Friday, August 28, 2020

Nwajiuba's Indelible Footprints On Staff Welfare - Alex Ekwueme Federal University

A section of the staff quarters constructed by the administration of Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba

The degree of work efficiency and effectiveness among staff of any organization is hinged to a large extent on the capacity of the leader to create and sustain an organizational culture that is conducive for employees to thrive and advance in their chosen careers without hindrances. In such a situation the leader serves as a source of support, encouragement, empowerment and inspiration to staff and as an enabler that helps employees to attain their legitimate career goals. This underscores the words of an American entrepreneur and television personality, Jon Taffer who said “The greatest gift of leadership is a boss who wants you to be successful.” The above submission by Taffer aptly captures and summarizes the attitude and disposition of Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba towards the staff of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State in the last 4 and half years.

Under the watch of Prof. Nwajiuba, staff welfare has been elevated and made paramount through the provision of conducive work environment for staff to fulfill their dreams and potential in various ways. The yearly promotion of all qualified persons (teaching and non-teaching staff inclusive) who meet the promotion requirements without any form of bias or favor to any selected few is one of the high points of the Vice-Chancellor’s administration. 

His knack for discovering, mentoring and supporting budding talents to attain excellence in their chosen fields of endeavour is legendary. He also has continued to give opportunities to young, talented and competent staff to occupy appointive positions such as Heads of academic or administrative departments, Directors of Centres and Deans of Faculties, thereby grooming a critical mass of competent middle level managers that would take the University to the next level in the nearest future. In addition, 40 academics have been sent to France for further studies on scholarship under the postgraduate partnership between the University and the French government. AE-FUNAI is the only university in Nigeria that has such collaboration with the European country.

More so, the Vice-Chancellor’s vision of having a University where staff and students live, work and interact together is being actualized through the construction of 14 units of twin    2-bed room bungalows as staff quarters. This has provided accommodation opportunities for some staff of the university to live on campus even as new buildings are still springing up.

VC, Prof. Nwajiuba welcoming back to the University one of the beneficiaries of the PG scholarship partnership with the French Government, Mr. Uchenna Nwokenkwo, after the completion of his studies

Prior to the emergence of Prof. Nwajiuba as the Vice-Chancellor of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State in 2016, the industrial climate within the institution was anything but reassuring. This was because many academic staff of the institution who were employed as Assistant Lecturers were stunted in their career progression because of the existing academic staff promotion policy which stipulated that lecturers employed with Masters degrees cannot be promoted beyond their entry level until they bag their doctoral degrees. 

Though this was at variance with the National Universities Commission (NUC) regulation and what is obtainable in other public universities in Nigeria yet it was the norm. Additionally, the then policy on academic staff promotion also stated that for an academic to be promoted to a professorial chair in the institution, the individual must have published at least 35 papers in Thompson Reuters’ rated and other high impact internationally-acclaimed journals. This also stunted the academic growth of many senior academics as the number of papers required for promotion seemed to be on a high side in comparison to accepted standard prevalent in other Universities in Nigeria.

VC, Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba (2nd R) receiving some bags of cement donated by members of NASU AE-FUNAI chapter in support of the developmental strides in the University

However, on assumption of office, Prof. Nwajiuba took notice of the anomaly and also listened to the cries and complaints of staff that had borne the brunt of the overtly ambitious policy. He took their matter to the University Senate and Council, who in their wisdom approved the review of the academic staff promotion policy. This led to a new guideline for academic staff promotion, which expunged those areas that had negatively affected the career growth of many academic staff. For instance, the number of Thompson Reuters ranked journal papers required for an academic to be prompted to the position of a professor was reduced to four (4) while lecturers with Masters degrees can now be promoted up to Lecturer 1.

Apart from yearly staff promotion, the Vice-Chancellor has overseen the proper placements of many staff who in spite of their academic and professional qualifications and years of experience were not properly placed when they were employed. He has also superintended the conversion of many junior non-teaching staff to the senior cadre after they had attained and presented  higher certificates while some senior non-teaching staff were also allowed to convert to the teaching cadre after acquiring master’s or doctoral degrees. These were done effortlessly. In return, the Vice-Chancellor has continued to enjoy enormous goodwill from staff and staff unions who also are contributing personal money and donating their salaries and materials like trips of sand and bags of cement towards the development of the University. AE-FUNAI may just be the only public institution in Nigeria where such rare and commendable gestures are happening.

VC, Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba (2nd R) exchanging pleasantries with Dr, Sunday Nnamani who made a donation to the University on behalf of the staff of Department of Fine and Applied Arts/Music

In concluding, the positive disposition of the Vice-Chancellor towards staff welfare has endeared him to members of the University community who are happy that he is not only transforming the academic and infrastructural landscapes of the institution but also enhancing staff welfare It is based on this friendly disposition and the positive impact the Vice-Chancellor is making in the lives of the University staff that the Chairman of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of SSANU, NAAT and NASU, AE-FUNAI chapter, Comrade Emmanuel Chigbata during the celebration of the Vice-Chancellor’s 2nd year in office on 26th February, 2018 declared Prof. Nwajiuba “a worker-friendly Vice-Chancellor”.

Previous Post
Next Post