Prof Gerald Udigwe is the Dean, Faculty of Medicine in the College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus. In this interview with Isaac Ojo, the professor of obstetrics and gynecology speaks on the need for big business owners to help in tackling challenges facing educational institutions.
On the relationship between the business class and educational institutions, Prof Udigwe noted that most institutions in the country, particularly the college hardly get support from the private sector in terms of projects execution.
His words: “In some other climes, successful businessmen and women normally make some endowment into the educational institutions operating in and outside their environment in the spirit of giving back to the society. This has proven to be a veritable instrument for the academic institutions to escape from shortage and paucity of funds.
“We have not fully gotten to that level in Nigeria where people go back to their alma mater and do something significant for their former schools or institutions in their operational environment. It is a culture that is capable of turning things around for the research and educational institutions if fully developed.”
The dean, who was elected unopposed, said that his administration would reach out to successful businessmen and industrialists in and around Anambra State for partnership on educational endowment as it is done in other climes to get adequate resources to carry out his programmes for the college.
He said, “We want to computerise the records of the college to make it easy for anyone to access. This has not been done since the college was established over twenty years ago, when files are as old as 20 years, they are not expected to be in a perfect shape but by computerisation, it becomes easy to keep and access the records. This is a capital intensive project.
“There is also problem of limited space in this college, many of our lecturers and professors don’t have offices because the college is located in the old General Hospital site, the limited space is not really conducive for effective teaching and learning.”
On his emergence as dean, he said “I was really overwhelmed with the level of support I got from my colleagues, in the last 20 years, the post has always been keenly contested for, but the moment I signified my interest, my colleagues nominated and elected me unopposed.
“I thank them for the confidence they have in me that I can turn things around for the better here and I must say that overwhelming confidence calls for more hard work and in fact makes it compulsory for me to think out of the box to move the college forward.
“I promised and I still promise that I will give 110 per cent of my efforts to make a good job of the opportunity given to me to serve. We all know that the field of medicine is such that advancements take place almost on daily basis and it is our desire and hope to keep our lecturers and student abreast of latest development so that they can meet up with international standard.
“We hope to expand our training and our exam method must change to keep up with international standard and practice, this also calls for an upgrade in our teaching method, we want to train our students to meet the international standards.”
Prof Udigwe, however declared that the students from the college are doing very well as they have distinguished themselves whenever they go for examination and interviews in and outside the country, noting that he intends to keep them focused and realized that they are in 52 weeks a year programme without a privilege of break or holiday unlike other faculties like Engineering and Social Sciences.