Active Search Results The giant strides of UNIZIK VC, Prof. Charles Esimone

The giant strides of UNIZIK VC, Prof. Charles Esimone



Let me start by congratulating the officers of the Anambra State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists for their recent election. I thank the Chairman and other officers of the Council and the other gentlemen of the Press for giving me this rare opportunity to speak to you at your Congress level.


As some of you who are familiar with Nnamdi Azkiwe University are already aware, I assumed office as the sixth Vice-Chancellor of the University in June, 2019. I came with a Vision: To make Nnamdi Azikiwe University the best University in Nigeria, among the ten (10) best Universities in Africa and among the best two hundred (200) Universities in the world. To achieve this, I articulated a five-pronged strategy predicated on the drive for Academic Excellence, Productive Public/ Community service, Administrative Reforms, Discipline, and


Advancements, the ACADA strategy; together with its antecedent vision, called project 200.

All over the world, the core mandate of the University is Teaching, Research and Community/Public Service. Of these, teaching is common to all levels of education: primary, secondary and tertiary. The  University qua University is therefore distinguished not by the teaching per se, important as this is, but fundamentally by research and its ancillary, journal publications. Among the Universities themselves, they are ranked by the quantum and quality of  research,  with  the  attendant publications, emanating from them. In the light of foregoing, as we drove the five prongs of our ACADA, we had to lean heavily on research and publications, giving emphasis to translational research,  that is research arising from identified challenges and whose result impact positively on society.

You are all aware of the complaints from Public Universities about inadequate funding. To navigate through this financial insufficiency, we had to leverage on partnership with the private sector and other stakeholders to advance our project 200.

Our efforts have been quite successful as indicated below:

3. The Pursuit of Academic Excellence:

i) Strengthening the Institutional Capacity of the University for Research and Effective Teaching-Learning Process.

We took action early in the life of our administration to strengthen the institutional capacity of the University for research and a more effective and efficient teaching-learning process through the following measures:


Adoption of a multidisciplinary approach to research and the teaching-learning process.

Preference for research translation and commercialization

Setting up of a Grants and Patents Office to train staff and students    on research grant sourcing and patent processing

Encouraging staff and students to publish in selected high impact journals in various disciplines, with the University completely or partially assuming responsibility for the publication charges.

ii) The Results

The University is among the twelve (12) Universities, two from each of the six (6) geopolitical zones of the country,  selected  and  classified as Centres of Excellence for TETFund research grants in selected areas for each University. For Nnamdi Azikiwe University, the designated area is: Biomedical, Agricultural, Engineering and Translational Studies. The grant subsists for five (5) years during which the University is to receive a total sum of one billion Naira.

The College of Health Sciences is one of the six (6)  Simulation Research and Training Centres set up by TETFund, on the approval of the President, with facilities for the testing and diagnosis of COVID-19, Lassa fever and other viral diseases.

The University received approval of a research grant of the sum of N14,937,000.00 from TETFund under its COVID-19 special intervention research grant scheme. This is for the University’s research project: Evaluation of Dammrenolic Acid and Extracts from Naulea Latifolio and Ramalina Farinacea for Anti Sars-COV2 Activities.

Secured TETFund approval for:


- twenty (20) academic manuscripts and books;

- eighty-four (84) institution-based researches;

- seven (7) faculty-based academic journals;

- sponsorship of forty-two (42) staff on international conferences;

- approval of thirty-nine (39) staff for staff training/development locally and internationally; and

- ten (10) staff of the University received grants from the National Research Fund Programme.

An increasing number of staff of the University have been publishing in high impact journals and receiving recognition; for instance

- Scopus, the largest source-neutral abstract and citation database for peer-reviewed literature in the world, listed eight (8) staff of  the University among the top five hundred (500) authors in Nigeria.

The national and international profile of  the  University  has  been rising through Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed with national and international institutions:

- Delaware State University, USA, in Aviation and Marine Transport Logistics, and Education Policy; Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA, in Public Health; New England University, Australia; Westfalishe Wihelme-Universitat, Muenster, Germany in Nigerian varieties of English, Communication Skills, Law and Literature; Belarusian National Technical University; Chartered Institute of Local Government and Public Administration of Nigeria, for the running of professional/ certificate courses domiciled in the Department of  Public Administration; and the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria, for the establishment of a Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.


- the Faculty of Medicine received and accepted application from two students from two foreign Universities: the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and the Heinrich Heine Universitat, Dusseldorf, Germany for them to undertake clinical posting in the Faculty.

There has been an increase in the number  of  staff  attracting  research grants from various organisations: World Health Organisaton (WHO); welcome Trust; European-Developing countries Clinical Trial (EDCTP); Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU); American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; Committee on Global Health; Research Fellowship at Harvard University, USA; and Central Bank of Nigeria.

The School of Post-Graduate Studies as been  elevated  to  the College of Postgraduate Studies in compliance with the directive of the National Universities Commission, the intent being to facilitate post graduate studies in the University. To get over the constraints posed by the COVID-19 lockdown, the College deployed a platform for online lectures, seminars and final defence for Masters’ and PhD theses and dissertations. This has been quite successful, with marked increases in the number of postgraduate students defending their theses and dissertations. On account of this, the online platform has been adopted as a permanent feature of the College’s operations.

New Masters’ degree programmes have been started in  adjudged areas of need of the country: Supply Chain and Logistic Management in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Migration Studies in recognition of migration as an important factor in the socio-economic development of nations; and Integrated Water


Resources Management in the Faculty of Physical Sciences, considering the fact that water is a limiting factor in the socio- economic development of Nigeria.

Senate Research Grant which had been in abeyance for sometime before my assumption of office has been resuscitated with mapped out research clusters constituting the basis for approval of the grants.

The delivery of inaugural lectures has been upped from bimonthly to monthly and is now virtual, thus bypassing some of the logistic challenges associated with physical delivery.

While the results of the November/December  2021  accreditation visits of the National Universities Commission (NUC) are still awaited, the departments that passed through Professional Bodies accreditation visits during the period were successful with full accreditation: Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences Department of Surveying and Geoinformatics; and Department of Quantity Surveying.

Following resource assessment visit to the University, the National Universities Commission has approved the following undergraduate

programmes with effect from 2021/2022 academic year:

- Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D)

- B.Agric. (Ed) Agricultural Education

- B.Sc. (Ed) Home Economics Education

- B.Eng. Petroleum Engineering

- B.Sc. Human Nutrition and Dietetics


The Pharmacy Department of the Medical Centre received full accreditation of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, thus qualifying to train interns.

We started a Centre for Disability and Special Needs Research, to create in the University and the wider society the awareness of disability and its associated challenges. This is with a view to increasing access of persons with disability, particularly students of the University, to quality education and improved quality of life.

The Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON) has designated  the University’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Management as a Centre of Excellence for the training of fisheries experts in Nigeria.

4. Community/Public Service

The community/Public service goal of our project 200 is to forge a more mutually beneficial interface with the University’s publics with a view to, in the spirit of town and gown, identify societal challenges and contribute to their solutions. The following actions and achievements have been made in this regard.

UNIZIK Farms (Awka) Multipurpose Cooperative Society  Ltd  has been incorporated. The objectives are to:

- produce and market farm products;

- explore the value chain of such products

- provide the staff of the University and other stakeholders that may wish to engage in cooperative farm venture with opportunities to do so; and to serve as centre for practical hands-on-training of agriculture students.


The construction of a five hundred and seventy two (572) capacity students’ hostel by an investor under a Build-Operate-and Transfer partnership is on-going.

The construction of a fully equipped  ultra-modern  surge  centre, within the precincts of the University Medical Centre, Awka, for the treatment of COVID-19, Lassa fever and other infectious diseases. This was through the intervention of the Anambra Progressive Union, with Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Uba, as Convener.

The setting up of a research centre for Aging  and  Psychological Health, Awka campus endowed by Igwe Iweka III, Igwe Obosi.

Consolidated our Guidance and Counselling and Psychological Counselling Units into a Psychological and Guidance Counselling Centre, whose services are available to students, staff and the general public. This is particularly important in view of the rising mental health challenges in the society, particularly among students, sometimes leading to fatalities.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has  been  signed  with  Xynoby Medical Laboratories Ltd for a public-private-partnership financed construction and equipping of a specialized diagnostic laboratory, within the precincts of the University Medical Centre, Awka.

Challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the university started the production of high quality hand sanitizers and face masks for public consumption.


Attracted a TETFund grant for the establishment of a Kidney and Urological Centre at the College of Health Sciences, Nnewi.

Procured the installation of a COVID-19 testing centre in the University, through philanthropy.

Procured the settlement, out of court, of the dispute  and  litigation over the ownership of a parcel of land on which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) funded Students’ Hostel complex at the College of Health Sciences, Okofia, Otolo, Nnewi was being built. The dispute and litigation had led to a termination of the project. Following this resolution attendant on the withdrawal of the suit by the plaintiff and its consequent striking off, our administration is making representations to secure a restoration of the project.

Through the intervention of the Executive  Governor  of  Anambra State, His Excellency Chief (Dr) Willie Obiano, of the sum of one hundred million Naira (N100m) payable for the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (CoC) for the Faculty of Agriculture, Ifite- Ogwari, Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State, was waived.

5. Administrative Reforms

The objective of these reforms has been to make the operations of all academic and administrative departments of the University more efficient in the use of resources and more effective in goal attainment.

The following results have been secured:

Approval by Council of a new Staff Conditions of Service to keep it abreast of best human resources management practices. The new Conditions of Service had, inter-alia, created a new Deputy position


in the non-teaching staff career progression, to wit, Deputy position I on CONTISS 15, above the then existing Deputy position II on CONTISS 14. In effect, this raised the promotion ceiling for the non- teaching staff.

Completion of the review of the University’s Academic Brief and

Strategic Plan.

Completion of the review of the University’s Master Plan, taking cognizance of the extant and future academic programmes, staff and students’ population growth.

The Statute of the College of Health Sciences has become fully operational with the constitution of the College Board.

The University is now operating a directorate-based administration, with Directors appointed on a non-renewable five-year tenure into the relevant administrative departments.

Processing of students’ transcripts has been digitalized thus substantially easing the process.

Consultants were engaged who organised  capacity  building  workshops for the various cadres of the non-teaching staff.

To avoid the lacunae of acting appointments, Management positions are advertised, interviews held and appointments made before the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent.

For the first time in the history of the University,  professional  Librarians in the University have been promoted to the rank of Professor, following due diligence.


We are increasingly adopting online solutions in many aspects of the university administration, the latest of which is the conduct of staff appraisals.

The Faculty of Agriculture, which  since  its  inception  more  than fifteen years ago, had been temporarily located at the Awka campus of the university,has finally relocated to its permanent site at Ifite- Ogwari, Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State.

Elections into the Students’ Union Government (SUG) are now being

successfully done online.

We published Project 200 Handbook outlining minutiae the expected role of every operating department/unit: academic and administrative, and every job position in the actualization of project 200.

A Quality Assurance Unit has been set up to ensure that the output of Operating Units conform to the established benchmarks.

The Admission process has been decentralized to the Faculties and academic departments to ensure that ab initio, candidates being considered for admission are prima facie qualified thus minimising instances of candidates who present for registration being found not to be qualified. In a similar vein, matriculation has been decentralized.

The Board of Directors of UNIZIK Business School, has been constituted thus making the organisational structure of the School, as approved by the Council of the University, fully functional.

We have put in place a new policy on sports by which students of the University who win medals in national or international


competitions  are  given  one-year  scholarship.   Currently  five (5) students are on this scholarship.

6. Discipline

The thrust of our efforts in this direction is to ensure adherence to the University’s policies, rules and regulations as condition precedent to the attainment of the goals of the University and project 200 of our Administration. Specifically, the following actions have been taken:

Recognising the importance of time as an organisational resource, a biometric finger-based logging system in and out of the workplace was introduced. This has improved punctuality, attendance and presence at duty posts during office hours. In a similar vein, meetings of university bodies: Council, Senate, Management, etc, now take place as scheduled.

The disciplinary procedures for staff and students have been reorganised and streamlined for expeditious disposal of cases.

The students’ clearance process has been digitalized thus removing    the storms and stresses hitherto prevalent to the system with the potential threat of breakdown of discipline.

7. Advancements

Aware that administration of the university is a continuum, our approach here has been to build on the efforts/achievements of past administrations in all facets of the university’s operations: Infrastructure, human capital capacity, internally generated revenue, staff and students welfare, peace and security as a spring board towards the the


actualization of project 200. The following achievements have been made:

a) Creation of New Units

We created a Procurement Unit for the University to be in tune with        the procurement procedure required by the Federal Government. With this, matters of bidding, tendering and procurement follow due process and are dealt with expeditiously.

A structure has been put in place to ensure a more efficient management of the University’s land resources and the attendant conservation of its ecosystem.

b) Information and Communication Technology

With the increase in the University’s internet bandwidth, internet accessibility in the Awka campus, Nnewi campus, Agulu premises and the Teaching Hospital has greatly improved.

c) Infrastructural Developments: Completed Projects

i) TETFund

Construction of Lecture Halls for the Faculty of

Engineering, Awka campus

Construction of the Academic Publishing Centre, Awka campus.

Molecular Laboratory, Nnewi campus.

Construction of male and female conveniences, at Awka, Nnewi and Agulu campuses/premise.

Remodelling of Multipurpose Hall at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi campus.

Construction of Engineering Workshop, Awka campus


Construction of Engineering lavatory, Awka campus.

Remodelling of Multipurpose Hall, Awka campus.

ii) NEEDS Assessment Projects

Construction of Medical Centre, Awka campus.

Construction of Faculty Building for Health Sciences, Nnewi campus.

Construction of Students’ Hostel Type A, Awka campus.

Installation of UNIZIK Language Laboratory, Awka campus.

Construction of Sporting Facilities, Awka Campus.

External Works/Finishings completed:

- 500 capacity Lecture/Examination Hall (Option 1)

- 500 capacity Lecture/Examination Hall (Option 1 Repeat)

- 500 capacity Lecture/Examination Hall (Option 2)

- 500 capacity Lecture/Examination Hall (Option 3)

- 500 capacity Lecture/Examination Hall (Option 4)

- 500 seating capacity Lecture/Examination Hall (Option 4 Repeat).

iii) Federal Government Capital Project

Faculty of Education Building, Awka campus (partly with internally generated revenue).

iv) Internally Generated Revenue Projects

Construction of Central Stores for the Bursary, Awka.

Construction of Access Road from Works Department to the University Library, Awka campus.

Construction of Classroom Block for the University High School, Awka campus.


Construction of the Extension Building for the School of Postgraduate Studies, Awka campus.

Construction of University Kitchen.

Landscaping of Awka Window on America Building.

Construction of Entrance Canopy and Garden seats at the premises of the Awka Window on America Building.

v) Endowment Projects

Construction of FERMA Road at Science Village, Awka campus, attracted by Distinguished Senator Uche Ekwunife.

Construction of Third Gate Park, Awka campus, funded by Engr. JohnBosco Onunkwo

Construction of Administration Block for College of Health Sciences, Nnewi campus (save for external works) donated by Sir Cletus Ibeto.

International Conference Centre, Awka campus, by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Mini ICT Square Project, Awka campus, donated by the the Nigerian Communications Commission.

d) Infrastructural Development: Ongoing Projects

i) TETFund

Construction and furnishing of Faculty Building for Faculty of Social Sciences, Awka campus, at 50% completion.

Construction  and  furnishing  of Education Building, Awka campus, at 45% completion.


Construction and furnishing of classroom and office Block for Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Agulu at 80% completion.

Construction and furnishing of Departmental Office Block for Faculty of Education (Vocational Studies), Awka campus, 45% completion.

Construction and furnishing of Department of Psychology Building for Faculty of Social Sciences, Awka campus, 50% completion.

Construction of laboratory and offices for Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Agulu, 90% completion.

Special Intervention for the Establishment of Urology and Kidney Centre, Neni:

- remodeling and furnishing of Urology Building, 50% completion.

- procurement, installation, Testing and Commissioning of 1 No 100KVA Mikano soundproof generator.

Special Intervention for the Establishment of Biomedical, Agricultural and Engineering Translation Studies, Awka campus:

- renovation and partitioning of Faculty of Biosciences Laboratory, Awka campus, 65% completion.

- supply, installation, testing and commissioning of 1 No 100KVA soundproof Mikano generator.

- supply, installation, testing and commissioning of 1 No 7.5KVA/120V Inverter

- Procurement and supply of office furniture and ICT Equipment.


ii) NEEDS Assessment Projects

Students’ Hostel Type D, Awka campus at 75% completion.

Students’ Hostel Type A, Nnewi campus, 75% completion.

Construction of University Mini-stadium Complex, Awka campus, 60% completion.

iii) Federal Government of Nigeria Capital Projects

Construction of Mini-Fire Service Station and  supply/  installation of fire-fighting equipment/vehicles, Awka campus, 65% completion.

Construction  of  classrooms  and  offices  for  University  Primary School, Nnewi campus, 60% completion.

Water Reticulation Scheme, Awka campus, 50% completion.

iv) Internally Generated Revenue

Completion of Access Road from the Banking plaza to after GTBank, including Parking Lots to Multipurpose Hall, Awka campus, 45% completion.

Construction of JUPEB Building, Awka campus, 40% completion.

Construction of classrooms for Primary School, Awka campus, 80% completion.

Construction of Eastern Drive/Access at Ifite-Ogwari, 60% completion.

Faculty of Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, Awka campus, 60% completion.


v) Endowment Projects

Food Processing Building, Faculty of Agriculture, Awka campus, by JEZCO Ltd, 20% completion.

Students’ Toilet, adjacent Faculty of Education Building,

Awka campus, by Lagos Island Alumni, 90% completion.

University ICT Centre for Faculty of Environmental Sciences by Onwa Enugwu-UKwu.

Solar and High Energy Cosmic Ray Laboratory, Awka campus, by Distinguished Senator Uche Ekwunife, 20% completion.

UNIZIK Students’ Centre, by BUA Group.


Once again, I thank you for inviting me to this forum. The University has always had a cordial work relationship with the Anambra State Council  of the Nigerian Union of Journalist. I look forward to a continuation of this healthy relationship with your new State Council.

Thank you.

Prof. Charles O. Esimone, FAS, FPSN


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