“Abia State University is blessed for having this man “Professor Uche Ikonne” as Vice Chancellor. He has achieved a lot within this short period. I came to this 25th convocation ceremony, just to witness all that I have been hearing about the University under his watch. I am impressed”.
That paraphrases the sentiments expressed by a guest from a neighboring state, who attended the silver jubilee convocation ceremony of Abia State University. He kept nodding his head in admiration as he recounted his tour on some of the infrastructural developmental strides of Professor Ikonne led administration. Then a somewhat joyful silence fell on me as I hurriedly whispered to him ,Chief, this is just a tip of his achievement, join me in part two of my ongoing article titled “THE IKONNE BRAND: His Words as His Bond”.
One way to conceptulise the uniqueness of Professor Ikonne’s approach to leadership is to see him in the mold of a brand. He represents a consistent brand with a consistent brand proposition. The unique selling proposition of Ikonne brand is the constant recognition of his trajectory in Leadership as a peculiar covenant.
Away from the infrastructural strides, please permit me to introduce to you his achievements in Teaching, Research and learning, Capacity building, Staff and Students welfare, Innovations, International Outlook, Staff and Students welfare,etc.
Teaching, Research and Learning
- Improved the academic content of the university, with the introduction of the new academic programmes namely: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Computer Engineering, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Surveying and Geo-Informatics, and Public Health.
- Rekindled the moribund inaugural lecture series of the university, by having 14 Inaugural lectures and one special lecture, as against nineteen (19) Lectures in 35 years of the existence of the University (1981-2015).
- Established a robust research-oriented administration with professors leading several research teams.
- Approved and sponsored forty-eight (48) research topics through TETFund to the tune of over Fifty Million Naira.
- Secured full accreditation status for the university by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and other regulatory professional bodies including Law, Medicine and Med-Lab.
- Improved the national ranking of the university from 93rd to 53rd just under one year & eight months and still counting.
- Increased the quota of Admission to 300 candidates, per session, for the university by Jamb.
- Increased the quota for the University for Mobilization of students for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Programme.
- Setting up of the university Book House, where all intending printed materials for students receive approval by the Book Review Committee. Each Material, when printed is sold at the Book House at an agreed cost, with the author receiving his/her royalty. This, among other benefits helps to preserve and enhance the prestige of teaching staff.
- Setting up a Quality Assurance & Ethics Committee which acts as the “Ombudsman” of the University to ensure quality teaching and highly improved service delivery by all categories of staff.
- Improved Academic discipline, prompt online registration of courses and release of student examination results. Students semester results can now be assessed at the comfort of thier homes online by parents.
- Re-Organized the university outreach programmes (Institute for Distance Education (IDEA) and (Sandwich) for greater efficiency and setting up the Institute for Continuing Education (ICE).
Capacity building, Staff and Students welfare, Prof Ikonne has made staff training and retraining a habit. He has sustained the tradition of heavy investment in human capital development through the massive sponsorship of deserving academic staff members to learned conferences within and outside the country.
Under his watch, regular payment of staff salaries and promotions has continued to be deservedly earned as at when due. Just recently, over 700 staff received their promotion letters of which, Sixteen (16) promoted to full professors and more than thirty (30) readers (Associate Professors), among others.
For the students, he is doing everything possible to substantially increase the welfare alertness of students through the assumption of the role of “Senior Course Rep”, administered through a dedicated hot line to students; elimination of all forms of extortion of students by unscrupulous staff; liquidation of all sales of handout through the introduction of book review committee, quality assurance and ethics committee, etc. Also, lecturers’ capacity to teach the students well is being enhanced while security challenges on the campus are being frontally tackled. This recently earned him a chieftaincy title “Okaa Omee 1 of Absu” by the Student’s Union Government of the institution.
International Outlook of the University, Professor Ikonne has signed agreement with reputable international academic institutions for collaboration including State University of New York on Optometry training and practice.
On innovations, He initiated the Eminent Persons lectures series of the university which should proffer solutions to the societal problems thereby contributing to the socio- political and economic development of the Nation and the society at large, as well as organized the first Igbo Cultural festival in the university, to give impetus to the promotion of Igbo Culture and Tradition.
On his relationship with the host community (Uturu), He instituted a standing committee, made of staff of the university with territorial interest and indigenes nominated by the host community. This committee is to be proactive on issues of peaceful co-existence between the university and the host community.
In other to increase the internally generated revenue (IGR) of the University through Private Partnership program, he has established linkages and partnership as follows:
- Good seed farms Ltd for the production of ABSU bottled water.
- Clarion Call Incorporated, U.S.A based company for establishment of a Health and fitness center and exposure to Research Sponsoring International Organizations.
- National Mathematical Center, Abuja, for exchange programme in the enhancement of teaching and learning of Mathematical Science, with the ultimate intention of establishing Abia State University as a Zonal Center for the training of Mathematics teachers within the South-East and South-South Zones.
- National Office of Technology and Promotions (NOTAP) under the federal Ministry of Science and Technology and Promotions for workshops on writing of Award-wining Research Proposals with ultimate aim of opening an office here ,called Intellectual and Technology Transfer Office (ITTO)
- ETMP, a Malaysian based company for the establishment of Entrepreneurial skills acquisition training programme for our regular students and long term training for the public, with industrial attachment in home country industry. This is in line with State Government programme on Education for Employment. Etc.
No wonder the Visitor to the University & Governor of Abia State, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu Ph.D., was full of commendation for Prof. Ikonne in his address at the just concluded 25th Convocation Ceremony of the University.
Let me conclude this PART TWO with a biblical Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the lord whatever you do, and your will succeed”. The above quote, is indeed the secrete of professor Ikonne developmental strides in Abia State University.