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UNN VC Position: It is Time for Nsukka Indigene

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By Emmanuel Ikechukwu Jonathan

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) was founded by His Excellency, Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1955. It formally opened for academic programme on October 7, 1960, six days after Nigeria’s Independence.

The University of Nigeria is the first indigenous and first autonomous University in Nigeria, since University of Ibadan was then a mere campus of the University of London and became a full fledge University in 1962, two years after UNN.

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka was modelled after the American University system. It was the first land-grant University in Africa and one of the five most reputed Universities in Nigeria.

UNN has 15 Faculties and 102 academic departments. The University of Nigeria offers 108 undergraduate programs and 211 postgraduate programmes, operating from three campuses in Nsukka, Enugu, and Ituku-Ozalla all in Enugu State.

However, Nsukka town is the most important and first host community to the main campus hence the name University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The town is situated in the northern part of Enugu State, bordering Kogi and Benue states respectively.

Nsukka is also the main foundational and operational base of the University before Enugu and Ituku-Ozalla campuses were created in a bid to create enhanced accessibility to other South Eastern states at a time UNN was the only Federal University in South – East region.

Being the main campus, Nsukka is where the Vice Chancellor’s office, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic’s office, Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration’s office, Registrar’s office, Bursar’s office, University Librarian’s office and other key offices are located.

It is however, painful to note that the people of Nsukka who are the goose that lay the golden eggs of the University of Nigeria have never produced the Vice Chancellor of the University they have hosted for about 64 years.

The current and former persons who have held the position of the Vice Chancellor in UNN are listed below:

Professor Charles Arizechukwu Igwe: June 2019–Present (Anambra state)
Professor Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba: June 2014–June 2019 (Anambra state)
Professor Bartho Okolo: 2009 – June 2014 (Enugu State)
Professor Osita Chinedu Nebo: June 2004 – June 2009 (Enugu State)
Professor Ginigeme Francis Mbanefoh: 1999 – 2004 (Anambra state)
Professor Umaru Gomwalk: May 1994 – (appointed as the Sole Administrator) (Plateau State)
Professor Oleka K. Udeala:1992 – 1995 (Abia Old Imo State)
Professor Chimere Ikoku: 1985 – 1992 (Abia Old Imo State)
Professor Frank Nwachukwu Ndili: 1980 – Oct. 1985 (Delta State)
Professor Umaru Shehu: 1978 – 1979 (Borno State)
Professor James O. C. Ezeilo: 1975 – 1978 (Anambra state)
Professor Herbert C. Kodilinye: 1971 – 1975 (Anambra state)
Professor Eni Njoku: July 1966 – 1967; 1967 – 1970 (Abia Old Imo State)
Professor Glen L. Taggart: 1964 – 1966
Dr. George Marion Johnson: 1960 – 1964.

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The University since it was founded has had a peaceful coexistence with the hospitable community of Nsukka in Enugu State. This has ensured uninterrupted academic calendar in contrast to many Universities that often times have conflicts with their host communities.

Since the establishment and founding of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, about 64 years ago, no indigene of Nsukka has ever been a VC. Indeed the entire Enugu State has produced only 2 Vice Chancellors; Prof. Chinedu Nebo and Prof. Bartholomew Okolo who are both from Udi Local Government Area.

The people of Nsukka did not only welcome the emergence of these two Vice Chancellors of UNN from Enugu, but they provided them unequalled support as they piloted the affairs of the University situated in the land of Nsukka.

The people of Nsukka celebrated this era in the annals of the history of University of Nigeria even though it has always been their wish to also have a taste of occupying the revered seat of the Vice Chancellor of UNN that has existed for close to 64 years. They believed in the Igbo proverb which says that when you celebrate with your neighbour, things to celebrate will also visit your home.

The present Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Charles Igwe will be rounding off his tenure in May/June 2024 and a new Vice Chancellor is expected to emerge as the next substantive Vice Chancellor of UNN for another five years.

The campaign for who will take over from the current Vice Chancellor has since commenced and considering the enormous support the current Vice Chancellor, received from Nsukka people, it is expected that he should recommend one of the over 200 qualified Professors from Nsukka to take over from him. Igwe is equally a worthy in-law of Ndi-Enugu and it will be nice of him to break this 64 years old jinx by installing an Nsukka indigene as UNN Vice Chancellor.

It is on record that the current Vice Chancellor who is from Anambra state took over leadership of UNN from Professor Benjamin C. Ozumba who is also from Anambra state. For the sake of equity and love for brotherhood, the good people of Anambra should support an Nsukka indigene to also lead the University for once. Why are we brothers if we don’t share concern for each other?

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It is important to note that the VC position of Nnamdi Azikiwe University has been occupied by only Anambra people since its creation. So, it will not be out of place for Nsukka people to say that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The people of Anambra working in UNN can attest to the fact that Nsukka people are very receptive and hospitable, and will be detrabalized if given the opportunity to occupy the seat of UNN VC. This assertion is evident in the life of the current Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Igwe, as he is a product of a hospitable Nsukka. His life story is not complete without mentioning Nsukka because he lived all his life in Nsukka.

However, It is pertinent to state that the case is different with Anambra state as it is practically impossible or more or less a taboo for someone who is not from Anambra State to indicate interest in the position of Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University.

The argument which the people of Anambra or other states of the south east will pose to those non- indigenes contesting for the position of the Vice Chancellor in federal Universities outside their home state, is that they should go to the federal Universities in their home state and contest.

It is a known fact that majority of the federal Universities in the country, have their Vice Chancellorship position occupied mainly by people from the host state and in most cases from the very community that is hosting the University.

It is therefore worrisome to note that the only federal university situated in Enugu State has not only been majorly led by the same people of Anambra state, and we therefore appeal to them to in love for brotherhood and reciprocation of Nsukka’s receptive nature, they should support an Nsukka indigene to also be the Vice Chancellor of UNN. Posterity will definitely be kind to them.

This development is also a clarion call for the people of Enugu State to pull their strength together to see that they produce a UNN Vice Chancellor of Nsukka extraction.

The current and former Governors of Enugu State, the current and former National Assembly members from Enugu State, the current and former Honourable Ministers from Enugu State and other well meaning sons and daughters of Enugu State who have the ears of the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, should please relocate to Abuja for the actualization of this mission.

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While the people of Enugu State are expected to unanimously work together to see that an Enugu indigene, possibly from Nsukka, emerges as the next Vice Chancellor of UNN, the people of Nsukka should exhibit the Nkpokote Philosophy to see that they work with their other Enugu brothers and sisters to achieve this feat.

The people of Nsukka should, in the philosophy of Nkpokote, pull their resources together and eschew political divisions or affiliations to see that they work in collaboration with their other Enugu brothers to produce a Vice Chancellor of an Nsukka extraction for the first time in the history of University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

In the spirit of justice and equity, it is pertinent to note that the time is due for an Nsukka man to be made the Vice Chancellor of the only federal university in their soil after about 64 years of its existence.

The same way our forebears championed and fought for the liberation of the people of Wawa in time past, is the same spirit that is needed now to produce a UNN Vice Chancellor of Nsukka extraction.

If justice is done on this subject matter that has lingered for about 64 years, then there’s no doubt that peace, tranquility and harmonious coexistence will continue to encourage uninterrupted academic calendar in the University of Nigeria Nsukka.

The Chancellor of UNN, His Royal Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife, as a royal father with high sense of justice, should champion this project of installing an Nsukka indigene as VC of UNN so as to further encourage harmonious coexistence between the host community and the University community. The members of the University council are graciously appealed to join hands with the Ooni to achieve this long expected justice.

There are more than enough qualified Professors from Nsukka Zone that can become UNN VC. Nsukka, the host community of UNN should be considered to occupy the seat of the Vice Chancellor of UNN at least for the first time since it was founded and sited in Nsukka.

Emmanuel Ikechukwu Jonathan, JP, Esq. writes from Alor-Agu in Igbo-Eze South Local of Enugu State.

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