Unveiling The Talisman Of Professor Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele As He Cut His Overactive Teeth As IAUE Vice Chancellor

Though, human capital resources are the the pivot on which the fortune of any nation rests, getting competent and result-oriented leaders to implement visions has been a challenge to organizations all over the world.

The magnetic nature of success finds expression in Professor Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele’s zeal in rebirthing Ignatius Ajuru University Of Education (IAUE); an institution which could barely obtain a pass mark by any of the parameters used in measuring standards with other universities across the globe.

The hostile realities Professor Ndimele have had to contend with was poor infrastructure worsened by porous security; dying initiatives to uphold entrepreneurship spirit; dearth of finance, inept leadership styles; ailing relationship between host community and the institution; poorly motivated staffs; and epileptic power supply.

Considering the issue of Information, Communication and Tell (ICT) which is the modern day lifewire of 21st century institutions, IAUE was still dangling on the colourless carrot of transformation. On Alumni which was supposed to churn bogus finance to the institution was instead used as a den of acrobatic and horse-trading politics.

All these irksome issues and many more proves that he who must bet the ranch on realities bedeviling the institution must first, be willing to roll his sleeves and plunge into the murky water of development especially in an environment where uncertainty which has begotten unmitigated misery, unredeemed by one extenuating circumstance was the only guarantee.

He must also be ruthless in his tactics if he must append his name on the indelible sands of time in IAUE.

Professor Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele however, by accepting to lead an institution beleaguered with expensive and somewhat unsolvable problems, with flickers of hope not visible on the horizon has thus proven beyond measure that he is capable of handling any task no matter how turbulent the environment may be.

DEALING WITH THE ALBATROSS HEAD ON

The saying that “change is the only constant thing in life” will always be true. Whether for an individual, family, business, entity, community or nation.

The change that has erupted IAUE in the last five years can be likened to a volcanic eruption with it’s ashes and lava spreading at a terrific speed of light.

In the wake of it all, the roadmap has adequately signaled, and highlighted the commitment of Prof. Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele administration to getting things right.

The upgrade and expansion of projects to all planks of the institution has placed the institution on the same academic rollercoaster among the comity of other institutions thereby instilling unstinted confidence to compete favourably. His ability to script out a development roadmap and effectively implement same has vindicated his inaugural (acceptance) speech as the 2nd Vice Chancellor of IAUE.

In his words ” I came prepared for this job. God sent me here for a purpose. If I perform well, more doors will be open. It is 5 years of combatant administration. There will be no rest until we meet the target. If the University refuses to move for whatever reason, I am sorry, WE MUST ALL PUSH IT.

This University will be prosperous; staff and students will be happy and our products will be proud”.

Having displayed some charismatic nature of a pragmatic leader of sort and a man destined to build an empire, Professor Ndimele’s first task was to conquer the insecurity behemoth disrupting academic activities.

In other words, his overriding aim was to purge the institution from every form of insecurity emanating from cult related activities and secure a safe haven for both staffs and students. Although, this was not achieved overnight as cultism appeared to have eaten deep into the fabrics of IAUE students. To burst the bubbles of cult related activities which has brought the institution to its Achilles heel and render it to a standstill for some donkey years, an amnesty was granted to students who were ready to loosen themselves from the shackles of cultism.

The logical results here was that this gesture made many students to turn a new leave as well face their studies. For those swimming in an unrepentant river wanting to test it’s depth with two of their feets, hence refused to take necessary precautions by embracing change.

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They were shown the exit door. Some where suspended for as many years as the degree of their offences would serve them after their level mates must have graduated and left them behind. Oh! What a shame!

In an effort to deepen quality academic delivery and to stay afloat in an ever competitive academic environment, the Post Graduate Programme was introduced barely one year after occupying the Vice Chancellorship position.

The bellicosity and vigor channeled towards the realization of this vision has berths its ruthless efficiency and effectiveness with the Post Graduate Programme becoming the toast of the Niger Delta Region.

Leveraging on data and technology as levers to meeting the 21st Century demands, students of IAUE now have limitless access to Information on their fingertips via the use of smartphones and sensors thereby creating a rapid smart academic environment.

The culminating result is the pool of digital connectivity and interoperability between the academic environment, staffs and the students. Going by this, saying that Professor Ndimele is a digital Vice Chancellor to the core is simply to reiterate the obvious.

Just as it is a truism to say that motivation which can come in any form such as remuneration and incentive systems must be in tandem to whet the appetite of both staffs and students in order to squeeze out the best from them.

The Ndimele led administration have made many consolidated imprint on humans working for the institution. First, he promoted both junior and senior lecturers who were long overdue for it.
Secondly, his beam of goodwill has also radiated on the faces of non academic staffs and casual workers.

In this regard, the consummate tupocratic Professor had inherited backlog of salaries owed to casual workers. In the twist of an event, this debts have been cleared and there has been an upward review of their salary structure.

Thirdly, under his administration, a humongous number of fire eating academic Professors have emerged. There is hardly a month that passes by that the institution does not unveil a Professor through her inaugural lectures.

The inaugural lecture which serves as the last ritual for every institution’s Professors have been used as an opportunity to unravel the stuffs Professors in IAUE are made of as they appear on robe of honour to profess in their field before they are inducted into the leagues of academic immortals.

Furthermore, to ensure that Dean’s of Faculties are up and doing in carrying out there respective elephantine tasks, official cars was recently presented to them to cruise their way to more productivity. No longer will they walk under the scorching sun.

Through his sheer benevolent dispositions in motivating students, academic performance have been honed to sharp razor edge. This is generally epitomized through what I call “Ndimele’s Generous Golden Handshake” accompanied with one million naira (1,000,000) for the best graduating students of IAUE yearly.

It is worthwhile to note here that the chief academic officer of IAUE is also a great lover and sympathizer of the commoners. Through his annual Vice Chancellor’s Scholars Award, more than 600 students with sound academic record have benefited immensely through a cash reward. This alone has skyrocketed a potent academic competitiveness amongst students.

Still teetering on the premise of motivation, it will be very preposterous without bringing to the fore how he once displayed his kindness by decorating a level 100 student of the department of political science as “IAUE” student of the year after he picked and returned a smart phone to the owner even though himself does not own a phone. Same student was offered a certificate of honour and a four year scholarship covering his tuition and upkeep. All these efforts and many more was geared towards reinventing the will of progress through honesty and discipline.

An unbiased observer, judging from the glaring successes recorded on both staffs and students empowerment will unhesitatingly concede more praises to the workaholic Professor.

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So far, Prof. Ndimele have been able to diffuse “leadership” from “management” through his multifaceted patterns. He has evolve a leadership structure that would entail being interactive, non restrictive, emphasizing teamwork and collaboration that will engender collective shared responsibilities for the University’s overall success.

A glance at the developmental strides registered already at a new layout called “NEW HAVEN” will unequivocally reconfirm that the distinguished Professor of Comparative Grammar and Communication has combined brilliance with the sophistication of good administration.

The “NEW HAVEN” houses several eye-catching ultramodern buildings such as Hostels, Staff Quarters, 32 units Shopping Mall, Faculty of Business Studies, Research and Development Centers, Departmental Office, Post Graduate lecture complex amongst others. Without mincing words, it is hardly necessary to sketch any of the ultramodern buildings erected in IAUE without tying it to the apron-string of Prof Ndimele’s magic hands.

Added to the above was the complete transformation of entrepreneurship spirit in the institution. Before the assumption of office of this administrative maestro, IAUE have rallied round and depended mainly on its Alumni, private individuals, TEFT fund and state government for funding before any meaningful building can be erected.

This is no longer the case as the institution’s internally generated revenue (IGR) has swelled to an unimaginable extent. Many dormant economic department like Home Economics, Fine and Applied Arts and other departments in the faculty of Vocational and Technical Education had long been converted to a beehive of business activities and a testing ground for new venture ideas with the Post Graduate School swinging the IGR to a proportionate height.

Another significant point value scored by this intuitive leader was the complete overhaul of the ding-dong relationship between the university and her host community. Through Prof. Ndimele’s diplomatic wizardry in action, major stakeholders from host community now partake in decision making on critical issues as it burgeons the institution. This has yielded a win-win and more positive outcomes in terms of security and employment opportunities for both the institution and host community.

No other description could reasonably depict more the quality of a great leader. In the realm of administration, Professor Ndimele has been able to drag a big wedge on staffs indiscipline and moral decadences among students which has for long sucked life out of the institution’s reputation. Some of the issues that featured prominently in the nexus of these two elusive butterflies were examination malpractice, sex for grade, sorting, indescent dressing, negative attitude to work amongst others. Those found wanting have been made to pay heavily as well.

The crux of Ndimele’s administrative trend reached a climax after he established a Distance Learning Institute (DLI), the very first of it’s kind in the South-South region. The Institute which was designed to partner with University of London and V.N. Karazin Khartiv National University, Ukraine with established study centers. The programme so far offers students admission here in Nigeria for 2 years while they are to spend the remaining years overseas.

The era of Covid-19 will forever remain inexpungible on the minds of many after sending out it’s aftershooks and reverberating across institutions around the globe. School calenders were adversely interrupted in all ramification. It will be shocking to reveal that the academic calendar of IAUE was mildly disrupted due to the fact that normal teaching and learning was on.

All thanks to the digital Vice Chancellor who had trained the institution’s lecturers on how to use zoom and other social media outlets to carry out teaching and learning activities and also distributed gadgets to them long before the pandemic became a global monster. Little wonder other institutions are now trying to catch up with the academic calendar of IAUE. Prior to the pandemic, IAUE have used some of the institutions as benchmarks and academic compass. With the look of things, the reverse is now the case.

With many things already in great quantum, other areas he has laid gigantic strides includes, consistent power supply to the institution; attraction of highly reputable individuals as is the case of the General Overseer of Salvation Ministries, David Ibiyeomie whose 500 million naira donated was used for building the Salvation Ministries Female Hostel; human capital development through training and development of staffs on strategic leadership roles; strengthened Alumni Association and getting a node from Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) to award full degree on Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) instead of the traditional Bachelor of Science in Education (B.Sc Ed). Same has ushered in new departments that is in synchrony with the times with many more on the way.

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Never has he hidden his feelings on ushering in new faculties such as “Faculty of Law and Medicine” but the delay from the State’s House of Assembly in getting this approved has slowed progress. Moving the Faculty of Business Studies from St.Johns, Aba Road to the main campus, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt was yet another great achievement registered by Professor Ndimele.

Although, many of his success story wasn’t cooked overnight and served hot at dawn, but it really reminds us of the ancient quote “Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way”. It also tells us the power derived when we combine the element of determination and hardwork to what we want to achieve without loosing our gaze on our objectives, we will certainly reach them.

OUR GREATEST FEARS AFTER THE MICROPHONE GOES OFF: SUSTAINING THE LEGACIES AFTER NDIMELE BOWS OUT

As the baton of Vice Chancellor of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUE) is handed over to another today. The biggest question that has continued to creep into the minds of onlookers is “As the microphone goes off, what next”?

Beyond the bragging rights the institution now enjoys as being one of the best especially through her Post Graduate Programme, sustainable leadership will be very imperative more than any one thing to convey the institution from where Professor Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele has driven it to. Hopefully, never again shall we pass through the old route; we did because we had no choice.

The one who has taken over from him must be willing to recap where we are coming from as this is the only way to develop the impetus for where we will be going. Was Ndimele’s recrudescence an Ineluctable one, so many would have clamoured for his continuation. But again, reality is what it is. If our systems is one that truly reward exceptional leaders, then, the likes of Professor Ozo-Mekuri ought to have continued or better still, be given more responsibilities.

The major problem facing the country generally is not only to build a system, but to sustain it. Some had built a system for years only for it to go down the drain because of lack of continuity. In most cases, finding a system to build has always been a hard nut to crack. I am sure the one who haa taken over from Professor Ndimele will be very grateful because of the blueprint he has x-rayed. Expectations will be high on his side no doubt.

To answer the above question, it is necessary to sketch that whosoever that want to fit in perfectly on Ndimele’s shoe size legacies most first borrow a leaf from his administration.

He should try to analyze the past failures; greatest fears; human errors and omissions that hinder the realization of set objectives; policy lapses; unrealized aspirations; loopholes and mistakes from the outgoing Vice Chancellor. While following the out going Vice Chancellor’s policies is applaudable, it will be more than eulogizing to also imbibe the spirit behind the success of Professor Ozo-Mekuri Ndimele.

This will provide a reliable compass to effecting corrective changes that reinforce system efficiency.

The staffs and students also have a duty to play. Since they will all be on the same vehicle of the new Vice Chancellor, they must sound the alarm bell when the value that brought the institution to limelight is being tampered with. Everyone must put on their performance conveyors seat belt if they must win the sustainability war.

Martins Onyegbula is a P.hD Scholar in Organizational Behaviour, Department of Management in Ignatius Ajuru University Of Education

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