Wednesday, 13 May 2015

AKSU- On the wings of history

AKSU- On the wings of history


The maiden convocation ceremony of Akwa Ibom  State University captured a place in history on May 2, 2015 not only for graduating its first batch of students but doing so on record time. The historic event was also enriched with two outstanding students who bagged First Class Honours degrees; an accomplishment that has certainly given impetus to the rising intellectual ante of the institution. 

Akwa Ibom State University has been a study in history. First conceived by the Attah administration in 2005 as Akwa Ibom State University of Science and Technology, the institution suffered a fate of stillbirth from its very beginning. The enabling law which established the university had perhaps considered technology as primary in addressing the manpower needs of the state nay the nation. But the other fundamentals were not well thought out.
And so that nascent university was troubled by paucity of funds, troubled by location and troubled by logistics thus confining the activities of the university to an office space in Ewet Housing. Curiously, it had a vice-chancellor, recruited staff but could not erect a building in the landlocked location or procured accreditation for any of the conceived courses. It remained a university in conception with lofty dreams of producing science oriented manpower. 

The Akpabio administration which succeeded the Attah administration acted more decisively in the area of education. By the turn of 2008, it had convened stakeholders’ meeting on education. The outcome was the free and compulsory education. But Governor Akpabio’s quest for a more educated populace was broader and deeper in content and reach. And so apart from liberalizing the span of beneficiaries to accommodate all Nigerians resident in Akwa Ibom resulting today in school enrolment of about 1.9 million Nigerians studying in over 600 renovated classroom blocks, he had to review the instrument that established the hiccupped university in line with the reality of the period.

 Governor Akpabio obviously knew that rising school enrolment needed a corresponding tertiary institution to mitigate the challenge of admission of the people of the State in particular and the nation in general. He may also have deemed that the hitherto considered University of Science and Technology would be too narrow in reach to fully address the challenges of admission as well as the manpower needs of the State. In the wisdom of that administration, the instrument that established the University had to be tinkered with.

 And so on the 5th of October, 2010, following the submission of necessary instruments for consideration, the National Universities Commission, NUC approved the establishment of Akwa Ibom State University, a conventional university but with strong biase in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. That fateful day, Governor Godswill Akpabio was on hand to receive the Letter of Recognition of the institution as the 34th State University in Nigeria. With this, the University was set to start. But it would have gone the way of the earlier approval of 2005 if more determined effort did not sequel the recognition of 2010. It was that commitment that produced the historic event of May 2, 2015 being the first convocation ceremony of Akwa Ibom State University. 

When the governor being part of the procession walked into the campus field, venue of the event at about 12:35pm, the readiness of the institution to host the maiden edition of its convocation was palpable. The mood was right, the weather was clement and the faces of the graduands, relations and even fellow students glowed with joy. The students could not hide their joy as they celebrated Governor Akpabio effusively with some displaying placards with inscriptions like “We love you”; “Thank you our Governor, the promise keeper” etc. As the long academic procession led by the Principal Assistant Registrar navigated its way into the arena in steady and slow movement, the students who arraigned themselves along the flanks sang melodious eulogies praising Governor Akpabio, the Visitor to the University. It was obviously an ecstatic movement for the governor as he waved intermittently at the crowd with a beamed smile decorating his face. 

After prayer was offered by Bishop Mosswill Umoh, the Chancellor of the University, His Highness Alhaji Najib Hussani Adamu, CON, was invited at about 12:50pm to perform a brief ceremony declaring the university fit to award degrees. The short solemn event which was immediately performed may also have been required to legitimize the event in tandem with convention. He was to immediately succeed the declaration by addressing the convocation. In the address, the Emir of Kazaure described the event as excellent noting that it would be the first or one of the few times that a new born University is holding a maiden convocation for graduating its pioneer students. He thanked the Visitor of the University, Governor Godswill Akpabio whom he described as the executor of the most uncommon transformation ever seen in the country. The Emir also congratulated the governor-elect, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel stating: “We excitedly awaiting the uncommon continuity of the uncommon transformation the entire State and the Nation expect from you given your uncommon pedigree”. He advised the graduating students to strive for international laurels especially in the Sciences as well as make appreciable impact on the global economy. He enjoined them to develop “scholarly agility”.
Perhaps the most poignant part of the address was his strong insistence on the value of knowledge acquired through education as the foundation for the development of man and society. His Highness stated that Islam attaches great foundation to the acquisition of knowledge. He said: “Allah elevates those who believe among you, but those who are given knowledge have a higher status” noting that the “acquisition of knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim, male and female”. 

The Pro-Chancellor of the University, Obong (Engr.) Asuquo A. Udofia in his address said that “the university must strive to attract and retain a critical mass of seasoned and erudite scholars if it must rapidly train the needful human capital which is strategic in realizing our great vision …” He said that the newly constituted management is poised to steer the affairs of the academic curriculum to satisfy the development needs of our State and Nation. He urged the graduating students to go out there and unleash their creative talents and become problem solvers in the face of the many daunting challenges facing the world noting that in these challenges lie opportunities not visible to blurred eyes. 

The new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eno James Ibanga who appears well suited for the job thanked the Visitor, His Excellency, Dr. Godswill Akpabio for finding him worthy of the appointment as acting Vice-Chancellor and the Governing Council of Akwa Ibom State University for confirming him as the substantive second Vice-Chancellor of the Institution noting that he is proud to be the Vice-Chancellor who is graduating the first set of students of the University. The Vice-Chancellor stated that he appreciates the onerous responsibility of his work which, according to him, is to serve the State in the training of skilled manpower for the State and the Nation at large. He revisited the history of the University stating that the legal instrument establishing the university was conceived in May 2008 when the Akwa Ibom State Executive Council approved the establishment of a conventional multi-campus University with Main Campus at Ikot Akpaden, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area. 

On staff training, the Vice-Chancellor said that at inception about fifty (50) indigenes of Akwa Ibom State were sent abroad on sponsorship by the State Government for higher degree studies in Europe, America, Canada and Asian countries, in the field of engineering and science specializations. He said that presently, twenty-four of the trainees who had successfully completed their studies have returned to join and boost the University staff strength. The Vice Chancellor further noted that some staff are also beneficiaries of the Federal Government TETFUND Academic Staff training and Development stating that currently about twenty-two staffers are in various parts of the world with TETFUND Training Grant and three are on local PHD sponsorships. 

Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Professor Akaneren Essien whose village is five kilometers from the University said: “I am fulfilled; I am glad that this has come to pass”. Professor Akaneren who represented the executive secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. J. A. Okojie, traced the history of the university when it was first conceived in March 2005 by the Attah administration. He noted that since October 5, 2010 when His Excellency received the Letter of Recognition as the 34th State University in Nigeria, the school has continued to keep NUC abreast of its progress especially in its robust staff development policy mostly in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

The erudite scholar observed that the efforts serve to complement the provisions made by the Federal Government through agencies like TETFUND in the area of staff development policy. He assured all that AKSU would certainly benefit from such scheme on annual basis. He commended the University for attaining 100% accreditation for the programmes presented. The executive secretary of NUC urged the proprietor of the University and by extension Akwa Ibom State Government to sustain the momentum. He advised the graduating students to be conscious of the fact that as pioneers of the institution, they must ensure that their actions and conduct project AKSU in good light. The university don reminded the school authority that after graduating two streams of graduands, the education policy permits the school to commence its post-graduate programme advising that it begins early planning to achieve that lofty dream. 

Governor Akpabio in his remarks thanked his predecessor for conceiving the idea stating that his administration had to take-off from there since it believes that government is a continuum. The governor recalled the people’s age-long penchant for education making reference to Ibibio Union which evolved the first scholarship scheme that sent its children for training abroad. He thanked Professor S. U. Peters for his painstaking commitment in the evolution of the university. The mention of Professor Peters elicited joyful applause from the students indicating that he demonstrated commendable capacity in the administration of the school.  

The governor also forayed into the history of education in the State including how he convened stakeholders’ meeting in 2008 which led to the declaration of free and compulsory education. He said that the university was an important addition to that matrix noting that it would absorb our children into tertiary institution. And so has it been. The elated governor summed the story thus: “An institution that obtained certificate in 2010, enrolled the first set of students in 2011 and is doing convocation in 2015, four years after is an institution to watch” noting that the act is uncommon. 

Forty students graduated with two bagging First Class degrees. The two first class graduands were awarded State Government Scholarship to study abroad in any university of their choice. The Governor advised other students to study hard so that they may also earn such scholarship. Mr. Etebong, Emmanuel Ibekwe the best graduating student who hails from Essien Udim had 4.69 as grade point average (GPA). He spoke on behalf of the graduating students.

Iniodu is a public affairs analyst

No comments:

Post a Comment