The importance of Imo State University, Owerri, IMSU, to the people and government of Imo State cannot be overstated. It is the only university owned by the State and is situated in the capital city.
There is hardly any family in Imo State today that cannot boast of having a student/graduate or staff of IMSU. The battle for the relocation of IMSU after the creation of Abia state was pursued with great vigor and emotion similar only to the Imo Airport project.
The scenario above illustrate how important the state University is to the people of Imo such that even a bean cake seller, motor mechanic, “Keke”operator etc shows unbridled interest in the affairs of the institution. This situation is not helpful either by its location in the capital city as news real or fabricated that emanates from the school gets to town in a twinkle of an eye. The interest of Ndi Imo in their institution increased under the Okorocha RESCUE government with the promised “free education”. This writer personally saw the tumultuous crowd that came to Owerri to take the post-JAMB examination. They consisted of Imo indigenes from all parts of the county returning to benefit from the PROPOSED FREE EDUCATION program being extended to state owned tertiary institutions.
Prof. BEB Nwoke, an eminent and distinguished Professor of Public Health Parasitology and Entomology, renowned consultant to the World Health Organisation, WHO, was appointed as a Acting Vice-chancellor of IMSU on the 7th of June 2011. Gov. Okorocha during his first visit to the institution where he announced BEB Nwoke as Ag. V.C told the world that the Prof. did not lobby to be appointed but that he made up his mind to appoint him as Ag.Vice Chancellor when he heard about the Professors reputation as a disciplinarian, with strong Christian values. In that singular action, history was replayed as BEB Nwoke was similarly appointed Ag. VC by Rtd. Col. Tanko Zubairo in 1999 when he visited the institution and saw the accolades the Professor got from staff and students.
The 15 months spent by the Ag. VC so far has brought about unprecedented change in the landscape and outlook of the institution such that has attracted enemies of progress, positive change and probity from people that fleeced the system under the old order. The VC abolished the use of personal assistants (PAs) by lecturers. The PAs were used by some corrupt lecturers to collect “sorting”, sell handouts and engage in numerous sharp practices. Prof. Nwoke abolished the sale of books outside the university bookshop, reactivated the university inaugural lecture series with 6 professors having had their turn. BEB as he is fondly called, has ensured the accreditation of Nursing Science, Electrical/Eletronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil & Agric Engineering departments for the first time. He employed competent academic staff to fill up vacancies, ensured promotion of academic and non academic staff witheld as for many years. Recalcitrant lecturers have been suspended for going against the university rules, a situation that was never heard of before now.
The school of post graduate studies under Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba now not only wears a new look but has stated graduating students in all fields of study especially in the faculty of Education, Law, Business. BEB attracted Zenith bank to dualise the university entrance road, got the Governor to reconstruct the University auditorium and also attracted street lights on and off the campus. All fees payable to the university are now paid into either Zenith Bank or the University micro finance bank on campus. The student would then proceed to bursary with his payment slip to obtain receipt. The beneficiaries of the old order who fleeced students have now declared war against the VC for “pouring “sansan” for their garri”.
They are few non-academic staff who are sad they no longer issue fake receipts to unsuspecting students thereby enriching themselves at the expense of the university. Some academic staff who prefer to sell “handouts”, collect“sorting” to change grades. There are other “stakeholder” who are not staff of the institution but beneficiaries with their cronies in the system and have sworn to return the old order. They have resorted to the mass media with fabricated, misleading and libelous allegations.
In IMSU of the past, some lecturers bestrode the landscape like demi-gods, selling handouts, receiving “sorting” through their PAs, demanding sex for grades, “missing” scripts” was the norm etc. The old epoch was a time of easy and ill acquired wealth, a time men of low morals wallow in sin and immorality. An era when students were akin to “fruits”growing wild to be plucked and ravaged by any one (academic and non academic staff) that had vantage position to do so. It was an era of short-changing the system with “agbata eke” philosophy. A time some lecturers spent more time in hotels and bars than on teaching, research and community service. A time, a few bursary staff had in their possession fake receipts used to fleece the institution. An era students had no comfort nor respite, girls were at the mercy of sexual predators.
These enemies of progress have resorted to media warfare buying -up spaces in print and electronic media aimed at tarnishing the hard earned reputation of the respected academic with the ultimately goal of getting Gov. Okorocha to remove him from office so that the“alooting continua” can return in full scale.
Alh. Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of EFCC once said: “when you fight corruption, corruption fights back at you”. Today in IMSU, not only corruption but some few godless individuals constituting themselves to STAKEHOLDERS are fighting back not at the VC for following his conscience and the rules and regulations guiding his office. But they forget that the holy Bible assures us that ONE WITH GOD IS MAJORITY. To God be the Glory.
Ik Ogbonna is an Owerri based Journalist and former National Secretary, Imo State University Alumni Association. email@example.com