– Samuel Ayara
A total of 15 American Presidents have attended an ivy league school, including every president since Ronald Reagan. This more than a bragging right has provided a platform for peer review, attempting to foist the belief that true leadership capabilities are internalized in every alumnus of such institutions. The world has been brought to the point of doubting if a non-ivy league alumnus can do better if blessed with the fortune of occupying the oval office. Whether in the America’s ivy-league or the United Kingdom’s Rusell Group, every attempt at thinking these institutions as inconsequential in leadership always throws up pessimists who would pay more for the experience.
Ghana in the last sixty-three years has produced about fourteen Presidents, both military and democratically elected. Of these bunch, four are alumni of the University of Ghana, Legon, while three had at least a Doctorate. Across the globe are academic institutions that have done well enough at repositioning leadership in their clime to earn the reputation as breeding grounds for the kind of leadership they desire.
Tales of how much education shapes the character of leaders around the globe abound, though Nigeria at present still seems grossly inadequate in conversations that point to how much educational institutions impact people who find themselves in leadership positions. Nigeria’s case in presenting as a different call lends credence to the fact that majority of Nigerian Presidents have braved opaque academic histories to emerge, save for Umaru Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan, who were alumnus of Ahmadu Bello University and University of Port Harcourt, respectively.
Others have argued that military academies provide more training than conventional universities to save the day for leaders who rose through the military persuasion, this will be a matter for another day. But from what is thought the rubbles of Nigeria’s educational endeavour comes the strive by tertiary institutions to prepare their alumni for leadership positions, as a mark of their dominant imprimatur. This they could consider a measure that justifies the worthiness of their learning and character.
With first-generation universities considered to have done well at producing sub-national leaders, second generation universities despite reporting late for the party of institutions that have produced state governors are bracing to break even. The University of Calabar produced its first and second with Chief Godswill Akpabio and Prince Bassey Otu. This may not be such a good record, but overburdening the gains of producing old students that have achieved commendable flights will only amount to emphasizing the obvious.
The little above three decade-old University of Uyo at the 2023 gubernatorial election secured some bright moments when most of the frontrunners reported as its alumni. At the close of polls it came big with an alumnus that more than breezed through its four walls, found sufficient amity in its academic offerings to stick on for post graduate studies. Never having it so good underscores the poise in their defense against the malicious scrutiny of Governor Umo Eno’s academic records at the ongoing governorship election petition tribunal.
Deserving a mention is the hard fact that only Governor Umo Eno exited the 2023 gubernatorial race with no liabilities. Senator Bassey Albert and Obong Akan Udofia, first and second runner up in the March 18 poll are respectively battling to disentangle from the Federal High Court conviction recently upheld by the Appeal Court or get the Independent National Electoral Commission to even accept their candidacy. This gingers the urgency on why the gains of the golden era should not be distracted or wanked away by people who place political correctness above general good. It is time for all University of Uyo alumnus of goodwill across political persuasions, to live the letters of the Unity, learning and service call of the institution’s motto by supporting Governor Eno deliver unhindered, the ARISE Agenda mandate. This could just be all they can do for the institution that made them, nothing more.
Narrowing down on the twist in the case against Governor Umo Eno, the sanest query for his traducers should be how a politically non-exposed person who enrolled for a Masters and Doctorate degree programmes in the same faculty he is alleged to have been expelled got past the rigorous entry and exit checks. With a long pole, not many would attempt this question, because in politics, everything is allowed, including expecting the University to act aloof while its name and character is impugned; of the truth, the conspirators never saw the university coming in their dealings with the wannabe university staff.
The outcry against the move by the university to protect its brand is expected, as much as there are people who are sympathetic to the cause of politicians that seek to write a non-existent history. The University of Uyo like every institution that understands its onions, including the Chicago State University, Chicago USA which in the wake of the doubts cast on President Bola Tinubu’s academic record, switched the debate to a tasteless menu; is on track to have come through for Akwa Ibom’s fifth elected Governor and Uniuyo’s first alumni Governor as one they justly found worthy in learning and character. In Eno’s case the entire management, staff, alumni and students will not be misfiring in rising to defend their own, to preserve another from falling victim to evil political machinations.
The governor’s choice of ARISE Agenda as campaign theme, resonates with the Arise and Shine lyrics of the university anthem, which may not divorced from the sentiments of his being soaked in convictions from the Tusker Republic. This is enough to agree he has spent considered time around the institution to allow its flag fly, even in his ideologies. Like the anthem in its first stanza charges, “…raised from nursery to its apogee now stand like a giant in the African sun, arise, arise great Uniuyo”; Professor Nyaudo Ndaeyo, University of Uyo’s first alumnus Vice Chancellor, must have out of the loneliness at the top understood the need to go all out in defense of another who has become the institution’s first state Governor. They will neither retreat nor surrender for daredevils.
Who will not defend an alumnus that is consciously ticking the right boxes in governance against untoward characters who would not mind setting the state on fire with phantom tales in quest for power? Were Akwa Ibom people not law abiding we probably would have been contending with a civil unrest against agents who seek to arm-twist us of a gift so humane and rewarding. This is not to say that if the inanity persists, the city will not soon wake to an “allow Akwa Ibom breathe” advocacy. Having picked a king in our leadership game, nothing will force us into shuffling the pack; the people now more than ever know so much to settle for a joker. Akwa Ibomites, as with Governor Umo Eno and the University of Uyo have risen.
Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak LGA.