The Academic Staff Union of Universities (Calabar Zone) in their bid to honour its past President Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie has organized a distinguished public lecture on the Topic “the Ethical and Leadership issues in Nigeria University System”. The lecture was delivered by delivered by the renowned Prof. Ikenna Onyido who is the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.
The event which took place at the University of Calabar Senate Chamber witnessed the presence of other ASUU branches under Calabar Zone which include Cross River State University of Technology (CRUTECH), University of Uyo, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and University of Calabar. Besides these institutions, there are many other institutions that graced the occasion.
Prof. Ikkenna Onyido, an indigene of Okija, in Ihiala LGA of Anambra State who was the Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike between 2006-2011, chairman of the committee of Vice Chancellors (2012-2011), a visiting Scientist/Professor to universities in Canada, the US and Europe, and presently Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.
In his presentation on “The University System and National Destiny” Prof. Ikenna opined that “The title of my lecture is Ethical and Leadership Issues in Nigerian Universities. This is part of a broader conversation on the state of our universities, their relevance and their capacity to achieve their institutional objectives”. He further noted that “Universities that do not devote a large part of their energies and resources to the discovery of new truths through research are not universities in any proper sense. Viewed from the standpoint of enhancing national development and societal advancement, universities are then a major source of national creativity and vitality, and this is achieved through cooperation and productive competition”.
Speaking on “Universities: Ideal and Purpose”, Prof Ikenna said that “The catalogue of woes in some of our campuses should be of serious concern to all of us who have decided to commit and dedicate our lives and energies to joining the effort in building and sustaining a viable university system that is worthy of its name. I shall not succumb to the temptation of generalizations which cast aspersions on all members of the academia, as the public often does. Within the university system, there is the good, the bad and the ugly. As often happens, the good is hardly mentioned and scarcely highlighted: only the bad and the ugly gain prominence in public commentaries on our universities. But we are dealing with perceptions about the university system. We know that perceptions are never products of statistical analysis, so the actions of a few may be yardstick by which the entire system may be characterized by the public, unfortunately so. Let me cite a few examples”.
He outlined that the greatest challenge confronting the Nigeria Universities are corruption, politics and poor funding. Adding that “There exists the notion that all we do as academic staff is to give a few lectures, for those who are conscionable enough to do so, chase our female students, retire to the Staff Club to drink beer (for those who have viable ones), and agitate for pay on a perennial basis. This notion was articulated in public by a government functionary during one of the strikes”. Continuing, he asserts that There is both documented and anecdotal evidence of ethical failures and symptoms of moral erosion on our campuses such as cultism, extortion, sale and use of narcotics, prostitution, sexual harassment, sex and money for marks and grades (this has been given the nomenclature of ‘sorting’), sale of hand-outs and books (students are forced to buy these and some of the books don’t even qualify as books – they are merely copied materials from existing textbooks), examination malpractices, admission racketeering, absenteeism, lecturers with multiple teaching jobs in the name of adjunct lectureship/professorship, plagiarism, falsification of research data, award of honorary degrees to undeserving recipients, discrimination on grounds of ethnicity or sectionalism or faith, and many more – the list is virtually endless. Just like no human society is devoid of negatives in human conduct and behaviour, there are bits and pieces of these social maladies on every campus since campuses are made up of human beings as staff and students, not angels in human form.
He concluded with advice that “Together, we can join hands to make the difference… Let each one in this hall today resolve to make their lives count, and our moments contribute to the common goal of leaving an edifice behind, an edifice that is not only utilitarian in scope and content but one which also conveys the best the human mind can dream of, and the best human hands can mould. Let the symphony of those whose lives will be blessed because we passed here resound in our ears and let our visionary eyes see the sparkles in the eyes of generations yet unborn who shall be blessed because of us. Let those sights and sounds inspire us to move our hands now. It is urgent and we must not fail. We cannot afford to fail!” he summed.
This lecture was followed by reaction/response which one of the ASUU member asked two question on (1) why Vice Chancellorship seem to has been solely reserved for indigenes (2) why non indigene who get first class are no longer retained by the institution as was ideal. In responding to this, Prof. Onyido narrated his experience during his VC ambition as he was an alien where he headed the institution and called on all meaning Nigeria to desist from ethnicity and ethnocentrism as it speaks bad of the people that engage in it.
In reciprocating to the gesture of those who has given to academic world, Prof Ukachukwu Awuzie was awarded by the Vice Chancellor of Unical Prof James Epoke. Presenting the award to Awuzie by Unical Pro Chancellor Dr Roland Ehigiamosoe described him as one of the rear person who has diligently serve the nation in truth and honesty.
Awarded alongside Prof. Awuzie are Prof. Ikenna Onyido, Prof. Biodu Muyemi, Prof. Dipo Fashue, Prof. Victor Osidito, Dr. (Mrs.) Regina Odey, and Dr. C. C. Ononuju.
The event ended with a vote of thanks by Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie at Unical Hotel after the dinner party. Prof Awuzie thanked the entire ASUU member for being by his side throughout all the turbulent period and for honouring him with such occasion.