Eke, Tue. Mar. 24, 2020:
Babs Fafunwa’s in-depth analysis in one of his books of how the first indigenous university in this country, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was founded gives credence to the above assertion.
The former education minister who was a Yoruba man gave graphic details of what transpired then. He was a pioneer student of the school that was established based on American model.
According to the late professor, to kickstart the school was a herculean task because of scathing campaign of calumny that characterized its formation.
He said when the Great Zik came up with this noble idea, Nigerians were pissied off! For there was only one university then, the premier university called the University of Ibadan.
Then it was affiliated to Cambridge University, London. And the certificate issued at Ibadan bore the name of that foreign university. And Nigerians were seeing it as a status symbol.
So when Azikiwe came with this ‘crazy idea’ of indigenous university, the educated class took the father of Nigerian nationalism to the cleaners! They wondered aloud how such a psychedelic project could fly.
The new university was a figure of fun. It was the butt of Nigerian jokes. The elites found it preposterous that tomorrow the school would start issuing out certificates that bore, as they morbidly put it, B.S.C Awo Oma Mma, M.A. Onicha etc!
But the trail brazer, Azikiwe was undaunted. Furthermore instead of Classics, Latin etc found in the curriculum of University of Ibadan, he introduced such novelties as Fine Arts, Faculty of Law etc.
But to begin with, providence made him to name the school University of Nigeria instead of belittling his pet project. Which many decades later became the envy of the Federal government when the University of Abuja was establised.
They wanted to usurp the name, and give it to Abuja University and rename that school, Nnamdi Azikiwe University but the Anambra State Govt. pre-empted that and quickly named their own school, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Oka. And the Federal govt had no option than to forebear and make do with the appellation University of Abuja for that modern school cited at the nation’s capital city!
And as I was saying, Zik was a man who saw tomorrow. The choice of Nsukka of all places for building of that school was a right one. The ambience was very clement because of hilly topography which gives it cool atmosphere for study.
And the people of Nsukka themselves, where the school is domiciled were very supportive. In their magnanimity, they gave Zik a very large expanse of land to try out his experiment.
And today they are the ones reaping the benefit the most. For what used to be a sleeping town became urban in a twinkling of an eye with everywhere bubbling!
This school is a national treasure of Igbo people. It symbolizes foresight, commitment and industry. And the founder himself used the lion as its logo, with this catchphrase FOR THE DIGNITY OF MAN!
Now when Ojukwu declared his ill-conceived Biafra, one of the first things he did was to rename the school, University of Biafra, and remove Zik as its chancellor! Can you imagine? He did not build any school but was poised to usurp the efforts of another. That was one of the main reasons why he did not go far.
After the school took off, it was moving in leaps and bounds. And 5 years on the dot, the national degree examination took place. To everybody’s chagrin, when the result came out, UNN students carried tops and at the same time, carried last.
They were found at the apogee and at the same time at the nadir. That is the students at the zenith were from Nsukka and again the students at the last rung were from the same Nsukka. And pundists found it difficult to explain!
Zik had done us proud. He proved bookmakers wrong. He was a trail blazer in virtually every aspect of human endeavour.
However, what I am insinuating is that the life of an Igboman is a paradox; that what happened at that first ever degree examination lent credence to this line of thought.
When you appraise the Igbo, you will find it difficult at the end of the day to say pin- pointedly that he is a genius or a daftie, because it is a confused medley; ama ife obu.
Take for instance the roll call of African-who-is- who. It is suffused with Igbo eggheads. Azikiwe, Achebe, the Okigbos, Enwonwu, Anyaoku, Chike Obi, Chinweizu, Power Mike, Ekwensi, Chimamanda Adichie, Chioma Ajunwa, Emegwali, Mary Onyali, etc.
Now consider their Joe Bloggs. Their activlties leaves a sour taste in the mouth. When you juxtapose the aforementioned with these con men, Uwazuruike and Kanu, you will be wondering if the duo is actually from the same ethnic stock.
However, if you go further to size up their followers, you will conclude erroneously that this jewel of a tribe has nothing to offer mankind!
The Teacher of The Igbo Revolution