Barely nine years of its establishment, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, makes a remarkable mark in the annals of university education in the country, write MAURICE OKAFOR/ANDREW UDEH.
Though the 4th convocation ceremony of Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, (GO), held on Saturday, February 25, 2017, has come and gone, the attractions and activities which characterized the seven-day event will remain memorable in the minds of many people.
Established nine years ago by the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, the university has no doubt, made a remarkable mark in the annals of university education in the country. The sound moral discipline and behavioural conduct of the students are products of the religious rebirth undergone by every student of the university. To a large extent, this unique culture has raised the quality and character of the products of Godfrey Okoye University on the positive side. No doubt, the institution is noted as one of the best citadel of learning, both in Science and Arts, the first of it’s kind established by the Catholic church in Africa.
Obviously, through the undaunted efforts and commitment of the Vice Chancellor Rev Father Prof. Christian Anieke with spiritual support from the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, the Godfrey Okoye University is comparable to the ‘Biblical mustard seed’ that matured into a huge tree - providing shelter and succour to various birds under a decade.
The vision and mission of its founding fathers centered on ‘Unity is Knowledge’ has remained the guiding principle and policy of the institution.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Nigerians from all walks of life are accommodated both as staff and students of Godfrey Okoye University, foreigners and missionaries inclusive.
To a large extent, the 4th convocation ceremony of the university was extraordinary. It was jam-packed with social, spiritual, cultural and academic celebrations.
Even though the award of degrees to the 2015/2016 graduates of the university, and honorary degrees to three distinguished Nigerians at the convocation arena of the university, located at ‘Thinkers’ Corner, Enugu, was the climax of the 4th Convocation ceremony, the university’s 3rd inaugural lecture delivered by Monsignor Prof. Obiora Ike, and the creativity/cultural day celebrations that preceded the convocation, were unique and exceptional.
Three distinguished Nigerians in various fields of endeavour were found worthy to be awarded honorary degrees during the university’s 4th convocation ceremony.
They were Dr. Vitalis Nnamdi Ozonweke, popularly known as ‘Andy Young, Hon. Patrick Asadu, member representing Igboeze North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, and Chief Cosmas Agu, a well-known businessman.
Dr. Ozonweke was awarded the ‘Doctor of Business Management [Honoris Causa] of Godfrey Okoye University in appreciation of his legendary humanitarian services to the society, especially in terms of providing succour to the less-privileged and human empowerment.
The university also found him worthy for the award -having provided social amenities such as pipe borne water, rural road roads and electricity to his immediate community, Mgbagbu Owa, in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu state.
The Catholic Church had always enjoyed his largesse in the execution of its capital projects. Also, many youths are beneficiaries of his scholarship scheme.
Dr. Ozonweke told The AUTHORITY that the award will encourage him to render more humanitarian services to his community and the church as much as he can.
“The whole duty of man is to serve God and humanity,” said Dr. Ozonweke.
Friends and well wishers who accompanied him to Godfrey Okoye University for the award were later entertained at his Enugu residence.
While Hon Patrick Asadu, received the award of Doctor of Biochemistry (honoris causa) Chief Cosmas Agu, was bestowed with an award of Doctor of Business Management [honoris Causa] for his contributions towards uplifting the cause of mankind.
The fascinating aspect of the 4th convocation ceremony stems from the fact that the best students from each of the departments in the various faculties of Education, Management and Social Sciences, Natural and Applied Sciences etc received categories of cash awards from the management of the institution.
The Vice Chancellor Rev Prof. Christian Anieke, initiated the cash award as a means of inspiring the university students to work very hard in their respective fields of study.
The overall best student Miss Chioma Cynthia Nnebedum, received the vice chancellor’s cash award of two hundred thousand naira [N200,000]
Nnebedum, from all indications, will ever count herself as a worthy ambassador of the university as she is also the beneficiary of the ten thousand US dollars cash award for the best overall student of Godfrey Okoye University, which came from the former Cross River state governor, Dr Donald Duke.
She thanked God for turning her a millionaire within a twinkle of an eye, even as she expressed profound gratitude to the vice chancellor, the management and staff of the university, for providing a convivial, disciplined and enabling studying environment .
Delivering the 4th Convocation lecture – with the theme ‘This is your time, season’ - on Friday, February 24, 2017 - Dr. Duke, charged the graduands to put the knowledge acquired from the university into practice as they begin another journey of their life.
He further advised them to initiate ideas and work hard on achieving set objectives, stating that “there are still bountiful opportunities of success in Nigeria.”
The former governor said: “Our world today is a school based on every brain, and an untrained brain is a drain to the society… He who dares, wins.”
He charged them to think of the unique quality they have that could add value to life and utilize them.
Thereafter, Dr. Duke was accompanied by the vice chancellor, the Chairman Board of Trustees, Prof. Bartho Okolo, the Enugu state Commissioner for Health, Dr Hycianth Ngwu, among others to commission the newly renovated medical laboratory of the institution, named after Dr Hycianth Ngwu.
The Deputy Governor of Enugu state, Hon. Mrs. Cecelia Ezeilo, who stood in for Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, assured the vice chancellor that government would reconstruct the road leading to the university’s permanent site at Ugwuomu Nike.
Another important feature of the week-long ceremony was the 3rd Inaugural lecture of the institution delivered by Rev. Monsignor Prof. Obiora Francis Ike, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.
Speaking on the topic, “Integrating ethics in higher Education...The Imperative of value- based formation of future leaders,” Prof. Ike expressed the pressing need for Nigerian Universities to churn out quality products both in character and intelligence.
He described education as being at the centre of every human settlement and necessary for character formation for the youths.
According to him” “‘Through education, the realization of meaning and purpose in society is achieved, and beneficiaries are empowered to gain more access to opportunities, resources and power.” .
He said further that “education reforms’ remain a priority for almost every country in the world and under such situations; there is the urgency to adapt the world’s educational systems to consciously evolve and transform in order to support the critical swifts and transitions happening around the globe.
“Through Education, the young and future generations receive knowledge and traditions that help them to enter into the totality of reality.”
Prof. Ike advocated the need for every university in the country to be known and identified with certain areas of sterling quality and professionalism, just as Stanford University in California played a pivotal role in the state’s emergence as an ICT capital of the world.
“If we are able to make our Godfrey Okoye University become an internationally recognized center of learning, rather than an institution which churns out large numbers of graduates with fancy degrees, we will be fulfilling our roles as people who understand the role of strategic thinking and strategic action in the 21st century,” said Prof. Ike.
The week-long activities of the 4th Convocation was heralded on the 3rd and 4th days with creative and cultural activities.
Though culture is generally described as a way of life, the management of the institution considers it as a tool for promoting unity and peaceful co existence of the country.
This is against the backdrop that people from all tribes of the country are found in the institution both as students and members of staff.
“We are promoting the dialogue of culture because I want to see people from Northern part of the country communicating and relating peacefully with people from the East/West /Southern part of the country as brothers and sisters. That’s really the essence of establishing and promoting cultural activities in the school,’ said the vice chancellor.
The creativity/cultural day featured traditional dances, costumes and local/native dishes displayed by the students.
The chairman of Council of traditional rulers in Enugu state, His Royal Highness, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzor,who was the special guest of honour on the cultural day commended the management for enthroning cultural activities in the university.
He also commended the student groups for their various displays, stating that they are promoting the cultural heritage of the various tribes in the country.