NNAMDI Azikiwe University [UNIZIK], Awka, Anambra State is remarkable not only by the personage named after the blossoming institution of higher learning but also by the tortuous history of its take-off. Typical of federal government’s project executions in the state which have been known to be subtly starved of funds to the contractors and chief executives of the institutions, UNIZIK’s growth was not encouraged with substantial take-off funds like other universities especially in the northern part of the country.
Drawing inspiration from the personality after the name of the university, the pioneer vice chancellor and subsequent ones were dogged and determined to carve a trajectory by mobilising Anambra State’s wealthy men who responded with whatever that was needed to make the university a trail-blazer among the federal universities in the country.
The phenomenal growth recorded by UNIZIK within a short period of its establishment depicts in bold relief the great trajectory in socio-economic growth and development if the present governing elite has given sufficient thought to the manifold advantages inherent in the reinventing of the principles of federal system of government in the First Republic.
The latent energy of some ethnic groups and their innate ingenuity and creativity would have been adroitly harnessed to place education on the same pedestal with the industrialised and advanced nations of the world. Under restructuring of the federation, the federating units will not expect the central government to establish and fund universities because they are permitted by the constitution to explore and exploit mineral and natural resources within their domain to fund world-class universities, in addition to world-class infrastructural facilities and amenities.
The Vice Chancellor of UNIZIK, Professor Charles Esimone had a dream for the university when he threw his hat for the contestation of the vice chancellorship. No sooner assumed office than he set the process in motion to actualise his mission encapsulated in five-pronged strategy predicated on the push for “Academic Excellence; Productive Community Service; Administrative Reforms; Discipline; and Advancements” which he tagged “ACADA and Project 2020”.
In planning for the 14th Convocation ceremony that spanned between 9th-13th March, he had the cooperation of the entire senior staff which delivered on their respective mandates that made the event a huge success.
Speaking through the executive secretary of National Universities Commision, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, the Visitor to the university and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, was effusive in his praises for the ebullient vice chancellor and his predecessors who had placed the university trail-blazing academic trajectory which has resonated through the length and breadth of the country.
Buhari had said: “I congratulate the Vice-Chancellor on his appointment. He is expected to not only sustain but, more importantly, improve on the legacies of the previous administrations of the university…the federal government would continue to provide the necessary enabling environment for the university to flourish as a credible centre of learning in this part of our country”.
There is likelihood that ACADA will be religiously implemented to key into the wider vision of the federal governemt “to help rewrite the country’s educational curriculum from the basic tertiary levels bearing in mind the skills needed to enable Nigeria to adapt to the 21st century challenges”, according the President Buhari.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the deplorable condition of the critical sectors of governance in the country especially education is far from being ameliorated without substantial devolution of powers which will strip the federal government of the behemoth burden in the funding of tertiary education, even the uncalled-for forage into secondary and primary education via “school feeding programme”.
While commending the stupendous contributions of wealthy individuals and corporate organisations to the development of critical infrastructures in UNIZIK, Buhari appreciated the Honorary Degree awardees to Chief Dr. Innocent Chukwuma [Innoson Motors] and Dr. Daniel Chukwudozie [Dozie Group]. The president harped on the prime necessity of encouraging the drivers of the private sector players in manufacturing and industrial spheres to invest in educational development which he perceived as “a component of economic diversification”.
There is no doubt that UNIZIK under Esimone would facilitate the integration of skill acquisition into the institutions’ curriculum so that the graduates would be in the position to start on their own.