By Ikechukwu Odu
It was a joyous moment at the Faculty of Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, weekend, as the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Nnanyelugo Okoro, wound-up his stewardship in a farewell event which observed all the safety protocols of COVID-19 in the faculty’s Lecture Theatre.
Prof. Okoro who thanked the faculty’s staff and management for their overwhelming support while he was on the saddle told the audience that his deanship was two years of “serious business.”
He said ” Very distinguished and highly respected colleagues, it gives me great joy to address you on this auspicious occasion which marks the end of my tenure as Dean, Faculty of Arts of our great University. On the 1st day of August, 2018, I assumed duty as the dean of our beloved Faculty, courtesy of your endorsement and votes on the 25th of June, 2018. Let me start by thanking you all for the overwhelming support you gave me throughout the tenure of my deanship. May Almighty God, who gave you wisdom and enablement to support me, full and entire, bless you with uncommon favours now and always. Our operational guide was based on the tripod of inclusive administration, academic leadership and staff welfare.”
Speaking of his accomplishments, he said “The past two years have been years of very remarkable progress in the annals of the Faculty. By all accounts, they have been years of serious business, despite the drawbacks occasioned by ASUU strike and elongated lockdown, emanating from COVID-19 imbroglio. However, in spite of these unforeseen circumstances, which threw spanners in the works of our serious business plan, my administration was able to record remarkable achievements.”
He listed his achievements to include arresting of the profuse leakages in the faculty’s building complexes A and B; renovation of the faculty’s Lecture Hall, involving piping of the conveniences in the Hall and channeling them to the central sewage, fixing of the roofs and ceilings and restoration of the lights by replacing vandalized and malfunctioning cables, wires and lamp holders…; conceptualization and construction of the Chinua Achebe Literally Court; production and mounting of Achebe’s bust at the Court in liaison with the Department of Fine and Applied Arts and commissioning of the Court by Engr. Emeka Ken Nwabueze.
Other achievements recorded by his administration include commissioning of the production of Emeka Nwabueze’s ‘When the Arrow of God Rebounds’ as directed by Dr. Ngozi Udengwu; conceptualization and institution of Art Man of the Year Award; publishing of the book, ‘The Dance of the Future is Born: Chinua Achebe and Us’; mobilization of 2019/2020 FASA for the German-flooring of the remaining portion of Block ‘A’ wing of the Faculty Complex; lighting up of the Faculty building and premises.
His administration also gave ISSN to the hard copies of the ‘Nsukka Journal of Humanities’; constituted Faculty of Arts Committee on Research and Grant Proposal and Publication Writing; conceptualization and organisation of lecture series in the faculty, staff promotion and regularisation/confirmation of appointments; staff welfare; establishment of the Faculty of Arts Co-operative Society and restoration of the headship of History and International Studies to the personnel within the department.
He also created and equipped faculty’s work station and expanded its ICT domain and content. Part of his numerous achievements also include hosting of first-ever alumni home-coming, and the introduction of the Faculty’s gazette among others.
Prof. Okoro also while addressing the audience, urged his successors to maintain the tempo of progress his administration recorded by consolidating on them, adding that given the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, there is need for the development of softwares for teaching, learning, and research as well as the utilisation of online environment, especially in postgraduate offerings such as defence and e-learning exercises.
Also, during the event, faculty’s top management, both serving and retired, poured encomiums on the outgoing dean.
First on the list was the former dean of the faculty, Prof. Emeka Nwabueze, who while extolling Prof. Okoro’s leadership qualities said “There are men, and there are men; there people and there are people; there are leaders and there are leaders. Prof. Okoro has distinguished himself as an astute administrator and a committed academician. This deanship position is just the beginning of many good things that would come his way.”
Also, the Director of the Institute of African Studies, UNN, Prof. Florence Orabueze, who also spoke at the event, described the don as a diplomat.
“He is humble and listens to the opinions of those under him. He achieved all these within two years because he is a man of peace. He is a man with a winning spirit and he personifies the image of the Faculty in his carriage and comportment,” she said.
Rev. Prof A. N Akwanya of English and Literary Studies, UNN, who also appreciated Prof. Okoro for his services to the faculty described him as an accomplisher of tasks.
“I wonder whether he reserves a minute to himself. All the time I see him hurrying from one project to another. I commend him in a special way because of his sense of dedicated service to the Faculty,” he said.
The Associate Dean, Dr. Ngozi Udengwu, who also spoke with Vanguard said she learned a lot about administration and leadership roles working with Prof. Okoro.
Dr. Udengwu said she was happy to have worked with the dean, adding that they achieved all they did because he hit the ground running from the first day on the saddle.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards and Certificate of Recognition to deserving personalities.