Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The proposed Shanahan University, Onitsha in Anambra state, took a big leap into reality recently as the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha; Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke laid the foundation stone with a strong backing from the government, prominent faithful and institutions of the church.
The event which took place at the University’s main campus, 3-3 Onitsha, drew the presence of well-meaning Nigerians, foreigners and technocrats, congregation of priests, religious, academics and school children
Chief of Staff to Governor Willie Obiano, Mr Primus Odili represented the governor. Professor Pat Utomi, Anambra State Commissioner for Education, Professor Kate Omenugha and Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Very Rev Fr. Prudentius Aroh, were among many of those present on the occasion.
Archbishop Okeke in his speech stated that the university is going to be people-oriented and mainly for the less privileged who could not secure admission in most tertiary institutions.
“The need for a university in this part of the world is long over-due. And as we embark on building one, we do not just want to build a university but a positive revolutionary university that will truly mold minds, make them uncommon assets and inject them into the society to effect the change that we are yearning for.
“Shanahan University stands for integrity, truthfulness, positive revolution and excellence. The aim of building this university is to use the institution to start a very positive revolution in this part of the world. Let it be a contribution this part of the world will give to humanity. We want to emphasize character and learning. ‘Please admit the bearer’ will not work in Shanahan University, if one passes, he or she will be admitted; if one fails he or she won’t be admitted
“Building this university, we tend to achieve a revolution, not of knives or guns but a revolution of hearts, and minds; a revolution of right will-power, so that our people can decide on what is good and have the will-power to pursue it; a revolution of attachment to God and belief in the power of God who will build the University; a revolution of the right attitude to work, believing in themselves and enjoying the dignity of labour, being ready to work hard. I call on all to join in the prayer for its success, to key into this vision of hope, hope for our people, for our state, for our country and the world,” Archbishop Okeke said.
The Archbishop also announced that the university will run a multi campus system with the main campus at Onitsha, and another in Ojoto community.
He expressed satisfaction with those that volunteered to sponsor some projects at the site.
Prior to the event, chairman, Shanahan University Construction Project, Very Rev. Fr. Basil Ekwunife, dropped a hint that top businessman and politician, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, would lay foundation stone and sponsor the university chapel while Chief Mike Anyakwo, an Onitsha indigenous business mogul will sponsor a hostel project.
According to him, Oluchukwu Microfinance Bank, Onitsha, would also take up the University auditorium project while the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), Archdiocese of Onitsha led by Dame Ngozi Nwanosike would sponsor a hostel project.
True to his words, all the mentioned donors took turns to lay the foundation stones planted across the site.
Okonkwo while performing the foundation laying for the university chapel lauded the visionary abilities of Archbishop Okeke. He said that it was an honour for him to sponsor the chapel where all people in the university community would gather when fully on stream to raise their voices to God.
Chief Odili, who represented the governor, expressed the hope that the University will be a pacesetter that will eschew cultism, molestation, examination malpractice among other social vices as seen in various universities.
Chairman, Implementation Committee, Prof. Utomi portrayed it as a first class university where human beings will be nurtured and extolled Archbishop Okeke for his foresight.
The foundation stone laying event also coincided with the 18th Episcopal anniversary of Archbishop Valerian Okeke.
Okeke was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Onitsha on November 28, 2001 and consecrated Coadjutor Archbishop of Onitsha on February 09, 2002.
He became Archbishop and Metropolitan of Onitsha on September 01, 2003 and is a member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
The Archbishop has made monumental material and spiritual achievements in the Archdiocese especially in the education sector, youth development and charity.
It would be recalled that on April 27, 2019, Archbishop Valerian Okeke blessed and cut the soil for the proposed site for the Shanahan University.