Development & Alumni Relations Office 


Professor Stephen Nnatu, MB BCh BAO (Died 7 July 2018, aged 80)


Obituary written by Dr Okechukwu Nnatu

Professor Chief Stephen Nwankwo Nonyelu Nnatu was born into the Nnatuanya family of Umuogbu village, Agulu, Awka. He was the last child of his father, Akudunso Nnatuanya and his mother, Nwanduta. He was academically gifted and excelled during his early years of education. Such was his academic prowess that he was fondly referred to as ‘Dr Nkwonna’ from his primary school.

His primary education was at CMS Practicing School, Awka, while he attended Baptist Boys’ High School, Port Harcourt. He monopolized the first position in his class for three consecutive years. He later moved to Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar. His leadership skills were recognized at a tender age, such that he was appointed school prefect and secretary of the school magazine.

In 1958, Nonyelu Nnatu left Nigeria for the United Kingdom, having gained admission to Portsmouth College for his Oxford Advanced ‘A’ levels in Physics, Chemistry, Zoology and Botany. Later, he gained admission to read Medicine at the prestigious Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom in 1960.

Nonyelu Nnatu met his beloved wife, Edna May Nnenna Okereke from Arochukwu, at a wedding. They were married in 1965. His wife qualified as a nurse and a health visitor, while the young Nnatu qualified as a medical doctor; graduating in 1966. He was House Officer at Belfast City Hospital, a large prestigious teaching hospital, which stimulated his interest in academics.


Following a competitive interview, he was selected to the residency programme of Queen’s University Belfast in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Throughout his time in Belfast, he was trained by some of the greats of the specialty. He published his first article in 1969 in the prestigious Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Britain and the Commonwealth. This contribution remains a reference point today. He worked in a range of prestigious hospitals in London. He was awarded Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, United Kingdom, by examination, in 1974.

Professor Nnatu returned to Nigeria in 1975 where he was appointed senior registrar in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. He was the first Chief Resident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It was at LUTH, that he nurtured and developed his interest in the surgical management of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF). Nnatu became a world-renowned expert in VVF repair.

In 1978, he was appointed Lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. In 1980, he was appointed Senior Lecturer at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos and in the same year, he was made a Fellow of the National Medical Postgraduate College of Nigeria (FMCOG). In 1980, he won an international scholarship to attend an academic skills course at the world-renowned John Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States of America.

In 1985, he became a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons and in 1986, a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons. In June 1986, he was awarded the prestigious Fellowship of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the highest accolade in the specialty. In 1987, he was appointed Associate Professor at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos.


Professor Nnatu was a former Chairman of the Ceremonies Committee of the University of Lagos for 4 consecutive years. He was also former Chairman of the Faculty of the Board of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria from 2000-2004.

Professor Nnatu was also a former council member of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Nigeria. He served as an external examiner to several medical schools in Nigeria and abroad. He retired in 2002. On his retirement from LUTH, he was appointed foundation Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Delta State University, Abraka. In 2009, former President Yar’Adua appointed him as Chairman of the Board, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi. In 2009, Obi Gibson Nwosu, Eze-Uzu the second of Awka bestowed him with a Chieftaincy title, ‘Akadile 1 of Awka’. He was the youngest person to receive the prestigious Ajaghilija title in 1956 for which he was known as ‘Nwezeoku’. He remained actively involved in the affairs of Awka in his retirement. He was the chairman of the Indigenous Awka Medical Doctors and Dentists Forum and the Chairman of the Forum of Awka Academics in the Universities.

Sadly his beloved wife, Mrs. Edna May Nnenna Nnatu (nee Okereke) was called to glory at his retirement. He later married Mrs. Pauline Chioma Nnatu. Professor Nnatu is survived by Mrs. Pauline Chioma Nnatu (wife), Ms Susan Ngozika Nnatu, Chukwuma Nnatu, Dr. Okechukwu Nnatu, and Ikemefuna Nnatu – children. Others are Mrs. Sharon Uchenna Nnatu (nee Sawyerr) and Mrs. Nneka Justina Nnatu (nee Nwavulu) – daughters-in-law as well as many grandchildren, numerous nephews, nieces, cousins and a host of other relatives.


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