Wednesday, September 2, 2020

We Cannot Raise The Next Generation In A Spiritual Vacuum Says Alex Ekwueme VC As Group Host Sendforth Concert

Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu- Alike, Ebonyi State, was aglow when Jaye Music Consultancy, held full loaded music concert, with variety of foreign and indigenous tunes of spirit filled praises, to glorify God, in honour of the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chinedum Uzoma Nwajiuba and the great things HE has used him to do in AE-FUNAI since 2016 when he became 2nd VC of the infant University, to the excitement and pleasure of the Prof Nwajiuba family, special guests and the university community, who made the audience at the University Main Auditorium.


Music Director of JAYE Music Consultancy and lecturer in the Music Department at AE-FUNAI, Mr. Folorunso David, JAYEOLA, currently running his Ph.D studies at Sorbonne Universite’, Paris, who has been around, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, was the organizer and host of the concert. In his welcome remarks after the dedication prayer offering by Rt. Reverend Ken C. Ifemene, Anglican Bishop of Ikwo Diocese, who was special guest at the event, Jaye as he is popularly known, stated among other things that, “ The idea of the mini concert was borne out of deep thought on how the Vice-Chancellor has positively affected the AE-FUNAI community. Particularly, the hope and exposure put in place for young academic in the university.” The only Bible reading for the day taken from the Book of Isaiah        Chapter 43 verses 14 – 21 was taken by Dr. Mrs Chinyere Nwajiuba, wife of the VC.


Man of the moment, Prof Chinedum Nwajiuba, anchcord his speech on the title, We Cannot Raise The Next  Generation In A Spiritual Vacuum, being the 4th in his recent series on Please Don’t Let This Dream Die. He opened his presentation with Biblical reference on the man possessed with unclean spirit (Matthew 12:43-45), then went on to express his hearty gratitude to his friend and organizer of the show, for the great honour of having to celebrate him in such magnitude as he prepares to exit as VC of AE-FUNAI. “Today, Jaye says he wants to send me off, as he will not be staying much longer in Nigeria since international flights are resuming following the easing of COVID-19 lockdown.


Prof Nwajiuba deeply reflected on the coincidences of the special date, 26th in respect to the memorable events of his coming to Ikwo and AE-FUNAI as VC and all that has happened as he discharged his duties. He recalled that the university was founded on February 26th, 2011, while his letter of appointment as 2nd VC of the university was dated February 10th 2016. “Incidentally, I arrived here February 26, 2016”, he revealed, saying that the first place his feet touched the soils of Ikwo as he arrived, was the Cathedral of St Peters, accompanied by two of his friends, Dr Vitus Ekeocha and Venerable Dr. IK Ihemtuge, who attended the days event, all the way from Onitsha in Anambra State; from where they  were escorted by His Lordship, Rt. Rev. Ifemene, to report to duty.

 “Six months later, on August 26, 2016, I addressed the university community, singing – I could not do without Thee and laying out vision statement for this era”, Nwajiuba  recalled, attesting that his administration has achieved beyond the content of that vision statement within the short space of time and all these he attributed to the grace of God Almighty.


The VC, further recounted how on February 26, 2018, we met on the grounds of the Anglican Communion Chapel, which is presently at advanced stage, followed with the foundation laying of the Catholic Chapel on August 26, 2018, when he marked his half tenure and same has gone to near completion stage. He also reported that February 26, this year (2020), women of AE-FUNAI, who he was told, prayed before his coming, were called together to hear how the young university has been so blessed by God, and to pray for next the VC. Prof Nwajiuba then told the excited audience that “Today is another August 26, and here we are”.


In view of all what God is doing in his life and the University, and his intention to use every opportunity this last phase of his tenure to appeal that ‘We don’t let this dream die” and in this occasion, he took on an aspect of the cultural change we experience today, which is that we cannot raise the next generation in a spiritual vacuum. Prof Nwajiuba averred that, the university should go beyond teaching and research since at the beginning of the idea of the university was the religious.  “One of the most known articulators of the idea and culture of the university was the Clergyman, John Henry Newman, Theologian and Poet, he adduced.


Referring to one of his favourite Bible passages, Genesis, Chapter 2, verse 7, Prof  Nwajiuba  demonstrated  that “ whether as a teacher or parent, if you must breath your breath into your child or ward, you must bring him or her sufficiently close”, ensuring the right spirit is in place, otherwise more undesired spirits will fill up the vacuum in their minds. 

He regrets that our youth today are under pressure, especially from peer influence and ICT, to the extent that parents can no longer recognize their children, with drug abuse and other vices so prevalent. He frowned at the extent to which young people are being recruited into cultism, warning that anyone who recruits young people into cultism will suffer the consequences as enshrined in the Holy Book as in Matthew 18:5-6, adding that “Belonging to cult groups even in schools, practices we hear they engage in, clearly contravenes Commandments 1 and 2, in the least”.


Prof Nwajiuba inferred that it is this reason that motivated the conceptualization of the idea of Matriculation and Open  Day for the university matriculation ceremony which usually happens in February since 2017 which is basically created to allow the Parents’ Forum meet with the university leadership which provides ample opportunity for parents and their wards and the Faculty, to interact, ask questions and have them answered, “This has positive implications for service delivery and character formation”, he stated.

The VC was bold to say that the choices made by the administration in this regards are working, in the sense that “ the statistics of examination malpractice, rustication, and other social vices show that the probability of being entangled with these is more, the further a student is far from our position”.


As way of providing physical proof, Prof Nwajiuba related how the university campus was about slippery muddy environment in the rainy season and dust, referred to by staff and students as ‘ Ikwo Powder ‘ in the dry season and asthma and other respiratory diseases being common challenges with snake bites and scorpion stings commonly reported; How all promises made by groups and persons to construct roads in the campus failed; How the university main gate that was not accessible was opened, after the bridge across the swamp and road were built to access the gate and how all these happened through personnel donations and power of prayers and grace of God.

VC further told the stories  of how the university got 4.5 kilometres internal road from ecological funds in the office of SGF, much more than the 1 kilometre road they were begging for; How the institution migrated from zero connection to national grid, to become the first public university in Nigeria to have 24 hours light, through REA; How the prayers offered for water supply followed with letters, resulted in the approval and commencement of a huge water project for the university by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and how a Federal  Parliamentarian  from Imo State, built a Health Centre for the university, as his Constituency Project.


Prof Nwajiuba in his speech, recounted how he met a university where land owners obstructed construction work but rather than fight, a nonviolent approach was adopted, which has yielded great results, to the extent that the age old village market at the old back gate was moved and “ on that spot stands the new Faculty of Management and Social Sciences”. The challenge of dangerous Ikwo masquerade that should neither be seen nor photographed, for which the university was closed for one day in 2016 and the case of the Evil Forest in the school premises which has been renamed Good Forest, were all told.

To all these, the VC said “This God is real! Whether in the high places we occupy or privately with our own wards, we cannot raise the next generation in a spiritual vacuum”. Prof Nwajiuba concluded by reminding the university community his previous statement in these words;

…we made our choices, and God has been with us…Tolerate me a little more, as I will leave someday, and then you may experiment with your own choice; but today I repeal that statement. Please keep to this choice we made. It has worked and will always work, for God is not man and will not disappoint. 

And so I end by saying, Please Donot Let This Dream Die. Do not experiment with raising the next generation in a spiritual vacuum.


In his short commendation at the event, Venerable Dr. IK Ihemtuge, who attended the event as special guest, recalled how he was part of the team that accompanied Prof Nwajiuba to assume duty at AE-FUNAI, appreciating God for using Prof Chinedum Uzoma Nwajiuba, who has lived and worked true to his name, to transform the young university to the upclass status it has reached and prayed that God will give the university another Vice-Chancellor that will keep the dream of building a university of reckoning, alive.

Honourable Member representing Ikwo North and Chief Whip at Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon Lawrence Nwuruku, who was special guest to the concert, thanked God for bringing Prof Nwajiuba to IkwoLand at this material time. He particularly appreciated the VC for the magnitude of development he has brought to the university and Ikwo, even as he is not from here, wishing him well as he moves on and promised to keep supporting every move towards actualizing the dream of building a great university of repute.


A highly elated Mrs Odisa Okeke, Registrar, AE-FUNAI, thanked God for the gift of Prof Chinedum Uzoma Nwajiuba, recalling how she came to work as Registrar in the VC, Prof Nwajiuba administration, the conducive work environment  that exist in the regime of a man who demystified the Office of Vice-Chancellor, making it accessible to all, yet getting the work done. She thanked the organizer of the concert, all the guests and the officers of the university, who were present to honour the outgoing VC, and joined her voice in praying that God will give the university, another Vice-Chancellor that will keep the dream of a university of the moment, alive and active.

Prof Chinedum Nwajiuba at the end led guests to plant trees to in the spirit of Campus in a Garden vision.

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