By Abuchi Onwumelu
Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, has debunked what they described as relocation outcry.
It will be recalled that the social media was recently awash with a voice message by a female who claimed to be a final year student of the school in which she alleged that the authorities of UNIZIK were endangering their lives by forcing them to do their Agriculture practicals in a dangerous area of the state at the risk of being kidnapped or raped by herdsmen, even when the practicals could have taken place anywhere else.
But a release signed by Peter C. Nnabude, PhD, Professor of Soil Science and Pioneer Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, stated thus, ”My attention has been drawn to a voice, purportedly by a 400 level UNIZIK student, abusing the Vice-Chancellor and the Dean of Agric and alleging all manner of evil that would be unleashed on them should the planned relocation to Ifite Ogwari be allowed.
”Needless to say that the voice cry was a sponsored effort by mischief makers whose aim is to distract the VC from his determined effort to actualise the University’s plan to establish a model Faculty of Agriculture.
”For the records, the idea of a Faculty of Agriculture at Ifite Ogwari/Umueje was a well thought out plan taken into consideration the peculiar demands of the Faculty which include availability of 150 hectares of arable land, water for irrigation and fishery purposes, as well as availability of critical infrastructure for Agriculture.
The average adult from Eastern Nigeria knows that the area in question constitutes the hub of Agricultural operation in THE former Eastern Nigeria and now Anambra State.
”It is therefore unimaginable how a 400 level student who knows little or nothing about Anambra State could mislead well-meaning and responsible men and women of the state and even beyond.
”For the records, it is important to inform the public of the unique and agricultural peculiarities of the area described by the so called 400 level student as ‘thick forest and a den of kidnappers’.
”Ifiteogwari, Umueje and, in fact, all the towns that make up Ayamelum LGA, constitute the catchments of the well-established Anambra Imo River Basin Authority, with headquarters at Omor.
”The biggest and most sophisticated irrigation pump station is located in Ifiteogwari.”
The statement further stated that the biggest irrigation project in the whole of South East and South South was located in Ayamelum with water sourced from the Ifiteogwari pump station through a network of canals.
It said also that the biggest rice mill project was located in Omor, less than 10 minutes’ drive to Ifiteogwari/Umueje.
”Before now, Anaku, a neighbouring town, had been a home to sophisticated farms, including the Ekene dili Chukwu Farms; Rojeny Farms, and presently, the well-known and popular Coscharis Rice project. These projects predate by far the establishment of the Faculty of Agriculture in the Ayamelum LGA,” the statement said.
It contended that those were factors considered by the University Management in 2006 under Professor Ilochi Okefor, SAN, as the Vice-Chancellor, in her decision to site the Faculty of Agriculture at Ifiteogwari/Umueje.
It said the proposal passed through and received approval by the relevant organs of the University, notably the Senate and Council.
It also said that in 2010, under Professor Boniface Egboka as the Vice-Chancellor, the University applied and received approval from the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence academic activities temporarily in Awka.
The statement said the NUC team that visited the location was so impressed with the agricultural potentials of the Ifiteogwari/Umueje site that it did not hesitate to recommend approval.
”Many of our senior professors are witnesses to the resource verification visit to the area. Logically, eleven years after take-off, the University has been able to establish a visible presence at Ifiteogwari with the full compliments of basic infrastructure in compliance with the demands of the National Universities Commission (NUC). This should attract strong commendation by any reasonable person.
‘The ignorance or mischief of the so-called 400 level student should now be clear to all. Parents and well-meaning members of the public should please ignore these distractors and support the efforts of the Vice-Chancellor and the Dean of Agriculture in the good work they are doing.
‘Security concerns are not peculiar to any location in the country. After several months of stay in the area by our technical team, comprising our academic staff, technologists and students, the area was adjudged very safe and secure.
The sponsored campaign by selfish and mischief makers are mere ploys to distract our hard working and focused Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charles Okechukwu Esimone, and the indefatigable Dean of the Faculty, Professor Ernest Igwe, and should be ignored by the good people of Anambra State in particular and the general public,” the statement read.