By Chinweh Ozor & Mbadiwe Okwor
Nsukka—The chairman of Southern Senators Forum, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has challenged the academia in the South East geo-political zone to prepare a working document for politicians from the area to negotiate for the position of president in the 2023 general elections.
Speaking as a guest lecturer at the 14th Eni Njoku Memorial Lecture in Nsukka yesterday, Uzodimma said the academia should carry out a research into the candidates campaigning for the 2019 presidency and find out the one willing to do only one tenure.
“I challenge our Igbo intellectuals to come together and analyse the political clock in Nigeria and formulate a way forward for the Igbo vis-a-viz our quest for the presidency in 2013.
“It is a settled fact that having a Nigeria president of Igbo extraction in 2023 is our sure way of assuaging the battered post civil war psyche of the Igbo and reassuring them of their full stake once more in Project Nigeria,’’ he said.
On restructuring, Uzodimma, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs, said that remains the viable option for all Nigerians to have a level playing field.
He said that the Igbo did well before the civil war because the country had a true federal structure that provided level playing ground for individual and collective talents to thrive.
“A restructured Nigeria will guarantee the South East the sixth state it deserves. It will ensure that the Igbo have level playing field in Nigeria to take their destiny in their hands.
“It will naturally and logically end marginalization in any form or shed. We should push for it until it is actualized and in doing this we must rise with a strong voice to condemn any separatist clamour.
“One way to do this is to come out as a group to press for restructuring. Our intellectuals should be the leading lights in this direction,’’ he added in the lecture titled Intellectuals as Critical Stakeholders in Nation Building.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, who chaired the occasion, lamented that research works in Nigeria were not made with the market place in mind, regretting that the country currently imported black soap and bitters from Ghana.
“What has happened to the bitters in Nigeria that our scientists cannot extract and process for the market place? My grandmother understood that she could make soap from palm oil and extracts from ashes and that was black soap,’’ Ikpeazu said.
He said that Abia was ready to partner with the university on the outcomes of the lecture series as well as research works with a view to developing them for the market place.
The co-Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Anya O. Anya, described the late Prof. Eni Njoku as a builder of universities being the third vice chancellor of the University of Lagos and first indigenous vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Anya regretted that universities in the country had failed their role as character builders, saying that “those in need of learning have taken to teaching” in the institutions.
In a keynote address, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said that science was key to national development but regretted that funding was affecting it in Nigeria.
Adeyeye said that the small number of research works in Nigeria in comparison with the 140 universities was attributable to the poor funding and less emphasis on research.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, had said that the lecture had become a significant part of its activities.
The lecture was organized by the univiersity’s faculty of biological sciences.
Prof. Eni Njoku, a botanist, died in 1974 in London, leaving behind a wife, a son and three daughters.