IMPRINT OF A STAR PERFORMER

 

Account of innovative transformation of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, by Luke Okechukwu Anike, a professor and the Vice Chancellor.

BY UGONNA ANEJIONU.

At the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, where he has been presiding over affairs since May 22, 2015 as Vice Chancellor, his name rings a bell in all corners. His colleagues, the academic staff, students and many members of the university community admire and speak eloquently about him as a person of high integrity, hardworking, meticulous and fit and proper for the job. Luke Okechukwu Anike, Professor of Geology, is a celebrated academic, and an uncommon university administrator who has largely transformed ESUT within the three years he has been in the saddle as the Vice Chancellor.

One of the first things he did on assumption of office, was to bridge communication gap between the management and staff of the University, to boost the morale and give all the people a sense of belonging. He told Verbatim in an exclusive interview in his office in Enugu that he achieved the feat by adopting a strategy of briefing the staff of the University regularly to keep them on the same page with happenings in the University. He explained that the strategy paid off in such a way that he enjoys the confidence, loyalty, dedication and respect of all the staff. On account of what he did for a turnaround in the university, staff see him as a friend that has their interest at heart.

To further hold the trust of the staff, Anike told Verbatim that he set out to ensure that the welfare of the staff, which to him is a top priority is accommodated in the scheme of things. He explained that as at present, most of the salary arrears and allowances owed staff of the university even before he assumed office, have been cleared. Monthly salaries are also beeing paid in full as and when due.

Anike is also involved in capacity building for staff of the university. He has, in the past three years, encouraged many of the university staff to participate in a number of international and local conferences and workshops. The University’s Directorate of Academic Planning has been revitalized to, among other things; ensure that staffs maximize this opportunity.

Ngozika M. Mbajiorgu, a Professor of Science Education and Director of Academic Planning in the University, testified in an interview with Verbatim magazine, that the Vice Chancellor has been  supportive of  her office and that of others in many respects.  She also describes the VC as a rare administrator and one who respects advice.

Citing an example with her office about the level of support Anike gives out, Mbajiorgu explained that the Vice Chancellor has a website that gives her information on conferences, scholarships, grants and seminars around the world. With what was placed at her disposal, she explained that applications from staff are processed very quickly to enable them meet up with time.

She further described Professor Anike as a very quiet man who knows what he wants and goes for it, a sticker to rules and one who is very passionate about academic excellence. Mbajiorgu told Verbatim that Anike is one of the most intelligent persons she has ever met.

Mbajiorgu also added that the Vice Chancellor is ever ready to buy whatever is needed to enhance academic performance in the University. She alluded that the VC has also standardized a lot of academic processes in the University like enhancing lecture and lecture delivery, exam conduct, professional development, workshops and also internet accessibility all over the two campuses of the University at Agbani and Enugu.

She told this Magazine that the Vice Chancellor has perfected the conduct of examinations in the University as there are presently standard sitting formations during examinations while there are no more exam postponements as they are held as time tabled. The innovation, she said, is in addition to the very smooth academic calendar which the Vice Chancellor has enforced in the University.

She said she sees ESUT as a University where all the processes are standardized and also as a University that can very comfortably compete with other good Universities of the world.

Aside from enhancing academics in the University, Professor Anike is said to be working hard to develop a model for higher level entrepreneurship in the University. Outside this, this magazine was told that Anike also provided the platform for some of the staff and faculties in the University to organize conferences at ESUT. The faculty of education and others have utilized the opportunity by organizing very well attended international conferences in the University.

Verbatim also witnessed the commissioning of the University’s Conference Centre by the Vice Chancellor recently. The conference centre has a 200 seat capacity hall and is sited next to the University’s auditorium.

He told Verbatim that he completed the project which he met at foundation level in his desire to encourage staff of the institution to participate in conferences and also invite others for conferences, adding that he believes the intellectuality of the staff will sharpen when they meet and interact with others.

Anike has also done much too to perfect academic processes in the University, in his desire to give the best students to the world. Available information indicate that he has succeeded in this area as the University has been getting very good reports and commendations from employers and the University’s graduates and even those on industrial attachment. To achieve this, he ensured the environment is very serene, conducive and peaceful and properly maintained in association with some entrepreneurs while the security system in the University has been sharpened to curtail and decimate cultism in the University.

Presently, ESUT that was hitherto known derisively as “War College” is relatively peaceful and calm. Students of the University now take an advantage of the conducive atmosphere to development and excel academically.

Other achievements recorded by Anike include reactivating and re-engineering the University’s entrepreneurship development centre to serve as a pivot of all entrepreneurial activities in the University. The Centre is meant to impact skills on the students and business activities.

The University is presently also, looking at venturing into establishing a water bottling plant. The factory is being set up to train students and also bring revenue to the University. The feasibility study for the project is being studied at the moment.

Also, the University has, in partnership with Tetfund, established an agricultural outfit that is strictly dedicated for research and production. The outfit is also expected to generate income to the University to support university activities. In all this, the Anike administration is not losing sight of the fact that the main focus of the University, which is research and training, does not suffer.

Presently, his administration is enlisting the support of universities both within and outside Nigeria to help boost financial activities in the University. In March 2018, the Vice Chancellor and some staff of the University embarked on a journey to Ottawa, Canada, to sign a memorandum of action with Carlton University to support the development of technology innovation hub in the university. When this initiative takes off, ESUT will be able to have exchange with Carlton University and will also be able to expand the horizon of funding in the University.

Also, the University is presently discussing with the Enugu State Housing Co-operation to help complete some of the staff buildings that have not been completed. This is in line with Anike’s desire to bring some staff of the University into the University campus. This is a Public Private Partnership arrangement where the Enugu State Housing Co-operation will recoup funds spent on the project through staff housing allowances while the University will enjoy the presence of the staff on campus, generate some revenue and also retain the structures on the University grounds. The Enugu State Housing Co-operation has sent in a report in this regard and the derivatives of this venture may be witnessed before the end of the year.

A few months ago, about eight structures that were started before the Anike’s administration were completed and commissioned. These projects were executed in line with the VC’s policy of not abandoning projects no matter who started them or how they were started. To him, every project in the university is important.

For same reasons too, Anike is also completing some projects he initiated while at the same time ensuring that new ones are started to complement those that have been fully delivered. This, he told Verbatim, is in line with his desire to permanently solve the problem of space in terms of lecture rooms, examination halls, laboratories and even offices.

Anike’s administration is also making huge efforts towards internationalizing the programmes offered in ESUT. He is currently discussing with the London South Bank University and also the University of Wolver Hampton, all in the United Kingdom and also other Universities around the world to place ESUT on the global academic map.

His strategies are paying off already. Very recently, ESUT was selected as a lead University in developing a blue print for the Nigerian economy between 2018 and 2050.  This is a clear pointer that the Anike’s administration has achieved visibility for the University. It will be worthy to mention that this is the first time such recognition and responsibility has been given to the University by the Federal Government since its inception.

The need for accreditation of courses has also been addressed by the VC. When Anike took over, the accreditation of courses status of the University was on 47%. Three years into his tenure he pushed it up to 80% and is targeting 90% in no distant time with the accreditation of some courses that are due. He is very confident he will achieve this and very proudly and confidently told Verbatim that “we hardly fail accreditation”.

Interestingly, Anike achieved all these with very lean resources available to him. However, he told this magazine that he has moved out of the University to enlist the goodwill of the public, – the alumni association of the University, kind hearted education stakeholders and even corporate organizations, to surmount the challenges posed by inadequacy of funds to undertake projects and services needed by the University and also by its staff and students. According to him, they are responding with funds and material supports.

In all these, the one person that has been a solid rock and pillar of support to the Vice Chancellor is the Rt. Hon. Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the Executive Governor of Enugu State, who has lavished encouragements on the University.

According to Prof. Anike, “My Governor, Rt. Hon. Lawrence Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is exceptional. He has shown a lot of interest in the University as much as the state resources can carry. At the moment, most arrears owed staff of the University has already been cleared. Just like we do here, he also runs an open door policy, advises us accordingly and also encourages us with fund support where necessary. He is simply wonderful and I must say our achievements were made possible by his motivation and encouragement”.

During an interview he had with The Sun newspaper, some months ago, Professor Anike further elaborated on other sources of fund to the university.  He said: ‘’We are also grateful to the 17 local governments in the state under the umbrella of ALGON who regularly send subventions to the university though, like Oliver Twist, we will want some more to carry out other activities. We’ve now devised means of reaching out to our alumni and well-meaning individuals including philanthropists in Nigeria and elsewhere.

‘’We also seek funds from international organizations like UNESCO. We submit proposals and sometimes we are lucky and get approvals. All these are sources of our funds.

‘’As I mentioned particularly, one of our recent doctoral degree awardees, Prince Arthur Eze, has voluntarily decided to invest the sum of N100 million annually  for five years with an additional N50 million for illumination  of the university. I think this is necessary to motivate other philanthropists and well-meaning persons to invest in education because the gains of such investments to the community and the nation are unquantifiable. Such funds will allow universities like ours to obtain some features and materials that are necessary for our smooth running. We still need to continue to work at this pace or increase the pace in order to achieve the goals for which the university was set up and set the pace for the development of our university.

‘’I should also state at this point that the TETfund has assisted greatly in providing infrastructure within the university. In fact, some of the structures built by TETfund include lecture halls, laboratories and auditoriums. We are very grateful to TETfund and the Federal Ministry of Education through the NEEDS assessment implementation committee. We are also grateful to the Central Bank of Nigeria for providing us a central laboratory that is currently under construction.

‘’We’re also obliged to the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, which has provided an ICT laboratory for the university.

‘’We are also grateful to Innoson Group for providing us a General Studies complex. We can name other donors. Arthur Eze has also donated books to strengthen our library. We see these moves to support education as very essential and positive to the Nigerian university system.

‘’We are also grateful to Wakilin Adamawa, our Chancellor, who has also mobilized his friends in support of ESUT projects. It is important to note that we are on the permanent site of the university which requires development. We are one of the universities that have moved to their permanent sites in recent time and we are working hard to ensure that all our activities are concentrated within the permanent site of the university in order to maximize the use of the facilities. We look forward to other persons and corporate organizations, especially in the areas of housing, so that we can accommodate our staff within the campus to boost mentoring and enhance their effectiveness and increase all campus activities that are required to enhance the development of  students and staff’’.

As regards Science, Innovation and Research, ESUT is doing well by all standards. The Anike administration has created the Directorate of Research and Innovation to boost research and innovation in the University. Earlier in the month the intellectual property protection office was also launched to boost research and innovation in the university. On May 22, 2018, the Enugu State Government organized a national productivity day where one of ESUT staff was awarded and recognized for producing a brake shoe using sugar cane chaff. This innovation was also exhibited at the Raw Materials Science show where the University won accolades for giving the staff the platform to achieve the feat.

To further shape the minds of the students for their Post Graduate lives, Anike’s administration periodically invites the leadership of the State Police Command who is represented by the Force Public Relations Officer to give lecture to the students on the hazards of crimes like cultism and others.

Just recently, the University partnered with RARDUJA, a German based organization that concentrates on re-educating Africans on the risks and dangers of unplanned and risky journeys abroad especially through the deserts for a talk shop. All these are in line with Anike’s desire to produce very sound and law abiding students that will help to further develop the country.

Sam God Eze, a Professor of Physical Education and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University, described Anike as a very simple, cool and highly accommodating gentleman who works with the fear of God. He said part of the reasons for his success at ESUT could be largely attributed to his calm and meticulous nature which allows him take advice from his subordinates when necessary. Eze described the Anike administration as very organized and achievement-oriented adding that the man plans and strives to leave ESUT better than he met it. He confirmed that ESUT is already flying in three years of the Anike stewardship despite daunting economic issues and commended the Vice Chancellor.The greatest accolade for a job well done, given to the Professor Anike, the incumbent Vice Chancellor of ESUT appears to have been made by the Enugu State House of Assembly. The 13-member House, led by the Chairman of the Committee on Education, Mathew Ugwueze, visited the Agbani Campus of ESUT on routine oversight function and commended the Professor for his transformational strides in the institution. A member of the committee, Anthony Ogidi who spoke during the visit said they were impressed with what the Vice Chancellor had done so far.

Ogidi said he was happy that the Vice Chancellor was doing everything possible to access funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, and Education Trust Fund, ETF, for infrastructure development in the state-owned university.

Ugwueze also called on the university management to do everything possible to rake up Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, in the face of dwindling resources of the state, caused by drop in revenue from the Federation account occasioned by fall in the international oil prices.

The commendation from the Enugu State House of Assembly must have emboldened Anike to do more, to fulfill his mission in the university. He told Verbatim that he has a tall mission to succeed and to leave a lasting legacy. “I want to be placed on the hall of fame of ESUT and Nigerian Universities for playing my role in making the University Project work in Nigeria. I also want those behind to tell our story”, he said in an interview with Verbatim magazine few weeks ago.

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