… University confers doctorate degrees on deposed Emir of Kano, along with MDs of Innoson Motors and Dozzy Group
… Graduates 49 First Class materials, 339 doctorate degree holders
… Tackles infrastructure decay, staff, students’ indiscipline
… Orders Confucius Institute officials in China to be quarantined
By Ndu Chris Nwannah, ATM Guest Writer
The Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, will confer an honorary doctorate degree to the recently deposed and exiled Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as part of the university’s 14th convocation ceremony taking place from March 9th to 13th.
The vice-chancellor of the university, Charles Esimone, a Professor of Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Microbiology, disclosed this during a pre-convocation media briefing held at the university on Monday, March 9, 2020, the day news broke of Emir Mohammad Sanusi II’s dethronement. The emir had been dethroned due to alleged “insubordination” and “disrespect” shown towards the governor of Kano State and “other lawful authorities”, according to a statement signed by the secretary to the Kano State government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji.
Professor Esimone disclosed that Alhaji Lamido Sanusi was among three eminent Nigerians to be conferred with the prestigious honorary degree of the university. He said the honorees were “agents of change” and were being conferred with doctorate degrees for contributing “enormously” to the transformation of the university through infrastructure development. The other honorary doctorate awardees, according to the vice-chancellor, include Chief Innocent Chukwuma, the founder and managing director of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, and Chief Daniel Chukwudozie, founder and managing director of Dozzy Group, a conglomerate operating in oil and gas, manufacturing and other industries.
According to UNIZIK vice-chancellor, Alhaji Sanusi had donated a ₦500 million hostel building located at the Okofia Nnewi campus of the university when he was the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a post in which Sanusi served between 2009 and 2014.
Professor Esimobe also disclosed that Chief Innocent Chukwuma, the auto assembly magnate, had helped in tackling transportation difficulties in the institution. He noted that Chief Chukwuma had built an auto diagnostic centre at the Nnewi Campus of the university, and was also building one such centre in Awka. He noted that students would be trained in vehicle repairs and maintenance at these auto diagnostic centres. The vice-chancellor announced that Chief Chukwuma was also establishing other ventures that would benefit the local economy in terms of skills acquisition and employment generation.
As for Chief Daniel Chukwudozie of Dozzy Group, Professor Esimone stated that he had funded the establishment of a paint factory in the university, and also made commitments to erect more buildings in the university. The VC noted that UNIZIK uses Dozzy Group’s paint products for its building projects.
▲UNIZIK honorary doctoral awardees: Sanusi, Chukwudozie and Chukwuma
The doctoral honorees are part of the 9,571 graduands being awarded undergraduate and postgraduate degrees during the 14th convocation ceremony of Nnamdi Azikiwe University going on all week. Of the total graduands, the university would be graduating 2,821 postgraduate and 6,750 undergraduate students, according to Professor Esimone. This year’s graduands at UNIZIK include 339 doctorate degree holders and 49 first class graduates. Mr. Ezeh Gabriel Chukwubuikem from the Department of Cooperative Economics and Management, with a CGPA of 4.83, emerged the Overall Best Graduating Student for the 2018/2019 academic session.
▲UNIZIK VC, Prof. Esimone, with the Overall Best Graduating Student, Ezeh
Professor Esimone said that the institution would continue to uphold quality academic ideals. He assured that the first class graduates would be offered automatic employment after their NYSC scheme, as part of the measures to promote sound academic programmes. Professor Esimone also promised that there will be postgraduate training for them to further enhance their capacity, enabling them to add value to the system as well as help to train and nurture students under their watch.
Professor Esimone, who became vice-chancellor of the institution in May 2019, maintained that UNIZIK would continue to uphold zero tolerance for indiscipline among staff and students by applying necessary sanctions against culprits. According to him, staff must operate professionally, while students should guard against indulging in examination malpractices and results forgery.
The vice-chancellor stated that the management was seriously working on a project aimed at positioning the university to be among the top 200 globally, best 10 in Africa and the best in Nigeria. He stressed that the effort was already yielding fruits as the university’s ranking had tremendously improved in recent time. Professor Esimone noted with satisfaction that the ranking of the institution had improved significantly from lower than #2500 to about #1000 currently. He noted that the improvement project was rooted in the ‘ACADA’ model which stands for Academic Excellence, Community Service, Administrative Reforms, Discipline and Advancement in human capacity and infrastructure development. He explained that the recent recruitment process in the institution was approved by its Senate to meet special needs of accreditation and staff deficiencies.
The vice-chancellor debunked insinuations that the institution had increased its school fees. He said what the management did was to consolidate all fees payable by students, helping to improve fees transparency through the removal of illegal payments.
Professor Esimone stressed however that the institution was having funding challenges as most of its projects were executed through Internally Generated Revenue, while it was still battling with hostel, staff quarter, standard auditorium, students’ centre, ICT and recreational facility deficiencies.
The vice-chancellor affirmed that the institution had got some funding from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). He announced that the university last month secured five TETFUND research grants amounting to over ₦100 million.
He said that TETFUND was helping it to overcome some infrastructure deficiencies. Professor Esimone noted that take-off grant was important to the development of any university, but said that UNIZIK did not get one and has relied heavily on Internally Generated Revenue and private grants. He said the university needs a senate building, staff quarters, standard auditorium, students’ centre, ICT equipment and recreational facilities.
The vice-chancellor affirmed that in a bid to combat open defecation and improve campus hygiene, the institution had embarked on the conversion of hostels to self-contained rooms.
Answering questions on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) currently menacing the global community, Professor Esimone said that staff of the university’s Confucius Institute (set up to promote language and culture interchange between China and Nigeria) who went to China for a training programme had been asked to stay back, quarantined on location, pending the resolution of the COVID-19 issue.
For this year’s convocation event, the Research Fair keynote address was delivered by Special Guest of Honour, the Executive Secretary of TETFUND, Professor Elias Suleiman Bogoro. Professor Benedict Okey Oramah, President and Chairman, Board of Directors African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), was selected as the Convocation Lecturer; while Professor Abubakar Rasheed, Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), was chosen to chair the Convocation Lecture. The 14th convocation includes an interdenominational service which was held on Monday, March 9, the opening day of the convocation programme.
At the press briefing, Professor Esimone stressed that he would be writing to the Senate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University asking it to make convocation a regular event with specific dates attached to it. The vice-chancellor said that he appreciated the Visitor to the University, President Muhammadu Buhari, for approving its 14th convocation ceremony.