Sam Sunday Adefila was born in Iloffa, Kwara State, Nigeria, in 1949. He received a BSc (Chemistry) degree from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1973, MSc (Chemical Engineering) between ABU and Twente University, The Netherlands from 1975 to 1977 and PhD (Chemical Engineering) from the University of Salford, England, in 1983.
He joined the ABU in 1974 from where he rose to the rank of Professor in 1990. He taught in the core areas of Physical and Chemical Kinetics and Thermodynamics, and researched and consulted in the areas of Energy and Environmental Management and Process Development. Besides teaching, he supervised over one hundred undergraduates and over forty postgraduates. He also served as Head of Chemical Engineering, Dean of Engineering, Chair of Committees on University, Professional and Public platforms, and Chair of endowed Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF). His key development in the PTDF Chair was zeolites from kaolinite clay, for petroleum refining and other industrial and domestic uses.