UNICAL 30th Convocation: Vice-Chancellor Zana Akpagu slams Joseph Odok

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Efio-Ita Nyok|15 March 2017 The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), Professor Zana I. Akpagu, has taken a swipe at one of the academic staff of the prestigious University, Mr Joseph Odok Esq Ph.D, over the latter's comment on the just concluded UNICAL 30th Convocation ceremony held on Saturday 11th March. VC Akpagu who perceived Odok's position as cheap blackmail contended that according to the extant rules of the academic institution referred to as 'Keffi Declaration' a Nigerian university isn't permitted to confer honorary degrees on actively serving public servants. The Vice Chancellor who raised three basic arguments against Odok's censor further noted that, contrary to what Odok said about the University recognising and awarding 'strangers' and 'aliens' those Nigerians who were honoured where approved by the council and Senate of UNICAL. His words, 'Please somebody help tell this guy some home truths. Firstly, cheap blackmail does not pay. That's not how to seek PA appointment to Ndoma-Egba. Secondly, under our rules, universities are banned from conferring honorary doctorate awards on serving public officers/politicians. This is contained in our guidelines named "Keffi Declaration".  Thirdly, our "social change agent" should be reminded that those "strangers" and "aliens" are Nigerians who where nominated, scrutinised and found worthy by the Senate and Governing Council of the University for recognition.', he noted. 'May be Joe is still too junior to understand how the system works. By the way when last I checked General Ukpo is Crossriverian. I know the Ndoma-Egbas and Gov Ebri very well. Joe Odok might have eaves-dropped on them complaining of not being invited, but they didn't hire Joe to be their mouth piece. We know how to get to ourselves. In any case Joe had earlier on told a mutual friend that  Senator Ndoma-Egba asked him to blog about it. I don't believe it, but this new stock in trade will not "pay" Joe much, especially with so many skeletons in his closet. Just for the records, my friend Prof Roland (whom I have great respect for) and former Council Chairman of OAU Ife is a member of our Senate. All Senate members who were robed had their seats. Other visiting Pro-Chancellors who attended like Rtd Air Vice Marshall Larry Koinyan, robed and joined the procession and were properly seated.', he continued. 'One would expect this self- acclaimed "social change agent " to be nationalistic in his thinking instead of advising us to think "inwardly". Let him be reminded that in the  last convocation, both awardees were Crossriverians. It's actually not in my habit to join issues with my junior staff, but truth must told. I'm not perfect , I welcome reasonable and constructive criticism. Prof Zana Akpagu, VC Unical.', he concluded. What follows is Odok's initial article to which the Vice-Chancellor reacted: A TISSUE OF TRUTHS: On Unical Convocation Only strangers to Unical Community were invited and given Honorary Degrees; those with visible contributions were not invited
                 
University of Calabar’s 30th Convocation has come and gone but their flaw of insensitivity will haunt the community for posterity. This is because it is those alien to the Unical Community that were rewarded and those with visible contributions not even  invited, not to talk of acknowledged or rewarded.

I had hoped to see the likes of Senator Ita Enang invited for his contributions in the building of Unical Law library, apart from his contributions to academic growth of the Institution.  I had also longed to see Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba visibly recognized and given an Honorary Degree at Law for building the Faculty of Law Complex, as well as for his other contributions which includes the funding and maintaining of the Law Chambers in the Faculty of Law but surprisingly, he was not even invited to the event!  I had equally longed to see Chief Clement Ebri, the former Governor of Cross River State at the Ceremony but regrettably his colleague a former Governor of Anambra State who served during the same period was invited and given open recognition.  If this was an oversight, I dare say it was the mother of all oversights!!!  In the Unical Community today, only Prof Rowland Ndoma-Egba has risen to the position of Pro-Chancellor yet none of his details are contained in any archive of the University, nor has he been recognized in any fora of the Unical Community. In fact even when Prof. Rowland Ndoma Egba came on invitation of major Ukpo, he was not offered a seat and remained standing during the convocation exercise

University of Calabar conferred Honorary Degrees on: General Anthony Ukpo, (Doctor of Laws) Alh. (Dr.) Umarun Kwabo A. A. Jarman Sokoto, (Doctor of Business Administration) and Sir Daniel Nanneka Chukwudozie (Doctor of Science) Without  contending with the qualifications of these men or their supposed contributions to the growth of the Institution I think it would be measurably and significantly better to recognize those that have identified with the community first in areas of infrastructural support and financially; especially those from our local community.

The University of Calabar must rise to this consciousness and look at the efforts and contributions made to it inwardly first in subsequent convocation exercises so that the efforts of our patrons in the Unical Community would not go unrewarded and unappreciated.
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It seems to me that Odok was quite emotional in his criticism.
Efio-Ita Nyok
Is a Blogger, the Editor & Publisher of NegroidHaven.org