RE:Name change: What is wrong in EVAN ENWEREM? By Aku Obidinma

At a special lecture organized by the Students Union Government (SUG) of Imo State University in my University days, the guest speaker Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha brought the acronym of Ph.D to lime light among the students then. As members of an academic environment we interpreted the acronym to be its scholarly meaning of Doctor of Philosophy not until the guest speaker interpreted it to mean ‘Pull Him Down Syndrome’. This interpretation by Owelle was not without cause, as he was at that point in time (that is little after the 1999 governorship election which he actively participated in) a victim of blackmail and stigmatization by a political cabal (though some of them are now his close associates) that described him as a thug, an illiterate and so on.

I remember vividly the electrification of the student audience by Owelle’s oratory wizardry and eloquence on that day and how he passionately asked the audience at the end of his speech if we noticed any atom of illiteracy or thuggery in his presentation, which attracted a roaring  NO from the audience. We all went home impressed and excited over the personality of the man Rochas but not forgetting the central message of his lecture. His central message was about the Pull Him Down Syndrome that is prevalent in the modern Igbo society.

The outgoing Governor Ikedi Ohakim in his words tagged it ‘The Crab Mentality’. The Igbos today have become so selfish and sectionally sentimental that nobody wants to acknowledge the achievement of others outside themselves or from their domain, even when such is glaring. We now allow prejudice and sectional sentiment to blindfold us in the race for development. Owelle decried the manner in which he was been vilified and maligned by the fifth columnists at that time and qualified their action as simply pulling him down.

I chose to use this acronym in this piece because I see no other thing in the attempt by the modern day fifth columnists to remove the name of Evan Enwerem from the state university. I see nothing wrong in using the name of this great Imo son who fought hard to secure and establish this university even when it was ceded to Abia state in 1991. It is on record that Enwerem held on to the certificate of NUC which read Imo state university while Abia went with the structure. He went further to house the university in a one room apartment in the present day Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri.

Mature as he was fondly called did not stop at that, he went ahead to use his close relationship with the President then (IBB) to get FUTO move to their permanent site while IMSU occupied their temporary site which is where Imo State University is located today. He brought the renowned Prof. Ndubuizu who helped to assemble more competent academics that finally began the academic journey of that citadel which was adjudged the best state owned university in 2002 by NUC.

Enwerem motivated and inspired confidence into the newly assembled lecturers who were drawn from various schools where they were better off. He provided every support to the university both in terms of infrastructure and finance and this saw structures coming up in the school while many relevant academic courses got introduced. The contributions of Evan Enwerem in a less than two years administration in the establishment of Imo state university is too numerous to be mentioned.

When this icon died and the present Imo state House of Assembly passed a bill which the Governor accented to, changing the name Imo state university to Evan Enwerem many who knew the history of that school were happy. Though at this period it was rumored that people from a zone of the state who have dominated appointments in that university vowed to upturn it but I did not take such serious if not for what is happening today.

I read with shock and utmost disappointment the recent action of the same House of Assembly in reversing themselves by plotting to remove the name of Enwerem in that university in a simple dance to the wimps and caprices of some powerful persons around the incoming Governor. For once I never took this House serious (thank God majority of them are gone) because of their hypocrisy and sycophancy. What this House and the so called Governor elect’s friends are attempting to do is Pulling Enwerem Down.

Maybe because Enwerem is from Owerri zone (the known politically marginalized zone in the state now) that is why he must be pulled down. We have the airport named after Sam Mbakwe of Okigwe zone, we have the state stadium named after Dan Anyiam of Orlu zone what is then wrong in the state university being named after Evan Enwerem. No matter how we look at it, Chief Evan Enwerem was an elected Governor in this state and a former Senate President of this country who relentlessly fought for the existence of the university.

If he were from the Northern or the Western part of this country everybody would have joined hands to give him this befitting memorial. Let us remove the cloth of sectionalism in the eyes of development, let Evan Enwerem University remain the name. Owelle must not allow pull him down to thrive in his reign, for what is good for the Goose is also good for the Gander.

Comr. Aku Obidinma (Abdul)

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