Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Prof. Enefiok Essien: A worthy successor for UNIUYO leadership

Prof. Enefiok Essien: A worthy successor for UNIUYO leadership


I can conveniently identify a personality who is rich in public relations when l come across one, of course you know by the nature of my job as a Journalist l meet all kinds of people on daily basis, meeting the man coming on board in a matter of days as UNIUYO’s next Vice Chancellor recently gave me a summary of a man with a robust public relations even from the reception he gives, he radiates smiles that are receptive in meaning and insisting on your humanity not minding his elitist status. 

He may suggest to you an age long friend you are re-uniting with after a while. Believe me, this is goodwill and an indication of quality education and exposure, quite an enviable persona of this egg head which is not a regular component of famous or successful people in this clime when one comes across them.

As the tenure of the fourth VC of University Of Uyo, Prof. Comfort Ekpo comes to an end on November 30, who has done her best being the first female Vice Chancellor, the governing council of the institution have after a rigorous screening of the various aspirants to the office selected an erudite scholar, law teacher and accomplished Professor of Law, Prof. Enefiok Essien as the next Vice Chancellor of the institution. 

Prof. Essien l must say is a worthy successor of the incumbent Vice Chancellor being a two term Dean of Faculty of Law, Chairman Forum of Deans of the university and has put in twenty five years in academics and leadership. An excellent academic l must confess. A peep into the Vice Chancellor designate’s academic journey shows that he has gone through learning in distinctions, he holds a grade I distinction in West African School Certificate Examination, a good diploma in Journalism from the School of Journalism and Television, Berkshire, England and a second class upper division bachelor of laws degree obtained in 1984 from the prestigious University of Calabar. Essien, unknown to many is a man of prizes and chances are his tenure will witness wining more prizes for the University of Uyo. Records shows that he won prizes in different subjects, as the best graduating students in his secondary school and also won the overall prize while in the university, not satisfied he won the best graduating student prize in Jurisprudence and Legal Theory. 

At the University of Lagos where he enrolled for his Masters programme in Law, he graduated in 1988 with (LLM). It is also on record that  he won the Commonwealth Study fellowship award and later moved to Birmingham, Edgbaston, England where he earned his Doctor of Philosophy of law (Ph.D) added to his achievement is the fact that the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 1993, His Lordship Honourable Justice Muhammad Bello appointed him Notary Public for Nigeria. An insight into his job experience with the University indicates that he has served as Examination Officer, Head of Department, Vice Dean of Faculty, Chairman, Examinations Committee, Member and Chairman of many ad-hoc and standing committees such as Capital Projects Committee, Appointments and Promotions Committee, Appeals Committee, Labour Relations Committee, Community Relations Committee, University Research Committee and University Security Committee. He is also a member of the university’s boards such as Governing Board of the Centre for Gender Studies, Board of the School of Continuing Education, Postgraduate School Board, Board Basic Studies/ Pre- Programme, Faculty Board of Law Faculty and Director of the University’s Law Clinic.

The Vice Chancellor Designate is a member, Governing Council of the University of Uyo from 2012 to date. It is on record that Prof. Essien is the longest serving Dean of a Faculty in the University of Uyo. For the feat of serving as Dean since 2000 to 2009 and from 2012 to 2015, he is currently the Chairman, Forum of Deans of the University, an appointment he has kept since January 2013 till date without any eyebrow raised and holding his shoulder high. There is no doubt that within the University of Uyo system, Essien’s administrative profile is an intimidation, a reason he won the hearts of the Governing Council that relish experience, excellence and robust goodwill. Talking about goodwill, Essien has this in abundance, perhaps for his sociable and humane disposition. The erudite Professor of Law has been part of the accreditation panels that have visited many universities being a member of Governing Council of Legal Education, Abuja.  

He is also a member, Governing Council of Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Abuja and President, Society for International Humanitarian Law Teachers in Nigeria, at a time he served as Chairman, Nigerian Company law report, a project of Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja, Chairman Akwa Ibom State Panel of Inquiry and has authored four books, edited three as well as published articles widely in Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Prof. Essien is an examiner in eleven Universities spread all over the geo-political zones in Nigeria and an external assessor for professional appointments/promotions in many universities.

It is worthy of note that the Vice Chancellor in- the- waiting aside being a guest speaker at Senate retreats, House of Assembly retreats and at various conferences, seminars, workshops and round tables, consults for International Committee of the Red Cross, Niger Delta Power Company, Maritime Academy of Nigeria and at one time for the International Commission of Jurists. He is a fellow of the Institution of Industrial Administration, Fellow of Institute of Public Diplomacy and Management (FIPDM) and member Nigerian Institute of Management. He has been a member and still is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association since 1985, member Nigerian Association of Law Teachers since 1986 and member of International Bar Association since 1997 and was in 1997 admitted as exempted student member of the inner temple, one of the inns of Court in England. 

Beyond the University circles, in his home Local Government, the custodians of the traditions of Ibiono Ibom people led by the Paramount Ruler, His Royal Majesty, Edidem Ime Udo Usoro Inyang found him worthy to be honoured with a Chieftaincy title of ’’Ata Ifiok Mbet Ibiono Ibom’’ and again in 2014 the Nigerian Association of Law Teachers conferred on him the Teslim Elias excellence award. The law scholar has been listed in Nigeria’s who’s who in Nigeria, who’s who in the world, One thousand great scholars of 21st century and IBC Leading Educators of the world.

Now you will agree with me that Prof. Essien’s curriculum vitae is just intimidating, coupled with his excellent public relations, discipline and humane disposition which makes him a worthy successor for UNIUYO leadership. 

When from the blues some local tabloids recently came up with a wild and spurious allegation that the excellent law teacher was once indicted by a Court of Appeal in a sex scandal, one only wonders the dimension politics even in the university system could take atimes. True to it, when I contacted the erudite scholar and we met one on one he dismissed the allegation with a wave of hand as according to him he was never joined in any suit neither did any Court invite him for hearing in such a matter. 

In fact a perusal of the judgment of the alleged case upon my investigation involving a student who was caught for exam misconduct shows that in no way was Prof. Essien indicted. I think what the other contenders to the office of the Vice Chancellor should do is to support this symbol of excellence in the task ahead of leading one of Nigeria’s fastest growing and finest  universities- University of Uyo to succeed without feeding the media with falsehood as this negates what they as teachers teach the students. In fact when the gist filtered in, I asked myself, why these propagandists not addressed a press conference with facts and figures if they have any than decide to push their maneuver through the media. It is time our people especially those in the academia grew from that sort of pettiness and celebrate men and women of excellence. 

To buttress the points, Prof. Essien said he was not in the country as at the time the case in question started and ended as he was in England for his development course. It is on record that no court ever invited him for hearing or was joined in any suit. Certainly, pundits say nobody can be indicted in a case the individual was not a party to. No wonder three vital unions of the university under the aegis of Joint Action Congress made up of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in a statement signed by Comrade Idongesit Nsubong says the three unions are delighted to identify with Prof. Essien’s meritorious appointment and looks forward to a new University of Uyo characterized by focused leadership, labour friendliness, improved staff and students welfare and restored public relations. The statement maintains that as an excellent administrator and current Dean of the Faculty of Law he will use his wealth of experience in the management of human and material resources of the University. 

Also the Students Union Government (SUG) have come out to support and congratulate the Vice Chancellor designate and the Governing Council of the University for a job well done in selecting a man of excellence and goodwill for the plum job. The Students Leaders who personally visited the VC Designate in his modest office at the Town Campus Annex led by the President, Joseph Etuk and Secretary General, Jimmy Maxwell says Prof. Essien’s emergence as the new helmsman of the University is well deserved considering the Professor of Law’s selfless contributions to the academia. At a recent meeting of Academic Staff of UNIUYO led by the Chairman, Dr. Aniekan Brown, Ph.D, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology made it clear that the Union is in full support of Prof. Essien’s selection as Vice Chancellor designate as that is the best decision at this time of the university’s history, therefore the union will rally round him to succeed and urged those who sought for the office and did not succeed this time to re-apply after five years just like Prof. Enefiok Essien did five years ago.

With the university autonomy policy now in place, the governing council have lived up to the expectations by initiating a thorough process for the selection of a Vice Chancellor that will replace Prof. Comfort Ekpo whose tenure ends on Nov. 30, a departure from nominating names for selection of one by the Pro Chancellor as VC.  Prof. Enefiok Essien will assume duties as VC on 1st of December, 2015 as the fifth Vice Chancellor of the pride of Akwa Ibom people and beyond in the main campus of the institution along Nwaniba road, it becomes necessary to ask for the university community’s support for this worthy successor of Prof. Comfort Ekpo as he promises to be a man that will take the Citadel of learning to an enviable height. Congratulations Obong (Prof.) Enefiok Essien, a good man for UNIUYO at this time.   

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