It is interesting to listen when people speak their mind freely and impact in the life of others. It seems like I began to go back to all those who have influenced me by the way they talked or spoke passionately about what they believe in. In order to bring about a better society, these people need to be acknowledged. Dr. Kingsley lectured me in History and Philosophy of Science in my 100 level, I always wanted to go to his class, I never wanted to miss it for a day because whenever he lectures, I feel connected, I feel motivated, my belief rises, my zeal and principles becomes firm.
Meet Dr. Ubaoji Kingsley Ikechukwu; a Christian and lecturer of Biochemistry at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Anambra State with a disciplined character. As a lecturer, he has niche of moving around with his school bag at his back (as you can see in the picture above), and he is very passionate about seeing positive changes happen in the society. He would often make us sit to listen to when he counsel people and expect us to understand the deep meaning in guiding peoples life to light.
Who influenced you in having a disciplined character?
It all started from my family; my dad worked with the British Council. As a natural person, my dad was inclined to keeping to the rules and regulation. By the time I got to know my dad, people call him “Africa” and in one of the instances he was trying to explain what Africa was, he said that “You will have to fix an appointment with somebody by 12pm and the person will come by 12:30pm and say it is “African time”. So, what my dad does is that, when he comes early, and other people come late, he puts his two hand on his head and begins to shout “Africa o, Africa o, when will Africa change from the African mentality of timing?”.
Again, when we were growing, he was actually a very neat person. I learnt that when he was a youth, he had two bed sheets (one for the day and one for the night). So, if you step into his house putting on your sandal or shoes, he wouldn’t be happy and he may ask you to leave, if you lay down on his bed, he may not talk to you anymore. But if you come to his house and pull your sandals, sit on the chair, then he will treat you very well.
During my childhood, when I and my siblings were growing up, if my dad comes back from work, you must have swept the compound, picked every dirt on the ground because he will always check if a match stick or caps of mineral bottle is on the floor , and if he finds such, it means you didn’t do your work well. More so, if you sweep a room and he goes in to supervise it, he will remove his shoes and use his barefoot to rub on the floor, and he will ask you if you can feel the sand on the ground? That means you didn’t sweep there well.
The principle he trained us on was to “Pay attention to details”. My dad taught us how to drive at the age of 10.
So, these are some of the ways my dad imbibed discipline in us. I grew with that, and my dad died two years before I gained admission into the University
When I applied to study Medicine in the University and I didn’t get it, I switched to Biochemistry because I knew that from Biochemistry I may still be able to change to Medicine.While in my stay in the University, I met the likes of Professor Emeka Ezeonu (present Vice Chancellor of Hezekiah University, Anambra State), Professor Udedi Chidi Stanley (present Dean of Student Affairs, Nnamdi Azikiwe University). Most of my lecturers in UNIZIK especially in Biochemistry influenced me particularly Professor Emeka Ezeonu. These people were almost doing the same thing like my dad, they had the discipline, they talked and preach against sorting, and they tell you how they survived their own time. Professor Ezeonu told us about how he stopped the university examination just because the university decided to use a plain sheet of paper (foolscap) for their exams rather than a complete answer booklet. And he told the Registrar and the Dean of the Faculty that they paid their school fees, so they have the right to be given a complete answer booklet for their examination, but they told him he should go and write the exam. Professor Ezeonu insisted that they will not write the examination because if they should write an examination in a piece of paper, any of the lecturers can do anything and replace it because it is not numbered.
A person like Professor Udedi Stanley (then Master Udedi Stanley) who was the then departmental president observed that examination questions were leaked, so he went to the HOD (then Mr Emeka Ezeonu) and complained. He told the HOD that the students are not going to write any exam unless the department produces whosoever is leaking the examination questions. When he did that, the HOD felt it was a joke, and he said that his own exam questions never leaked so the examination must hold and anyone who misses his exams was at his own risk. On the fateful day of the exam, Professor Ezeonu came to the examination hall and saw only one student in the hall, the whole of the other students did not write the exam. He saw the then Master Udedi Stanley with few of his coursemates outside and he discovered that the students were not willing to write any exam, so, he left and that was the end of the exam.
After some days, Professor Ezeonu sent for Udedi Stanley and told him that he is impressed by his ability to mobilize students not to write an examination, that it shows he has a great leadership skill and he is the kind of person the university wants to employ as lecturers. And that was why, as soon as he graduated, they all put hands together to ensure that he became a lecturer.
So, these are the people that formed me, the things they did kept me. By the time I was in my 200level, my CGPA was enough to change to Medicine but I said I have to stick with these men because of their character, integrity and they possess that discipline which I was brought up with. I see men standing against things that are wrong, honestly, I am impressed by their lifestyle, I got used to them and found out that they were consistent both in their public and private office, or in their public and private life. But because they are humans, they have their weaknesses and their strength. Even their strength, their vigor, their unbridled confidence, I just realized that the university is a place to have the greatest freedom on earth. I started enjoying these people. I also look up to Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka; these are people that are standing for the poor masses.
Ofcourse, after my graduation, I did my Masters degree and I became a lecturer under Professor ILochi Okafor (SAN) –former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
So, I want students to learn this discipline, the fact that as a student, I wrote a petition to my Vice Chancellor against some lecturers in my department because they were not coming to classes. I wrote to let them know that they need to come to classes. Secondly, I wrote to the Visitation Panel from Abuja about poor infrastructural development and lack of interest in practicals for students and I also wrote against my vice chancellors inability to defend students rights and denial of students approved programmes ; these letters could be called anything either a letter of appeal or anything. But the major point is having the courage to write them or to tell a lecturer that he/she is not doing his job when nobody is willing to call the lecturer to order.
“It is our duty to defend what is ours”. In Nigeria people fail to recognize the power of critical mass. When I was in South Africa in 2011, I was taught the power of critical mass; how to generate the mass for good and not for evil.
As a student I can remember that after we finished an exam, there was no bus to convey us home. I single handedly mobilized my students and we had to block the express and began to appeal to people to please convey us home that the journey is too far for us to trek – and that was how we all got home that fateful day. These things take courage; it needs some level of confidence.
I also remember that when I was student, I had lecturers that would come and meet me to sell their textbook to my fellow students, so that they will give me some percentage of money after the sale. But these textbook does not have anything related to our course, and I told the lecturer “I am sorry, I can’t do this, it is not right”. If these textbook are relevant to the course, then it is a different ballgame.
Even some faculties sell journals, they force students to pay a lot of things, but these things are wrong and the management should look into these things. Imagine some lecturers charge students money for their project defense when in actual sense it is part of their school fees.
There are a lot of extortions here; I don’t want to talk about sexual harassment. For every girl that is raped, there is a psychological trauma that follows that person. For every student that is molested and his/her ego destroyed, is dead. For you to be strong and able to fight the challenges of tomorrow, you must have some background that kept you. There are also professors in the university that can’t speak up. Students don’t have guts to talk. Many times, I hear students discuss their challenges and when you tell them to write a letter, they wouldn’t because they are afraid.
The moment students realize that lecturers ills can be controlled by management, then they can stand on their rights to resist evil. Who is more important, is it the lecturer or the student? Is it an elderly person or a younger person who has a long way to go and can influence more people? That’s why it is necessary to preserve the youths. The bible says that is better to hang a stone on a person’s neck and get him drowned than to deceive any of these young ones.
In one of ASUU meetings, I was appointed ASUU NAU Students Relations Co-Convener in order to intervene in student’s issues. So, thank God for the new Dean of student Affairs because I am sure he is going to do a lot, he has created a space he calls “Auditoruim” for training student leaders because some come into leadership without knowing what is expected of them, somebody needs to train them. Even some lecturers do not know what to do; they do not know their right. Some lecturers will tear the answer booklet of students – it is totally wrong. Most orientation programmes are not well assimilated by students because they are new . They need rehearsals to get information stick to their heads. This is because most things are wrongly done. Computation of results often can be calculated wrongly.
So I want to use this to draw the attention of people in the society, to seek for true knowledge. Even the churches we have nowadays contributes in confusing people; there are a lot of lies and people do not know what to believe again. Despite the fact that people come to the university to learn, sometimes you are confused to the extent that you do not even believe in yourself.
Letting punishment out for people who do wrong is the right thing to do because you are saving their unborn generation. If you show mercy sometimes, you are putting other people’s life in danger. Discipline saves the future, it is not about now, it is about the future. People have to learn that what is wrong has a consequence, if such does not happen, evil continues and that is why we tend to be strict. If we catch a student doing malpractice, we send them straight to the panel. If students know that they would be sent to the panel, they will behave better. Furthermore, some lecturers do a lot of bad things, but, if the lecturers know that they will be sacked, they will behave properly and it sends a positive signal.
There are so many things to look into, but I believe that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. You know sometimes you can give up halfway. As young men in the system, you may have an inclination to young ladies but you need to understand that there is somebody out there who will be mad at you if you mess up, people that will tell you personally that if you try anything wrong, they will fight and ensure that you are sacked from being a lecturer in the university and with that, you have some level of control.
Reason you have such a disciplined character?
Some of us have an excuse for things we believe to be right and again some of us believe that so many people lack knowledge. Because they didn’t have the right knowledge, they are scared; they can’t stand up to something. So one of the things you do is that you create the awareness that you can stay alone and still fight through life.
It is not all about Country-winning, networking, or being in a group; even though these things are necessary, but one can still stand alone and fight through certain things.
And that’s exactly why in class I keep hammering, I keep singing, I keep ringing it through people’s ear so that they know that there are still people that are reliable, there are still people you can look up to, there are still people that stand – those are my emphasis.
Ultimately, I believe that this life is worth nothing if you cannot bring a positive influence in the society. I want to have a serious impact on all my children so that the good legacy will continue on earth. When I say children, I see anybody that has come under my teaching as my children – my academic, biological, and even spiritual children.
Your advice to other lecturers:
To my colleagues, I know so many times students lie but even the Rotary will ask if,“It is fair to all concerned”. It is also said that justice denied one is justice denied all. If for the fact that you cannot differentiate who is lying from those who are not, you shouldn’t deny the person who is not lying the privilege of getting justice because if you do so, you are killing the generation.
So, I call on all lecturers, please remember the future. Someday, our children will be under somebody; in whatever we do we must remember that these children are in one way or the other related to us and whatever seed we sow here on earth, we will definitely reap.