The recent appointment of Professor Charles Egbu as the new Vice Chancellor of the Leeds Trinity University, United Kingdom, is cheering and inspiring. It comes at a time when corruption and banditry are apparently defining the character of many Nigerians. Being the first black man to achieve this feat in the history of the university, Egbu has helped, in no small measure, to temper the negative perception of Nigerians abroad. His accomplishment is a pointer that diligence can elevate anyone beyond his imaginations.
Professor Egbu, who hails from Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, has a robust résumé. He made a First Class in his first degree in Quantity Surveying and obtained his doctorate in Construction Project Management from the University of Salford, UK. He was also the Dean of School of the Built Environment and Architecture at London South Bank University, England; and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education and Experience) at the University of East London. He has also held academic positions at University College London, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, and Glasgow Caledonian University, UK, among others.
A recipient of the Freedom of the City of London in 2017, Egbu has examined over 100 PhD candidates worldwide and has written 12 books and contributed over 350 publications in various international journals and conferences. He is also a Fellow of many organisations including the Chartered Institute of Building, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Higher Education Academy, among others. He has more than 25 years experience in higher education.
Attaining these positions in a place like the United Kingdom is no mean feat. Before being appointed as the VC, Egbu went through thorough screening. There was no ethnic, racial, religious or political consideration. The appointment was based purely on merit.
The Chair Designate of the Board of Governors at Leeds Trinity University, Jamie Hanley, put it succinctly: “Professor Egbu brings with him a wealth of experience and extensive knowledge of the higher education sector. His energy and vision stood out throughout a very competitive recruitment process, and it is clear that he recognises Leeds Trinity’s strengths and values, as well as bringing with him a detailed understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced from across the higher education sector.”
Without doubt, Professor Egbu’s feat has demonstrated that anyone can achieve success in any part of the world irrespective of his background. It has also shown that Nigerians can work hard and rise to the top in any chosen profession or field of study. While we celebrate Egbu on his sterling achievement, we call on the Nigeria authorities to abrogate discriminatory policies that stifle the development of the youths. Such practices as catchment areas, educationally advantaged and disadvantaged states and many others should have no place in our education system. Nigerian youths should be exposed to quality education that will enable them compete with their counterparts in any part of the world. Unfortunately, such quality education may elude many Nigerian youths if the continued strike in the universities and brain drain in the sector are not urgently checked.
Nigeria is at a crossroads and this is the time all men of goodwill must rally round to salvage what is remaining of her battered image. Leaders at all levels are enjoined to emulate people like Egbu whose conduct and achievements will definitely inspire many Nigerians to attain greater heights.
We congratulate Professor Egbu on his well-deserved appointment. It is something to be proud of and we expect that it will inspire Nigerians in the Diaspora, many of whom are already doing great things in their callings, to do more. For instance, a Nigerian, Professor Benjamin Akande, assumed duty as the President of Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, USA on July 1, 2020. Akande is a University of Oklahoma-trained economist. Many other Nigerian professionals have also acquitted themselves well in different parts of the world.
Egbu’s achievement challenges us to build our own institutions where merit and excellence will be elevated. We hope that when he takes over from Professor Margaret House on November 1, 2020, Egbu will take the Catholic higher institution, which gained university status in 2013, to greater heights. We wish him a successful tenure.