UNN gets new VC as Bartho bows out
By Okpubeku Freedom
An uneasy calm seized the serene atmosphere of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), for two weeks as the institution marked the end of tenure of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bartholomew N. Okolo, amidst apprehension about whom the next VC would be.
The end of tenure activities which held from May 22nd to June 6th, 2014 took place in both the Nsukka and Enugu campuses of the university with the bulk of the activities holding in the Nsukka Campus.
According to sources, the five-year tenure of the VC was full of remarkable events including the biennial NUGA (Nigeria Universities Games Association) Games 2009 which the university hosted under him, the internal crises which rocked the institution for many months because of students’ riot for an alleged proposed hike in fees on the one hand and staff protests over alleged mismanagement of school resources on the other hand as well as the over six months of non-academic activities in the institution as a result of a protracted nation-wide strike by university lecturers under the auspices of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) .
The tenure also witnessed crises within the school management which eventually led to the sack of the Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Emeka Enejere, whom analysts say was a redeemer that would have taken the university to greater heights if he had been allowed to stay. Yet, Bartho, as the out-going VC was fondly called, is said to be appreciated for, among other things, demolishing and rebuilding some old structures in the nation’s premier university apart from some completely new building structures that also sprang up alongside new flowers that were brought in to beautify the lion’s den which was almost disorganised during the crises that also saw the outright ban of students unionism in the campus remarkable for its coolness occasioned by big expansive ever-green trees that adorn it.
In a letter dated 21st May, 2014 and signed by Mike Asogwa on the behalf of the Public Relations department of the university, members of the university community, staff, students, the general public and other stakeholders were invited to grace the two-week long ceremonies which attracted a cream of the academia including Professor Polycarp Chigbu, Deputy VC (Academic); Professor E. M. Igbokwe, Deputy VC (Administration); Professor I. P. Enemo, Deputy VC (Enugu Campus); Mr. Emmanuel C. Ukala (SAN), the current Pro-Chancellor of the UNN; and other dignitaries from the South-East zone and beyond.
The end of tenure activities included the VC’s visit to various faculties of the university on different days, novelty football match between staff members, VC’s farewell meetings with UNEC (University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus) community and Nsukka community, VC’s special meeting with school Senate, and drama night. Others were inter-denominational thanksgiving service, music night, grand farewell ceremony, and gala night.
Professor Okolo who was a professor in the department of Microbiology in the university before his elevation to the highest office of the university, he took over from Professor Chinedu Nebo who is now Nigeria’s Minister of Power. Barrister Nwanneka Okolo, wife of Professor Okolo, was often in company of her husband throughout the ceremonies.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports had it that a new Vice-Chancellor has been named by the federal government in the person of Professor Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba from the Enugu Campus of the university.
Professor Ozumba is said to have got the highest vote casts for the position in a keenly contested election which allegedly had over 30 high-ranking scholars as contestants.