One of the major reasons why some elites ganged up against the re-election bid of Chief Ikedi Ohakim in 2011 is because of his courageous cleaning up of Imo State University. Ohakim met a terribly dirty and dysfunctional Imo State University. Most people around him wanted him to immediately slam the big hammer, but as a thoroughbred administrator and an apostle of democracy, he resorted to due process in carrying out the reforms he wanted for that great citadel of excellence. He set up a Visitation Panel, which probed the activities of that institution and found some officials wanting. The Panel made recommendations (Some of which I do not like, nor support) and the government of Imo State under Ikedi Ohakim gazetted some of these recommendations which led to the sack of some of these officials,including the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor I.C Okonkwo, (a man I love so much). Ohakim made sure that the students got quality education and he ensured a full implementation of the Visitation Panel’s ban on sell of handouts and forced buying of textbooks. It was this cleanup exercise by Ohakim that ensured the establishment of the IMSU Book Shop, where students were required to go and purchase any books recommended by their lecturers. Lecturers were barred from selling text books, and this went a long way in curbing the decay that was obvious on that campus.
Fast forward to 2011, Owelle-Rochas Okorocha Oon takes over the reins of power and one of his first casualties was IMSU, and since then, he has made sure that the university never rose to its feet again. Okorocha met a substantive Vice-Chancellor in the person of Professor Nwebo. He sacked the fine law Professor through a military like broadcast, six days into the life of his administration. He appointed, BEB Nwoke as the Acting Vice-Chancellor. In all fairness, BEB Nwoke tried to make that place work, but the strange policy directions of the Governor frustrated him, and he was relieved of that job in a most unceremonious manner. Then came, Professor Ukachukwu Aloysius Awuzie with his song of John the Baptist. He told everyone who cared to listen that he was only on a short repair mission. May be, the erstwhile labour unionist tasted the forbidden fruit of corruption which comes with power and refused to let go. Ukachukwu Awuzie did not heed any wise counsel and he let himself be used by Okorocha and he has been dumped.
However, as a Vice-Chancellor, recommended by the University Congregation, the Senate and substantively appointed by the University’s Visitor, his job was no longer at the discretion of anybody. Any reprimand coming his way must follow the right channels, but our Governor who prides in his disdain for due process, did not even have the patience to wait for the recommendation of the University’s Council, before he wielded the big stick on that pioneer professor of Landscape Architecture.
Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie will have a very beautiful and watertight argument if he decides to approach the court for his rights, but I do not think he will have the moral fiber to do that. This is a man who failed to keep the laws he fought so hard to make. This is a man who held thousands of youths and other academics to ransom because he did not have a PHD and couldn’t have awarded what he did not have. Had Awuzie continued as the Vice-Chancellor of Imo State University for the five years his tenure was supposed to have run, IMSU would not have had a convocation ceremony. Awuzie knew this, but was more interested in occupying the office of the Vice-Chancellor than guaranteeing the future of the students in that university.
It is unfortunate that in sacking Awuzie, Okorocha only used that opportunity to appoint his relative into that office. Professor Adaobi Obasi is a fine academic and I think she is eminently qualified for that position, but she is not the only person who is qualified for that position.