Education

PROF EFEMINI: CELEBRATION OF A CHANGE AGENT, REVOLUTIONIST, RADICAL & AN ENIGMA @ 56

PROF EFEMINI: CELEBRATION OF A CHANGE AGENT, REVOLUTIONIST, RADICAL & AN ENIGMA @ 56

                      By

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com, 08022049770

PREAMBLE

Carey Lohrenz in his Fearless Leadership series wrote and I quote;

“Knowing your value, speaking up, and not flying under the radar—this is what fearless leadership is about.”

On the other hand, Mike Yaconelli in trying to explain and expand the thought of Mr. Carey Lohrenz stated and I quote;

“Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. Boldness is quiet, not noisy.”

After going through these great quotes by these great minds, Prof Andrew Efemini of University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Nigeria readily came into my mind. This is a man right from his birth has demonstrated his readiness to pass through the path where the Lion dare not attempt to tread. His mother confessed even when Prof Efemini was in her tummy he was restless and very eager to come out before the time to face the world.

Mike Yaconelli had no other person in mind apart from Prof Efemini when he made the above quote as the qualities and character of one “being bold, firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient and cannot easily be intimidated is all about Prof Efemini as my account below will explain.

Prof Andrew Efemini who turns 56years on this auspicious day of 13th June, 2021 is a Professor of Philosophy. A Fulbright Scholar, former ASUU Chairman of UNIPORT and former Dean Students Affairs and a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress APC

THE FEAR OF PROF EFEMINI IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM IN SOME QUARTERS

If anybody can easily attest how fearless and intimidating this erudite Professor of Philosophy could be, Prof. Ndowa Lale the immediate past Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt is the right person to explain. The activities of Prof Efemini will ever remain ever green in the mind of Prof. Ndowa Lale for the number of years he is left to live in this planet.

In a well celebrated brawl between Prof. Ndowa Lale, and former Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNIPORT chapter, Prof. Andrew Efemini, an activist is a showcase of the toughness of Prof Efemini who has served as National Election Monitoring Officer with the INEC.

According to records available to me, Efemini accused Prof Lale, who took office on July 13, 2015, of financial impropriety, highhandedness, intimidation and incompetence and called for his immediate removal.

The ex-ASUU chair said he decided to petition the University’s Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Prof. Mvendaga Jibo, to end Lale’s “abuse of office and poor performance”.

This fighter against injustice in all its ramifications said:

“Prof. Lale criminally misled the Senate by not providing an approved schedule of fee in federal universities to the distinguished members. The fee schedule directed that the recommended fees for all students should be a maximum of N45,000 only”.

“The directive is that students coming into the university should be charged fees not exceeding N45,000, all inclusive. The circular warned against the collection of acceptance fee, but Prof. Lale collected N30,000 as acceptance fee from each student. Under the draconian VC’s watch, first-year students are charged N128,000, excluding non-statutory charges at the various faculties and departments.”

“In 2017, Prof. Lale, in pursuit of his ambition to see stooges and surrogates go to council, caused the withdrawal of elected internal members of council, who were yet to serve their statutory four-year tenure. In spite of protests, Lale ruled that two years in council for Senate representation is legal. Let him provide the law. Prof. Lale, after two years, conducted another election to council at the Senate on February 28. The tenure of four years, as stipulated in the university law, was violated”.

“Prof. Lale must be urgently removed from office and investigated to save the university from further highhandedness and damage. He cannot be in office as VC, while Senate necessarily reviews all cases of injustice to students, arising from his criminal concealment since 2015.”

Efemini also alleged that the VC and his illegal internal council members unleashed terror on him and some members of staff, especially lecturers who were opposed to his ruthless abuse of office.

Only a fearless fellow as captured by Mike Yaconelli in his quote above like Prof Efemini that could take this type of action. This action of course earned him underserved suspension and his salaries for months withheld by the University on the order of the out gone Vice Chancellor

Prof. Andrew Efemini narrating his ordeal under the draconian regime of Prof Lale stated;

“I want Nigerians to know that I am now a destitute, and suffering from health challenges caused by my unlawful suspension from UNIPORT that has now lingered for five months”.

“I have informed the university in writing that as a diabetic and hypertensive patient that my life is threatened by cut of my salary over my alleged incitement of students”.

“My health condition has further deteriorated as I cannot afford to buy drugs to attend to my health. I now live at the mercy of friends and well-wishers”.

“I have contemplated suicide severally with a suicide message for the Nigerian people on how a Professor or anybody at that should not be treated,” he said.

Efemini said he was being persecuted for his stance against management of UNIPORT for their alleged anti-student policies.

He said that management accused him of inciting students to protest hike of non-statutory charges leading to his arrest and detention by the police.

“The issue is that we needed the university to dialogue and find a compromise with students rather than sweeping the matter under the carpet”.

The outspoken lecturer said that he did not sponsor students to embark on protest, but had only urged management to dialogue with the students.

“I have written letters and have been appealing to them for five months now to recall me; as I no longer have money to attend to my deteriorating health,” he said.

Efemini said he needed at least N50, 000 monthly to buy insulin alone and that this excludes cost to run his family, urging Nigerians to come to his aid.

THE OPERA NEWS THROWS MORE LIGHT ON PROF EFEMINI

In an article titled, “Justice For Prof. Andrew Efemini and Other Lecturers in University of Port Harcourt” explained as follows:

Professor Andrew Efemini is a young vibrant and stern professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Port Harcourt. He has an enthusiastic teaching experience and profound undiluted love for students. He perhaps might be seen to have been unjustly and inhumanely affected by Prof. Lale the 8th Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt.

Prof. Andrew Efemini had intense legal battle that led to his suspension by the Prof. Ndowa led University of Port Harcourt.

Based on the current regime change in the University of Port Harcourt. It has become imperative that Justice for Andrew Efemini and other justice for other lecturers be considered by the Acting Vice Chancellor.

Prof. Andrew Efemini has been controversial and same time discretionary over the leadership style in Uniport but the Prof. Ndowa E. S. Lale could not understand Prof. Andrew Efemini like other Vice Chancellors.

“Truth is the cry of all, but few game of the few” ~ Bishop Berkeley

In the recent past, Prof AA has been in the news for counter allegations and allegations back and forth with the Prof Lale Led University of Port Harcourt management. The recent truce called by AA to Prof Lale though through the media is a welcome development.

Presently, Efemini is either suspended or suspended indefinitely. He has not been in the payroll of uniport since his disagreement with Prof Lale.

But one is tempted to ask why these heated quarrels and hate? Maybe Prof Lale do not really understand him. It is Efemini’s nature to argue as a philosopher which by my “personal” Prof Lale failed to realize as a manager. Lale forgot that he is first a manager in the office of the Vice-Chancellor thus should have been able to amicably address the lingering disagreements between himself and the erudite Professor.

Historical fact shows that AE by nature controversial, and always and always disagrees with Vice Chancellors. A brief synopsis shows that viz

AE started teaching in Uniport in 1991. By 1992, Andrew Afemini (AA) started participating in ASUU politics and was privileged to become the Chairman of Uniport Chapter from 2005 to 2010.

  1. Before becoming Chairman he recall disagreeing sharply with Prof. Theo Vincent at an ASUU Congress. It was about his call that we should end the 1992 strike.
  2. AE quarreled with Prof. Briggs over unpaid salaries due to ASUU strike and promotion criteria. One of the gains of our struggles is the fact that colleagues can move straight from the rank of Senior Lecturer to the rank of Professor.
  3. AE disagreed with Professor Baridam who inherited the promotion crisis. They obtained a strike approval from the national body and the Vice Chancellor in the presence of the Pro Chancellor agreed to suspend what his predecessor called “Satanic promotion guidelines”. Professor Baridam did not say over his dead body.
  4. Few people knew that AE resisted what is called then Abuja exploitation. A private company and a federal agency signed an agreement to charge N7000 and N5000 to each staff and student respectively. The federal agency got a number of universities including Uniport to sign into that scheme. He revolted against the agreement in spite of intense lobby and pressure. UNIPORT WAS REMOVED FROM THE ARRANGEMENT.
  5. AE insisted that Professor Baridam’s capital campaign where workers were expected to contribute part of their salaries for five years to the university should be optional.
  6. In 2009, AE revolted against the Federal Government in the “ridiculous” bus conduct experience. Can you believe this? The Vice Chancellor then only called him to say “my Chairman, that is not your portion”. His response was “it is my portion. As long as our salaries are ceased and government is failing to sign the agreement, they should expect more.”

Professor Lale raised the issue of his bus conductor as one of the allegations against him in 2017. According to Prof. Lale, AE protest then embarrassed the university.

  • AE protested in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Owerri, Enugu, etc so many times fighting oppression and exploitation.
  • Since, it is the nature and in the nature of Prof. Efemini to critic administrations, without hard feelings. We therefore call on the Acting Vice Chancellor Prof R. E. Ogali to consider setting-up panel to recall Prof Andrew Efemini and other lecturers who were suspended or sack in order to enhance equilibrium and tranquility in the system.”
  • REINSTATEMENT OF PROF EFEMINI

The plea and condition of Prof Efemini to the public and the University Management failed on deaf ears until God in his infinite mercy sent a DANIEL in person of Prof Stephen Okodudu as the new Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt to reinstate Prof Efemini accordingly.

In this regard, I sent this message to the new Vice Chancellor, titled, “Eze Commends UNIPORT AG VC, Prof Okodudu Over Rescuing Destiny Of Students *says reinstatement of erudite Prof. Efemini is an act of fairness and divine intervention” where I stated as follows:

According to the book of Proverbs chapter 29 verse 2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (New King James Version)

This inspired holy statement came into play in the affairs, students and staff of University of Port Harcourt when Prof Steve Okodudu was appointed as the Acting Vice Chancellor of the Institution. In this regard, as a righteous leader, he embarked upon actions that have brought peace and hope back to the University.

His peaceful conduct and action came into climax when he granted pardon to students of the University of Port Harcourt, whose futures have been stocked in limbo since 2016, when the institution implemented its policy on ‘No School Fees, No Examination’, which saw the fortunes of over 1,000 Students hanging on a scale.

Describing the grant of pardon as humane and an act of kindness, the party chief said the students may now hive a sigh of relief, adding that the VC’s gesture has laid to rest all speculations and uncertainties about their almost-dashed futures.

Eze reiterated that the students were unduly mistreated by the previous management which ignored appeals from all quarters, including the ruling of a competent Court of Jurisdiction, directing that the students be mobilized for the mandatory NYSC, having met all necessary requirements to be enrolled for the scheme.

Similarly, Chief Eze described the reinstatement of Prof. Andrew Efemini, to his position as worth commending, after many years of undue disengagement by the former management led by Prof. Ndowa Lale, whose only legacy is leaving the university, staff and students in ruins and melancholy.

Eze hailed Prof. Andrew Efemini for putting up muscle and a rare courage to absorb the shocks and difficulties that accompanied his years of gory travails, while appreciating the Ag. VC. for his determination to pursue noble objectives for the good and service of humanity.

He appealed to the University Management to also consider paying the backlog of salaries and emoluments owed Prof. Efemini, given the fact that his disengagement has remained a destitute of verifiable basis, as it was borne out of sheer witch-hunt, malice and hate.

Eze further reiterated that his good friend, Dr Mike Huckabee must have had the likes of Prof Steve Okodudu in mind when he expanded the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ on peace by postulating that, ” Blessed are the peacemakers.’ And I think a lot of people don’t understand that there’s a difference between a peace lover and a peacemaker. Everybody loves peace, but wearing jewelry around your neck and saying ‘I love peace’ doesn’t bring it.” Prof Okodudu has walked, worked and brought peace to University of Poet Harcourt and surely peace will forever follow him in all his endeavours, Eze maintained

From all these records and actions of Prof Efemini, you can agree with Mike Yaconelli and Mr. Carey Lohrenz that they had Prof Efemini in mind when they stated and I quote, “Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. Boldness is quiet, not noisy.”

MY ENCOUNTER WITH PROF EFEMINI AND CONCLUSION

I was admitted into University of Calabar in Cross Rivers State of Nigeria in 1985 to read Philosophy where Prof Efemini then was already in his second year in the same Department. By the end of my first semester in the University, I have become the most popular student in the Campus after leading the University Football to win the maiden edition of the NFA/PEPSI COLA Football Tournament amongst all the Higher Institutions in Nigeria.

Based on what and whom I was in the University the students then crowned me “Eze The Malabite’ indicating that I represents the struggle why the students from that University are called Malabites while the female students are called Malabresses.

With this accomplishment, I was elected unopposed as the University Director of Sports and based on my popularity in the University, I was lured to contest the President of the Philosophy Department where I met the irresistible and brainy young Andrew Efemini who was a class ahead of me as an opponent.

By the time we presented our manifesto, I have no other option to even vote for him and to his credit he brought a lot of changes to the Philosophy Department of UNICAL from where he started his unionism activities. When I say some one is brilliant, Prof Efemini is one fellow that Nigeria is yet to exploit his potentials.

After our days at UNICAL, I left to the North where I spent over twenty years before coming to Port Harcourt to meet this great Malabite in whom I am well blessed.

Prof Efemini as you celebrate your birthday today, it is my sincere prayer with my wife who was another great Malabress to wish you not only more fruitful years but sound health for better services to humanity.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HE WHO IS BETTER THAN ME. GOD ALONE WILL BLESS YOU FOR WHOM YOU ARE. CONGRATULATIONS THE PEOPLES PROF

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached thru, ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com or 08022049770

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