Opinion

X-raying technological feats, excellence in FUTO

It’s noteworthy that the current Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Eze is expected to graciously handover the mantle of leadership to his successor in June 19, 2021, having meritoriously served for five years starting from June 19, 2016. It would interest us to note that the entire FUTO Community was agog precisely on Thursday, March 17, 2016, following the emergence of Prof. F. C. Eze as the Seventh Substantive VC of the University, as was announced by the 10th Governing Council led by Dr. Emmanuel Enemuo after a series of rigorous interviews conducted by the Council among the aspirants made up of various well-celebrated professors.

Consequently, in June 19, 2016, he was successively enthroned as the 7th Substantive VC of FUTO, a position he holds till date. Upon his assumption to duty, he passionately initiated a mantra for his administration “Driving the Culture of Excellence” and vowed to uphold its content at all cost. Owing to his outstanding performance as the FUTO VC during his five-year tenure, various notable fora both in FUTO and beyond, in their respective capacities, have thought it wise to organize resounding receptions for the rare gem and academic Icon. Prof. Eze, a native of Amanato in Ideato-South LGA of Imo State – who is a professor of Experimental Solid State Physics and Material Science – obtained his first, Master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), University of Dundee, Scotland and also UNN, respectively.

Down the memory lane, after his Bachelor of Science, he worked as a banker before joining the academia towards actualizing his dream of becoming a distinguished academic and researcher. In his teaching career, he rose to become a veteran physicist.

He has authored and co-authored numerous academic journals, text books and articles, among other countless publications in Industrial Physics. He is the former President of Nigerian Institute of Physics (NIP) Writers’ Series, and also a Fellow of the notable institute.

Prof. F. C. Eze served as a two-time Head of the Department (HOD) of Physics in FUTO, and subsequently became the Dean of the School of Sciences (SOSC), which was later split into two separate faculties namely: School of Physical Sciences (SOPS) and School of Biological Sciences (SOBS) by the University’s Management.

Thereafter, he was recognized as the Director of the Nuclear Energy and Research Centre of the University, a position in which he relentlessly and doggedly showcased the best in him to the envy of his colleagues, both far and near. Due to his intimidating records and antecedents, in 2013, Prof. Eze was expectedly appointed as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) on Administration under the leadership of Prof. C. C. Asiabaka, the Sixth Substantive VC of FUTO, a post he held till June 2016.

He is a renowned member of various local cum international professional and social societies, and a Christian to the core to the glory of God. As a devout Catholic and one who had distinguished himself in both humanity and science, he was inducted into the Knighthood of the Saint John International (KSJI) many years ago. The soft-spoken and humble professor, who believes in actions than words, is happily married with four children.

Since he assumed office on 19th June 2016 as the Seventh Substantive VC of FUTO, the elegant and eloquent professor has never relented in carrying out his duties passionately despite challenges and what have you. He has overtime channeled his leadership prowess to only result-oriented initiatives. He understands the essence of open-door administration and equally grants anyone a listening ear regardless of the circumstance. This attribute alone makes hundreds of thousands of people attracted to his person.

As an administrator par excellence, he made frantic efforts to distance the FUTO Community from a political clime, by ensuring that the required processes are deployed whenever administrative issues or duties are being carried out. Prof. F. C. Eze is indisputably a well-experienced and passion-driven academic and leader.

This is why, under his reign, he ensured that academic matters are treated as priorities, hence always ready to grant the Student Union an audience each time they called on him with any concern. His administration equally maintained a cordial relationship with the Alumni body. This is why, under his tenure, the FUTO Alumni Association was able to establish her presence in the University.

The body initiated and completed various capital-intensive projects, ranging from Staff Quarters, Award of Scholarships, to the recent establishment of a 33KV Power-Line that ensures steady electricity supply within the shores of the University, among many others.

These couldn’t have been possible without the support of the outgoing VC. It’s worth noting that three different faculties were created under the watch of Prof. Eze as the FUTO VC, namely: the School of Information and Communications Technology, School of Electrical System Engineering Technology, as well as the School of Medical Sciences otherwise known as the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, which was approved a few months ago by the appropriate authorities after undergoing rigorous verification processes. In addition, three Centers of Excellence were duly established in the University under the reign of Prof. Eze.

They are: the Africa Centre of Excellence on Future Energies and Electrochemical Systems, powered by the World Bank; the Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Procurement, Environment and Social Standards Enhancement, also powered by the World Bank; and the Centre of Excellence on Local Materials Substitutions, powered by the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB). He further established the Centre for Waste to Wealth Research and Development in the FUTO Community, having understood the economic value of waste recycling. His wealth of wisdom also ensured the creation of the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) on Research, Development and Innovations, a section that has tremendously helped to write the University’s name in gold.

Little wonder his leadership mantra remains ‘Driving the Culture of Excellence’. Towards ensuring that the general public is kept abreast of happenings in the University, on a regular basis, via the social media channels, he created a Digital Section under the existing Information & Public Relations Unit. Little wonder he is widely referred to as a ‘Digital VC’. In spite of the paucity of funds occasioned by various factors, such as the Treasury Single Account (TSA), national economic recession, and the emergence of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Prof. F. C. Eze worked tirelessly to ensure that the FUTO Community received a face-lift as regards infrastructural development. Among many essential structures that were thoroughly renovated amidst the COVID-19 pandemic was the dilapidated Senate Building, which comprises the offices of countless administrative officers of the University, including the Principal Officers. The edifice in question is now obviously wearing an elegant new look.

In the area of human capital development, it is on record that since the inception of FUTO, Prof. Eze’s administration created the highest number of job opportunities for the teeming young Nigerians who had remained jobless for several years.

The welfare and wellbeing of the overall staff were constantly taken as priority despite the harsh economic situation, not until the emergence of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) whereby workers’ salaries and incentives are directly paid from the Office of the Accountant General. Among all, promotion of the staff has been handled with absolute seriousness. Acknowledging the essence of competence, the careerminded VC surrounded his administration with respected and competent academics and administrators, including the Heads of Departments, Deans of Studies, Directors of Centers, Coordinators of Units as well as the Principal Officers. At all times, he ensured that meritocracy supersedes favouritism while recruiting officers or individuals in various vacant positions.

He equally involved himself in activities that are devoid of politics. This could be attested to in the just concluded hitch-free rigorous exercise that saw the emergence of Prof. Mrs. Nnenna Oti as the 8th Substantive VC of the revered University, whose leadership era is meant to commence in June, 2021. Lest I forget; under Prof. Eze, countless students and staff of the University have won different kinds of laurels in the areas of technology, research, innovation and sports, just to mention but a few, due to the tireless supports and efforts of his administration. It’s worthy of note that the aforementioned numerous feats wouldn’t have been possible if the VC didn’t maintain a sound and cordial relationship with the 11th Governing Council of the University ably led by Prof. John Offem. It suffices to assert that the Council was pleased to have a man of his type as the FUTO VC and the Chairman of the University Senate.

These and many more outstanding achievements were what informed the decision of the numerous fora to individually put up outstanding reception for the outgoing VC, Prof. F. C. Eze. It’s therefore needless to say, that tomorrow, all roads will lead to Owerri as all and sundry are ready to honour and celebrate this leader who has indisputably distinguished himself in both academics and humanity.

 

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