Is Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie the right, best and most qualified person for the office of the Vice Chancellor, Imo State University, Owerri? Plans are in top gear to foist Prof. U. A. Awuzie on the management of Imo State University, Owerri, through the back-door as the substantive Vice Chancellor of the Institution. Prof. Awuzie who replaced Prof. B. E. B. Nwoke as the Ag. Vice Chancellor, Imo State University, Owerri, on November, 22nd 2012 is preparing himself for the coveted position by expunging the Ag. Status. The Prof. Awuzie’s controlled Governing Council has concluded and perfected arrangements on how to go about the “Orlu Agenda”. To this end, they had, in their last Council meeting constituted a three-man committee to draft the advert for the position of the Vice Chancellor, Imo State University, Owerri, with conditions twisted to accommodate a deficient and unqualified Awuzie. The advert as published in the Nation Newspaper of November 25th, 2013 reads in part, “Qualities and Qualifications of the Vice Chancellor” – Where is stated that applicants must have attracted projects to the University. It is on record that no other “resident Professor” of Imo State University has attracted projects of ‘contracts’ to the Institution other than the former ASUU President, Prof. U. A. Awuzie. A project he attracted with his position as ASUU President. Further, the advert was silent on the Qualification (Academic) thereby removing PhD as a MUST for qualification for every applicant, a condition that is a MUST in Nigerian Universities. “Terms and Conditions of Service” – They compounded their shallow reasoning by stating that “the remuneration and other conditions of service are as applicable to the post of a Vice- Chancellor in Nigerian Universities”. If the remuneration should be as applicable in other Universities, it follows therefore that the Qualifications should be as obtainable and applicable in other Nigerian Universities hence, PhD.
The BIG question is will a non-PhD holder Vice-Chancellor admit PhD graduands? It is common knowledge that admittance of PhD graduates into Imo State University or any other Nigerian University as graduands during the University’s Convocation ceremony requires a statutory obligation by the Vice-Chancellor to robe, admit and present the graduands to the Chancellor into the Degree of Imo State University for Convocation. Can a non-PhD Vice-Chancellor present PhD graduates for Convocation? Is Prof Awuzie’s quest for power overshadowing these age-long principles?
The position of the Vice Chancellor in every Nigerian University is reserved for Professors with PhD. This has been the ritual and prerequisite over the years, Imo State University inclusive. It is obvious that Prof Awuzie is deficient here as he is not a PhD holder, therefore, not qualified for the position of a “substantive Vice Chancellor”. However, his controlled Governing Council under a stooge- Mazi Owunna, is head bent to forgo this important aspect of the criteria for the selection nay election in every Nigerian University. This they did by removing PhD qualification as a MUST for intending applicants. Are they trying to sacrifice standard on the altar of nepotism? Since they want an Orlu man to steer the ship, are there no other Professor of Orlu origin with PhD qualifications? What then are they teaching our children? To bend the law to accommodate egocentric interests? To do anything even the unconstitutional to hold on to power? Why the desperation? Where is the morality they teach our children?
It is also a norm that those vying for the position of the Vice Chancellor MUST not be above sixty (60) years. The university community and indeed Imo people will be surprised to see a change on the subject to accommodate over-aged Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie who is 62 already. To actualize this, they have extended the age limit to sixty-five (65) years for the sole purpose of not disqualifying the already unqualified Awuzie. Is this the kind of grooming they give our children as politicians of tomorrow? No wonder, even at twenty-five, they have started using age declaration rather than birth certificates. Are there no younger qualified Orlu-born PhD holder in the service of Imo State University?
To further increase the list of government acts of lawlessness, the Awuzie controlled Governing Council of Imo State University are on the verge of ambushing the fast approaching court judgment in the suit between the Vice Chancellor Prof. I. C. Okonkwo against Imo State Government and Imo State University slated for February 2014. Why? I strongly do not want to believe that the Governing Council’s attempt to change the standard for appointing, electing or selecting a Vice Chancellor for the University is in agreement with their principal- Imo state Government. This assertion is borne out of the fact that playing politics with the appointment of the University Vice-Chancellor is not part of the RESCUE PROGRAMME or is this the face of the Rescue Mission of the government of Governor Rochas Anayochukwu Okorocha?
Imo State like every other state in Nigeria has three (3) senatorial zones. It is on record, and I stand to be corrected, that since the inception of Imo State University, all the substantive Vice Chancellors of the University are of Orlu origin. One may ask, is this higher institution Orlu State University or Imo State University? If it is the former, let the name be changed to reflect it and help disabuse the minds of those whose thinking are otherwise. However, if it is the latter, Imo State University Owerri, why is it that an Owerri zone born or an Okigwe zone born can’t be appointed, selected or elected the Vice Chancellor? Where then is the age long principle of equality and equity? Are Okigwe and Owerri zones slave to Orlu zone? For the record, Imo State University has had three substantive Vice Chancellors in the following order: Prof Ndubuizu- Orlu; Prof. Anwuka- Orlu, Prof. Okonkwo- Orlu and unqualified Vice Chancellor in-waiting Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie- Orlu.
One wonders where lie the Independence and supervisory role of the Council as headed by a businessman, Mazi Owunna. Is he aware of the criteria for selecting a Vice-Chancellor or has he been lobbied over by the former ASUU tzar? Or is this part of government’s effort to destroy the system and maybe, bring a politician from government house as Vice-Chancellor? It is a matter of time and we are graciously watching as the academic drama nay administrative blunder unfolds itself at Imo State University, Owerri.
Dr. Darlington C. Emeribe.