From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The Vice Chancellor of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku recently marked his third year in office.
He briefed the university community on the journey so far and the way forward towards accomplishing his mission and vision for the institution named after the Great Zik of Africa.
He had told his audience that his administration has continuously engaged in the interactive evaluation of its development efforts to ensure that the team remains on course.
“During my first year in office, we laid the groundwork for our administration and set up the machinery for the actualization of my mission and vision for the university advancement.
“In the second year, we consolidated our roadmap and by the third year had already hastened the pace of development efforts in all facets of the university’s operations, with many accomplishments already made,” he said.
We have to a very large extent been able to move the university away from the schisms and intrigues fomented by some interests in the months preceding the appointment of a vice chancellor, which subterfuges had potentials of constituting a real threat to the stability of the university in the early post appointment period. We have been able to secure relative peace in the university with a great majority of the staff and students maintaining a good level of discipline.
We are pushing forward our drive to transform Nnamdi Azikiwe University into a world-ranked university through the promotion of academic excellence, university culture, traditions and values in all facets of the university operations by a mix of commitment to collegiality, scholarship and student development. We have sought to engrave these invisible yet critically important values into the operations of the university as outlined below:
An essential feature of university culture is peer-management, through a system of committees and other organs. Realising this, we have revitalized the committee system, to the extent that is feasible engaging staff unions and students’ leadership in relevant committees. This move has been found quite productive as these staff and students’ bodies are better able to appreciate the challenges of managing a complex system as the university is and it also broadens the perspectives and array of ideas available to the university management in decision making. Two hundred and twelve academic and one library staff have been promoted to the ranks of Reader/Professor and Deputy University Librarian, respectively since I assumed duty. Additionally, we have ensured on-time appraisal and promotion of the non-teaching staff as a result of which a total of 1, 459 senior non-teaching staff and 752 junior staff were promoted during the period under review.
Improving quality of
We have put in place and sustained measures to improve and sustain the quality of graduate and post-graduate students’ output, not only in academic content but importantly in employability. To this latter end, through our Chike Okoli Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies, the university entered into collaboration with the ABInBev Hero’s Foundation on its kick-start programme. This is a social responsibility involvement of its parent SABmiller Hero’s Foundation to instill a culture of entrepreneurship among youths in South-East Nigeria by encouraging them to develop and nurture ideas into sustainable businesses or to expand existing businesses. This is in addition to the vocational and entrepreneurial skills already being offered in the centre.
The effort of our administration at promoting high quality teach-learning process and high quality of graduands are yielding rich dividends as students of the university have been winning laurels/commendations in their various engagements outside the university.
As research is a linchpin in my mission and vision statement for the university, we set up at the outset the Directorate of Research, Innovation and University-Industry Relations to give research focus to the university and serve as a platform for liaison with industry.
Global outlook, recognition
The thrust of our efforts in the actualization of this agenda has been the revitalization and operationalizing of our existing linkages with world-renowned universities spread across the United States of America, China, Europe and Africa by developing for each of these, a Memorandum of Action (MOA) as a template for definitive action in addition to the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). In this regard, we have achieved remarkable success in our linkage with Xiamen University, China and through this our relationship with the Government of the Peoples Republic of China has received a tremendous boost. A staff exchange programme by which Chinese lecturers are sent to the university was commenced with Xiamen University in September 2015, while the Chinese government awarded scholarships tenable in eight Chinese universities and in different academic disciplines to 34 students of our university variously for first, master’s and doctorate degrees. Another batch of 54 students has been awarded the same scholarships. With time staff of the university would be sent to Xiamen University to teach Igbo Language and culture. In partnership with our linkage university, Xiamen University, we have articulated a linkage arrangement by which students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University studying for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese Language and culture shall spend one year in Xiamen University to acquire language proficiency. The programme is domiciled in the Faculty of Arts but uses our Confucius Institute as platform. It is gratifying to report that Nnamdi Azikiwe University was selected as location for the Chinese Cultural Research Centre of Nigeria; not only the only one in Nigeria but the only one in Africa. The Centre was commissioned in June 2016. Through the foregoing actions we can confidently say that we are on track to realizing my vision of making Nnamdi Azikiwe University truly an international institution with international outlook, recognition and high rating on the world universities ranking scale.
We have completed many inherited projects, there are also many projects started by and completed by our administration and while there are ongoing projects all aimed at maintaining our commitment to service delivery.
The years ahead
We have laid the foundation, created the platforms, explored and exploited these to effect the achievements already made as presented. In the years ahead we shall continue to stride vigorously and confidently towards the on-time achievement of my mission and vision for the university predicated on its concomitant five-point agenda, five-year strategic and five-year implementation plan.