Andy Egwunyenga: The audacity of hope

It was William Shakespeare who once stated “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” And whatever means through which one becomes great is predicated upon the influence he has and the contribution he has made within and outside his environment.

Andy Ogochukwu Egwunyenga is an erudite professor of Parasitology, a Public Health Consultant, and the vice-chancellor of Delta State University DELSU) Abraka, had his greatness achieved on the altar of hope and he is contributing massively to better his environment.

The Issele- Uku, Delta State-born, even as a child was outstanding among his colleagues, always visualising hope and need to be resourceful in everything he did. And as he grew from different parts of the country, he imbibed different cultural traits of different peoples, thus giving him a broad national outlook that discourages ethnocentrism.

Academically, he developed himself by exposing himself to different aspects of administration, as director of the Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (ISLT), membership of Government and International Organizations, chairman of ASUU, Delta State University (DELSU) chapter, and later, the Rector of Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi-Uku which he turned around within a short period.

Like a marble in the ivory tower, Egwunyenga is very conversant with the university environment and its problems, thus putting him in a position to articulate workable solutions to the issues that ‘plague’ the university and its host communities.

Just like Vincent Van Gogh would say, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” It was not surprising that as soon as the university don assumed the position of vice-chancellor two years ago (December 1, 2019), he hit the ground running. His six-point programme of building an effective and motivated workforce, the pursuit of innovation using ICT, strengthening faculties departments and units, emphasis on the welfare of students, improvement of the revenue base, and applying a new approach to university administration and governance has provided a compass for his administration.

First and foremost, he brought down the tension in the university by addressing many cases of injustice against staff and students by setting up committees that thoroughly and expeditiously addressed such issues, thus giving many justices and making them feel part of the system.

A thorough-bred academic, Prof. Egwunyenga from the outset of his administration, emphasized the need to be innovative, using the opportunities of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution. He directed that all staff should be registered with Google scholar to enhance the university visibility since knowledge must be shared to be useful.

Such a step has indeed made DELSU more visible and enhanced the university rankings. At the moment the university is ranked 31st among Nigerian universities and 8th among state universities. Embedded in his quest to evolve a new approach to university administration and his transparent and prudent management of scarce resources, especially in the ivory tower community where funding is fragile made DELSU standout as the best.

On assumption of office, he noticed the deficit in an academic staff position and decided to do something about it, look inwards! He encouraged non-teaching staff with requisite qualifications who were interested in teaching to apply for conversion. All candidates were properly screened and those found worthy were converted to academic staff.

Thereafter, an orientation programme was organized for them, along with the newly employed staff, totalling sixty-five for the very first time in the history of the university.

During the Covid-19 outbreak which was quite a challenging period for the Prof. Egwunyenga management team, he saw hope in the face of the delusional challenge and took the bull by the horns. Tapping from his digital ‘arsenal’, he summoned the enterprising ICT directorate of the university and challenged them to come up with a digital platform to meaningfully interact with the students during the lockdown and even beyond. Such a challenge produced the DELSU Learning and Management Systems (DLMS) which facilitated distance learning at the period. The university survived without disrupting its academic calendar for 2019/2020.

In fact, in the past two years, he has received a deluge of awards and favourable mentions. One of such awards came from the African Union Parliament (ASOP) who honoured him with the prestigious Pan African Prize of Excellence for his ‘’doggedness and result-oriented administration which has culminated in the recent repositioning of the university in less than two years of being in charge as Vice-Chancellor’’.

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The Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities was impressed with DELSU and its chief executive for ‘’your contribution to the development of the Eagle scan Plagiarism Detection Software’’ writes DELSU News, the official, magazine of the university. A non-governmental organization, Global Hope and Justice Inc. bestowed on him an award of excellence as a ‘’Champion of Empowerment and Disability Inclusion in Nigeria’’.

Besides, the mainstream media in Nigeria have continued to appreciate the contributions of the scientist of note at Abraka. On July 10, 2021, Sunday Vanguard cited Prof. Egwunyenga in its Special Section tagged ‘’Outstanding Vice-Chancellors Series’’. Describing him as ‘’Visionary Champion of a Modem Citadel’’, the newspapers praised him for his innovation, projects, the welfare of staff and students, the enhancement of the university rankings, among others.

Just days after the Sunday Vanguard Publication, The Guardian under its ‘’Special Focus on most Inspirational Personalities in Nigeria’’ described Prof. Egwunyenga as a ‘’resourceful scholar, putting vision to work at DELSU’’. On November 11, 2021, the Association of Community Newspapers Publishers Delta State Chapter also conferred on him an award for his outstanding contribution to academic and infrastructural development in the university community, among others.

With boldness and confidence, Prof. Egwunyenga is set to give DELSU an enlightened and committed leadership, as he has pledged to continue to do his best for the university until his last day in office. His promise to lead, inspire and advance DELSU in all ramifications remains his guiding principle.

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