INAUGURAL SPEECH BY THE 3RD VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR SUNDAY OGE ELOM, TO THE UNIVERSITY SENATE ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 15, 2021.

INAUGURAL SPEECH BY THE 3RD VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR SUNDAY OGE ELOM, TO THE UNIVERSITY SENATE ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 15, 2021.

PROTOCOL
Distinguished Members of Senate.

It is a great privilege and honour for me to address you today at this my inaugural Senate meeting as the 3rd Vice-Chancellor of this fast growing and most serious University in Nigeria. My emergence as the 3rd Vice-Chancellor of this University is clearly by the special grace of God and to Him be all the glory.

It is my pleasure to profoundly appreciate the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his confirmation and consent to the flawless decision of the Distinguished Governing Council of this University during the selection process. My administration will ever remain grateful and loyal to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

May I appreciate the Chancellor of our University, His Royal Majesty Oba Dr. Michael Aremu Adedotun Gbadebo, CFR, Okukenu IV, The Alake & Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, for his esteemed interest in our University. I profoundly appreciate the distinguished Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Emeritus Prof. Nimi Briggs and all the distinguished members of our Governing Council for the appointment.

This University was established on 26th February, 2011 and we started academic activities on 5th November, 2012 with 3 Faculties, 10 Departments and 41 programmes.

Presently, we have 11 Faculties, 41 Departments and 57 programmes. We started with a student population of 293 students in 2012 and presently, we have a student population of about 9500.
We started with staff strength of 200 made up of 137 academic, 36 senior non-teaching and 27 junior staff. Presently, we have a staff strength of 2230 made up of 755 academic, 865 senior non-teaching and 610 junior staff.

Over the past ten years, our University has witnessed rapid infrastructural and academic developments and transformations. May I pay special tribute to my Predecessors for their contributions.

Firstly, to late Prof. Oye Ibidapo Obe, the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of this University who pioneered the establishment of the University and laid the foundation for academic excellence and aggressive manpower training.

Secondly, to Prof Chinedum Uzoma Nwajiuba, the 2nd and immediate past Vice-Chancellor of this University whose tenure witnessed numerous landmark achievements and transformations.

The Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike has had a huge influence in my life and is a place, in which as the foundation Dean of the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, I had some of my most stressful experiences due largely to the obvious challenges of pioneering the establishment of a University.

I do not underestimate the responsibilities of this position especially at particularly challenging time for the Nigerian University System as now. Charting a successful path through the next five years will definitely require the dedicated and committed efforts of every one of us.

It is a natural human tendency to view change of leadership as diminishing progress. However, we must admit and view change of leadership as inevitable and natural. I prefer to see change of leadership, as an opportunity rather than a threat and that is why I am excited about the future of this great University.

Universities exist to serve three main functions- to teach, to conduct research and to provide community service. This University has been adhering to global best practices in fulfilling this tripod mandate.

The questions before us now are:
(i) With the change of Leadership, how can I work with this distinguished Senate to build on this University’s outstanding records?

(ii) How do we deploy new technologies to enhance the experiences of teaching, learning and conducting research in the era of COVID-19 Pandemic.

The answers we find to these questions will determine how the rest of the world see us in the next five years.

My Vision/Mission Statements which I exhaustively discussed with the selection Board during the interview focused on finding some answers to these questions. In pursuance of the overall vision of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike becoming a World-Class University, my agenda which focuses on sustaining, consolidating and expanding the achievements of my predecessors are as follows:

1. To improve the image and ranking of the University.
All hands will be on deck to improve the University’s global ranking and positive image as follows:
a. The University will deliberately work to maintain the culture of an uninterrupted academic calendar with regular Convocation Ceremonies and yearly mobilization of graduating students for NYSC Programme as already established. This will entail the sustenance of best practices in teaching, grading of examination scripts and timely release of results.
b. All academic staff will be encouraged to upload their publications to the University website, google scholar and research gate platforms to increase our global visibility and ranking.
c. The diaspora staff exchange programme of the Centre for Internationalization and Advancement will be strengthened to encourage more diaspora academics spend time in our University and collaborate with our staff on research and publications.
d. The requirements in the academic staff promotion guidelines for high quality research publications will be sustained. Additional incentives for staff who publish such papers will be created and funded.
e. The Language Enhancement Programme (LEP) vision of our outgoing Vice-Chancellor will be sustained and supported to ensure that we produce high quality graduates who will not only be proficient in communicating in English Language but would have a second language namely French or German.
f. The culture of public and inaugural lectures already established by the immediate past Vice-Chancellor will be sustained and supported.
g. The culture of seriousness in all academic and administrative activities of the University already established by the outgoing Vice-Chancellor will be sustained and strengthened.
The practical steps include:
 Staff being regular and punctual to work
 Lecturers attending to their classes regularly and punctually
 Students returning to campus as soon as school reopens after holidays due to the inception quiz policy.
 Ban on sale of hand outs and textbooks not approved by the University Publication Committee.
 Ban on sorting and all other forms of exam misconduct
 Ban on indecent dressing and sexual harassment.
2. To mitigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University will adopt the policy of blended learning i.e. combination of online learning and face-to-face interactions. The basic requirements for its implementation are:
a. Provision of modern classrooms equipped with multimedia and public address systems.
b. Provision of necessary IT infrastructure
c. Modern classroom certified teachers training of staff. The MCCT training is designed to close the IT skills gap among some lecturers.
3. Staff Training
a. The Academic Staff Training and Development Programme of TETFund will be strengthened to allow more staff to benefit. The conditions for award of the foreign component will be tightened to ensure that all the beneficiaries come back to the University after the completion of their studies. The local component will be expanded to accommodate more academic staff.
b. The Franco-AE-FUNAI staff training agreement will be sustained but the conditions for the award will be strengthened to ensure that all the beneficiaries come back after the completion of their studies.
c. The Centre for Human Resources Development will be strengthened to live up to its mandate of organizing intensive classes targeted at improving the productivity of staff especially the non-teaching staff. Minimum performance requirements will be defined for use as criteria for confirmation of staff.
d. Academic staff will be encouraged to seek for research grants from other agencies such as UNDP, UNEP, USAID, PTDF etc.
4. Infrastructure: Despite the enormous work done by the out-going administration, a lot still needs to be done in the area of physical infrastructure as follows.
a. Serious efforts will be made to complete all the on-going projects in the University and to construct more staff offices, more classrooms, more lecture auditoria, large examination halls, more functional laboratories and more staff housing units.
b. Efforts will be made to open up more roads within the Campus.
c. Private hostel developers will be encouraged to build more hostels for the students on private partnership agreement. A situation where most of the students live off Campus is not good for our global ranking.
d. All efforts will be made to sustain the existing steady power supply from the solar hybrid power plant provided by the Federal Government.
e. The problem of regular water supply will be given serious attention. Efforts will be made to acquire and install Braithwaite pressed steel water tanks at strategic locations in the Campus.
5. ICT Unit: The ICT unit will be strengthened and supported to ensure regular and reliable internet services. Highly qualified IT experts will be recruited and necessary IT infrastructure will be provided to ensure that the ICT Unit hosts and manages most of the online services of the University such as admissions, fee payment, course registration, hostel allocation, examinations, results processing, transcript processing, online learning etc.
6. Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR) of the University:
There is urgent need to develop a resource base for the University as follows:
a. The academic departments of AE-FUNAI would be supported to engage students in research projects that have direct consequence in solving specific societal problems and the results of such projects would be transmitted to the relevant industries for production of goods and services.
b. The University Agric. Farm will be expanded and run professionally, focussing on Agro businesses such as fish farming, poultry, piggery and rice production.
c. The AE-FUNAI Outlook Limited will be strengthened and reorganized to handle consultancy services within and outside the State in addition to its existing businesses of:
– block industry, paint factory, bookshop, restaurant and printing press.
d. The newly established AE-FUNAI Microfinance Bank will be nurtured and supported by encouraging most University Businesses to be handled by the Microfinance Bank.
e. Efforts will be made to create reserve areas within the University land for aggressive planting of about one hundred thousand fast-growing timber trees by 2022. These trees will yield billions of naira in about 20 years.
f. The Centre for Educational Services (CES) of the University will be strengthened and expanded to increase the intake of JUPEB and Pre-degree students for higher IGR. Efforts will be made to develop the Permanent Site of the Centre at the land already acquired for the purpose in Abakaliki.
g. The centre for entrepreneurship and employability will be strengthened and expanded by establishing a vocational skills workshop to encourage our students to acquire at least one skill before graduation.
7. Staff and Students Welfare: To improve the motivation of staff for higher productivity, efforts will be made to enhance their welfare as follows:
a. Staff appraisal and promotion will continue to be carried out timely to ensure release of results before 1st October each year.
b. A deliberate attempt will be made to incentivize hard-work and discourage indifference to work.
c. More housing units will be built for staff accommodation within the Campus.
For the students, efforts will be made to provide more hostel accommodation in the campus. Private Caterers will be encouraged to establish standard restaurants in the campus. More sporting and recreational facilities will be provided for both staff and students.
8. “The Campus in a garden”: vision of the outgoing Vice-Chancellor will be consolidated and expanded. More gardens and lawns will be created for more tree planting.
9. College of Medicine, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Environmental Sciences.
The newly established College of Medicine, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Environmental Sciences will be consolidated and supported. The newly established College of Medicine will be expanded to include the remaining components as follows:
• Faculty of Clinical Medicine
• Faculty of Health Sciences with Departments of Nursing and Medical Laboratory Science.
• Faculty of Dentistry
Subsequently, I hope we shall establish Faculty of Pharmacy.
The newly established Faculty of Law will be expanded to include the required Departments
The newly established Faculty of Environmental Sciences with Department of Architecture will be expanded to include other needed Departments.
Discipline Culture
10. Serious efforts will be made to ensure the maintenance of discipline culture among staff and students. Staff and students will be encouraged to imbibe the fear of God which is a basic requirement for discipline.
Core Values.
11. Staff and students will be encouraged to imbibe the core values of the University which are Excellence, Integrity and Entrepreneurship.
12. University Library:
The foundation stone of a new library complex was laid two weeks ago. The completion of that project will be a top priority of my administration.
Efforts will be made to equip the library with furniture and current e-books and journals as well as hard copies. Efforts will also be made to ensure that the library become ICT driven.
13. The culture of mentorship and apprenticeship which is a requirement for World-Class status will be encouraged.
SECURITY
14. Efforts will be made to complete the fencing of the University Land. The anti-cult committee of the University will be sustained and supported to ensure that the policy of zero tolerance to cultism and other vices becomes more effective.
15. The University Medical Centre will be expanded and equipped to cope with the increasing number of staff and students.
16. The strategic plan of the University will be reviewed to capture the above agenda.
CONCLUSION
Distinguished members of Senate, may I remind us that a University is not the property of any one individual or group of individuals. We are working not only for the benefit of our students and scholars who are here today, but in effect, we are all trustees, nurturing the University on behalf of new generations that will be producing ideas and tackling problems that we cannot even begin to imagine now.

I am mindful of the fact that no single individual can determine the success of a University. Therefore, I will rely heavily on our collective wisdom and actions to make Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike a World-Class University.

Finally, Distinguished members of Senate may I end with my guiding principle which is in Col 3: 23: “And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men”. If we imbibe this word of God it will help us to avoid eye-service, sycophancy, gossip and slander in this University. The immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Chinedum Uzoma Nwajiuba, has raised the flag; we shall keep the flag flying. By the grace of God we will ensure that his noble dreams of making Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike a World-Class University where the ideals and culture of a University would be strictly adhered to would not die.

May God bless our University and bless all of us in Jesus Name, Amen.

Prof. Sunday Oge Elom
Vice-Chancellor

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