Comr. Ahamefula Israel
Senior Advocate of Nigerian Students
Today, Monday, August 15th, 2016 the Vice-Chancellor of Abia State University, Professor Uchenna Eleazer Ikonne, is 60 years old. The birthday is coming barely eight months after this cerebral academic and consummate administrator assumed office as the seventh substantive Vice-Chancellor of our God’s own University.
To those who know the Vice-Chancellor very well, Professor Ikonne is a perfect example of a silent achiever, a fair but firm leader, a veritable team player and a visionary team leader, a listening and emphatic leader who cannot stand seeing anybody treated unjustly.
Let me start introducing the man of the day, by swinging through the pendulum of his enduring legacies @ 60
Educationally, Professor Ikonne attended Mannila Central University, Philippines, from where he graduated with the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. He was also at St. Jude College, Mannila Philippines, for his Masters in Hospital Administration (MHA) and later obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Health Sciences. This erudite Optometrist also completed his four year residency programme in primary health care Optometry where he obtained a fellowship, FNCO (Fellow of the Nigerian College of Optometrists).
Professionally, he began a flourishing career in teaching, research and administration in tertiary education spanning for a period of 30 years. A career that had a humble beginning in 1986 as a lecturer II in the school of Pre-professional sciences of then Imo State University, being a pioneer lecturer in the just created Department of Optometry, and rose to the height of a professor of Optometry in 2006 at the Abia State University
He has served as a Resource person to many academic, social and political events including a guest lecturer on the 22nd Anniversary of Abia State by the Abia State government at Okpara Auditorium Umahaia. His diligent service as the deputy Vice Chancellor attracted the attention of the then visitor/ immediate past Governor of the State, Chief T.A Orji, who announced him as the acting Rector, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba on a “rescue mission (2014-2015)”. The change he educed at the Polytechnic including procuring the permanent site at the Osisioma location is there for all eyes to see.
For Abia State University, the last eight months of his Vice-Chancellorship have been very eventful as several landmark achievements are being recorded in all spheres of the University’s main mandate: teaching, research and community service which is also the substratum of his “Our Story Must Change Mantra’’
In specific terms, he is taking the security, welfare of staff and students very seriously; he is vigorously pursuing excellence in teaching and research; infrastructural development is receiving the necessary attention; excellent town and gown relationship is being promoted; internally generated revenue is being visibly enhanced; fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability are getting necessary flip.
Under his watch as vice-chancellor, staff training and retraining continue to attract the Administration’s utmost attention while regular payment of staff salaries and promotions has continued to be deservedly earned as at when due. Just recently, over 700 staff received their promotion letters which was reported to have put smiles on the faces of its members.
For the students, he is also doing everything possible to substantially increase the welfare alertness of students through the assumption of the role of “Senior Course Rep”, administered through a dedicated hot line to students; elimination of all forms of extortion of students by unscrupulous staff; liquidation of all sales of handout through the introduction of book review committee, quality assurance and ethics committee, etc. Also, lecturers’ capacity to teach the students well is being enhanced while security challenges on the campus are being frontally tackled.
Prof. Ikonne has sustained the tradition of heavy investment in human capital development through the massive sponsorship of deserving academic staff members to learned conferences within and outside the country.
Added to this is the judicious use of the various research grants by the University researchers, under his efficient supervision.
For records, Prof. Ikonne has:
• Approved and sponsored thirty-eight (38) research topics through TETFund to the tune of over Fifty Million Naira.
• Improved response and frequency of delivery of inaugural lectures by the University Distinguished Professors where three (3) out of the Twenty three (23) Inaugural lectures of the university have been delivered under eight months of his administration.
• Introduced the Eminent Persons lectures series of the university which should proffer solutions to the societal problems thereby contributing to the socio- political and economic development of the Nation and the society at large.
• Brought back a functional, secure, user friendly and richer in content University website, geared towards enhancing the profile of the University’s academic and administrative performance.
• Introduced the online registration of Courses
• Introduced the online Semester result checking
• Upgraded the bandwidth from 15 megabits per second to 155 megabits per second. Etc….
And will soon complete the
• Online reconciliation of result/clearance process
• Online issuance of statement of Results and Transcripts etc….
For the Infrastructural outlook of the University, he has
• Renovated and refurbished Students Hostels with new foams and bed
• Renovated and refurbished the University Senate Building, as the Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s office now wears a corporate look.
• Renovated and refurbished the long abandoned Vice-Chancellor quarters.
And will soon complete the
• Ongoing Renovation and Re-grassing of the University field
• Ongoing Construction of ultramodern 500 capacity student’s hostel
• Ongoing Construction of an ultramodern material store house……..etc
Prof. Ikonne have also gotten approval form the National University Commission (NUC), to introduce new academic programmes, which will take effect next academic session. They are:
Electrical and Electronic Engineering(with optic Fiber Option
Information and Communication Technology
Surveying and Geoinformatics
In other to increase the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the University through Private Partnership program, he has established linkages and partnership as follows:
• Good seed farms Ltd for the production of ABSU bottled water.
• Clarion Call Incorporated, a U.S.A based company for establishment of a Health and fitness center and exposure to Research Sponsoring International Organizations.
• National Mathematical Center, Abuja, for exchange programme in the enhancement of teaching and learning of Mathematical Science, with the ultimate intention of establishing Abia State University as a Zonal Center for the training of Mathematics teachers within the South-East and South-South Zones.
• National Office of Technology and Promotions (NOTAP) under the federal Ministry of Science and Technology and Promotions for workshops on writing of Award-wining Research Proposals with ultimate aim of opening an office here ,called intellectual and Technology Transfer Office (ITTO)
• ETMP, a Malaysian based company for the establishment of Entrepreneurial skills acquisition training programme for our regular students and long term training for the public, with industrial attachment in home country industry. This is in line with State Government programme on Education for Employment. Etc.
The University library is not left out,he has embarked on massive procurement of computers to help in automating its services, ensure that the cataloguing facilities are online, and improve the electronic library services. Already, most of the current book stocks are being converted to soft copies to ensure easy accessibility and safety of the documents. With the installation of the Integrated Management System, materials in ABSU library will soon be accessed more easily by students and researchers from any part of the world.
No wonder the Visitor to the University & Governor of Abia State, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D., was full of commendation for Prof. Ikonne and Abia State University in his address at the just concluded 24th Convocation Ceremony of the University.
In religion, Professor Ikonne is an ardent and dedicated practicing Christian, evidently portrayed by his involvement in propagating the Gospel. He has been the Pastor’s warden for more than a decade. He built a church hall and expanded the church altar in his village, thereby giving it an ultramodern outlook. He is also longstanding member of the PCC of his church and member of various church committees. Prof. Ikonne was invested into the Knighthood of St. Christopher, Anglican Communion Church of Nigeria in the year 2000(a millennium Kight); 2016 Father of the year award; Best Couple of the year award, and many others.
He is not left out in human and Community development. His grassroot passion and humanist instincts had endeared him to his people. He was predominantly and actively involved in bringing electricity to his village (Agburuike community).
As a distinguished academic, he saw the importance of bringing his people under an umbrella to foster unity and prosperity. This led to the establishment of the popular (Agburuike Grass-Root) an organization that has the mandate of enhancing the academic, socio-cultural and political alertness of his people.
And like a gold fish that has no hidden place, Prof. Ikonne’s numerous achievements are being recognized as laurels upon laurels rolled into his kitty.
He is a recipient of many awards from diverse bodies in recognition of academic achievements, administrative ingenuity and service oriented disposition to humanity including an Award from the Abia Newspapers and Publishing house as the tertiary level Education Administrator of the year 2015; the Mmuta Di Ire 1 of Ngwa-land by the Nzukor oha Ngwa.
Above all, Professor Ikonne is a perfect family man who enjoys love and support from his immediate and extended families.
He is married to Barr. Lady Uzoamaka Uche- Ikonne, a Permanent Secretary in Abia State Government and also the Incumbent President of Abia State University Women Association (ABSUWA).The Union is blessed with two quality sons. Dr. Chikezie Uche-Ikonne (MD) and Mr Okezie Uche-Ikonne.
I have met Professor Ikonne, but he is yet to meet me- in his numerous managerial magic in administration and takes on public issues, I have studied him and realized that he is an unrepentant and unapologetic welfarist. One thing a lot of people will not deny this man is that he never needed to know your father or godfather before he considers you in his scheme of things. Yes I am a living witness.
Ladies and gentlemen please join me in wishing this great man who is been endowed with scintillating wisdom and intellectual humility a happy birthday.
Sir, as you turn 60 this Monday (August 15th), May the Almighty God, whom you have so faithfully served, grant you many more years in good health and continued wisdom so that you can fearlessly continue in your service to the nation and to humanity.
Ahamefula Israel, a former Students’ Union President, Abia State University,Uturu writes from Enugu. e-mail:email@example.com.