Two years of Professor Egwunyenga at DELSU
Professor Andy Egwunyenga, the Vice-Chancellor of Delta State University Abraka, Nigeria is without doubt, one of the most prepared Nigerians for such high office.
Even as a child, he was outstanding among his colleagues and as he grew from different parts of the country, he imbibed different cultural traits of different peoples, thus giving him a broad national outlook that discourages ethnocentrism.
He developed himself also by exposing himself to different aspects of administration, as director of, Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (ISLT), membership of Government and International Organisations, chairman of ASUU DELSU and later, the Rector of Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi-Uku which he turned around within a short period.
Such background has been a great asset to him as he respects people based on their intrinsic qualities, rather than where they come from. Besides, being a staff in DELSU for about 30 years makes him quite familiar with the staff to the extent that he addresses almost every DELSU Senator by their names during Senate meetings. He is also conversant with the university environment and its problems, thus putting him in a position to articulate workable solutions to the issues that ‘plague’ the university and its host communities.
Given the above scenario, it was not surprising that as soon as he assumed the position of Vice-Chancellor two years ago (December 1, 2019), he hit the ground running. His six-point programme of building an effective and motivated workforce, the pursuit of innovation using ICT, strengthening faculties departments and units, emphasis on the welfare of students, improvement of the revenue base and applying a new approach to university administration and governance has provided a compass for his administration.
Indeed, the above summarised in an effective and practical way, the roadmap he has designed for himself as the helmsman at DELSU. He realised the centrality of the manpower structure of the university and the welfare of students who are the reasons for the establishment of any university in the first place. First and foremost, he brought down the tension in the university by addressing many cases of injustice against staff and students by setting up committees, which thoroughly and expeditiously addressed such issues, thus giving many justice and making them feel part of the system.
His belief in the committee system is well-founded as an effective way of the university administration. A university by definition is universal and houses the highest-level manpower possible. But in an effort to personalise university governance, many administrators consign it to the background, and as such deprive the system of the quality personnel it needs to run its affairs.
Professor Egwunyenga believes that every staff is useful and that by working together, a lot could be achieved in an atmosphere of healthy competition among them, which encourages high productivity. His use of seniority and competence in the appointment of staff to various positions is being widely applauded, as staff contentment has improved considerably. In the same vein, he has reactivated the Committee of Deans, which is doing a great job in advising the university senate on crucial matters.
A thorough-bred academic, Egwunyenga from the outset of his administration, has emphasised the need to be innovative, using the opportunities of the ICT revolution. He has directed that all staff should be registered with Google scholar to enhance the university visibility since knowledge must be shared to be useful. Such a step has indeed made the university more visible and also enhanced the university rankings. At the moment the university is ranked 31st among Nigerian universities and 8th among state universities.
Embedded in his promise to evolve a new approach to university administration is transparent and prudent management of scarce resources, especially in the universities where funding is fragile at best. On assumption of office, he noticed the deficit in an academic staff position and decided to do something about it—-look inwards! He encouraged non-teaching staff with requisite qualifications who were interested in teaching to apply for conversion. All candidates were properly screened and those found worthy were converted to academic staff. Thereafter, an orientation programme was organised for them, along with the newly employed staff, totalling 65 for the very first time in the university.
No doubt, the most challenging period for the Egwunyenga management team was the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has shaken the world to its very foundations. In fact, most institutions of learning were jolted to the point of closing for a long time. Some even lost an academic year. But Egwunyenga saw it as a challenge and took the bull by the horns. Tapping from his digital ‘arsenal’, he summoned the enterprising ICT directorate of the university and challenged them to come up with a digital platform to meaningfully interact with the students during the lockdown and even beyond. Such a challenge produced the DELSU Learning and Management Systems (DLMS) which facilitated distance learning at the period. The university survived without disrupting its academic calendar for 2019/2020.
Given that we are in a global village according to Mcluhan, the activities and achievements of the Egwunyenga administration are in the public domain and many have continued to applaud him. In fact, in the past two years, he has received a deluge of awards and favourable mentions. One of such awards came from the African Union Parliament (ASOP) who honoured him with the prestigious Pan African Prize of Excellence for his ‘’doggedness and result-oriented administration, which has culminated in the recent repositioning of the university in less than two years of being in charge as Vice-Chancellor.’’ The Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities was impressed with DELSU and its chief executive for ‘‘your contribution to the development of the Eagle scan Plagiarism Detection Software’’ writes DELSU News, the official, all gloss, all colour magazine of the university. Satisfied by the activities and comportment of Egwunyenga, a non-governmental organisation, Global Hope and Justice Inc. bestowed on he an award of Excellence as a ‘‘Champion of Empowerment and Disability Inclusion in Nigeria.’’
The mainstream media in Nigeria have continued to appreciate the contributions of the scientist of note at Abraka. On July 10, 2021, Sunday Vanguard cited Egwunyenga in its Special Section tagged ‘‘Outstanding Vice-Chancellors Series.’’ Describing him as ‘‘Visionary Champion of a Modem Citadel,’’ the newspapers praised him for his innovation, projects, the welfare of staff and students, the enhancement of the university rankings, among others.
Just days after the Sunday Vanguard Publication, The Guardian under its ‘‘Special Focus on most Inspirational Personalities in Nigeria’’ described Egwunyenga as a ‘‘resourceful scholar, putting vision to work at DELSU.’’ Only recently, specifically on Nov. 11, 2021, the Association of Community Newspapers Publishers Delta State Chapter also conferred on him an award for his outstanding contribution to academic and infrastructural development in the university community, among others.
Since the reward for hard work is more work, Egwunyenga, who is giving DELSU an enlightened and committed leadership, has pledged to continue to do his best for the university until his last day in office. His promise to lead, inspire and advance DELSU in all ramifications remains his guiding principle.
Prof. Nwanne is the director, Ceremonials, Information and Public Relations at DELSU.