Prof. Otunta emerges new VC of Michael Okpara University •How he beat 31 other candidates

Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 16 December 2015 | 9,811 times

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Facts have emerged as on how an external candidate, Prof. Francis Otunta, beat 31 others to become the new Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, against the hope of many that one of the four internal candidates would clinch the coveted position.

Prior to the appointment of Prof. Otunta, there was burning ambition in the institution for an internal candidate to succeed the out-going Vice Chancellor, Prof. Hilary Edeoga.

It was, however, gathered that this dream crashed because apart from the fact that the academic records of the four candidates from MOUAU who applied to become the fifth Vice Chancellor of the institution by March next year did not match those of the frontrunners from outside the university, who also desired the plum job, they performed poorly during the interview process.

Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council of MOUAU, Prof. Anya Oko Anya, used the occasion of the 7th Convocation ceremony of the institution last Saturday to bring these facts to light in order to douse the tension the succession struggle had ignited in the school.

Anya said they would have loved the emergence of a new Vice Chancellor from the school to succeed Edeoga for continuity sake, but the Selection Board could not lower the standards in order to satisfy individual aspirations.

Giving a vivid account of the selection process in his convocation address, the Pro-Chancellor narrated the course of the exercise which culminated in the appointment of a foremost Professor of Mathematics, Prof Francis Otunta, a two-term Rector of Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana, as the new Vice Chancellor.

Said Anya: “There were 32 applicants, but only 17 survived the rigorous short-listing requirements. Although the short-listing is expected to be done by the Selection Board, the Pro-Chancellor, as chairman, preferred that this should be done transparently and should involve the entire Council. Thereafter, the members of the Selection Board did the actual job of scoring the candidates according to the criteria in the Guidelines (for appointment of Vice Chancellors and Rectors for Federal universities and polytechnics).

“In this effort, each member of the Selection Board had to defend his score on each of the candidates and on each of the criteria. It was after this rigorous process that the Selection Board sent three names as required by the Guidelines to the Council. The top three scored 79 per cent, 76 per cent and 67 per cent.

“It is pertinent to note that it had been the hope of the Council that, in the interest of continuity, one of the internal candidates would have emerged. However, the odds were high. While four of the external candidates hold First Class Honours Degrees in their various disciplines, all the four internal candidates, without exception, hold Second Class (Lower Division) Honours Degree and none scored above 65 per cent.

“I have given this extensive explanation because all sorts of false and tendentious claims have been made through text messages and on the internet, I have been told. In reaction, to these false and tendentious claims, highly respectable senior citizens of Abia State have been misled into less than dignified position on this matter.

“The challenge before us is to build a world class university in Abia state befitting Michael Okpara after whom this university is named and befitting Nigeria’s foremost scientist, Prof. Eni Njoku, who also is a citizen of Abia State.”

Anya maintained that “the academic leader of our university must be one who can inspire our students and professors that he leads. Abia State deserves no less. We must prepare our staff and students, the youths of Abia and the aspiring intellectuals of God’s Own state, the ‘A’ State. We must not lower the bar to meet individual aspirations or drop the ball in the pursuit of less than excellent and noble goals. We must continue to produce students who are worthy in character and learning. If this is so, we cannot expect their teachers to aspire to lower standards.”

He, therefore, appealed to staff and students to continue to maintain the dignity of MOUAU and the exemplary decorum for which they were known. “There can only be one Vice Chancellor at a time who must be an outstanding leader of the team, particularly, the professoriate. We must always aim high in this university,” he stressed.

According to Prof. Anya, “The demands for the academic and administrative leader of such a university (as MOUAU) must be on the basis of excellent academic and intellectual pedigree and track record of exceptional performance.

“I am, therefore, happy that the Governing Council, with the active cooperation and involvement of the Senate has found and appointed a new Vice Chancellor for this university with effect from 1st day of March, 2016. He is an outstanding Professor who made First Class Honours at the foundation of his academic career.”

•Photo shows MOUAU incoming VC, Prof. Francis Otunta.


Source: News Express

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