Nigeria’s first indigenous university is now in turmoil, as it has always been whenever it’s time to appoint a new vice-chancellor for it. The tenure of the current VC of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Professor Benjamin Ozurumba, (pictured above) expires in June this year.
At the last count, more than 60 professors were eyeing the position. From the qualified to the over-qualified, each has been trying to build bridges across faculties — and roads to the hearts of members of the university’s Governing Council that is statutorily empowered to nominate a candidate for VC. But political considerations have almost always held the trump card: the Nigerian president approves the appointment of the VC of every federal university.
This year, protest from the university’s host community has been so intense that it can hardly be ignored, if for peace to reign on the campuses of the varsity founded in 1960 “to restore the dignity of man”. Attempts in previous years to have an Nsukka-born professor in the saddle were frustrated, apparently by the influence of the then governors of Enugu State. An Nsukka son (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) is now the governor, but he appears not ready to meddle in the affairs of the Governing Council or play politics by lobbying Abuja as his predecessors did.
In some other federal universities sited in the south-east, the politics of VC is much more acrimonious, and “indigenous” candidates almost always emerge victorious. At the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), for instance, you dare not step forward to contest for VC or any top position if you’re not from Imo State. Even among Imo professors, fights often brew between Owerri and Orlu professors!
President Muhammadu Buhari might still surprise those jostling for the UNN position. One right step he could take is acceding to the demand of Nsukka that has played the good host for nearly 60 years. Besides many qualified and competent sons of the area in UNN, there are many others performing wonders in universities both overseas and in other Nigerian universities. One of them is the current deputy vice-chancellor of UNN.
Among those asking for the position so far are professors from within UNN, former and current DVCs and VCs, and professors from other public and private universities around the world:
Charles Igwe, DVC (administration), UNN
James Ogbonna, DVC (academic), UNN
Polycarp Chigbu, former DVC, UNN
Ifeoma Enemo, former DVC, UNN
Cyprian Onyeji, former VC, ESUT
Smart Uchegbu, former DVC, UNN
Kenneth Oforkansi, former DVC, UNN
Charles Livinus Anike Asadu (Agriculture), UNN
Ferdinand Chilaka (Biochemistry)
Ikenna Dieke (English, Literary & African Studies)
Emenike Ejiogu (Electronic Engineering)
Chinedu Eze (Veterinary Medicine)
Joy Ezeilo (Law)
Emmanuel Ibezim (Pharmacy)
Christian Madu (Industrial Engineering)
Chima Mbah (Pharmacy)
Anene Moneke (Microbiology)
Obioma Njoku (Biochemistry)
Uchenna Nwagha (Medicine & Surgery)
Boniface Nworgu (Science Educational)
Chukwuyere Nwosu (Veterinary Medicine)
Grace Offorma (Arts Education)
Sabinus Ofoefule (Pharmacy)
Chukwunonso Okafor (Law)
Uchechukwu Okoro (Pure & Industrial Chemistry)
Denchris Onah (Veterinary Medicine)
Charles Omekwu (Library & Information Science)
Obinna Onwujekwe (Medicine & Surgery)
Micah Osilike (Mathematics)
Christopher Ugwu (Religion)
Fidelis Ugwuowo (Statistics)
Malachy Okwueze (Religion), VC, Coal City University
Samuel Eze, DVC, Enugu State Univ. of Science and Technology (ESUT)
Agu C. Agu (Law), ESUT
Abigail Alio (Education), ESUT
Felix Asogwa (Political Science), ESUT
Frederick Eze (Public Admin.), ESUT
Samuel Eze (Education), ESUT
Mellitus Ezeamenyi (Mathematics), ESUT
Chibueze Iloegbnam (Mass Com.), ESUT
Ngozika Mbajiogo (Education), ESUT
Ikechukwu Oluka (Agric. & Bioresources Engineering), ESUT
Jude E.O. Udenta (Public. Admin), ESUT
Nduka Ekere (Engineering), U.K.
Jonathan Odo (Law), Cameroon
Anthony Okoh (Microbiology), South Africa
Lawrence Ugwuanyi (Philosophy), The Gambia
Godwin Mbamalu (Chemistry), Charlotte, N.C.
Eyitemi Ajorhonir (Chemistry), Delta State University
Victor Ariole (Arts/French), University of Lagos
Uche B. Eke (Chemistry), University of Ilorin
Bartholomew Ekwueme (Geology), University of Calabar
Emmanuel Ezugwu (Manufacturing Engineering), Air Force Institute, Kaduna
Sylvester Madu (Psychology), Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University
Isaac Mbachu (Political Science & Defence Studies), NDA, Kaduna
Friday Ndubuisi (Philosophy), Christopher University, Mowe, Ogun State
Samuel Nzotta, FUT, Owerri
Christopher Osunbor (Biochemistry), University of Benin
Jacinta Opara (Health Education), University of Maiduguri
Josephat Ogbuagu (Chemistry), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
At many a convocation ceremony in the 1990s, forthright professors like Chinua Achebe decried the politics played by supposed professors in Nigerian universities, which, he said, negates all that intellectualism stands for. In his 1983 book, Achebe lists ethnicity as one of the troubles with Nigeria. Professor Chukwuemeka Ike, in one of his novels, depicts some professors consulting dibia for charms to enable them secure positions in universities.
For the UNN VC seat, however, the choice of its occupant will eventually be made by President Buhari on the advice of education minister Adamu Adamu and other acolytes in Aso Rock. After the announcement, likely in May, the “Lions” of UNN might stop roaring.