I am one of Dr.Eze A.Eze’s students. He started lecturing my 200 level class on Statistics in the first semester of the 2015/16 session. Personally, I started understanding Statistics better when he began to teach us and during his teachings, he is used to taking every one along and simplifying the whole learning process step by step. I have always talked to my friends about Dr.Eze A. Eze, and how he would always advise us in class to engage our brains in thinking rather than just talking and making noise.
One of my inspiring part of the interview was when Dr. Eze told me that he has actually noticed that I was very unique in class, but he is still surprised, because he doesn’t know my uniqueness is up to this level – interviewing good and principled citizens of Nigeria. I really appreciated this.
I have observed that he takes his lectures seriously, always endeavors to be in class and does his best to encourage us to study our books. I have also noticed that he feels bad when he sees his students fail.
Dr. Eze A.Eze, is a Lecturer of Economics at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and hails from Uburu in Ohaozara LGA, Ebonyi State, Nigeria. Meet him in the following interview.
Who influenced you in having a right attitude towards your job?
It has to do with my upbringing. My parents were disciplined – my late father was a graduate of Agricultural Science, a Tutor at Christ the King College(CKC), Onitsha in the early 1970s and joined the then East Central State Ministry of Agriculture just before the creation of Imo State in the mid-1970s and retired as a Director in Ebonyi State civil service in 1999. As a person, he was a stickler for perfection in his work, having been trained in the best moral traditions of Hope Waddel Training Institute (HWTI), Calabar; Macgregor College, Afikpo and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He was and remained the quintessential civil servant of the old school, to whom bribery and corruption was abhorrent. My late mother was a teacher and a pillar of support in the family.
Back then when I was a student in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, our Lecturers were disciplined and respected us and we respected them in return, hence the principles I abide by.
Above that, it is the discipline you give to yourself that keeps you going because it is one thing to be trained by disciplined parents and it is another to be carried away by peer group pressure. Role modeling is another contributory factor; if you model yourself well, you would always want to improve yourself as each day passes.
As a person, I love reading, logic and scientific reasoning and always want to advance my knowledge of the environment because there is a link between every individual on planet earth and the cosmos. This is a little story about my determination in the pursuit of knowledge;
When I graduated in Economics at UNN, I got a job immediately after Youth Service. I was one of the 24 out of over 7000 applicants who got employed in the defunct Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) Nigeria Limited in the mid-1980s. But that was not enough.So I got admissionfor an MBA in Banking and Finance which I completed at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC). I also enrolled to study Law at UNEC in 1999. It was a part time course and I ran the Law program from Lagos, by utilising my vacation periods for the semester examinations even as I managed the Idumota branch of FSB International Bank Plc.
I knew I wouldn’t feel good if someone told me that I was just a ‘bank worker’ and not a professional Banker. Banking should be a serious profession steeped in integrity. A banker’s word should be his bond. Discipline and ethical conduct should pervade the persona of those entrusted with the safety and security of the society’s wealth. So I did professional training and qualified as an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. I have just remembered that I am yet to apply for the Fellowship of the body.
I went ahead and did my masters in Economics at the University of Port Harcourt when I was refused admission for a PhD based on my MBA. Two years after the M.Sc, I was admitted for my Ph.D in Economics in the same Uniport while serving as the Regional manager of Consumer Banking, Fidelity Bank Plc. I was among the five, out of 26 that started, who graduated in regulation time in the 2011/12 session despite the fact that I conducted the last two sessions from Liberia where I was the General Manager of First International Bank Liberia Limited.
I left Liberia not only to ensure proper defense of my PhD dissertation before the external examiner, Professor Akpakpan but also to ensure I got admission to the Nigerian Law School for the 2012/2013 professional session. And to the glory of God, I was in the pioneer set that started the Yola campus and was subsequently called to the bar as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on November 28, 2013.
On May 15 2014, I joined this department as a Lecturer and here we are – two years down the line.
Reasons you have a disciplined character while doing your job.
Back then when I was in the banking industry, I noticed that each time we called for interviews, I usually got disappointed with the shallow outputs of very many candidates who presented themselves as graduates of Economics and having passed even in second class upper division.
First, I see it as laziness on the part of the students because they should always be humble and hungry to learn. But students hardly buy textbooks or study the texts from cover to cover as was the case in the days of ‘almighty June’ – 9 to 12 credit load courses. Second, I see lapses in the educational inputs approach whereby students are spoon fed with minimalist course content. The ideal system is meant to equip students with the discipline, attitude and aptitude to think critically, guided by the rules of evidence. Education should be for living and not for mere certification as appears to be the case with us presently. Instead of covering the course outline, students cheat themselves by trying to box their lecturers into specifying areas of concentration, just to pass examinations, instead of understanding the courses thoroughly and equipping themselves with the information, knowledge and tools which will make them entrepreneurs, employable graduates and positive change agents in the larger society.
The foregoing has made me to always insist that students should concentrate on education for understanding and living, and not for certification, through the application of the‘first principles approach’ in my lectures. I have always tried to bring interdisciplinary, cross functional and multi-tasking competences to bear on my engagements with students. I never fail to let them know that they need to be prepared to face the existential challenges out there in the wider world. As a matter of fact, I usually insist that if they are serious and diligent, there should be no difference between them and products of London School of Economics because those ones do not have two heads.
Another reason I tend to have a positive/disciplined approach towards my job is because it is expected that one should be honest and not engage in plagiarism. Even when I was in the banking industry, I did my best to ensure that I wasn’t involved in immoral or unethical acts, and by God’s grace, I practiced banking without blemish.
To stand on this narrow path of discipline takes extraordinary effort and determination because some people may even pressure you into‘if you cannot beat them, why not join them?’
What is your advice to other Lecturers?
Sincerely, not everyone can possess the moral fibre to resist the malevolent spirits in the society whose values have become warped and distorted. The system appears to encourage obedience of the ‘eleventh commandment’- thou shall not be caught. Honour and respect is reserved not for those who engage in labours of love but for political and economic predators that fleece the society and impoverish the common man. But to enable you stay the course, you need to be tough with steely resolve to succeed,in spite of odds; your upbringing also needs to be tough. In addition to passion to impart knowledge to the younger generation, you must have other legitimate sources of income. The embarrassingly poor compensation scheme in the Universities can not attract and retain superior quality Lecturers with the right attitude.
You should also read about Rev. Sister Uzonwanne; another lecturer at UNIZIK with a good job attitude