If you pass through Ahmadu Bello University Zaria between 1978 – 2020 and you don’t know his face, then you are not a genuine Abusite! His name is Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich and he is one of the biggest Icons of ABU Zaria and a legend in the field of Geology in Nigeria and Beyond.
Krzysztof Schoeneich was born before the last world war, precisely in the year 1932. He was admitted to University of Warsaw in 1950 where he studied Geology. He acquired a Master of Science degree in 1955 in the same field and thereafter a Doctoral Degree in hydro-geology (1963).
The legendary geology scholar begin his teaching career in the university system in 1955 at the Department of Geology, the University of Warsaw in Poland. He later worked at the Department of Geotechnics and Soil Mechanics at the University of Szczecin.
While working at the universities in Poland, he also worked in industries in water supply, drilling boreholes, or in waterworks providing piped water to the consumers.
In 1978, a team from the Federal Government of Nigeria went to Poland to recruit specialists in various areas; among them was Professor Cornelius Kogbe, who was at this time the Head of the Department of Geology, ABU Zaria and at the same time member of the Board of Directors at Plateau State Water Board in Jos.
At the recruitment interview in Warsaw, Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich had an advantage over other candidates who applied to work in Nigeria, because aside been exceptional in his field of geology, he also possessed excellent knowledge of Nigerian history, and that impressed the interviewing panel of Nigerians, but particularly Professor Kogbe.
Prof Schoeneich was engaged on a full-time basis at the Plateau State Water Board as Chief Hydrogeologist and at the Department of Geology Ahmadu Bello University on a part-time basis as a lecturer in Hydrogeology and Water Resources Management.
When the directive from the Federal government came that the civil servants should have only one full-time work; he decided to leave Jos to Zaria full-time in 1997
He worked at the Department of Geology, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria from 1978 on a part-time basis, and from 1997 on a full-time basis until 2020 when he left ABU as a result of the integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) introduced by the Federal Government that led to the dropping of contract staff.
Prof K. Schoeneich who also worked at the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Jos was a highly trained professional and a thorough breaded authority in his field of hydro-geology. He trained some of the best hydrologists in the country today.
His students were swayed by his fascinating character and friendly nature with them most especially during field trips/excursions, which, according to them often lead to their academic excellence.
According to Prof K. Schoeneich, “I had experienced the work in the industry and I prefer hydro-geology as a course which should be learned in the field, not in the class. I learned water almost entirely in the field, not on the blackboard. And I am only repeating what my teachers and what my lecturers taught me, what I learned from them.”
Prof K. Schoeneich facilitated an academic linkage with some universities in Poland in which students from Nigeria were trained in Poland from 3 months to 6 and even 9 months each, at the cost of the Polish partner.
Under these linkages, Nigerian students were trained in Poland in the geological technics not yet known in Nigeria. The same number of students from Poland were also invited to be trained in ABU Zaria-Nigeria.
Professor Schoeneich was also a passionate environmentalist who strongly believes that it is against our interest to cut down trees or allow Nigerian forests to disappear. He is fondly remembered for his solo protest against cutting down trees on ABU Zaria’s main campus, Samaru.
According to him, “Soon there will be no oil and we must not be taken by surprise. We must be prepared for this, by locating the sources of geothermal energy, and also training students on the exploitation of the geothermal energy.”
“We need solar energy and geothermal energy which, contrary to the oil, do not pollute the environment. Oil is polluting the environment. It is responsible for the recent climate change. It causes global warming because it
Professor Schoeneich died on Friday, September 4, 2020, in Warsaw, Poland, his home country, after leaving Nigeria on July 12, 2020.