By Chidi Emeagi
A popular saying: uneasy lies the head that wears the crown is indeed a wise saying and balm of sort that actually soothes the wound of many whose bodies are full of trauma inflicted on them by either external or within ‘enemies’ who don’t just like their leadership styles especially in public service.
I had wished to write on outrightly different topic, may be economy or security but my inner man kept reminding me of the above topic hence my resolve to write on one man and character in the academic leadership corridor in Nigeria that has been damn misunderstood and vilified unnecessarily but had remained undeterred and unwaivering in his vision and determination to move his institution forward. I am only referring to no less a person than Rev. Engr. Dr Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa current Rector, Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri.
Upon Arimanwa’s appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 and subsequent inauguration as the 8th Rector of Nekede Poly on 3rd October, 2018, the man of God and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Owerri hit the grounds running with visions and policies geared towards keeping the institution on the mountain top in terms of academic, infrastructural and administrative rating.
His appointment had been adjudged one of the best in Nigeria given the fact that it passed through all the litmus tests and transparent procedures devoid of any undue influence. The Rector was upon his inauguration, irrevocably committed to achieving his targets among which were the establishment of Smart Campus Initiative aimed at digitizing all activities on campus, school fees payment, transcripts, receipts, etc, keying into the e-learning system made possible with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, fighting against dearth of lecture halls and offices, training and retraining of teaching and non teaching staff both within and outside Nigeria and allowing some workers do short duration administrative, professional-leadership courses to enhance their productivity.
To the glory of God, Dr Arimanwa, a former Head Civil engineering department and Dean School of Engineering was able to achieve his initial set objectives within his first two years in office. The Rector has stopped at nothing in doing anything good for the 43 year old institution including upgrading the school medical centre to a full hospital. He also applied for and secured accreditation to commence internship programs in Dentistry, Optometry and Pharmacy. Arrangement are however on top gear towards making Federal Polytechnic Nekede Owerri a center for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Today as I write, the Institution under Arimanwa’s watch has zero tolerance for plagiarism, an academic crime rampant in even top flight universities in Nigeria and beyond. In this regard, text books, research works and other intellectual properties must have to pass through a special screening Committee to ascertain their originality and ownership before they are released to students and lecturers to make use of same.
Today, there are tens and dozens of projects scattered all over the campus funded either by Federal government or through the internally generated revenue of the institution made possible by Rector Arimanwa. Contractors and companies handling these products bided transparently and in strict observance of the Public Procurement Act, and other extant laws without interference by the Rector or his proxies.
Rev Arimanwa has no companies and has never attempted to use his highly elevated office to corner some projects either to himself, siblings or cronies. He has not being involved in any official scandal that has to do with budget padding or taking kick-backs from contractors handling projects in his Institution.
Dr Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa has actually raised the bar in academic leadership and should be seen as a model in the Polytechnic administration in Nigeria. But rather than being commended for this uncommon feat, there appears to be well orchestrated plans to rubbish this powerful intellectual and administrator per excellence by a few mischief makers and haters of order, using a handful of misinformed students and even non-students. Otherwise ordinary conventional administrative policies like “pay your fees before exams and prepare to take computer based exams” shouldn’t have sparked off controversies that could precipitate violent protests. A protest well coordinated that led to the shutting down of the school end of last year was not ordinarily the making of the students in the first instance.
The allegation of job racketeering and other sundry ill-advised confrontations on the management of Federal Polytechnic Nekede led by Rev. Dr Arimanwa were uncalled for and unnecessary if sincere scholars and other key stakeholders of Poly Nekede were actually working in concert and on same page with Rev. Chidi Arimanwa.
But despite all odds, and banana peels on the administrative high ways of Poly Nekede, an Arimanwa has remained unshaken, resolute and cut out for carrying out his visions anchored on positive development and urge to leave shining legacies of hope in the sands of time.
But I have one word for this revered Anglican cleric and Priest in charge of Church of Holy Spirit in Control, Owerri who was recently pronounced Canon of the Cathedral by the Bishop of Owerri Diocese, Most Rev. Dr Chukwuma Opara. The Rector should resist the temptation of suspending students and lecturers caught in the web of yet-to-be established indiscipline or those seen to be opposing his leadership style and policies.
His management should forgive and pardon such persons, again I advice that those already found wanting in many respects, should be given a second chance. By so doing, the man of God would be seen living the life of his master Jesus Christ who even unto death was eager and willing to plead forgiveness for those tormenting him.
I equally call on all those lecturers and students who glory in fomenting troubles to sheath their swords and place the interest and development of the best Polytechnic in Nigeria ahead their personal interests. There can only be one Rector at a time, and as it stands now, Rev. Dr. Engr. Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa, FNSE is still the Rector and he deserves some respect, regard and cooperation from all and sundry at Federal Polytechnic Nekede. Love they say is stronger than hatred and peace better than war.