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As time ticks for UNIZIK VC, Okafor writes name in gold

Posted by By Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka on 2008/01/24 | Views: 940 |

As time ticks for UNIZIK VC, Okafor writes name in gold

When in 2003, Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Prof. Ilochi Okafor, was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik), many were not happy with the appointment as the university then was what could be described as mere glorified secondary school, especially in the area of infrastructure.

When in 2003, Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Prof. Ilochi Okafor, was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik), many were not happy with the appointment as the university then was what could be described as mere glorified secondary school, especially in the area of infrastructure.

Still then at its temporary site in a building provided by an illustrious son of Awka, Chief Nwofor of Choice Hotels, Awka, the institution and its management faced a lot of teething challenges that made many to doubt whether the lawyer could cope in the onerous task of giving the university a facelift.

But like politicians of old, who have visions, agenda and plans and how to execute them before the elections, Prof. Okafor made the movement of the university to its permanent site at Agu Awka his priority. And, indeed, in just a few years, he gave Unizik a place of pride, a university community that can compare favourably with others in the country.

He was able to achieve the feat even when the Federal Government did not give the university any take-off grant.
At a stage when the heat was much and a fraction of what was supposed to be given to the institution was released, some people in Abuja diverted it to another university and up till now, nothing has been done, about it despite all the efforts put in by the former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Pita Ejiofor.
So, Okafor, having watched from the sideline before his appointment, decided to create his own avenue of ensuring that the university named after the Great Zik of Africa, the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, was not left to be a glorified secondary school.

But, one of his major strategies, which eventually became the backbone of his achievements, the Development Levy, was challenged and criticized, leading to the students even going on rampage, an issue that would have ruined his career.
However, as a man who knew what he wanted, Okafor warmed his way into the heart of the students and made them partners in the whole plan and business of building Unizik.
After five years and as Okafor gets ready to leave office this year, he had written his name in gold just as he has given the National University Commission (NUC) an example of how to build a university from the scratch. Here he gives account of his achievements:

Development and transport levies
On the approval of the Governing Council, every fresh student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University pays a transport levy of N1, 000 and a development levy of N10, 000. The returning (stale) student pays a transport levy of N1, 000 and a development levy of N7, 500. The amount realized from the levies has been very judiciously used by a committee made up of students and members of staff in changing the face of the university’s permanent site and providing the much-needed services for students.

The proceeds from the transport levy were used in purchasing buses and water tankers. The vehicles ameliorated the problems of intra-campus transportation and provision of water to the hostels. The proceeds from the development levy were also used in completing the CBN Building , which houses the Faculty of Education classrooms, and the ETF Building , which houses the Faculty of Environmental Sciences. We also utilized the Development Levy in constructing a 52-room office block for the Faculty of Education, the Olusegun Obasanjo ICT Park/Digital Library/Internet Café, offices, classrooms and laboratories near the administrative block and at the Science Village for the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Sciences.

With the completion of the buildings, we were able to vacate the temporary site by December 31, 2005, ahead of our schedule to do so in 2006. The development was very gratifying because, unlike the older students who had to shuttle between the two campuses in order to attend lectures and practical classes, all our students now attend their lectures and practical classes at the permanent site.

We are currently constructing a befitting library for the university from our internally-generated revenue. The library and its annex will sit, at least, 2,500 readers and will have 500 computer Internet access. We are also constructing buildings for the Faculty of Law from internally-generated revenue. It is our fervent hope that this administration will be able to commission the buildings before May, 2008.

Students’ welfare
We have instituted a scholarship scheme for disabled students. The scholarship covers the students’ fees in the university. In order to qualify for the scholarship, the student should be indigent, substantially impaired and disabled as attested to by the university medical doctor. The student must also have a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of, at least, 2.50 in order to qualify for the scholarship.

This administration has also instituted a Students’ Work-Aid- Programme, in the 2003/2004 academic year, to assist indigent students. Candidates for this programme must have a CGPA of, at least, 2.50 and must be cleared by the security department and the Anti-Cult Squad in order to qualify. The students on Work-Aid- Programme put in five hours of work per week and are paid a monthly stipend of N5, 000.

This administration in the 2004/2005 academic year, concluded arrangements with Equity Indemnity Insurance Co. Ltd. for a Group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme for students of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University. An annual premium of N500 is payable by each student towards the scheme. We do not pray for the death or permanent disability of any student or his/her sponsor but the benefits of the insurance scheme are as follows: Death, whether natural or accidental of student or sponsor, N400,000; permanent disability of student or sponsor, N400,000; medical expenses of student, N75,000.

The insurance policies cover only people who have paid their premium. In that regard, you should pay your school fees and insurance premium in full at the beginning of the academic year.
This administration has also provided a sick bay in the hostels manned by a medical doctor. We have also provided air-conditioners, DSTV (cable) and two TV sets in the students’ common rooms. You will, therefore, watch the European premier league football matches in the comfort of your common rooms.

We have also improved on the general sanitation of the hostels. We urge you to ensure that your environment is clean by not littering the compound. We hope to commence work this year on the university sports complex to provide sporting and recreational facilities for our students.

Hostel accommodation
We have been able to build three large hostels and one small 14-room 84-bed hostel at the permanent site. One of the large hostels and the 14-room hostel were completed with the proceeds from the development levy and were commissioned by the former Minister of Education, Professor Fabian N. C. Osuji, during his maiden visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University on March 12, 2004.

The third large hostel was also commissioned by the former Minister of Education, Mrs. Chinwe Nora Obaji, during her maiden visit to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University on October 18, 2005. Our hopes at getting more hostels developed through the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development did not yield any positive results. The land which was cleared and allocated to developers who were to Build–Operate–and–Transfer (BOT) had since become bush.

Internet facility
This administration in collaboration with AfriHUB, a United States of America company, has provided Internet facility at the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo ICT Park , beside the university library. The facility was commissioned by the former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, on October 18, 2005 during his maiden visit to NAU, in the company of the former Honourable Minister of Education, Mrs. Chinwe Nora Obaji.

The decision of the Senate of UNIZIK is that all our students must be IT-compliant in order to graduate. In this computer age, it is very obvious that any graduate who is not computer literate is not employable. Pursuant to the above, we have commenced hands-on, four-week training at the ICT Park for our students and some administrative staff members. So far, more than 7,500 students have been trained and awarded certificates after passing an examination conducted by the highly qualified trainers.

The four-week training programme which costs N10,000 per person for outsiders is offered free of charge to our students. We have also put in place with the collaboration of Spring Bank and Intercontinental Bank Internet facilities to enable us conduct all our academic and financial activities online. There are some teething problems in this respect which we are grappling to solve and streamline.

Banking plaza
I am happy to inform you that we now have on campus eight banks which are fully operational. The Banking Plaza was commissioned on December 19, 2007. With these banks, no student will have any reason to keep huge sums of money in the hostels or carry his school fees on him/her. You are advised to pay in your money into these banks and withdraw little amounts, using the ATM facility which is in place in all the banks.

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.