There is an ongoing debate over whom to hold responsible for the myriad of controversial policies at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra state. Students and the vice chancellor, Professor Greg Nwakoby, have been observed not to see eye to eye over the enforcement of some of those policies in the university and this has led to frictions in the university within the past year as here discussed by Gabriel Chy Alonta.
Every new administration brings to board different policies and strategies for the smooth running of activities to achieve set goals. However, some of these policies may not go down well with the followers, often resulting in resistance to such policies.
Suffice it to say that since the incumbent vice chancellor of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra state, Prof. Greg Chukwudi Nwakoby, took over the reins of leadership from his predecessor, Prof. Fidelis Okafor, there have been series of events and drama in the Anambra state-owned university.
Recall that the students, under the umbrella of Students Union Government (SUG), had, upon the announcement of the new vice chancellor in 2018, protested for reversal of the appointment by the Visitor to the university and Anambra state governor, Chief Willie Obiano. They, in fact, demanded that the immediate past vice chancellor, be allowed to remain in office.
Orient Education reliably gathered that the students and staff of the university are at loggerheads with the new vice chancellor because of an administrative style they consider stringent in his bid to bring sanity to the university. Prof. Nwakoby, according to the students, is a disciplinarian who also churns out policies deemed unfavourable to students, in his quest to make a change.
Some of the stringent measures adopted by Nwakoby include, prompt payment of school fees (ranging from N127,000 – about N200,000) depending on one’s faculty; payment of faculty and departmental dues (ranging from 7,500 – 10,500); zero tolerance for examination malpractices; expulsion penalty to cultism; mandatory attendance to classes; expulsion for lecturers who ‘sort’ or students who abet them; modesty in dressing, among others.
The students of the university have continued to lament over their circumstances of their education in the university. When this reporter visited the campus, students who spoke with him expressed displeasure over the style of administration of the incumbent vice chancellor.
According to them, he should soft pedal in his approach if he is to successfully pilot the affairs of the university. They posited that he should, otherwise, resign and return to UNIZIK, from where the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano, brought him early 2018.
The students also expressed worry over their vulnerability, given the state of security in the university, remarking that their lives and properties were not safe.
While disclosing that series of robbery had been going on within and off the university campus, acts that had resulted in loss of valuable possessions, the visibly frightened students urged their management to beef up security in and around the campus, stressing that their security was paramount.
Just last Monday, April 1, 2019, when the university commenced the first semester examination for the 2018/2019 academic session, a 400 level student of the faculty of law, Goodluck Chidera Eze (Kasa), reportedly lost his life at Otoko area of the university.
Residents removing the body late Goodluck Eze after the accident
The student, this paper learnt, was denied admittance into the examination hall just because he forgot his payment receipts, a necessary condition and ‘pass’ into the examination hall.
According to eyewitness account, the late Eze, in a bid to hasten home to get the required receipts on a commercial motorcycle, had a motor cycle accident from which he met his untimely death.
Bitter reactions and acrimony are still trailing that unfortunate incident which has been rightly linked to one of the new vice chancellor’s policies.
The death, which brought tension around the campus following threats of protests by the students, resulted in the one-week postponement of all faculty of law examinations for the next day, April 2.
Sensing the looming tension and possible violent protest by the angry students that would have greeted the death of late Eze, the authorities of the university ensured that there was high security presence in the school premises, obviously to deter and/or scare students from any untoward response to the situation.
Late Goodluck Chidera Eze
Reacting, a student of mass communication department of the university said, “Today, we lost a 400 level law student because of exam-pass. It’s not like he had not paid the school fees. After paying school fees, must you do all manner of clearance before you can write the examination?
“Why can’t the university digitise their confirmation method to know those who have paid? Must they continue to be analogue?” she queried.
Another angle was introduced into the death of young Eze with a respondent claiming that the late Eze was chased away from the faculty because he did not cut his hair, adding that it was in his attempt to go have a haircut that the unfortunate accident claimed his life.
“The most painful part of everything is that he did not write the ‘Almighty Equity’ examination again”, he bemoaned.
In another related development, as the incumbent assumed office last year, the students of the university protested the deadline given by the institution to pay their school fees or risk missing out in the school-wide quizzes.
The students were reported to have deserted the classrooms on the arrival of a lecturer who had come for a quiz session. They claimed to have done that in solidarity with their colleagues locked out for not paying their fees.
Orient Education learnt that the university management had, in a meeting mandated all lecturers to have university-wide quiz from October 23 to 26, 2018 with the students, as usual, expected to have paid their school fees to be eligible for the quiz.
However, this development did not go down well with most of the students, even including those who had paid their fees.
According to the students who spoke with Orient Education in confidence, “We are not happy the way the new administration is going about school fees payment. They are not just considerate, given the untold hardship that our parents have to contend with.
“We just resumed September 3, 2018 and, barely a month after, the vice chancellor, Prof. Greg Nwakoby, had issued warning and threats to the students who were yet to pay their school fees. He should rescind this decision because the students are aggrieved”.
The students further cried foul over these developments and urged the vice chancellor to tread with caution.
Recall that, in his maiden outing as acting vice chancellor before his eventual emergence as the substantive vice chancellor, no fewer than 55 students of university renounced their membership of different cult groups in the university.
The renunciation, performed during an interdenominational service at the school field, attracted students from different faculties, the clergy, lecturers, as well as principal officers of the institution.
Addressing the students, Nwakoby, then as acting vice chancellor, reminded the students that their primary aim in the university was to get educated, stressing that they would only be issued certificates at graduation if they were found worthy in learning and character.
He explained that the students who renounced cultism had been saved by God, advising them to take their studies seriously as the era of ‘sorting’ was over.
The vice chancellor also warned them to report any lecturer who engaged in any form of unwholesome practices, including sale of self-authored books as well as sexual harassment of female students.
However the students and staff of the university may take these policies, it is yet to be seen if the vice chancellor, a strong disciplinarian and renowned law professor, can shift ground on what he believes to be morally right.
This reporter also recalls that Prof. Nwakoby had, in his maiden press conference in his office, avowed to take the institution to enviable heights by raising it above other citadels of learning. He also promised to be fair and just in all his dealings both with staff members and students of the institution.
The fight and war of words emanating from the riot acts read and being implemented by the vice chancellor and his team doesn’t look to abate or end anytime soon as the students have vowed to make the current administration ungovernable if no adjustments are made.