2013). He has served as the Head, Department of Biochemistry/ Biotechnology, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki (2002 – 2003), Dean, Faculty of Applied and Natural Sciences, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki (2003 – 2005), Director, Biotechnology Research and Development Center, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki (2005 -2006), Head, Department of Microbiology, University of Nigeria (2007 – 2010), Coordinator, University of Nigeria-Japan Academic Linkages and Collaborations (2007 – Date), and Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency, South East Zonal Biotechnology Centre, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (2014 – Date). He has won many honours and distinctions which include Jack Tilly Gyado’s prize for the student with the best academic records in the Department of Botany, University of Jos, Nigeria(1980/1981), Nigerian Academic Merit Award for outstanding students in Nigeria Universities(1981/82), University of Jos prize for the best graduating student in the Faculty of Natural Sciences(1982), Kwara State’s NYSC Commendation Awards for the Outstanding and Diligent Youth Service Members(1983), Japanese Government (Monbusho) scholarship(1985-1991), Research Award from Showa Shell Sekiyu Foundation (Japan) for Promotion of Environmental Research(1999), Ebonyi State University Senate commendation for fighting against examination malpractice (2004). He has served as an external examiner to eight universities and as external assessor for promotion to professorial cadre to seven universities

While Prof. Mohammed Dauda, who is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering with a diverse research interest in Advanced Materials and Advanced Manufacturing Technology/Emerging Technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), hails from Potiskum in Yobe State.

He obtained his Bachelor of Engineering Degree (Mechanical) from the University of Maiduguri in 1990, bagged a Master of Science Degree (Mechanical) from the University of Lagos in 1994 and a Doctor of Engineering Degree from Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan in 2002.

He started his career in 1992 as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maiduguri, where he rose through the ranks to a full professor in 2012. He is a COREN Registered Engineer, Fellow and corporate member of many professional bodies, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (FNSE), the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FNIMechE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (MASME), etc.

In recognition of his hard work, Prof. Dauda has won many merit awards and academic honours including the Japanese Government Scholarship (MEXT), Ford Foundation Teaching Innovation Award; Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Research Award; Materials Research Society of Japan (MRS-J) Best Research Award, UNESCO/People’s Republic of China Great Wall Fellowship.

Prof. Dauda was a former HOD of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maiduguri, the pioneer Managing Director/Chief Executive of Advanced Manufacturing Technology Programme (AMT-P), Jalingo, a Research and Development Centre under the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) as well as a former Director of Engineering Infrastructure at the NASENI Headquarters, Abuja. His vast knowledge and experience emanating from the combination of training he received from within and outside the country coupled with his years of academics and industry practice makes him a great mentor for students and staff, start-ups, innovators and inventors, etc.

This great leader is a teacher and an outstanding administrator par excellence; a dynamic engineer, multi-lingual, who is fluent in Japanese language and a fair speaker of Chinese language. He is the pioneer and current president, Nigeria-Japan Alumni Association (NAIJAA).

Commenting on the historic honour, Professor MD said their nomination for the award was based on certain criteria which included honesty, sincerity and hard work in the spirit and culture of the Japanese, and above all, academic excellence.

According to a Press Release from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the commendation, this year, will be awarded to 172 individuals and 65 groups that reside in Japan, and 152 individuals and 54 groups that reside overseas.

The recipients will be presented with an award certificate and individuals will be presented with a commemorative gift.

The ceremony which normally takes place each year will not be held this year, due to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

However, the Japanese Ambassador in Nigeria has promised to personally issue the Certificates and the commemorative gifts to Nigerian awardees outside the Embassy in line with COVID-19 Protocol.

The Foreign Minister’s Commendations are awarded to individuals and groups with outstanding achievements in international fields, in order to acknowledge their contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries and areas.

The Commendations also aim to promote the understanding and support of the Japanese public for the activities of the recipients.

On this occasion, the Ministry will also award the Foreign Minister’s Commendations for excellent Chefs for Ambassadors/Consul-Generals of Japan.

A total of 9 chefs who will be awarded the Commendations for their exceptional skills and contributions, will receive the title of “Excellent Executive Chef for Ambassador/Consul-General of Japan.”

The Foreign Minister’s Commendations for the chefs and the title are awarded in recognition of the significance of the chefs’ contributions to diplomatic activities and also to facilitate the recruitment of highly qualified chefs in the future.


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