My dream for Nnamdi Azikiwe University, and the problem of SUG Presidency in Unizik –Ahaneku, Vice Chancellor

odogwublog brings you another interview with the Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof Joseph Ahaneku.........a cerebral of sort  
The late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a nationalist of note and a re¬nowned Pan-African who led the struggle for the de-coloni¬zation of not just Nigeria but the entire continent of Africa. He later became the Governor- General of Nigeria and eventu¬ally, the ceremonial President. He died in 1996 but before then, a federal University in Awka had been named after him– Nnamdi Azikiwe University also known as UNIZIK. The name Zik evokes passion, greatness and excellence.
The Institution has witnessed four vice chancellors and its cur¬rent administrator, Professor Joseph Ahaneku, FAS, is the fifth. He took over the manage¬ment of the university exactly a year ago and so far he has re-corded landmark achievements that are quite commendable in many respects.
 During his first anniversary, Prof Ahaneku reinstated his dream and com-mitment of moulding the insti¬tution named after the legend¬ary Zik into one of the best in Africa.
You were elected the Vice Chan¬cellor of the great Unizik exactly a year ago, what has been your experience so far since you assumed office? 
We have just celebrated one year of my administration and we produced a beauti¬fully packaged souvenir with a banal headline: ‘How far, so far in the last one year at Nnamdi Azikiwe University.’ The magazine graphically and comprehensively captured what we have been doing in the university in the last one year. In the last one year, we have been consolidating on the achievements of my predeces¬sors and at the same time ini¬tiating ideas, programmes and projects that in our esteemed estimation will take the univer¬sity to greater heights. I have made it abundantly clear that UNIZIK must take her rightful place and be the best among equals under our technology-based and academic research-oriented leadership. From the onset, I established the fact that the university should serve as a mirror to the society. And you know very well that to sustain a university culture, there is the urgent need to mentor as well as groom the students through academic research,
discipline, develop work¬shops and conferences and at the same time upholding the good attitude to work and abide by the university’s rules and regulations. All these put together have shaped my first 365 days in office and I make bold to state that it has been challenging and at the same time rewarding.
Your election was con¬troversial as one of the contes¬tants claimed you were unduly elected, why?
There was no controversy of any kind as the election and appointment followed due pro¬cess. One cannot be the judge in one’s case just as no team can officiate in a game it is playing against an opponent. There would have been a case of controversy if the Govern¬ing Council that elected me was divided or had cracks in their choice. But nothing of such happened as the election was smooth, free and fair. 
For your interest and the digestion of your readers, the Governing Council of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka led by Air Vice Marshal Larry Koinyan (retd) appointed me, Profes¬sor Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku, as the VC of UNIZIK after an exhaustive meeting held on Monday May 26, 2014. The Council voted and eight mem¬bers voted for me while three voted for Prof Greg Nwakoby. In a letter signed by the Chair¬man of the Council, and in ac¬cordance with the applicable provision in the universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act No 11 of 1993 and Section 3 of Principal
Act as amended in Section 4b of the universities Amend¬ment Act 2003 and 2007 Act No 1, my appointment shall be a single term of five years with effect from Wednesday June 4, 2014. The terms and conditions of my appointment are as approved by the Fed¬eral Government for all federal universities. I narrated all these issues to illustrate to you that my appointment followed due process and was done with re¬spect to all known provisions and laws pertaining to the ap¬pointment of a VC for a federal university in Nigeria.
Can you tell us what you con¬sider your achievements and if possible, challenges, within the last one year? 
At my inauguration last year, I stated that this institution, Nnamdi Azikiwe University was named after the legend¬ary and Great Zik of Africa, the man who was adjudged Nigeria’s greatest political evangelist. Zik was an African statesman, pathfinder of Nige¬rian nationalism and a proud Blackman. In other words, UNIZIK should be standard bearer in quality education and our aim is to ensure that this university is graded as the best in Nigeria, one of the first 10 in Africa and among the world’s leading institutions of higher learning.
 I still stand by this well tailored assertion and so far, with the support of my team, staff and students of this great institution, we have been producing good and commend¬able results. For instance, the Biotechnology Centre of the school now produces distilled water. The centre has com-menced the production of dis¬tilled water and ice laboratory for pharmaceutical purposes. This was done under my ad¬ministration. 
It is still within this period that a student of UNIZIK, 21-year-old Sandra Muna Okerie won the Most Beautiful Face in Nigeria and it was highly cel-ebrated both in the university community and beyond. While that euphoria was going on, UNIZIK under my watch re¬corded another wonderful feat as a staff, Ogboso E. Ogboso emerged first position in Af¬rican Arts Exhibition held at Eagle Square, Abuja between July 18 and 24 2014. I can also tell you that the entire UNIZIK community was magnetically electrified when our Mechani¬cal Engineering Department made a great breakthrough in construction and research by constructing a mobile vehicle named Autozik car. Again, our research team took first posi¬tion in Nigeria Association of Petroleum Geologists Com¬petition. This exceptional feat qualified the UNIZIK Team for the Imperial Barrel Award held in March this year.
You would have noticed that we have upgraded our admis¬sion style and processes to what I consider the 21st cen¬tury approach whereby we not just depended on the old analogue style of evolution, we have digitalized almost every¬thing. Following JAMB’s re¬lease of results, we applied the same measure JAMB used in screening their candidates for the JAMB exams, we deployed their level of technology; the Biometric capturing and we used that to also authenticate the candidates who presented themselves for admission in the 201/15 sessions and we carried out that very experiment, it worked out very well because the revelation was very inter¬esting. I can tell you that more than 405 candidates abandoned the exams and ran away; those who came to impersonate. And about 88 candidates were ar¬rested and handed over to the security agents who processed and charged some of them to court on the basis of exam mis¬conduct. The meaning is that admissions into UNIZIK now
follow due process and are orderly conducted. We have also been doing very well in the Continuing Education Pro¬gramme (CEP) and the result has been very wonderful as traders and artisans can now be differentiated from the real students who have come to the university to read and study. We can now tell you that no trader or artisan can sit in his shop and purchase our hard earned certificate. Here, we practice what we teach and so we reward excellence and punish failures and those who promote laziness. We are also doing our best with the com¬pletion of the Beautiful Gate which was awarded by my predecessor. As it stands now, this administration has made a pledge to complete and com¬mission other structures like the Faculty of Arts Building and Science Village.
There is a slogan very com¬mon in your campus: “What we are doing here.” What is it all about? 
I have earlier mentioned about the Autozik car, radio dynamic formula 1 vehicle, which was produced by five of our students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in December last year. We went to the National Exhibition Submit in Abuja in December and the Autozik car stole the show as it was the cynosure of all eyes. 
It attracted applause, commenda¬tion and praises for our univer¬sity and we were all very happy. That really was the highlight in Abuja because the Formula One thing was produced using 50 per cent local contents. The same department is now pursu¬ing two other projects that are very noble and they are work¬ing hard to achieve 80 per cent or more local contents. That is the meaning of the slogan you are hearing, what we are do¬ing here! This is the only way we can survive as a nation, as a people. We need to produce things to demonstrate the fact that we are practising what we are teaching and learning. 
To this effect, we have over 26areas of skills acquisitions in the Entrepreneurship Cen¬tre. We have equally opened our international contacts. Our partner university in China, Xiamen University, has wid¬ened the spectrum of our co¬operation. Before now, we were doing more of cultural exchange but now we have added ICT. So, as I speak, they have opened avenue for staff development for us in differ¬ent fields and what this means is that we are doing everything within our resources to interna-tionalize our university so as to raise the standard of education.
The former Students Union Government presi¬dent accused you of running a corrupt administration. How can you defend yourself on this? 
As long as I am concerned, the former SUG president was either not well informed or he just decided to be ignorant of what was happening in the university and means that his allegation is really laughable. You see, I am in the univer¬sity community to train people in character and learning. My mandate is to train, mentor and groom.
To cut an unnecessary long story short, the fact of the mat¬ter was that the former SUG president was asking why we were asking prospective candi-dates to pay for biometric data capturing. Just as you have it in JAMB, when you are writ¬ing JAMB, you pay for the exam. When you are coming here to have post UTME, you are asked to pay for it because you are not our student. There were over 40,000 students but we asked only the successful ones to pay because we con¬sidered it uncharitable to levy taxes on those who never made it. That was all and the former SUG President who came on board last December and who came into the university via the analogue process was ask¬ing questions about payment in a digitalized process – when students were having their re¬sults as soon their exams were finished. We cannot go back to the analogue system. No! Is there anything like corrup¬tion in what I have explained to you?
In a nutshell, what is your dream for UNIZIK? 
The truth is that I have been in this university for 25 years now and I have been a profes¬sor for 18 years, so I know the terrain very well. My dream is that by the end of my tenure in the next four years, UNIZIK would have become one of the first 500 universities in the world; among the first 50 in Africa and ultimately the num¬ber one in Nigeria. To achieve this task, I have reminded the staff of the decision we took in this university that results should be released one month after examination. And we all have agreed to it. And from this academic year, we will start the implementation. And what is the punishment? If you do not release your result after one month, your salary will be seized. You will forfeit you salary to the University. And I have charged all the HODs that if your subordinate or lecturer is the offending officer/lecturer and you refuse to report, you will take the punishment be¬cause your salary will be held back.
So, on the basis of that, ev¬erybody is on his or her toes. We are pursuing that aggres¬sively. So, with this, we are already confronting all the problems of untimely release of results as well as graduating on time. We have also charged students that if any person is maltreating any of them, they should write to us and some of them have started writing boldly. We are not joking with indiscipline in this place. A member of staff was expelled by Council recently for an ir¬regular act.
That was at the University High School. Any person un¬der any person’s watch should be treated with decency. Ethics and conducts for us are very important. So, if we disci¬pline ourselves that much, the people we are training should understand that they have to learn, and very well too. This is my dream and I think they quite, really, represent the thought of the founding fathers of the university.

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