Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich: The Legendary Scholar of hydrogeology

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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).

Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich with some of his students
Prof Shoeneich and some of his students

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

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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.

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Tributes to Iconic Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich

Expectedly, former students who have had the privilege of learning under the legendary professor took to their social media handles to pay tribute to the man who positively impacted their lives.

Ibrahim Umar Ibrahim wrote: “When I was in 400L, he was assigned to me as my seminar supervisor. I, together with a colleague, went and met him in his office to discuss how to go ahead with the seminar topic. Immediately he heard the seminar topic, he said ‘No you have to change this topic. I want you to do something that will interest the audience.’

“After about two hours of discussion, we agreed on ‘Effects of lead poisoning in Zamfara State’. I will forever be grateful to him for that. We presented that topic and it amazed the audience and Got A. Thank you prof for your services to us in the Geology Department, ABU, and Nigeria at large. RIP Prof.”

Ebenezer Ozuwo said: “Someday in January 2019 (when I went to get my transcript), we met at one of the restaurants in the social center. He sat next to me, ate ‘masa’, and bought a lot for the cats. As soon as the cats around saw him, they ran towards him in expectation, luckily for them their expectations were met as he started throwing the ‘masa’ on the floor for them. It was such an amazing sight. Rest on Prof.”

Tajudeen Jimoh said: “Everybody is mourning you Prof. All the Cats on ABU main campus are wailing and mourning a great benefactor who make it a point of duty to feed them every day from your pocket. Your humanity transcends not only human beings but animals as well. Adieu, Baba.”

Abdullah Said Nagwale said: “I remember him during our school time, we had a conversation about something in the cue of food at Mama’s place, at faculty of Science ABU Zaria. And also at the Basketball court, where VC Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha gave him an award. We miss you indeed Prof.”

Tang Dapoet said: “He had a great impact on so many of us in Unijos. He was my professor too and taught me hydrology. A great mind that served humanity with all he had. Rest in peace Prof.”

Muhammad Khalid said: “I remember the last time I saw him at the tap by FSLT carrying a Snail. And one of us moved forward to ask him some questions about the snail he was carrying. What impressed me more about him is the way he listened to him and the way he answered all his questions… May God’s mercy be upon him.”

Katukan Zazzau said: “As if he knew death was just around the corner, he left for Warsaw, Poland; his mother country, about 2 months ago, and died on the 4th of September 2020. Prof. Krzysztof Schoeneich was a bank of knowledge, especially in the field of Hydrogeology.”

Suleiman Muazu said: He (Prof Schoeneich) gave all his active life to Nigeria. He left his motherland (Poland), his childhood friends, and his family and served our educational system. Understanding his importance and sacrifice, ABU Zaria retained him as a contract staff, even after his retirement.

“Then comes IPPIS. He had to be dropped by ABU among the contract staff laid off. He returned home two months ago to a life that is now alien to him, to people he forgo for us, and to a nation not in need of him. It will not be surprising to find a connection between this and his death…

See photos below

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Minister of State, Power, Works and Housing, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri receiving Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria who paid him a courtesy visit at the Ministry's headquarters, Abuja 2016.
Minister of State, Power, Works and Housing, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri receiving Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria who paid him a courtesy visit at the Ministry’s headquarters, Abuja 2016.
Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich: The Legendary Scholar of hydrogeology 2
Emeritus professor Krzysztof Schoeneich in Academic attire
Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich: The Legendary Scholar of hydrogeology 3
The last photo of Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich before he departed Nigeria.
Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich: The Legendary Scholar of hydrogeology 4
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich in a final handshake with the team that dropped him off shortly before he departed Nigeria for Poland.
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich taking his usual walk around ABU campus
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich taking his usual walk around ABU campus
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich Enjoying the natural environment along kubani Dam, ABU Zaria
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich Enjoying the natural environment along kubani Dam, ABU Zaria, 2008
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich with one of his students Brenda Agidi-Okala
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich with one of his students Brenda Agidi-Okala
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich with colleagues in Jos, 1991
Professor Krzysztof Schoeneich with colleagues in Jos, 1991
Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich: The Legendary Scholar of hydrogeology 5
Prof Krzysztof Schoeneich: The Legendary Scholar of hydrogeology 6


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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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