By Anthony Arugba
When William Shakespeare pontificated many years ago that some people are born great, others achieve greatness, while others have greatness thrust upon them, he had the likes of the Prof. Andy Egwunyenga, the seventh Vice-Chancellor of the Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, in mind.
The Comrade-professor’s odyssey in life since his birth shows that he is a naturally born great man. This is not to say there were no vicissitudes at the period of his birth and boyhood till he became a professor.
As a man of wisdom, the new vice-chancellor’s first point of action was to commence his glorious tenure with a thanksgiving ceremony at Saint Paul’s Catholic Chapel, Abraka, before proceeding to his office, where the clergy offered prayers.
Despite the sunny weather which felt as though Abraka community was sharing boundary with hell fire, people still came out in their large numbers to celebrate with Egwunyenga.
The Catholic Church, where his thanksgiving ceremony held, was filled to capacity and many persons were standing outside the small shelter provided by the church and while larger chunk were directly under the sun.
People from all spheres of life including various cultural groups in the institution were seen dancing and chanting his name and at a time, it seemed like a coronation ceremony.
Clearly, his ascension to this coveted position indicates the dawn of a new era in Delta State University. The ambience perhaps tells of the quality of leader he is.
The task before the new vice-chancellor is enormous as his predecessor, Prof. Victor Peretomode, raised the leadership bar so high that only a sound mind can keep up with the pace of development he had established. How Egwunyenga is going to fare in the next five years of leadership is entirely up to him.
The crowd that came to grace the occasion was a clear indication that Prof. Andy Egwunyenga is a unifying factor and one that can take DELSU to the next level of greatness.
The newly minted vice-chancellor, who was visibly elated had this to say at the thanksgiving: “ I bear no grudge against anyone and I ask that we forgive one another and unite as a community of scholars and administrators to collectively lift up Delta State University.
“ Let us live up to the inspiring words of our anthem and create a citadel of learning that “thrives in hard work for self-reliance, great in knowledge, character and service.”
“ I solemnly pledge to lead, inspire and advance the repositioning of Delta State University as the best state university in Nigeria.
“ To realize this vision, we must provide the highest quality of teaching and learning to our dear students; focus on improving the welfare of staff to ensure effective and motivated workforce; pay proportionate attention to the development of the three campuses of the university; improve university’s relationship with host communities and genuine cases of injustice shall be addressed.”
Stakeholders in the state, staff and students, who spoke in separate interviews, expressed confidence in the ability of Egwunyenga to transform the university and urged him to be fair, firm and just to all.
The leader of Urhobo students in the university, Comrade Efe Kelvin, said: “ DELSU students have been waiting in anticipation for the new VC to commence duties. Students unionism has collapsed and we believe that with Prof Egwunyenga on the saddle, who is a comrade-professor, students unionism will be re-awaken.
“ We the students of DELSU are hopeful that Prof. Egwunyenga will breath fresh air to students unionism.”
The Secretary of National Association of Academic Technologists, Delta State University chapter, Comrade Kweke Godfrey, said: “ We expect him to unify the entire staff. Before he came on board, there was dissension among staff and we hope that he will establish peace in the institution once more.”
In the same vein, a library scientist, Dr. Ogochukwu Emiri, also advised the new vice-chancellor to unite all staff of DELSU to enhance productivity.
“ Also, let him focus on improving the ICT centre in the Library because the world today is now 100 per cent ICT, especially in the western axis.”
Also speaking, a stakeholder in Delta State, Mr. Ike Gerard, described the new vice-chancellor as a friend to the people. He said: “ Prof Egwunyenga is a friend to the people that is why the whole Church is full to capacity.
“ Never a time in the 27 years history of DELSU that people came out in this large number to celebrate the ascension of a new VC. We are elated and we know that his coming will bring more development to DELSU because he understands the people and has their interest at heart.
“ He is a man of service and he is going to reconcile the entire staff, students and university community and together we shall grow to greater heights for the next five years .”
Prof Temi Akporunor, said: “ Prof. Egwunyenga is coming at a time some believe there is a downward slope in the area of staff welfare. He has an enormous task to perform in all areas. But I think his first line of action is to address the issue of unity. So many persons are aggrieved.
“ Also, he has to urgently address the issue of students welfare because we are here for the students; their welfare should be the top priority of the new vice-chancellor. Without students, this will not be a university.
He added: “ As you can see, everybody is jubilating that Andy has come on board and that tells a lot. I cannot be jubilating that a person who has done well to the satisfaction of all just left office; we should be feeling sad that the person is leaving but the reverse is the case here.”
Anthony Arugba, a public affairs commentator writes from Delta State