Posted by By Maximus Uba on
In the next couple of weeks news from Imo State University, a first grade State University located in Owerri South-east of Nigeria is expected to hit the headlines of major national newspapers.
In the next couple of weeks news from Imo State University, a first grade State University located in Owerri South-east of Nigeria is expected to hit the headlines of major national newspapers. The university according reports in the media, will appoint a new helmsman to take over from the erudite Prof.
Anwukah who is set to leave office having done his mandatory terms as the vice-chancellor of the institution. Established shortly after the creation of Imo State in 1991 by the Evan Enwerem administration, the university was an answer to the yearning of the new Imo State who were short changed by one Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu, a former military governor of the old Imo State whose people relocated the people’s university from Etiti to his village in Abia State thus denying the people of Owerri, Okigwe, and Orlu zones a university to call their own. The university according its founding fathers was billed to be the centre of academic excellence, producing first class graduates who can stand the test of time any day. Several years after its establishment, most analysts were of the opinion that the decision of the Evan Enwerem administration to the establish the university was perhaps the greatest achievement of the lame duck administration. Whereas the University has been able to meet the expectation of Imo people in the area of providing admissions for its young ones, other expectations from the university have scarcely been met, a situation analysts attribute to slow administrative process as well as weak leadership attribute of various individuals who headed the University at one time or the other. For instance, before the administration of Prof. Anwukah, the University was more less a dumping ground for young men and women who could not get admissions in their first choice universities or their first choice course such that the place became a dumping ground for the second best.
Secondly, academic activities during these periods in question were relegated to the background such that motivation among teachers was at all time low.
Then the vexed issue of cultism and lack of seriousness on the part of students almost become a hallmark of the institution. Added to this, is the ugly face of dichotomy, which crept ingloriously into the university such that things like student admission, staff recruitment and promotion became a question of which zone in Imo State a candidate came from rather than excellence and productivity. Also facilities that aid learning in classroom became a scarce commodity, forcing students to prefer loitering the streets of Owerri to being in the classroom. In no time, and with this entire ugly situation in place at the university, parents who desire quality education for their wards began to withdraw them from the ivory tower to other universities.
But the administration of Prof. Anwukah changed all that as presently the university appears not only to have redeemed and regained its past image and glory, it has once again entered into the hall of academic excellence competing painstakingly with other universities in Nigeria and beyond.
Today, many parents who have wards at the university can beat their chest and announce that their wards are students in Imo State University without an iota of shame or face hiding. As I write, the National Universities Commission (NUC) and all other professionals bodies saddled with accreditation matters have approved most courses in the institution, a situation that has once again brought the glimmer of pride and hope to students, parents and the local community. But the above feat which is a brain child of Prof. Anwukah according to analysts must be sustained especially because the man who did all these will in the coming weeks vacate the high office of the vice-chancellor. The development as it is today have called for one in which the panel saddled with the emergence of a new helmsman must ensure that whoever is to be the next vice-chancellor must be one that is not only academically sound and conscious but a digital one at that.
Besides, the man in question must not only be versed in his field of his study but must be an academic generalissimo of some sorts. What is more, the expected head must be one that is capable of enthroning and sustaining multi faceted relationship with the publics of the institution viz students, staff (academic and non academic) the local community, the state government, the state assembly even though it is located presently in the cemetery. We also expect that the new helmsman must be an administrator to the core, a known teacher and researcher. Again, the emerging don must be one that has both the poise and carriage to attract facilities and goodwill to the University not only from the Government of Imo State but also from other private and public institutions that identify with well-run academic institutions. Most importantly the candidate in question must be one that does not draw his strength from sectarian loyalty and relationship such that when he eventually becomes the vice-chancellor, issues affecting the university will become at a subject of public discourse at zonal meetings or clubs located outside the state capital.
We further admonish the visitor of the university, Chief Achike Udenwa and the entire administration of the university to look out for a man who is an international scholar, a man capable of holding his own anywhere, anytime in international circles, one capable of attracting foreign assistance like facilities, and other things that can aid scholarship among academic staff.
Perhaps it may also be instructive to say it here that in consideration for the office of the Vice-chancellor for Imo State University, Professors and other academics from Orlu zone should be encouraged to stay away from getting interested in the contest and allow those of them from Okigwe and Owerri zones to vie for the post so that for once, equity, justice and fairness will be seen to reign supreme in Imo State. If this done, the Governor would have added to his resume as father of all Imo people as against the present reference as the father of Orlu zone. We need not to say it here that students, staff are watching keenly and expecting that one of its own and not an outsider mount the saddle and continue brilliantly from where Prof. Anwuka left off. Besides people of Imo State who toiled and tasked themselves dry to found the University first in 1981 and then in 1991 and who are ever passionate about education will surely experience sustained joy if the decision on who occupies the seat of the Vice-chancellor of Imo State University is given the benefit of dynamism, fairness, equity and justice.
We make bold therefore to re-echo Robert Kenedy’s words of wisdom that “each time someone stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot and status of others and by extension the society he sends a tiny ripple of hope in the end”. The ball to do this is in the court of the visitor, Chief Achike Udenwa to either re-invent the institution or take it back to that abysmal state for which it was hitherto known. But will his excellency, known in various circles “as the peoples Governor” enthrone a virile, top rated academic as Vice-Chancellor of Imo State University in the coming weeks, and thus put the University on the path of enduring academic route? Only time will tell.
• Uba, a journalist sent this piece from Accra Ghana.
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