Igbariam, Anambra East local government area of Anambra state recently stood still as Prof Fidelis Okafor, Vice-Chancellor of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) Igbariam, Anambra State was honoured by the of Commonwealth Students’ Parliament (CSP) with an award of excellence as the Commonwealth Vice-Chancellor of the Year.
Commonwealth Students Parliament (CSP) with headquarters at Uganda is the umbrella body of students from all the Commonwealth countries.
Presenting the award at the COOU Auditorium, Peter Mugisa, Speaker Commonwealth Students’ Parliament (CSP) said the award was in recognition of Okafor’s strides in infrastructure development, contribution to education and in providing a congenial learning atmosphere for Nigeria students.
Mugisa explained that the decision to confer the award on Prof. Okafor was to reward, salute and encourage his positive change as the VC of the university.
His words: “A man that has and is still contributing his quota to nation building, humanity and the promotion of qualitative education which remain the best legacy that can be bequeathed on the children of the common man in any society.
“As we develop within our democratic dispensation in Africa, it is important that the youths, who constitute the most cohesive and articulate component in the African society should be fully involved in our task of societal development and consolidation of the achievements that is being recorded in our educational sector.”
In his response, Prof. Okafor said he was overwhelmed by the honour he given to him by CSP, but lacked words to describe his joy, adding that his administration was willing to do more to improve the standard of education in the University.
His words: “We don’t feel we have done enough, those of us who have seen the standard of education in other countries are pained by the level of education in Nigeria, we will continue to do our best to make it better,” he said.
Prof. Okafor added that the secret behind the success of his administration was the passion to do the right thing regardless of the opinion of others.
“We have not done anything to impress anybody, all we have done was out of our passion to do the right thing and we will continue to do what we are doing despite the changes”, he said.
He expressed his joy for being spotted by the group to be honoured, saying that the occasion would go down in history.
“I am happy the group could spot me in my little efforts here and there in the nation. I don’t know how they spotted me and I wish I have done more. I urge you to still go out of your way and fish out lots of people who have sincerely contributed to the society. Such people need to be recognised. We are all looking forward to a better society”.
In an earlier letter from the students body nominating him for the award, Clerk of Commonwealth Students’ Parliament, Peter Rwolekya, wrote that Prof Fidelis Okafor was nominated for the Commonwealth Vice Chancellor of the year 2015 for his, “untiring commitment to the development of education in Africa and perhaps in the Commonwealth Nations as exemplified by your investment in human capacity development and leadership of one of Africa’s leading University, Anambra state University, Uli, Nigeria, now Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Igbariam.
“There is no doubt that only few individuals in other Commonwealth countries have deepened their commitment to education in the area of promoting qualitative education that you, Professor Fidelis Okafor. Earlier this month our Parliament adopted a resolution proclaiming you as the Commonwealth Vice Chancellor of the year 2015.
“Bearing in mind that our generation is presently faced with the yearning for quality leadership, the objective of honour is to analyse Educational development in the Commonwealth Africa and the role of Governments and individuals in youth development through Education.
“It is therefore our desire to formally confer on you this award during a familiarization visit by selected leaders of the Parliament to you in Nigeria on Tuesday 26th May, 2015′”the Clerk wrote.
And at Award ceremony proper, the elated Vice Chancellor ensured that thousands of the students that attended the event were given rich food and bottled water.
Students Union President of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Comrade Ije Felix expressed happiness for the award to the Vice Chancellor who he said the University students call him father based on his relationship with them. He insisted that 80 percent of the students without prompt shall give the Vice Chancellor an A plus grade in his achievements that warranted the award.
Similarly, a staff of the Faculty of Law, Dr Pascal Oguno in a vote of thanks on behalf of the institution said Okafor is a motivation and an inspiration to both students and staff and deserved the award.
Prof Okafor had earlier announced that JAMB rated the Institution 2nd best performance in Nigeria after University of Ibadan and because of that his institution would be hosting the JAMB technical meeting on peer review on how they did it for their entire universities in Nigeria.
He further announced that over 20 staff of the University are in various parts of the world for either seminar or for higher degree and hinted that there would be an international conference his university would be partnering with a University in Kenya to host Africa as over 20 countries have indicated interest to attend. He said the institution is facing re-accreditation team in two weeks and is hopeful to scale through as it would be disastrous to fail accreditation in any of the 31 academic programmes they are running.
He charged the students of the university to prepare to take over from the founding fathers of the country like the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and others who fought colonialism and ensured the freedom of the Africans.