Fifty years after they blazed a trail as the first Made in Nigeria graduates, the University of Nigeria is rolling out the drums to honour the 1963 class.
The Golden Jubilee celebration of the UNN Pioneers is part of activities to mark the 53rd Founder’s Day. Vice Chancellor Professor Bartho Okolo said Wednesday that UNN is celebrating the pioneers because the University earned its reputation for excellence based on their performance on graduation.
Records show that the University of Nigeria admitted 200 persons on October 7, 1960 but 150 persons graduated three years later in 1963. UNN was the first full-fledged wholly indigenous university in Nigeria; it beat a new path of offering its own degrees from inception rather than being tied to an existing institution.
Okolo, the 13th Vice chancellor of the University of Nigeria, said there were many reasons to celebrate the pioneers.
He stated, “Firstly, they were the results of an experiment in higher education, aptly dubbed the Nsukka experiment and championed by Nigeria’s first president, Rt. Hon. (Dr) Nnamdi Azikiwe. Secondly, the circumstance of the establishment of the University of Nigeria was such that bystanders wondered what manner of graduates these men and women would turn out to be. It was reported that their excellent performance at the next national civil service exams was the beginning of the reputation of excellence at University of Nigeria.
“It is against this background that we celebrate this generation of distinguished graduates on whose shoulders our much cherished reputation first rested. We salute them. We congratulate them. We salute them for the legacy of excellence which they bequeathed to us,” he said.
Other events for the 53rd Founders’ Day and Golden Jubilee of the Pioneers include lectures by distinguished public servants who are also alumni. On Saturday 5th October, 2013, Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, the Deputy Governor (Financial System Stability) at Central Bank of Nigeria will deliver the first lecture titled “Human Capital Dimension of Transformation.” He is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Nigeria, class of 86, whose experience cuts across legal practice, diplomacy, journalism and financial management.
Dr Humphrey Umunna Orjiakor, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations based in Geneva, would speak on “Higher Education Experiment in Nigeria – the Nsukka Experience, 53 years After,” on Monday, October 7.
The Vice Chancellor remarked that the Founders’ Day offers the institution a chance to reflect on what it has achieved over the years in relation to the mandate it received at inception. He said, “The 53rd Founders’ Day celebration is unique in the sense that we are celebrating another milestone - the golden jubilee of the first graduates of the University of Nigeria.”
Speaking further, the Vice-Chancellor said, “The unique history of the University of Nigeria and the remarkable men and women whose vision and foresight gave birth to the University just after Nigeria gained independence from colonial rule. Notable amongst these men were the first president of Nigeria, the Rt. Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was the first visitor to the university and later-on the chancellor of the university and Mr. E. U. Akpabio, the Minister for Education in the former Eastern Nigeria, who moved the motion for the establishment of the university.”
He described the first graduates of the university as “first generation of Lions and Lionesses, who numbered just 200 on admission and bore the registration numbers of 60/001 to 60/200, deserve a special celebration for more reasons than one.”
Prof. Okolo noted that his vision is for the university to become “a functional, globally competitive & research-focused university which is responsive to the needs of the society, and delivers world-class education and Knowledge. Thus, the University of my Vision is one with a befitting environmental ambience and adequate ultramodern infrastructure fitted with modern cutting edge teaching and research facilities. It is also a university which collaborates with many reputable universities across the world in diverse disciplines and one whose faculty and graduates can compete with their peers from across the globe.”
He said he aims to place the institution at the forefront of research and development, innovation, knowledge generation and knowledge dissemination, human resource development and community service. UNN, he said, has witnessed environmental and infrastructural upgrade with newly completed buildings and some at various stages of completion.
Prof Okolo added that the institution has pursued a programme of internationalization that involves the revitalisation of existing relationships and the establishment of over 50 new mutually rewarding partnerships with reputable higher education institutions across the globe. This he noted will increase the visibility of the university on the global stage. He said these collaborations would continue to create opportunities for our faculty to improve their research and teaching competencies by exposure to global best practices
He said his administration would continue to sustain the standard of employment to first class graduates and best graduating students of good universities.
“As at the last count, over 300 of such young scholars have been hired. Through the many partnerships, which we established with universities overseas, TETFUND grant, the Fulbright scholarship, the Commonwealth scholarship and many other grant outlets including internally generated resources, we are able to create opportunities for these young academics to be exposed to international best practices in teaching, research and administration, Prof. Okolo said.
Box: The UNN Pioneers of 1963
1. Abaronye, David Uruakpa Ihemegbulam, B.A.
2. Abbey-Kalio, Owen Tamunomiebi, B.A.
3. Abomezy, Charles, Kingson, B.Sc, Soc. Sc
4. Adedio, Michael Alasa, B.sc. Soc. Sc
5. Adekunle, Mobolaji Adeleke B.A.
6. Adelaja, Kolawole, B.sc. Soc Sc
7. Aghahiwe, Sylvanus Ezonwune, B.sc. Soc. Sc
8. Agusiegbe, Luke Inekwe, B.A
9. Ahanonu, Harford Chukubike, B.A.
10. Akpan, Bassey Etim, B.A.
11. Akwah, Comfort, Aina Eyiuche, B.A.
12. Akwenuke, Samson Warri, B.A.
13. Anih, Martin Okechukwu, B.Sc. Soc Sc
14. Anozie, Sunday Samuel Ogbonna, B.A.
15. Anyake, Johnson Beluchi Chukuma, B.A
16. Anyanwu, Clement Nnorom, B.A
17. Anyanwu, Eugene Onyemechilauzo, B.sc. Soc Sc
18. Araoye, Theophilus Olufemi, B.A.
19. Arunsi, Nnaoke Okere, B.A.
20. Asiegbu, Johnson Uzoha B.A.
21. Attah, Ben Effiong, B.Sc. Soc Sc
22. Awoyegbe, Hilarion Napoleon, B.sc. Soc Sc
23. Ayela-Uwangue, Samuel Irow, B.A
24. Brown, Bullette Benibo, B.Sc Soc Sc
25. Chine, Clement Ekwunife, B.A.
26. Chuka, Urbanus Amalachukwu, B.A.
27. Chukumba, Stephen Uneze, B.A.
28. Chukwurah, Kenneth Chidike, B.A.
29. Ebonine, Silas Nwankpa Dick, B.A.
30. Efobi, Francis Ezennia, B.Sc Soc Sc
31. Egudu, Romanus Nnagbo, B.A.
32. Egungwu, Vincent Nwafor, B.Sc Soc Sc
33. Ehiede, Samson Oisamoren, B.A
34. Egwuonwu, Maria Nkem B.A.
35. Ejiofor, Catherine Onuekwumma B.A.
36. Ekemode, Gabriel Ogunniyi B.A.
37. Eleazu, Ibeabuchi Nwaobani, B.A
38. Elemo, Janet Olufunmilayo, B.A
39. Emembolu, Gregory Egozue, B.sc Soc Sc
40. Ene, Christopher Nzekwe, B.A.
41. Esedebe, Peter Olisanwuche, B.A.
42. Esoru, Isaac Uchechukwu, B.sc Soc. Sc
43. Eya, Isaac Nduka, B.A.
44. Eze, Godson Eeja, B.sc Soc Sc
45. Ezechukwu, Godson Ogbunanwa, B.Sc Soc Sc
46. Ezeukwu, Joel Nnaemeka, B.A.
47. Ezimora, Andrew Ubaluamike, B.Sc Soc Sc
48. Fafiade, Florence Adeyanju, B.A
49. Fagbeja, John Olaniyan, B.A.
50. Fagbolagun, Cornelius Olabiyi, B.sc Soc Sc
51. Folayan, Johnson Oyetunji, B.A.
52. Ibe, Edna Ngozichukwuka B.A.
53. Ifezulike, Samuel Ekemezie, B.A
54. Igboanugo, Aloysius Obi B.sc Soc Sc
55. Igweaka, Alexander Nnamulue, B.A.
56. Iheme, Samuel Chukwuemeka, B.sc Soc Sc
57. Ijeoma, John Nna, B.A
58. Ijomah, Benedict Chukwumah, B.sc Soc Sc
59. Ikechebelu, Clement Chukwuemeka, B.A.
60. Ikoiwak, Akpan Abasi, B.A.
61. Inyama, Ogonnaya Mgboro, B.A.
62. Inyang, Etim Ebong B.sc Soc Sc
63. Inyiama, Thomas Aniche, B.A.
64. John, Valentine Effiong B.A.
65. Maduabum, Jerome, B.Sc Soc Sc
66. Mba, Mba Kalu, B.A.
67. Mbanefo, Peter Ikebude, B.sc Soc Sc
68. Mbuagbaw, Tami Eyong, B.sc Soc Sc
69. Metu, Richard Anyanaso B.sc Soc Sc
70. Mgbolu, Benedict Onyema, B.sc Soc Sc
71. Momoh, Mark Igbede, B.sc Soc Sc
72. Nduneri, Emmanuel Ukachukwu, B.sc Soc Sc
73. Ngene, Paul Chukwumah, B.sc Soc Sc
74. Njoku, Fidelis Gabriel, B.A.
75. Njoku, Gabriel Chukwunyere, B.A.
76. Nkwoh, Marius Ugorji Etuo Fuchukwu, B.A.
77. Nnolim, Christopher Nnadi, B.A.
78. Ntia, James Johnson, B.A.
79. Nwachukwu, Julius Kemjika, B.A.
80. Nwachukwu, Peter Enebeli, B.sc Soc Sc
81. Nwako, Sylvanus Aniebona, B.A.
82. Nwamefor, Raphael Chianumba, B.A.
83. Nweke, Emmanuel Anyaegbua, B.A.
84. Nwobodo, Joseph Chiweuba, B.A.
85. Nwodika, Walter Achukwu, B.A.
86. Nwodo, Grace Uchenna, B.A.
87. Obe, Ernest Olagbade, B.sc Soc. Sc
88. Obidiegwu, Anthony Osita, B.sc Soc Sc
89. Oderinde, Samuel Olorunsola, B.A.
90. Odidika, Paulinus Chukwunewubeze, B.Sc Soc. Sc
91. Odum, Benjamin Chinaka, B.A.
92. Ofiaja, Nicholas Dimkpa, B.A.
93. Ofochebe, Godfrey Nnabuike, B.Sc Soc.Sc
94. Ofoegbu, Mazi Raymond, B.sc Soc Sc
95. Ogbodo, David Ogbonnaya, B.A.
96. Ogbokuma, Ogbu Thomas, B.Sc Soc Sc
97. Ogbonna, Raphael Emmanuel B.A.
98. Oguchi, Jerome Osita B.sc Soc Sc
99. Ogunseitan, Olabode Titus, B.Sc Soc. Sc
100. Ohashiegbula, Alexander Onyegbula, B.Sc Soc Sc
101. Oji, Mgbechi, B.A.
102. Ojo, Albert Williams Ayodele, B.A.
103. Okafor, Edwin Ewudo, B.A
104. Okafro, Gabriel Nnabuife, B.A.
105. Okam, Hilary Hypolite Ikechukwu, B.A.
106. Okany, Malachy Alphonsus Chuba, B.sc Soc Sc
107. Okere, Theophilus Chukwuemeka, B.Sc. Soc Sc
108. Okereke, Kelechi Bobo, B.A.
109. Okereke, Ngozi Furo Ada, B.A.
110. Okerezi, Onoh Oji, B.A.
111. Okonkwo, Evelyn Ngozi, B.A.
112. Okonkwo, John Charles Ifeanyichukwu, B.A.
113. Okorie, Raymond Enyeribe, B.A.
114. Okoye, Godfrey Amaechi, B.sc Soc Sc
115. Okpalla, Cosmas Ozoemene, B.sc Soc Sc
116. Okpalaoka, Charles Ikebuna, B.sc Soc Sc
117. Olowokure, John Olusanya, B.A.
118. Omoregie, Solomon Boniface, B.A.
119. Ononiwu, Cyril Ebuzo Anozie, B.A.
120. Onu, Peter Uchebuaku, B.sc Soc Sc
121. Onwuteaka, Victoria Chineme, B.sc Soc Sc
122. Onyecherelam, Jaja Okogbue, B.sc Soc Sc
123. Onyegbuna, Sydney Ozoemena, B.A.
124. Oragwu, Lawrence Chiemeka, B.sc Soc Sc
125. Orisakwe, Livinus Onwuanmkpe, B.A.
126. Ossai, Christopher Chukwuemena, B.sc Soc Sc
127. Osilana, Ayoola, B.A.
128. Osuagwu, Harold Godson Okwulehi, B.sc Soc Sc
129. Osuagwu, Christian Onwuesiama, B.A.
130. Otite, Kingsley John Onigu, B.sc Soc Sc
131. Otuonye, Michael Ejike, BA
132. Oyediran, Abraham Oyebisi, B.sc Soc Sc
133. Oyenuga, Christopher Modupe, B.A.
134. Ozo, Christopher Joseph Uzoma, B.A.
135. Ozoemene, Kanayo Nwuwa, B.Sc Soc Sc
136. Taiwo, Timothy Atanda, B.Sc Soc Sc
137. Toby, Gabriel Tamunobiegbere George, B.sc Soc Sc
138. Ubakanma, Isaac Chukwukalo, B.A.
139. Udoffa, Secondus Mathew, B.A.
140. Udokwu, Joseph Chike, B.sc Soc Sc
141. Udu, Ewa, B.sc Soc Sc
142. Ukaga, Gabriel Canice, B.A.
143. Ukonu, Sydney Chukwuma, B.sc Soc Sc
144. Umoh, Essien Ben, B.sc Soc Sc
145. Umunna, Lawrence Okoji, B.sc Soc Sc
146. Umunna, Victor Ifeandu, B.sc Soc Sc
147. Usifo, Valentine, B.sc Soc Sc
148. Uwalaka, Emmanuel Chukwuemeka, B.A.
149. Uwasomba, Julius Opara B.sc Soc Sc
150. Uzomba, Godwin Onyegbulaonweya, B.A
The pioneer set of UNN went on to record many other firsts and had illustrious careers as civil servants, diplomats, and scholars. Many of the scholars made remarkable pioneering contributions and include Prof Onigu Otite, Prof B.C Ijomah, the literary scholar Prof Romanus Egudu and the political scientists Mazi Ray Ofoegbu, a professor, and Peter Onu.
Gabriel Toby rose to be head of service then Deputy Governor of the old and larger Rivers State. Elder statesman Chief Nduka Eya was one of the pioneers of the civil service of Eastern Nigeria and rose to be head of service in Anambra State.
Pioneers P. Olisanwuche Esedebe and J Okoro Ijomah, writing in University of Nigeria 1960-1985: An Experiment in Higher Education, recalled the ridicule initial students suffered from the media, the public and students at the University College, Ibadan over some of the courses introduced by UNN including the General Studies programme. “The idea of B.A. Nsukka instead of B.A. London became a standing joke. ‘Can you imagine’, asked one newspaper editor, ‘a Nigerian university with M.A. Awo-Omama, Ph.D Onitsha and LL.B Jamkara and LL.M Oshogbo’. He did not foresee that barely four years after the inception of the University, B.A. (A.B.U), B.A. (Ife), B.A (Lagos) would be a reality and a little later B.A. (Benin), B.A. Port Harcourt) B.A Jos, B.A. Sokoto., B.A. Kano, B.A. (Calabar) and so on. Undaunted by what proved to be misguided criticisms, the authorities at Nsukka wisely stuck to the General Studies programme.”
Almost all universities in the country now have a General Studies component for broadening the knowledge of students across disciplines.