Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Stop The Nonsense At UNN By Engr. Ubadike
consequence on behalf of the Blackman everywhere in the world. The battle cry in some quarters now is that an indigene of the Nsukka senatorial zone must be the vice chancellor of this institution, Nigeria’s first full-fledged indigenous university which was created in 1960, the year of independence. This battle cry was first heard in the mass media three years ago when a race was on for the post of the UNN vice chancellor. Someone from outside the Nsukka zone was eventually appointed based on merit, provoking the shadowy forces to swear to make the place ungovernable for him. These parochial forces could not be consoled by the fact that Professor Bato Okolo is from Enugu State, the host state of the university.
They got emboldened when an Nsukka indigene, Dr Emeka Enejere, was last year appointed the pro chancellor of the UNN governing council. Though an academic himself, Enejere enjoys a superior reputation as a politician, having disengaged from academia since 1991. Assisted by his good friend, Dr Raymond Dokpesi, chairman of DAAR Communications, Enejere has been in cahoots with inelegant politicians like former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida and former Rivers State governor Peter Odili who have over period contracted him to run errands and perform all manner of duties for them. Enejere actually came to public attention in 1967, when in the heat of the country’s political crisis, he histrionically led students on a frenetic demand for the secession of the Eastern Region from Nigeria, even when the region was not militarily or diplomatically ready for this huge and very risky enterprise.
Therefore, it could not have come as a surprise to perceptive observers that things became difficult for the vice chancellor the moment Enejere was appointed the pro chancellor. Okolo, a former professor at Obafemi Awolowo University, could not understand why this foremost federal institution should be turned into an exclusive preserve of people from just one senatorial zone in the country. He could not understand why staff appointments should be indefensibly lopsided or how a university which is perennially cash strapped could provide amenities like electricity free to communities around it at a time of astronomically increasing electricity bills. Which public university has done so? Meanwhile, the vice chancellor has been facing one probe or another on the prompting of the pro chancellor.
To save the university from further self-inflicted misery, the Federal Government has decided to separate Dr Enejere from the UNN. Hell has consequently been let loose. Raypower Radio and the Africa Independent Television—members of DAAR Communications—have been mobilised to declare war on the Federal Ministry of Education over Enejere’s removal. Every person of Nsukka extraction holding any significant position, whether in the non academic staff union or the Ohaneze youth wing, has been told to see the action as genocide against the people of this senatorial district. The propaganda is akin to the type we saw in Biafra, marked by xenophobia, paranoia and an outright rejection of the notion of peaceful co-existence. In a well-circulated written statement in the media which should never have been associated with someone who has ever seen the four walls of a university, Mr Nwodo, said to be the Ohaneze youth leader, said: “the UNN is Dr Enejere and Dr Enejere the UNN”. The statement is reminiscent of the infamous declaration of King Louis X1 who said: “I am France, and after me comes a deluge!” This hubristic statement was one of the immediate critical factors which led to the famous 1789 French Revolution in which the bourgeois got guillotined. Still, in Nigeria of the 21st Century a so-called academic would get his minions to declare that he is, indeed, the University of Nigeria and the UNN him. Have our values and sense of proportion collapsed so calamitously that there is now no difference between an academic, on the one hand, and an uneducated village politician cum rabble rouser, on the other?
The Igboland must be in a profound social crisis. Can you imagine a group of scholars in, say, the Akoka community shout from the rooftops that they will make the University of Lagos ungovernable unless the vice chancellor is from their senatorial zone? Can such a thing happen at the University of Ibadan or Obafemi Awolowo University at Ife or at Ahmadu Bello University at Zaria? The answer is hell no! The supreme irony is that while some elements of Nsukka extraction want to create the impression that they are discriminated against by not having one of their number as the UNN vice chancellor, they have carefully turned a blind eye to the fact that an Nsukka person, Professor Hilary Edoga, is the vice chancellor of Michael Okpara University at Umudike, Abia State, and that another one, Professor Cyprian Onyeji, is the vice chancellor at the Enugu State University. How would latter-day Nsukka ultra nationalists feel if people from the senatorial zones where these universities are sited should rise up in arms against the smooth administration of the institutions because these vice chancellors are non-indigenes?
The UNN must be saved from backward-looking elements. Who would have imagined that the UNN Law Faulty, which once paraded such great minds as Professors Ben Nwabueze, Edwin Nwogwugwu, Cyprian Okonkwo, etc, could ever fail to meet the National University Commission’s accreditation test? The immediate past UNN vice chancellor, Professor Chinedu Nebo, who is the current Minister of Power, used to bemoan the fact that its medical school was publishing the least number of academic articles among first generation universities when he assumed office. And yet this is the university which up to 2001 was rated by the NUC to have the most rigorous academic programmes in Nigeria.
As the ongoing simulated crisis at the University of Nigeria indicates, if there is any group of people marginalising the Igbo, it must be a handful of our own folk who are parochial, backward, opportunistic and greedy. The Great Zik of Africa who established the UNN as a first class liberal university “to restore the dignity of man” must be turning in his grave in utter disappointment at the attitude and antics of some of its stakeholders. Enough of all this nonsense.
•Ubadike is an engineering consultant in Abuja.
Source: PM News