UNIZIK Appoints Ahaneku as New VC, Amidst Controversies

UNIZIK Appoints Ahaneku as New VC, Amidst Controversies:

Professor Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku

Professor Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku

Though Professor Joseph Eberendu Ahaneku, has been duly appointed the new vice-chancellor (VC) Nnamdi Azikiwe University, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State by the university’s governing council, and subsequently issued an appointment letter, several members of the university community express doubts whether his appointment would subsist.

This is on account of the controversy trailing the handling of the processes that led to the emergence of the professor of chemical pathology as the fifth VC of the institution named after the country’s first president, late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.

Already, one of the front-runners in the contest, Greg Nwakoby, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor( DVC) administration, and professor of law has accused the Air Vice Marshal Larry Koinya(rtd)-led governing council of compromise in the handling of the process that led to the appointment of Ahaneku as the institution’s new vice chancellor.

Nwakoby bluntly accused some members of the governing council of working against his emergence as the new VC because he refused to give them bribe. But this allegation was debunked by a source close to the committee.

He said that after the interview conducted by the Koinya-led committee, he came tops out of the nine contestants who made it to that interview stage after the screening of a total of 34 professors that applied for the plum position.

He further alleged that after he emerged tops following the interview, Koinya who chaired the five-man committee had congratulated him, but subsequently told him that for him to be eventually appointed the new VC, he must “play ball.”

Addressing journalists in Awka on Monday, May 26, shortly after the governing council appointed Ahaneku the institution’s new VC, he claimed that two members of the council (names withheld) had each demanded a bribe of N30 million so that he would be named the new VC, but he rebuffed them.

However, contrary to Nwakoby’s allegations, there is a groundswell of opinion by stakeholders that Ahaneku’s appointment followed due process stipulated by the Federal Ministry of Education.

At the point Nwakoby claimed that he had emerged winner, according to one of the stakeholders, the processes of appointing a VC had not been completed. It was required that the Interview Committee after interacting with the nine professors should present the best three candidates to the entire governing council members which reserved the right of choosing any of the three contestants to be appointed as the VC.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the Interview Committee actually presented three contestants, namely Greg Nwakoby, Joseph Ahaneku and Ben Osisioma, and after voting, Ahaneku scored eight votes to beat the two other contestants. Nwakoby was said to have scored three votes, while Osisioma scored 0.

Consequently, Ahaneku was appointed the VC and a certificate duly signed by the chairman of the governing council, was presented to him on behalf of the Visitor, President Goodluck Jonathan.

Meanwhile, certain incidences that occurred during the interview process allegedly suggest that the interview committee members may have compromised their positions. One was the application of the template in choosing a new VC, while the other was bridging the appointment process.

For instance, it was gathered that the template adopted by the Koinya-led Interview Committee through which Nwakoby placed tops among the nine contestants that appeared before the committee was at variant with the template stipulated by the Federal Ministry of Education.

It was gathered that the six -member screening/selection committee headed by Alhaji Buhari Bala, had applied the statutorily approved template to select candidates to be presented to the interview committee. In that screening exercise, Ahaneku was said to have scored about 94 per cent to come first, while Nwakoby came fifth with about 76 per cent.

Nevertheless, it was alleged that the Koinya-led Interview Committee jettisoned the approved template based on pressure allegedly mounted on the committee by two representatives of the university senate on the committee. At the end of the interface, Nwakoby placed first with 89 per cent, while Ahaneku scored 80 per cent to come second.

A source close to the interview committee revealed that the committee manipulated the scores of the nine contestants because they scored them based on their personal assessment of the candidates, instead of using the template set out by the Federal Ministry of Education which borders on the consideration of the academic qualifications of the candidates as well as their experiences in university administration.

Also, another incident that raised the suspicion of keen watchers against the Governing Council chairman was the manner he scuttled the appointment procedure on Saturday, June 24, 2014, shortly after the entire council members had seated to appoint one person out of the three contestants presented by the interview committee.

Koinya was said to have adjourned the meeting abruptly on the basis that he received a call from the Presidency to proceed to Abuja for consultations. It was alleged that Koinya was prevailed by a ‘big shot’ in the presidency to appoint Ahaneku the new UNIZIK vice chancellor, notwithstanding the strength of the credentials of the individual contestants before the committee.

The appointment of Prof. Ahaneku, an indigene of Imo State, as the new VC of Unizik is said not to have gone down well with some prominent indigenes of Anambra State. Those said to be opposed to Ahaneku’s appointment allegedly do so to express their displeasure over the rejection of Bishop Ebele Okpalaeke, an indigene of Anambra State, by the Catholic faithful in Mbaise, as bishop of Mbaise diocese.

But contrary to this speculation, a prominent Anambra indigene – an oil magnet – is believed to have strongly influenced the appointment of Ahaneku as the new VC of UNIZIK.

The picture on the ground shows that several prominent Anambra indigenes that yesterday were against the emergence of Prof. Ahaneku as the institution’s VC, today seem to have accepted his appointment. They include the former Anambra State governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and Professor A.B.C. Nwosu, former minister of health. They were said to have been misinformed about the procedure adopted by the Koinya-led committee in choosing a new VC for UNIZIK, hence their initial opposition to the emergence of Ahaneku as the new helmsman in UNIZIK.

Some Anambra indigenes who have strongly thrown their support behind Ahaneku, argue that some indigenes of the state had headed, and are still heading some federal institutions outside the state. They pointed out, for instance, that the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), was once headed by an Anambra indigene. Also, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, was at one time headed by another indigene of Anambra State.

Also, it was pointed out that besides the oil merchant who is believed to be the major back- bone of Ahaneku’s appointment, four out of the eight council members who voted for Ahaneku are indigenes of Anambra State.

Essentially, sources revealed that Ahaneku’s credentials surpasses those of his opponents, and therefore is eminently qualified for the job.   He had served as deputy vice chancellor academics for four years, while Nwakoby had just spent less than one and half years as deputy vice chancellor, administration.

Ahaneku is also said to have several publications to his credit, relative to the other contestants. He is also said to enjoy warm relationship with several top-shots of the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission, NUC, than Nwakoby due to the long years of interactions he had had with top officials of these institutions.

Born on October 1, 1962, Ahaneku had post-professorial experience spanning 16 years; had served as a consultant chemical pathologist to the university for 21 years, and had been in the university’s administration for about 26 years during which he held various positions in the university management.

The controversy dogging Ahaneku’s appointment notwithstanding, not a few say it might be a difficult task for those opposed to him to get the federal government reverse the outcome of the contest. He is expected to be inaugurated as VC on June 4, 2014. The tenure of the incumbent VC, Professor Boniface Egboka, expires today, June 3, 2014.

When eventually inaugurated, Ahaneku will go down in the history book as the first non-indigene of the host state to be appointed the VC.

of the institution. The former VC of the university: Professor Festus Nwako, now late, was an indigene of Anambra state. Other vice chancellors following him: Professor Pita Ejiofo, Professor Ilochi Okafor, SAN and Professor Egboka are all indigenes of the host –Anambra state. (Leadership)

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