File photograph of the late Msgr. Prof. Johnbosco Akam in academic regalia
By Don Adinuba
The death of Monsignor (Professor) Johnbosco Uchechukwu Akam, the proprietor of Tansian University at Umunya, Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, is a sad development. He was an exemplary son of the state.
He loved God with all his being, hence his decision to leave all the glamour and enticements of life and society and joined the seminary to train as a priest, with vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. He must have done so well in his priestly duties that in no time he was appointed a papal chamberlain.
Msgr Akam, 73, was a formidable scholar, philosopher and theologian who spoke six international languages fluently. After a brilliant career abroad, he returned to his beloved Anambra State and used his enormous social capital to initiate a foundation, which has now trained some 2,000 indigent pupils and students from primary school to university.
He was to spearhead the building of a private university, which began at Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area before moving to its permanent site at Umunya. Msgr Akam remains an exemplar of the philosophy of Aku Lue Uno or Think Home. He could have set up the university outside the state for quicker return on investment, but he chose Anambra State as the site. He could have named the institution for any foreign icon, including his patron saint, but he elected to name it after Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi, a worthy son of Anambra State who in 1996 became the first West African to be beatified in the church.
Msgr Akam’s achievement is a bold challenge to a lot of Anambra indigenes. Though not a man of means, this priest was able to mobilise funds big enough to build and run a modern university in record time. Tansian University has contributed significantly to the educational growth of the state and its general socioeconomic well-being.
There are a number of Anambra indigenes who can build universities and other educational institutions in the state but have unfortunately been spending their resources on less productive ventures, especially politics. The ten billion naira (N10bn), which a prominent businessman from the state claims to have frittered in an attempt to install his candidate in 2017 as the state governor could have been used to build a secondary school of international standard as well as a university of distinction. This is what Chief Afe Babaloola, a foremost lawyer, has done in his home state of Ekiti, one of the poorest states in the federation. Afe Babaloola University is one of the top and most expensive private universities in Nigeria. A good number of its students are from Anambra State.
As a gubernatorial election will be held in Anambra State in November, enormous amounts of money are being gathered by so-called money bags to enable certain aspirants to contest as their stooges. These people should learn from the examples of Chief Babaloola and, of course, Monsignor Akam by utilizing their resources to work for the public good rather than for personal aggrandizement, which will mortgage our state.
Anambra has in the last few years emerged the most educationally advanced state in the country. This is in line with the present administration’s vision to make it the centre of Nigeria’s education as Massachusetts or California is to the United States. Msgr Akam contributed immeasurably to the state’s educational competitiveness, a fact which Governor Willie Obiano recognised in his condolence message to the Bishop of Ekwulobia, Most Reverend Dr Peter Okpalaeke, immediately the governor heard of Msgr Akam’s passage on February 5, 2021.
Msgr Akam’s place is in our history is assured. May God reward him in Heaven.
Adinuba is the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment.