The traits that makes Professor Charles Esimone’s Leadership unique at UNIZIK – By Fatai Ibrahim

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*Photo: Professor Charles Esimone*

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Ghandi

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That Professor Charles Esimone, the Vice- Chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka is achieving unprecedented and monumental feats since his coming onboard at the helms of affairs at the institution is no longer news. What is however news is the  wind of change and revolution that he has put on ground for all to see.

The above illuminating and effervescent words of Mahatma Ghandi, the Father of Modern day India, clearly exemplifies the leadership qualities of Professor Esimone. His penchant for academic excellence, human capital development and others cannot be overemphasised as a leader with great passion for service delivery. His landmark reforms at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) has made the great citadel of learning first amongst equals in global education competitive market.

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Interestingly, it was Bo Bonneth who once said,  “A dream become a goal when action is taken towards achieving it”. It will not be an understatement to state that Bonneth had Professor Esimone in mind when he made his statement because the erudite scholar’s vision is to make UNIZIK the best not only in Africa but globally. 

As part of efforts to strengthen the institutional capacity of UNIZIK for research and teaching as well as learning process, Professor Esimone’s visionary leadership adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to research and the teaching -learning process, preference for research translation and commercialization, setting up of a grant and patents office to train staff and students to publish in selected high impact journal in various disciplines.

Professor Esimone as a result-oriented person has attracted a lot of development to the university. The Nnamdi Azikiwe University is now among the 12 Universities, two from each of the six geopolitical zones selected and classified as Centres of Excellence for TETfund research grants. The selected areas for each university as the designed areas are; Biomedical, Agriculture, Engineering and transnational studies. It is also worthy of mentioning that the College of Health Science is one of the six Stimulation Research and Training Centres set up by TETfund on the approval of the President with facilities for testing and diagnosing Covid- 19, when the epidemic ravaged the whole world.

Also to the glory of God, this amiable Scholar cum administrator was able to secure TETfund approval for the following lofty initiatives, 20 academic Manuscript and books, 84 institutional research books, 7 Faculty-based academic journals, sponsorship of 42 staff for staff training and development locally and internationally. Also, 10 staff received grants for National Research Fund Programme.

His other giant strides can be seen in the increasing number of  academic staff publishing in high impact journals and receiving recognition nationally and internationally. For example, Scopus, the largest source-neutral abstract and citation data base for peer-reviewed literature in the world listed eight staff of the Nnamdi Azikwe University amongst the top 500 authors in Nigeria.

Also, the School of Postgraduate Studies has been elevated to the college of Postgraduate Studies in compliance with NUC directives.

The evergreen words of Dr. Joyce Brothers comes to mind on the leadership tenacity of Professor Esimone, when he said “Success is a state of mind, if you want success, start thinking of yourself as successful”.  This can be seen from the Senate Research Grant which had been in abeyance for some time now, has been reinstated with the coming on onboard of this great intellectual giant.

Moreso,there are full accreditation for departments such as Medical laboratory Science, Surveying and Geoinformatics and Quantity Surveying. The Pharmacy Department of Medical Centre also received full accreditation from the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria.

In the area of Guidance and Counselling,  Esimone has this to say.  “We have consolidated our Guidance and Counselling and the Psychology Counselling Units into a Psychological, Guidance and Counselling Centre, whose services are available for staff, students and the general public.This is indeed particularly important in view of the rising mental health challenges in the society today”.”Moreover,a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed with Xynoby Medical Laboratories limited for a Public-Private Partnership, for a specialized diagnostic laboratory.”

Professor Esimone is a welfarist who believes that staff should enjoy while in service. He got the approval of the school’s Senate for a new staff Condition of Service. In like manner, 173 academic staff have been promoted to the ranks of Professorship and Readers while 100 non-teaching staff were ,also,promoted to Deputy 1 and Deputy 2 respectively. The College of Health Science has become fully operational with the Constitution of the Board. Processing of students transcripts has been digitized thus substantially easing the process. Consultants were also engaged to  organised Capacity building Workshops for the various cadre of the non-teaching Staff. 

Relatedly, for the first time in the institution   professional Librarians in the University got promoted to the rank of Professorship. The Faculty of Agriculture which has since been at the temporary site since  inception, more than 15 years ago  in Awka, is now at the permanent site.

Also, a quality Assurance Unit has been set up to ensure the out-put of operating units conform to the established benchmark and new policy. Sports development is also bringing new lease of life to students as those who win medals in national and international competitions enjoy one year scholarship.

Professor Esimone’s quest of taking Nnamdi Azikiwe to the zenith has also been seen in the areas of attracting TETfund and other interventions releases for various academic programmes at the Nnamdi Azikwe University Akwa as encapsulated in his score card as stated.  Attraction of TETfund National Research Fund  (NRF) Intervention, Year  2022 Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETfund) academic staff training and development for foreign-based Training of 3 academic Staff of the University, Year 2017-2022 Tetfund Intervention in Research Projects, Agricultural Research Innovatation Fellowship for Africa (AFRIFA) Tetfund Project and COREN re-accreditation of undergraduate programmes of the Faculty of Engineering.To God be the glory, under Esimone’s dynamic leadership, all the six academic Programmes of the Faculty scored full accreditation.

While history will surely not forget Professor Esimone’s exemplary leadership at UNIZIK, posterity will also put him in the right place as someone who came, saw and conquered and served humanity with zeal and total commitment.

Conclusively, considering Prof. Charles Esimone’s remarkable feats at UNIZIK,we have no doubt in our minds, if President Ahmed Bola Tinubu brings him on board, he will add value to the Renewed Agenda of the Present Administration.

*Ibrahim can be reached through *fataiib5@gmail.com*

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