By Felix Khanoba
Encomium have continued to pour in for Prof. Charles Egbu on his emergence as the first black (Igbo) Vice-Chancellor of a British university, Leeds Trinity University in England.
Not missing on the roll call were the Anambra State government and a former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi, who have sent messages congratulating Egbu on the appointment.
Egbu, Professor of Quantity Surveying, will on November 1st assume duties as the Vice Chancellor of the British university.
He is currently the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education & Experience) at the University of East London, having served as the Dean of the School of the Built Environment and Architecture of the London South Bank University and a senior academic at the University College, London.
In a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. C-Don Adinuba, stated that the appointment was a great feat not just for Ndi Anambra, Ndigbo, Nigerians and indeed, Africans and Blacks across the globe.
He said that Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State in a statement said that: “Prof. Egbu’s emergence is a game changer in the history of higher education in a conservative society like the United Kingdom where only last January the Universit’s Minister, The Honourable Chris Skidmore, decried the fact that the number of Blacks holding senior academic positions in Britain is officially zero.
“Professor Egbu reminds all Africans of when Prof. Kenneth Onwuka Dike, another worthy indigene of Anambra State, became the first African and Black Principal of the University College, Ibadan, and later emerged its first African and Black Vice-Chancellor of the university, which was established in 1948.
“Prof. Dike, who graduated First Class in the United Kingdom, just like Prof. Egbu, made the University of Ibadan become synonymous with excellence in scholarship and administration throughout the world.
“A farsighted leader, Prof. Dike discovered early enough the great promise of such young scholars as Dr. Jacob Ade Ajayi, and went out of his way to ensure their rapid rise, despite protests from certain quarters.
“The records which these scholars made in various disciplines and endeavours vindicated Prof. Dike’s actions, as he went on to become a distinguished professor at Harvard University, until he was called upon, once again, to return home and serve his fatherland”.
Gov. Obiano said that he is in no doubt that Professor Egbu, who hails from Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, “will excell in his new role and consequently market our dear state to the world in a most uncanny way.
“I have no doubt in my mind that he will not for a moment forget his roots and how he can contribute to our development”.
Noting that Professor Egbu’s appointment as the first Black Vice-Chancellor of a UK university is purely based on merit rather than any primordial considerations, the Anambra State governor stated “with pride that it came when Anambra people in the state, in different parts of the country and all over the world are demonstrating, more than ever before, great competitiveness in education”.
*Obi send eulogies too
In a statement by Obi’s media aide, Valentine Obieyem, Obi said he was overjoyed when he heard the news of Egbu’s appointment, which he described as a clear reward for excellence, commitment and focus.
Commenting on Egbu’s achievements and that of many Nigerians making waves abroad, Obi noted that “it simply corroborates what the literary icon, Prof. Chinua Achebe, said, that nothing is wrong with the air Nigerians breathe, nor the water we drink. Our problems are mostly self-inflicted, arising from leadership failures and our inability to rise above our weaknesses.”
The former Anambra State Governor encouraged Prof. Egbu, who hails from Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra, to keep giving in his best in his position.
Beyond the eulogies and celebrations, Obi called on Nigerian youths to “see the likes of Prof Egbu as role models, and stop looking up to some politicians hell-bent on enriching their insatiable pockets at the expense of the poor masses.”
He added that “such personalities as Egbu who have defied all odds and conquered their limitations through hard work deserve the adulation and admiration of youths.”
Obi reminded the younger ones that the future is elastic and that they have the potentials of becoming whatever they want to be in life, if they are willing to work hard.
Reiterating the importance of education, Obi told the youth to take education seriously, as that would give them the necessary skills and knowledge they need to compete on the global stage.
Recall that Miss Agnes Ego Maduafokwa from Ihiala scored a bull’s eye in 2020 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination by scorinh 365 marks out of 400, while David Nwobi from Nawfia in Njikoka Local Government Area, made the second best result in the same examinination.
Also two weeks ago, Dr Chidubem Obi from Ifite Dunu in Dunukofia Local Government Area, became the first African to emerge the overall best student in Russia’s oldest and most prestigious medical university, while Patrick Okigbo III, a member of the Anambra State Vision 2070 Committee set up by Governor, to draw up a strategic plan to make the state fully developed like Dubai within 50 years, was one of the 12 persons across the globe appointed Senior Fellows at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
“These are really good times for the people and government of Anambra State”, according to Governor Obiano who will next week honour in Awka the two candidates with the best results in the 2020 JAMB examination”.