By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
“Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit.”
— Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists…when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say: We did it ourselves.”
— Lao-Tzu, Ancient philosopher and founder of Taoism
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
— Sheryl Sanberg, COO of Facebook
These three quotes by great men have established who Prof Charles Okechukwu Esimone, FAS is in the adminstration of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka as it’s 6th substantive Vice Chancellor. He is accommodating yet very thorough, fair and firm, tolerant, ingenious and sagacious. A combination of these unique attributes examplifies him as a listening leader of our time.
Saturday, June 5, 2021 has been set aside to honour this enigma of a perfect gentleman whose humongous leadership imprints reverberates even beyond the four walls of this great citadel of academic excellence.
Expectedly, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, and the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion, will lead other eminent guests including traditional rulers of Onitsha, Obi Alfred Achebe; Akwaeze, Igwe Christopher Okpala and Ogidi, Pharm Alex Oyido to the August occasion.
The venue is the Chapel of Redemption, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (permanent site) .
Tagged “Divine Assembly of Praise and Thanksgiving to God” the event which is slated for 2.30 pm will be supritended by the Archbishop, Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger and Bishop Diocese of Awka, Most Reverend Alexander Chibuzo Ibezim, PhD JP. It will be chaired by a distinguished son of Awka, Dr Okey Anuenyiagu, aka Odera.
According to Ven Engr. John Anyachebelu, the Chaplain of the Church and Dr. Nkoli Ejesi, the Secretary, Planning Committee, the Church’s decision to celebrate Prof. Esimone’s two years of innovative leadership as Nnamdi Azikiwe University’s Vice Chancellor was anchored on his fear of God and examplary service to humanity.
The unsolicited gesture was as a result of painstaking appraisal of his vision and mission so far demonstrated in piloting the affairs of the institution in addition to his avowed commitment to worship the only true God through Jesus Christ without discriminative tendencies.
Other recepients of the honour include Prof Esimone’s wife, Dr. Chinyere Esimone and other members of his family in recognition of their unalloyed support to Prof. Esimone, their individual and collective demonstration of steadfastness and faithfulness in the service of God and humanity in the vineyard of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
It will be recalled that Prof. Esimone elected and announced as VC of UNIZIK on May 14, 2019 by the 8th Governing Council of the University led then by the late Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Alhaji Azeez Oladotun Bello. He assumed office on 4th of June 2019. Ever since his assumption of office, he has, by God’s grace, weathered through turbulent waters with equanimity.
From the recent Faculty of Agriculture saga, to the Faculty of Education misinformation which attracted the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s, unjustified angst, to previous numerous other uncharitable write ups and subtle unbecoming blackmail from familiar quarters, even in most cases, without any slightest provocation and numerous cases of blackmail from unexpected quarters, yet, Prof. Esimone has conducted the affairs of the university without favouritism, parochialism and Religious bigotry to a larger extent despite the pressure.
With eyes set on the infrastructural transformation of the great institute, the Urukanachukwu of Akwaeze entered into partnership with government, private individuals and organizations to escalate the development initiatives of his predicessors for the good of the students and the University community at large. Some of these partners include but not limited to the Managing Director of Alifig International limited, Mr. Ifeanyi Iguh who provided a state of the art OMB-FM transmitter for the university campus radio- Unizik 94.1 FM to replace obsolete one; government of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State who released the sum of N14 million for the procurement of a tractor for the faculty of Agriculture to support a Massey Ferguson (M375) four wheel tractor with one disc plough , one harrow and one tipping trailer already purchased for the faculty; Anambra Progressives Development Union (APDU) led by Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah who donated an ultra modern fully furnished medical cum isolation centre among other endowments and donations to different departments and faculties of the university by prominent illustrious sons and daughters of Anambra State at home and in diaspora. There are some other partners outside Anambra state.
Prior to his election, various faculties had struggled with paucity of fund even as they were charged to think outside the box in their efforts to seek out individuals and corporate partners including Alumni associations of various departments to raise funds to augment shortfalls in Federal Government’s funding to address the university’s infrastructural upgrade among others.
Yet, despite this obvious shortfall in funding, Prof. Esimone has deployed his magic wand to the works as new projects dot different corners of the campus environment to the chagrin of naysayers. Faculties of Social Sciences, Education and Pharmaceutical Sciences as well as Department of Psychology and Vocational Education all boast of new buildings. Thanks to the action VC. To his credit are also buildings housing three different molecular research laboratories for COVID 19 and other infectious diseases and student hostels located at Awka , Agulu and Nnewi campuses of the University. Already, an ultra modern Language Laboratory for Faculty of Arts with intervention from NEEDS funds has been commisioned by Prof Esimone. More projects would be Commissioned during this event.
His project 200 is all about visibility of the university which recently manifested when SCOPUS, leading global source neutral abstract and citation database for peer reviewed literature in Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Physical and Health sciences listed UNIZIK’s 8 lecturers among it’s 500 authors. The authors listed were the VC, Prof Charles Okechukwu Esimone FAS of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Prof Dominic O. Onukwuli of Faculty of Engineering; Prof Charles.Ejike of Faculty of Physical sciences; Dr George Uchenna Eleje of Faculty of Medicine and Prof Mathew Chukwudi Menkiti of Faculty of Engineering.
Others were Prof Joseph Ikechebelu of Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Richard Uwakwe of Faculty of Medicine and Prof. Festus B.C Okoye of Faculty of Pharmaceutical sciences.
Prof. Esimone’s innovative Project 200 aims to elevate Unizik among the best 200 universities in the world, the best 10 universities in Africa and the best in Nigeria. The realisation of his ambitious project is anchored on what he termed ACADA strategy. ACADA is an acronym for Academic Excellence, Community Service, Administrative Reforms, Discipline and Advancements. So far, ACADA innovative strategy has started yielding results as it provides opportunities for families of thousands of Unizik staff to actualize their dreams. His style and approach was legendary for many experts have been employed to add value to the institution.
His innovative ideas coupled with some recent strategic appointments including that of Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu as Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration among others is considered a masterstroke capable of launching the university in the realms he envisioned for the citadel of learning.
Prof. Esimone regime also invested heavily in the area of security to weed the campus of unwholesome elements and behaviour.
Specifically, CCTV cameras are installed at strategic corners and classrooms of the university to combat crime and criminality as well as ensure that examination malpractices are reduced to it’s barest minimum.
And resplendent of the character and personality of the Great Zik of Africa and the first President of Nigeria, Owelle Right Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, in whose honour the school is named, the developmental strides recorded under Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone FAS’s watch are so massive that the deaf can hear and the blind can see them.
May we use this medium to invite you to join the family of Prof Esimone, the illustrious son of Akwaeze Community in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, the management and staff of Unizik, friends and well wishers to thank God for His Grace upon them, a successful first phase of his giant strides and the commencement of a new better phase of piloting UNIZIKs affairs this Saturday June 5, 2021 by 2:30 pm at the Chapel of Redemption Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka permanent site. You are all welcome.
Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, PhD is a Conversationalist, Journalist, Editor and [email protected] www.odogwublog.com