A Socio-cultural organisation under the aegis of Abia Forum Nsukka (AFN) in University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) has alleged that indigenes from the Abia State have been excluded in top appointments in the Institution.
Professor Jonah Onuoha, Director, Centre for American Studies UNN and pioneer President of AFN said this in Nsukka on Friday while delivering the forum’s maiden lecture series.
In a paper entitled: “The Last Kick of a Dieing Horse: An inquiry into the challenges and way forward for Abia Forum, UNN”, Onuoha said to ensure balance, equity and fair play, the position of vice chancellor and other key offices in UNN should be rotated among the state within the catchment areas of the university.
Professor Onuoha said that Abia State has about 100 well trained, international competitive and highly experienced erudite professors who can occupy any key positions.
“We wonder why competent indigens of Abia are excluded from key appointments.
“The peace we enjoy in university may not last if other states from the catchment areas are not allowed to hold top positions in the University. I urge stakeholders in the university to rethink and accommodate others within the catchment areas in key appointments so as to give everybody sense of belonging,” he said.
Onuoha further alleged that Abia indigens hardly benefit from contracts, employments and other benefits due to catchment areas of the university.
“Various vice chancellors of the university have found one reason or the other to exclude Abians in the appointment of critical offices in the university, “Such as vice chancellor, deputy vice chancellors, deans of faculties, among others.
“Members of the forum are not benefiting from appointments and if nothing serious is done to change the narrative, the forum may perhaps be giving it’s last kick as a dieing horse,” he said.
The Don recalled that history had revealed that even though the idea to establish UNN came from Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria, but he added that, the then Eastern region under the leadership of late Dr. Michael Okpara provided the fund that made the project feasible.
“Okpara was from Abia, one will then wonder why Abians are being marginalised in UNN. Abia indigens played a domineering role in the growth and development of UNN as the first indigenous university. Since Abia state produced the 9th Vice-Chancellor, in the person of Prof Oleke Udeala who served from 1992 to 1995, no person from the state has occupied the position of UNN-VC”, he said.
The pioneer President commended members of AFN working in UNN for their dedication in spite being excluded from occupying top positions in the university and urged them to keep it up. In a remark, Professor Charles Igwe, the VC of UNN commended the contribution of Abia indigens to the university, especially the likes of Emeritus Professor Okoro Ijeomah, among others.
Prof Igwe pledged that he would use his remaining time in office to change the narrative. “I assure you; it will never be the same again, most of Abia people like, Prof Ijeomah have given me useful advice that helped me. With the caliber of people you have, Abia indigens should not be taken for granted,” the VC said.
Earlier, Professor Okechukwi Nwaubani, the President of AFN said that the lecture which is the first in the series of the forum is historic, visionary, and one of the ways to sensitize Abians living in the university.
“The mission of the forum is to promote unity, mutual relationship, and sense of togetherness. Today’s lecture is very important and significant to the forum because of the zeal the forum has in placing Abia state in it’s rightful place in the scheme of things especially in UNN. Today is a clear testimony that the forum is gradually rising up to the challenges confronting her quest to the welfare and exclusion of Abia indigens in UNN,” he said.
The president noted that the median lecturer, Prof Onuoha was the founder and pioneer President of AFN. an erudite professor and an illustrious son of Abia. “This lecture will enable us to articulate why we are, where we are today and how to chart a way forward in ensuring that Abians in this university where given their rightful place ,” he said.
Nwaubani commended Abians who identified with the forum, and experienced concern why other Abians in Nsukka is yet to identify with the forum. I commend in a especial way elders from Abia in Nsukka who have been supportive to the forum.
He expressed his appreciation to the Vice Chancellor of UNN for honouring their invitation, saying that that speaks volume of love he has for Abia people. “The forum will continue to give maximum support and cooperation to his administration,” he said.