The inability of the Federal Government to implement the agreements reached with the University-based staff unions led to the commencement of another round of strike actions in the Nigerian public universities. Thus, on 14th February, 2022 and 28th March, 2022 respectively, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Joint Action Committee of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) embarked on indefinite industrial actions to press home their demands.
The immediate consequence of this avoidable impasse is the grounding of academic and administrative activities in all public universities in Nigeria, with its concomitant effect on students’ admission, training, graduation and mobilization for the mandatory National Youth Service Scheme as well as research and development, and community service.
This academic hiatus is neither good for the international ranking of our universities or the capacity building of the students who are expected to compete favourably with their peers in other nations of the world in a globalized knowledge-based economy. Hence, there is urgent need for government and all critical stakeholders in the university system to find lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the tertiary education sub-sector of our political economy to forestall further industrial actions by staff unions.
Nevertheless, while staff and students are patiently waiting for the resolutions of the intractable issues that led to the strike so that they can return to school and classes, the wheels of development at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi state, are still grinding, leading to some notable academic and infrastructural achievements.
While we are away, the National Universities Commission (NUC) released the results of their 2021 national accreditation exercises. The University had presented 7 academic programmes to the regulatory body for accreditation, with all the programmes receiving full accreditation status. The programmes include; Fisheries and Aquaculture (Faculty of Agriculture), Physiology (Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences), Agricultural Science Education (Faculty of Education), Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering (Faculty of Engineering and Technology), Biotechnology (Faculty of Biological Sciences) and Statistics (Faculty of Physical Sciences).
While we are away, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) also released the result of their accreditation visit to the University. The Council in a letter dated 7th April, 2022 gave full accreditation to 3 undergraduate programmes of the University – Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics Engineering.
During this period, 5 lecturers of the University obtained post-doctoral fellowships from renowned international universities and a reputable research institute based in Nigeria, where they are presently carrying out life-changing scientific studies in various fields of life. The scholars include Dr. Ademola Clement Famurewa of the Department of Medical Biochemistry, who is carrying out a study on “Mechanistic Assessment of the Effect of Nigerian Herbal Products on the Efficacy of Conventional Chemotherapy in Breast and Postrate Cancer Cell Lines”, at the Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom; Dr. Sharon Oluchukwu Azubuike-Osu of the Department of Physiology, is researching on “The Functional Role of the Complement System in Arteriogenesis”, at the Ludwig-Maximilian Universitat Munchen, Germany; Anthony Chinonso Ekennia of the Department of Chemistry, is at the University of Oregon, United States of America where he is carrying out a scientific study on “Molecular Design of Heterogeneous Catalysts for Electrochemical Hydrogen Product…; Dr.Thomas Ojonugwa Daniel of the Department of Physics, is carrying out a study on “Development of Perovskite-based Mesoscopic Solar Cells (PMSCS) using a Plantinum-based Multiwalls Carbon Nanotubes (PTMWCNTS) as Counter Electrode”, at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, and Dr. Anthony Oko Isu of the Department of Agribusiness and Management is at the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), Ibadan, Oyo State.
While we are away on strike, 10 academic staff and 3 students of the University traveled to the University Gavle, Sweden, on staff and students’ mobility programmes. They were sponsored under the framework of Linnaeus+ and Erasmus+ exchange projects. The staff who made the journey were; Prof. Dr. Jonmy Ogunji, Dr. Christiana Igberi, Dr. Rowland Uwakwe, Dr. Chidiebere Duru ad Dr. Chinwe Ogunji. Others are; Dr. Ikechukwu Ukeje, Mr. Kelechi Meziobi, Mrs. Chidiebere Ojemuyide and Mrs. Enuma Icha-Ituma; while the students are; Ovu Samuel Onyedikachi (Educational Foundations), Okonkwo Ada Chidinma Esther (English and Literary Studies Education and Okorie Chinedu John (Science Education). We may recall that in 2018 the University established collaboration with the University of Gavle, Sweden on staff and students’ exchange programmes.
As the strike continues to bite, the Times Higher Education 2022 Impact Ranking of World Universities was released by the global body. The University was ranked 6th in Impact among the universities that were rated in Nigeria. It was also rated among the 80 and 1, 406 universities that were ranked in Africa and globally across 106 countries and regions. The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings measure global universities’ success in delivering the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the discharge of their academic activities – teaching, research and community service (outreach), and stewardship.
The University was also ranked 34 out of 258 universities in Nigeria in academic citations by the AD Scientific Index 2022. The ranking which covers the last 5 years also saw the university ranked 225 in Africa and 5, 597 in the world respectively. In the area of h-index, the University was ranked 30 in Nigeria, 216 in Africa and 5, 404 in the world, and in the i10-index, the University ranked 39 in Nigeria, 231 in Africa and 5, 528 in the world by the same body.
Meanwhile, AD Scientific Index 2022 also listed 10 best scientists in the University in 2022. In the order of their rating, they are; Dr. Chinedum O. Eleazu, Engr. Prof. Onurgbu O. Ugwu, Prof. Chukwunonso E. C. C. Ejike, Dr. Anthony Chinonso Ekennia, Dr. Chukwunonso Peter Okoli, Dr. Nwogo Ajuka Obasi, Dr. Robert Onyeneke, Dr. Ademola C. Famurewa, Prof. Dr. Jonny Ogunji and Prof. Moses Alo.
While we are away, 3 lecturers of the University were also ranked among the top 500 authors by scholarly output in Nigeria in the last 3 years – 2018 to 2021 by SciVal. SciVal is a web-based analytics solution with unparalleled power and flexibility that provides comprehensive access to the research performance of over 20, 000 research institutions and their associated researchers from 230 nations worldwide. The lecturers, Prof. Chinyere Augusta Nwajiuba, Dr. Robert Ugochukwu Onyeneke and Dr. Ademola C. Famurewa were listed in the top 500 scholars in Nigeria by citations, currency and volume of publications in Scopus within the period under review.
During this same period, the students of our university participated in the 26th Nigerian Universities Games (NUGA) held from 16th to 25th March, 2022 at the University of Lagos. The University placed 44 out of 73 Universities in the overall medal table. It also placed 2nd among the universities established with it in 2011, and equally emerged in 4th position among the universities in the Southeast of Nigeria.
The Students’ Debate Team of the University also qualified to represent Nigeria in the Pan-African Universities Debate competition scheduled for Kenya later this year. The University’s qualification was cemented at the 9th edition of the All Nigerian Universities Debating Championship and All Nigerian Universities Quiz Challenge themed “Better by Far 2022” held from 13th-19th February, 2022 at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Kwara State.
These cheering developments were not restricted to the academic front alone as the University has continued to improve its physical infrastructure even as the industrial actions linger. So, while you are still away, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sunday Oge Elom inaugurated an ultra-modern Community Medicine Outpost of the University that is situated at Ebunwana, Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, geared towards the training of medical students and the provision of quality health services to the people. The facility is equipped with MRI, dialysis and moveable x-ray machines as well as other very important modern hospital equipment. Some of the buildings in the Community Medicine Outpost include: Doctors/Nurses quarters, Students’ hostel, Modular Theatre, Diagnostic Centre. MRI/Radiology Centre, and OPD/Wards. The facility was later handed over to the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki for management and operation.
In addition, the University has also completed the construction of a Medical Students’ Hostel at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki. The hostel is meant for the accommodation of students undergoing clinical training at the teaching hospital. The completion of the hostel will further help to sustain the accreditation of the MBBS programme by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
As we are away, the Architectural studio meant for the training of students of the Department of Architecture was also completed. The building is situated opposite the Faculty of Law, Zone B part of the University.
More so, the University has also completed a section of the intra campus road leading from the Chinedum Nwajiuba Senate Building to the Faculty of Law and College of Medical Sciences. The road has been fully asphalted, fixed with drainage system, making it very conducive for vehicular and pedestrian movements unlike what it used to be. Staff and students as well as visitors will surely appreciate the road on resumption of academic and administrative after the industrial action.
While we are away, the University has embarked on the renovation and refurbishment of some dilapidated buildings in the University. The G. O. Chukwu Administrative block is nearing completion after serious renovation work was carried out in the building. The Shared Laboratory opposite the Library block is also undergoing serious renovation to make it stronger and in tune with the tropical nature of our environment. The Shared Laboratory houses the ultra-modern Chemical Laboratory of the University which was equipped by PZ Cussons. In addition to these renovation works, new buildings are also springing up at different parts of the University.
In concluding, while every Nigerian is expecting government and all the stakeholders to take necessary steps to end the ongoing industrial actions by the university-based staff unions because of its serious negative effect on our educational system, the Vice-Chancellor of the Alex Ekwueme Federal Univerity Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, Prof. Elom and his management team, have continued to work assiduously behind the scene to ensure that the university’s environment is made conducive for academic activities, so that when staff resume from strike, they will hit the ground running immediately, to cover lost time.
A succinct 5-month documentary on Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State by Elom Iyke Ubochi, Head, Public Relations &Information