Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The 13th convocation ceremony of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, may have come and gone but the echoes of that “grade ‘A” event which literarily brought Awka to standstill are yet to settle.
The week-long ceremony which formed part of the last assignments of the then outgoing Vice Chancellor; Prof. Joseph Ahaneku was capped with the presentation of honorary doctorate degrees to three prominent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in their various areas of calling and endeavours.
Chairman of the Anambra State Traditional Rulers’ Council and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe was honoured with a Doctor of Science; business mogul and Chief Executive Officer of Chrome Group, Sir Emeka Offor was also bestowed with Doctor of Entrepreneurship, while former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and running mate of Late Chief Moshood Abiola in the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, Amb. Babagana Kingibe also went home with the honour of Doctor of Politics and Strategy.
The university’s convocation arena momentarily became Nigeria’s fountain of unity with the long list of prominent Nigerians from across the tribes, regions and religions present at the ceremony. Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima was at the occasion and in his entourage were the Governor-elect of the state, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum, the Borno State All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Ali Bukar Dalori, and the member representing Biu/Bayo/ Shani/Kwaya Kusar Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Hon. Mukhtar Betara.
Other dignitaries included Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, former President of the Senate, Chief Ken Nnamani; senator representing Anambra Central, Chief Victor Umeh, Anambra South senator-elect, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, Hon. Tony Nwoye, Imo State Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and expatriates from China among others.
Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano was represented by the Secretary to the State Government; Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu while Abuja based businessman/socialite, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo had an impressive outing there.
Okonkwo delivered the maiden convocation address to Executive MBA graduands of the University’s Business School in Awka, that evening.
Okonkwo who chairs the board of many businesses including The Dome Entertainment Limited, Abuja, spoke on “Managing businesses in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”.
He warned that people would not do business with people because they love them; but rather, they will do business with them because of trust.
He described trust as one major factor that has made businesses, and even business prospects, to fail; and therefor, urged 21st century business leaders never to allow their integrity be questioned as this would ultimately ruin them and perhaps, their businesses.
According to him, trust has also made many investors walk away, just as some businesses have also grown and succeeded because of it.
“Trust is a vital issue in human relationships. It builds marriages. It creates fantastic love stories. In business, it builds bridges, connect minds and money. It builds business empires. On the other side, mistrust ruins like nothing else. I have seen many businesses fail because the founders did not trust their team enough and the basic reason here is that team members failed to give their leaders reason to trust them,” he stated.
Okonkwo then, applauded the vision of the founders of the Unizik Business School, noting that it was strategic to the economic interest, and survival, of the southeast.
“I say this because, when you look back in time, you will find great businesses founded by great Igbo men and women, which sadly died with their deaths. A few of such businesses which outlived their founders failed to make it beyond the first generation of the founders’ successors,” he said.
He therefore, charged the school to find out why businesses established by Americans, Europeans and Asians outlive their founders, while those established by Nigerians (Africans) do not.
Former vice Chancellor of the university who chaired the event, Prof Peter Ejiofor congratulated the graduands and described integrity as a scarce resource in the nation’s business clime.
Director of the school, Prof. A. U. Nonyelu disclosed that the institution was the only university in Nigeria that offers Doctorate in Business from the Business School.
Aside the Lagos Business School, he said Unizik was the only school in Nigeria that was affiliated to Africa Business School.