By Inyali Peter
It is now very audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that Prof. Zana Akpagu, the 10th Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar and the first from the Northern Senatorial District of Cross River state has surpassed his expectations in less than four years of his five years administration.
Renowned for massive infrastructural development, modernization/curriculum expansion, Prof. Akpagu has successfully moved Unical from an old fashioned University to a 21st century institution. In terms of programmes, Unical is today competing favourably with some of the best Universities in the world running marketable programmes one can think of.
Strategically, Akpagu has restructured some existing programmes that were hitherto not too relevant in the labour market again while introducing new ones to meet the contemporary labour market and employers demand. Some of the new programmes include, Anti-Corruption and Terrorism Studies, Criminology, Geoinformatics, Dentistry, Mass Communication and Digital Media amongst others.
In the area of infrastructural development, many staff and students have lost count of how many new gigantic buildings Prof. Akpagu’s administration has built in just about four years. Apart from building new structures, he has also reconstructed, renovated and completed some projects which were initiated at the inception of the University but abandoned afterwards. Some of the projects include, the massive faculty of Arts Annex which is today housing three new developments- Mass Communication, Fine and Applied Arts and Music, the Malabu road etc.
Akpagu also, recently installed an elevator in the University Library. In over fourty years since the University came into existence, it was until Akpagu became the VC that Unical got her first elevator. Previous administrations struggled but abandoned the project. However, determined to see that every penny of the University is judiciously spent, Akpagu left no stone unturned until the dream of over 30 years became a reality.
Aesthetically, Akpagu has given the University a complete different appealing looks. From the main entrance to the University along the Prof. Ayo Dele boulevard, there is a visible face lift. He has radically beautified the boulevard through the planting of flowers and trees. During festive periods, fun lovers usually troop in in droves just to savour the green, serene and natural environment.
Notwithstanding, Akpagu is also holding the record as the first Unical VC to have organised three consecutive convocations since the inception of the University. Before he came on board, one of the things that hunted the varsity was the inability of successive administrations to organise convocation every academic year like it’s done in western Universities. He’s been doing this almost effortlessly.
Besides all these, the VC has ensured that his focus is not just to develop the University within but also to give it visibility nationally and internationally by setting up every unit to go for honours in every competition that the University or anybody associated with it is involved in. Steadily as stoutly, he has put the University in the news for positive reasons. In fact, unical has become a global brand.
In the last one year, Unical has won the highest number of competitions within and outside Nigeria more than any other Nigerian University. It’s only a few competition that the University has not come top and even in those few ones, the University has not fallen below the top three.
For instance, in the recently held Nigerian Universities Theatre Festival, Unical emerged the overrall best by sweeping most of the awards. The event which had 16 Universities participating saw Unical coming first in Short Film, Spoken Word and Stand-up Comedy competitions. The University also won the best overall Female Actor in the event.
In other categories, Unical came third in Drama, Contemporary Dance as well as first, second and third in “on the spot” Solo Performance Workshop Competition. In the event’s Carnival competition, Unical band was adjudged the most colourful and best interpreted.
Similarly, the University male football team (Unical Malabites) thrashed the University of Agriculture, Makurdi on Friday, October 26th to emerge winner of the 2019 Higher Institution Football League tournament.
All these are in addition to several other competitions won by the University within and outside Nigeria since Prof. Akpagu came on board. Recall that the National President of the University alumni just recently emerged as the Executive Secretary, Committee of Vice Chancellors.
These achievements are not magic but results that reflects exactly the vision and direction of the man at the helms of affairs. Like his admirers will say, the Z-factor (Z-Zana) is turning things around for good in the University.
Without mincing words, to say the least, Unical is winning and rising because of the brilliance and exceptional leadership qualities of Prof. Zana Akpagu and with hi focus and determination, things promise to even get better.
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