Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The ninth convocation of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra State, was held recently. Some prominent people of Anambra were honoured at the event.
Among those decorated with honorary doctorate degrees were the wife of the state governor, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano, CEO, Air Peace Airline, Chief Allen Onyema, chairman, Nestoil Plc, Chief Ernest Azudialu Obiejesi, and the CEO, Tonimas Group, Chief Anthony Enukaeme.
The convocation also featured the installation of the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba (Dr.) Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III as the chancellor of the institution. A total of 3,239 students bagged first degrees for the 2016/2017 academic session with 2,273 for the 2017/2018 academic session. A total of 39 first class honours awardees, 138 postgraduate diploma certificate holders, 166 master’s degree holders and 38 PhD awardees took part in the convocation.
The Acting Vice Chancellor of COOU, Prof. Greg Nwakoby, commended Governor Willie Obiano for his huge investment in education, and for constructing various projects that will promote adequate learning in the university.
He also sought the approval of the governor to increase the university’s staff strength to urgently meet the National Universities Commission (NUC) staff-student ratio.
Nwakoby disclosed that the university had been accredited by the American Academic and Scholarly Research Centre as one of the research centres recognised among nine such research centres in Nigeria.
He also pleaded with the governor to complete the perimeter fence of the university as a security measure to curb movement of herdsmen into the campus.
He said the institution had continued to expand on all frontiers of learning with the avowed aim of becoming one of the major centres of teaching, learning and research in arts and sciences, among other areas of discipline.
“With regard to our further efforts towards staff academic and intellectual advancements, various departments and faculties have organised local and international conferences, while a total of 28 staff have benefitted from attendance at international conferences overseas in the past two years. At least 18 staff members are currently undergoing training in the best universities in the world in Japan, the United States, Europe and others.
“The internalisation of this university is on a successful move through linkages and collaborative efforts with institutions outside Nigeria. We are a registered member of International Academic Bodies and Institutes, including membership of the Council for Advancement and Support for Education and membership of African Council for Distance Education.
“A recent proposal for creation of a global college, Centre for Human Understanding in the South-East, has reached advanced stage of implementation. I am glad to state here that our own Chukwuemeka Oduemegwu Ojukwu University has been chosen as a launching pad for this centre in the entire South-East,” he said.
The new chancellor of the university, Oba Rufus Adejugbe Aladesanmi III, expressed deep appreciation to Governor Obiano, who enabled his appointment. He described such appointment as a “clear demonstration of the fostering of mutual understanding and love between our people in the West and the Igbos in the East, which has culminated in the promotion of openness and unity among the diverse ethnic groups in our country Nigeria.
The investiture is a true act of non-chauvinistic approach to the state government and by extension, the COOU,” he said.
Obiano, in his speech, restated his resolve to further establish adequate measures that will sustain the stable academic excellence in the state.
The governor noted that, aside from renovation of schools, provision of equipment and welfare of staff, his administration had also increased the salaries and allowances of teachers in hard-to-reach areas.
Speaking shortly after receiving the Doctor of Letters award plaque and certificate, the governor’s wife, popularly known as Osodieme, said:
“This honour came as a surprise, more so when I know that a large chunk of my social intervention efforts are targeted at getting the needy and the less privileged up on their feet through vocational training and skills acquisition, promoting hygiene in rural markets and building free houses for indigent widows, among others.
“The award is also an impetus to re-commit to restoring the dignity of women and by limiting destitution, caring for the mentally challenged, alleviating the debilitating effect of poverty. I would, through my NGO, CAFE, equip the university’s medical centre to standard and also erect a building in the Department of Economics, in memory of my late brother, Charles Nwanoka,” she said.
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Onyema, after being conferred with a honorary Doctor of Business Administration, urged Nigerians to drop their ethnic sentiments and build a united and peaceful nation. Onyema, who also donated N70 million towards the university’s infrastructure project and pledged the setting up of Nigeria’s first Centre for Non-violence and Peace Studies in the institution, regretted that ethno-religious conflicts were pulling the country apart.
“I want to help education. I want to fight the incidence of violence and ethnicity in this country.
“The greatest bane of our development is ethnicity. That is why I want to set up the first Centre for Non-violence and Peace Studies for this university by collaborating with them and making it an elective course for students, so that people will start learning how to manage conflict,” he said.