THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS PRESENTED TO THE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY BY THE VICE CHANCELLOR, MICHAEL OKPARA UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, UMUDIKE, MADUEBIBISI, OFO IWE, CFS
B.Sc. Hons (Nigeria) Food Science & Technology, 1983 M.Sc. (Ibadan) Food Technology, 1985 Ph.D. (Nigeria) Food Science & Technology, 1997
Professor of Food Science & Technology and Vice-Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.
MARCH 01, 2021
“I said to the boastful, 'Do not deal boastfully,' And to the wicked, 'Do not lift up the horn. Do not lift up your horn on high; Do not speak with a stiff neck. For exaltation (promotion) comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another” Ps 75:4-7
1. 0 PREAMBLE
1.0 1.1 It is with great joy and humility that I welcome you all to this auspicious occasion. I am very honoured and excited that you are all here to witness my inauguration as the Vice-Chancellor of this distinguished Institution. By the grace of God and the goodwill of men, I am the sixth Vice-Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High". (Ps 46:1-3). Let me still join David to say “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Ps 90:1-2). I give God all the Glory. My journey to this zenith started many decades ago when my birth coincided with the graduation of my uncle and guardian, Hon Chief Reuben Anya Iwe (Ochi Oha I of Isuochi) from the University College, Ibadan. It was my father's earnest desire to give me a university education just like his younger brother, Reuben. My father, Maduabuchi Ezeala Iwe was so ambitious that two years after I started schooling in 1963, I was sent to live with Uncle Reuben. My uncle who was at that time a Principal of a school and a member of the Eastern House of Assembly took me like his own son and saw me through my education to my Master's degree at the University of Ibadan (his alma mater). He was a rare personality, highly disciplined, very patriotic, philanthropic and highly respected and revered by his generation. Soon after obtaining my M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology and with the help of my B.Sc. and later Ph.D supervisor, Professor Patrick Obi Ngoddy, I took up a teaching appointment with the University of Jos where I served in different capacities for the next fifteen years and helping in building the young Food Science and Technology Department at Markurdi.. It was on 30th July, 2000 that I joined Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU). Soon after my arrival to MOUAU, I was saddled with the leadership of the Department of Food Science and Technology after which I was elected twice to act as the Dean of the College of Food Processing and Storage Technology. I eventually found self heading the Student Affairs unit for a period of six years and three months. By a dint of miracle, I was appointed the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor by the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta who presented me to Senate on two occasions for election as his Deputy. And today, I am standing before you as a Vice-Chancellor. It can only be God. I remain grateful to Prof. Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta for believing in me, someone he never met before my initial appointment. He only associated me with the pedigree of my late uncle who was his Principal at the Government College, Afikpo. I sincerely appreciate the desires, and the goodwill and support that I received from my late parents, uncles, my wife and family, friends and teachers (living and dead). My utmost gratitude goes to God Almighty who gave me this MANDATE, for leading me through the roads that I have travelled all my life. It is a Mandate from the Lord and not an appointment. It is a Mandate of the expression and upholding of God's righteousness in this University. He went ahead to raise spiritual support through men and women who daily petitioned Him through all the rigors of this appointment. I pray that this partnership with the Lord to serve in MOUAU would cause nations make positive references to this great Institution in no distant time. Let me equally recognize the involvement of the Council Selection Committee that worked very hard to do the right thing through the period of the selection process that lasted for almost ten days, the first in the history of this and many Universities in Nigeria. I appreciate your final impervious judgment that brought me to this day.
1.2 Let me at this point and with all pleasure appreciate the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Force, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for his confirmation and consent to judgment of the members of Council in the selection process. My administration will remain loyal and would do everything germane in the promotion of the vision of the Federal Government especially in areas affecting agricultural and educational policies. Let me appreciate the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono for ensuring that the result of the panelists was brought to the President’s attention with dispatch.
1.3It is equally my pleasure and revered honour to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Chancellor of the University, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Abubakar III, the Emir of Gombe, for his royal elegance and purposeful representations and support for my appointment. The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Rt. Hon. Lawal M. Zayyana (MON), and members of the Council are esteemed for being instruments in God’s hands to reshape history through the opportunity given to me to render this peculiar service to mankind, and providing quality leadership and direction. I also thank immensely the immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta for his sportsmanship, prudent management, and dedication, who despite the paucity of revenue from the Federal sources, was able to mobilize funds to execute laudable projects and provide other key facilities within the period. I appreciate members of the University Senate and all our Professors, my colleagues in this knowledge-transfer industry, and the entire staff and students of the University for the synergy that has helped to move the Institution forward. I thank my dear wife, Dr. Mrs Nkechi Iwe, our children, Adaeze Agbo, Chimaghalam Unaegbu, Chinonyereanyi Egwu and Nwasinachi Nzubechukwu and our grandchildren and all our prayer partners for demonstration of faith and belief in our God before, during and after the selection process.
2.0 MICHAEL OKPARA UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, UMUDIKE
2.0 Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, originally Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike came into existence on the 13th day of November, 1992 through a Federal Government of Nigeria decree for Federal Universities of Agriculture, cited as Decree No 48 of 1992. This enabling law culminated in the appointment of the Pioneer Governing Council led by Alhaji Mohammad Liman and the first Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Placid Njoku. Two other Federal Universities of Agriculture located at Abeokuta and Makurdi had earlier been established in 1988. MOUAU effectively took off on May 3, 1993 when the University admitted its foundational students. At the epoch of the Institution’s history, only Eighty-two (82) students were enrolled to pursue various courses of study. This figure is at great variance with the recent statistics that put the students’ population at about twenty-seven thousand, seven hundred and fifty (27,750) undergraduates, four thousand, five hundred and ninety-eight (4,598) post graduates and six thousand, seven hundred and thirty (6,730) part-time students at the Continuing Education Centre. The total number of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike students currently stands at around thirty-nine thousand and seventy-eight (39,078). The University as at this day is made up of eleven Colleges with fifty Departments, two Schools, and sixteen Directorates.
2.1 The Vision of the University encapsulates its original purpose and what used to be referred to as its Mission and Mandate. The rehearsing of this vision gives any one associated with it the expectations of the Institution. The University aims to provide the knowledge base for achieving food security, hence its motto: Knowledge, Food and Security.
2.2 The Mission of the University is to provide high quality practical training for students to become professionally competent, and confident persons capable of self-employment, to develop environment-friendly and person-sensitive technologies; and to enhance the well-being of the people through extension services and other interventions.
2.3 The overall goal is to provide the training of students in a rural setting, aimed at self-reliance, through the inculcation of appropriate entrepreneurship skills.
2.4 MOUAU Core values include Excellence, Integrity, Commitment, Fairness and Justice.
3.0 RELATIONSHIP WITH STATUTORY AND REGULATORY BODIES
The Chancellor, albeit ceremonial, in relation to the University takes precedence before all other members of the University and when he is present takes preside at all meetings of the Congregation held for conferring degrees and all meetings of Convocation. In fact, he is the first among all principal officers of the University. The Governing Council under the leadership of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council is the most important of the statutory supervisory agencies established by law. This administration will ensure a very cordial relationship between the University, the National Universities Commission as well as the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Education. We shall work in tandem with the Governing Council at all times. The esteemed value of the Pro-Chancellor and members of the Governing Council will always be appreciated by this administration. We shall be totally loyal and responsive to every policy of the Governing Council as this is the sure way to ensure the actualization of all our goals. In this wise, we shall work with the Governing Council to ensure that issues such as Physical Planning and Development of the University; Staff and Students’ Welfare; Appointment and Promotions; Staff Discipline; Financial Management; Union activities; and Relationship between the University and the host community as well as the Abia State Government; etc. are given utmost attention throughout the duration of this administration.
4.0 MY VISION FOR THE UNIVERSITY
My vision for and vista of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike embrace that of a knowledge-giving, society-conscious-and-satisfying world-class University; in which competent and committed staff shall consistently produce competent graduates, equipped with entrepreneurial, problem-solving and social skills and capacities; empowered to positively impact humanity through committed engagement in the advancement and utilization of contemporary and relevant knowledge and skills for promoting acceptable behavior in society, excellent decision-making and disciplined habits of leadership and followership. To this end, we shall rapidly provoke and catalyze creative intellectual engagement at all levels by: - Propelling cooperative work across units, departments, and colleges; - Weaving and encouraging seamless academic/administrative cooperation across boundaries and bottlenecks to eliminate disconnected pockets of activities and barriers; - Making transparent, truthful and Godly decisions based on open-access to correct issues and offer reliable information, communication, open-consultation, and application of objective measures of performance. - Implementing accountability through open-dialogue, constructive-debate, solicited feedback, external assessments, continual and systematic evaluations of performance, peer-review and rewards. As we look ahead to the next five years and beyond, my VISION for MOUAU, in line with the fundamental objectives of the University and in keeping with her Mission and Mandate as an “entrepreneurial agricultural University”, is to be responsive to the agricultural needs of Nigeria, and the mantra of agricultural evolution of Nigeria by the Buhari administration by seeking to excel in accomplishing the following urgent, strategic and empowering activities: - Producing highly skilled manpower by mobilizing and employing appropriate instruments of agricultural innovation, processes and technology (AIPT); - Striving to systematically enhance her IGR to complement Government subvention; - Creating an Institutional-environment that is free of security lapses, secret cults and examination malpractices in which harmony, humane-governance, due-process, accountability, character-ethic, discipline, stability and the rule-of-law reign supreme; - Providing an administrative environment that is all-round friendly and continues to be as fair-and-firm as it is just-and-humane to all and sundry; and is committed to the maintenance of high academic standards which shall match international benchmarks within the context of the law, mission and mandate of the Universities of Agriculture in general and MOUAU in particular.
5.0 VISION IMPLEMENTATION
My vision for MOUAU is one of CONSOLIDATION of the significant gains of past administrations of the University, which shall backstop strategic advancement of the University to the next level, along the following emblematic lines:
5.1 FUND GENERATION WITH PRUDENTIAL MANAGEMENT
Fund generation shall form the backbone and fulcrum for leveraging the programs of this administration. Since Government subvention has become marginal and is very likely to continue to be so in the foreseeable future, my immediate effort shall be directed to double, if possible, triple the quantum of funding from its present level. We shall apply a mixed-bag of strategies that shall include but not limited to the following: (a) Mixed farming on several hectares of University land and progressively enhancing the efficiency of land utilization. Both students and staff shall be motivated to participate in farming and agricultural production on University land for maximum utilization and expansion of the University space. (b) Integrated commercial cropping of high value tree crops (palm, rubber, castor oil); carefully selected fruit trees; arable crops (cassava, maize, soybean); livestock (cattle, poultry and pigs); fisheries by aquaculture; bee keeping (apiculture) for honey; snailery for meat, and vegetables. (c) Value-chain maximization through preservation, processing and marketing (which had so far received little or no attention all this while); preservation, marketing and distribution of the products of relevant Departments and Units shall be the cornerstone of the strategy. There shall be a University agro-packaging centre for the resulting products, to ensure proper and attractive presentation of the University products to the public. (d) MOUAU Ltd., shall be re-invigorated and made functional and efficient, as a Centre of commerce with an academic-culture for the University. (e) Alumni and Corporate organizations shall be approached, sensitized and encouraged and incentivized to endow academic chairs and to creatively partner with the University in promoting new ventures including the establishment and development of MOUAU Agro-tech Park. (f) Departments and the Directorates of Research and Development shall be empowered using a new package of incentives to be worked out to include such things as giving academic-entrepreneurs assistance and free-hand in attracting and managing much-needed grants, not only to research (R), but also for development (R&D) partnership from both local and international sources. Funds so attracted shall be dutifully and timely disbursed using new mechanisms designed to achieve the intended purpose with in-built opportunities for negotiated percentages of entrepreneurial fees for finders and participants. (g) We shall be resolutely prudent in the management of University funds including all aspects of procurement, expenditure, income generation and accounting. Procurement shall follow laid down rules and principles instituted by the Government. (h) The issue of our University’s take off-grant is still outstanding. All meaningful efforts shall be made to pursue its release, which will go a long way in facilitating the development of the amenities and infrastructural projects of this University. We shall approach all relevant government agencies for favour and partnership, to enable the University play along with the developing Universities within and outside the country. Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Niger Delta Development Commission, and other government agencies, would be approached and appealed to for assistance.
5.2 PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
Vigorous efforts shall be made to complete all on-going projects. A re-invigorated maintenance and house-keeping culture shall be put in place. Every effort shall be made to attract physical development to the University, and we shall do our best to ensure that they meet aesthetic and structural standards.
5.3. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R&D)
As a practically-oriented and specialist agricultural University, we shall pay special attention to R&D. This is because contemporary higher education objectives are achieved through the process of generating and transmitting new knowledge by performing research. The University’s re-invigorated R&D thrust, shall among other things, embrace a systematic effort to impart through intensified habit of training, contemporary skills in grantsmanship (the preparation and writing of research proposals and finding and pursuing funding for them). This process will lead staff and postgraduate students to benefit from national and international funding opportunities, encourage them to attend conferences in their disciplines and seek collaborative linkages in R&D. We shall attract friends of this University in diaspora to contribute to our R&D aspirations.
5.4. GOVERNANCE, ORGANIZATION & MANAGEMENT, STAFF AND STUDENT WELFARE
The delivery of qualitative higher education is fundamentally based on effective synergy of tasks and sharing of responsibilities; thus, a collegial decision-making process shall be entrenched and enforced. The cherished University culture of Committee-system shall be upheld as a way of involving people in decision-making and cultivating and fostering institutional habits of win-win. Every College and academic Directorate shall be involved in fund-generation through farming, processing, capacity-building, textbook-writing, and the creative application of diverse entrepreneurial skills. The welfare of staff shall be vigorously encouraged and pursued through faithful and diligent implementation of provisions for appointment and promotion, training, housing, transportation, healthcare, recognition-giving and remuneration by regular payment of salaries, allowances, rewards for creativity and innovation and prompt attention to retirement and death benefits. The key is to do these things in a manner that invests them with a new sense of fidelity. We shall work in close understanding with staff unions. I have over the years played my roles within and across unions, and I am aware that the unions are needed as pressure groups to attract incentives to the University and not otherwise. I am hopeful that our unions will positively engage with various segments of the society to attract the much-needed goodwill and incentives to the University during this administration. I am therefore open to the positive involvement of unions in this administration. Determined effort and proactive measures shall be put in place to ensure the welfare of students by sustaining provisions for constant supply of electricity, water, garbage-disposal and high-quality housekeeping; sustaining the revitalized Student Work Aid Scheme, war against secret cults and war against examination malpractice. Students’ welfare shall be enhanced by involving them in planned fund-generation schemes, social development and services based on their areas of study. They shall be remunerated commensurately. We shall prepare the next generation of our students to face a complex and unpredictable future.
5.5. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)
The past administrations of Professors Ogbonnaya Chikwe Onwudike, Ikenna Onyido, Hilary Odo Edeoga and Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta have already laid the foundation and introduced MOUAU to the ICT path. Efforts shall now be geared towards sustaining and enlarging that process and ensuring that our over 3,000 staff and 30,000 students benefit from the immense advantages of this contemporary technology. Teaching, examination, Senate and Management transactions shall be executed through ICT processes. In fact, this administration shall ensure that within its 100 days of existence, Senate businesses shall be executed by online or soft copy processes and the transcripts of our graduates up to the year 2010 shall be ready for use by the online process. We shall ensure that the rest of the transcripts are ready before or by December 2021. We shall encourage e-learning, as well as ensure online student course registration, payments and allocation of student hostel rooms within the first year of this administration.
5.6. PEACE AND SECURITY ON CAMPUS
To sustain the above-listed ideas and dreams, peace and security constitute a pair of synergistic, fundamental and complementary realities we must entrench in MOUAU. These existential needs shall be pursued with keen devotion and interest. The University shall maintain close liaison with the State Government, the Security services and the neighboring Communities. We shall retrain, equip, motivate, reform, transform and modernize the internal security network and all the personnel involved in it within the shortest possible time. The security of the life of the staff and students, and property of this University shall be paramount and we shall do everything possible to protect them.
5.7. DEPENDENCE ON THE SUPREME GOD
This administration shall totally depend on God for all its dreams, engagements, programs and achievements. To this end we shall commit ourselves to godly services and shall from time to time seek the face of God to help us succeed. The past administration of Prof Francis Ogbonnaya Otunta activated the MOUAU PRAYS program, which provided spiritual platform for its success. We shall not do less. We shall regularly inform the Community of our programs of keeping faith with the Almighty God who made today possible. To this end, I am calling out the University community to a special prayer of rededication and LIFTING UP of MOUAU to God on 3rd March as a starting point. Kindly join us and prove the faithfulness of God in this community. We shall to continue to meet as a family on our monthly MOUAU PRAYS program on every first Tuesday of the month between 8.30 and 10.00am. The special program of LIFTING UP MOUAU shall come up once in a quarter, on first Wednesday of the month at 12.00 to 2.30pm. Whenever it occurs, there shall be no Tuesday prayer.
6.0 MY FELLOW CONTESTANTS
As I am coming to the end of this address, let me congratulate all my fellow contestants to this office for being part of the contest. It is very clear that even though we started as fifty eminent, distinguished and hopeful contestants (the largest number in the history of VC’s race of this University), the University advertised just for one Professor to occupy the post. Since the University through her processes found my humble self worthy of this service, I humbly extend my hand of friendship to all of us in this University that contested for the post. We cannot manufacture human beings to provide the leadership and contributions that all of us can presently provide for this University at the present time. The contest is over, and it is time for all of us in the words of Prof Ikenna Onyido, our third Vice-Chancellor, to roll our sleeves and work. Let us all join hands in the task of lifting Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike to greater and enviable heights in the coming five-years.
I recall the prayer of the second Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof Ogbonnaya C. Onwudike for me as he was exiting the office in February, 2006. He said to me “My brother, it is customary for friends to wish their friends all the good things of life but I will deviate from convention and wish you tough times ahead. May your paths be rough, may you meet with more troubles and may you experience opposition and deceit. It is by your overcoming these challenges and difficulties through God’s grace that you will be equipped to combat and rise above the vicissitudes of this life and your future will be bright, beautiful and blessed by God. God bless you”. I have gone through a circle of experience in my academic and professional pursuit and as a member of this community with all manner of labels pasted on my person. I thank God that after all, He has given me this opportunity to serve everyone in this University and all those who shall come in here to seek for one assistance or the other. I also recall the kind prophetic wishes of the first Vice-Chancellor, His Excellency Prof. Placid Njoku who on a NUC Impact Assessment assignment to this University in July 2004 met me as the Dean of my College in the Dean’s office and excitedly prayed that having met me in that office that provided accommodation for him as the first Vice-Chancellor, I should one day become the Vice-Chancellor of this University. That prophetic prayer has come to pass, and I appreciate it, and thank His Excellency. I do not underestimate the responsibility of my new role. We live in a particularly challenging time for the world in general and Nigerian Universities in particular and charting a successful path through the next few years is going to require the dedicated efforts of everyone involved in this Institution. To this end, I specifically and passionately appeal to every member of the University Community to appreciate the peculiar constraints of this youngest University of Agriculture, with a history of starting four years after Abeokuta and Makurdi and in a different circumstance of no reasonable infrastructure as the other two Universities that had existed as Federal Universities of Technology before conversion to Universities of Agriculture. We should recognize and use our strengths and opportunities. We should endeavor to mobilize our strengths across the entire University, do everything possible to reduce labour time, ensure institutional modesty to make sure that the University flourishes, and work closely with the big, large and small to connect research. Let us specialize in some areas that are unique to us, collaborate with locals, governments and scientists here and there to grow and strengthen our research. We should maintain interdisciplinary collaboration and cross fertilization of ideas; reduce challenges of inequality and create partnership and emphasize it. The University must be ready for change. Staff should be kind to students and treat them as their own family members. We must provide opportunities that accommodate outliers, and weakest among us. I call on our South-East and South-South people and politicians to see this University as their own, because it is located here for their good, and contribute to its existence through donations, endowments and every other acceptable source of funds to enable the University achieve its mission and mandate. We must take decisions as prudently and useful as necessary. We must embrace and maintain integrity, efficiency and excellence, henceforth. We must dedicate time and energy for the service of the University to be able to leave enduring legacy for academic excellence. We must nurture inclusiveness for public good and justice and build a distinctive heritage for an extraordinary University. We must devote enough thought to academic choices we make to anchor on the principles of the University. In conclusion, I hereby expand the Core Values of this University to accommodate my dream for a new, progressive, accommodating, enduring and godly University as follows: 1. Development of environment and people sensitive technology to enhance wellbeing of farmers. 2. Delivery of well tested and technically optimized agricultural production, processing and preservation protocols 3. Diligence and Transparency in action 4. Godly, Disciplined and Excellent in attitude 5. Integrated and coordinated agricultural education 6. Knowledge, Food and Security 7. Knowledge to all persons, without discrimination 8. Make Nigeria great, be truthful 9. Patriotic, productive and responsible Community. 10. Punctuality and fairness in business 11. Self-sufficient, confident and competent educated farmers 12. Self-sufficiency in food and fibre production for Nigeria I have made available these Core Values to all Colleges, Directorates, Departments and offices in flex and table calendar to ensure we all get the message and run with the vision. Thank you for your patience and for being a good audience. May God give us the grace to serve. God bless us all and bless Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.
MADUEBIBISI OFO IWE. PhD, CFS,
Professor of Food Science and Technology and Vice Chancellor,
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.