Rev. Father Edeh
Madonna University, School of Engineering, Akpugo in Enugu State has responded to the myriads of allegations leveled against the school management by a former student of the school.
Some of the allegations, which were contained in a report on the school published by THISDAY last Sunday bordered on erosion of academic standard, non-accreditation of some courses in the school by the National Universities Commission (NUC), poor infrastructure base, engagement of non-qualified staff to handle professional courses like engineering in the school, among others.
Apparently incensed by the said issues raised against the school, the school’s management led by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Rev. Father Prof. Augustine Onyeneke, the Dean of Engineering Faculty, Prof. Onyema Uzomaka, the Dean of Students’ Affairs, Dr. Jude Iwuno and the ‘controversial’ Reverend Sister accused of marking the scripts of students, Eleonora Achollo, last Wednesday, gave the school’s account of the activities going on.
DVC Onyeneke said: “I feel bad about the entire allegations, though what we are doing now is administering medicine after the death of a patient but it is still important that we clear the air on some of these issues.
“The university is progressively moving. A child develops in stages. If you had come a year ago, you would have had a hard time driving from Oriemba to this place but a lot of work has been done on the road. It wasn’t there before. You will see the amount of efforts that are being made to put things on the ground physically and that explains also structural efforts that have been going on. When the NUC came for accreditation, I received them, and later, after were waiting for the results of their visit for sometime, we were cleared.
“The organisation endorsed our full movement to this place. They still said they would come again but I can tell you that we have enough facilities here and we have written to NUC to come back and see what we’ve put in place.”
On the allegation that Reverend Sisters were marking examination papers of students instead of the lecturers that handle such courses, Prof. Onyeneke said: “I read about it and we have a dean of faculties with departments and heads of departments, we have people who work at the Exams and Records not only to help keep examination questions safe, they print them and also help see that they are administered.
“When lecturers mark their scripts, the records are kept in the exams and records and if there is any problem, it is referred to the dean who discusses with the lecturers. To tell me that Reverend Sisters mark papers; what competence do they have to do such. I simply feel there are certain things that are mind boggling. Would you believe it yourself? There are certain things I should be asking you. Nothing of such happens here because we have full regard of standards and severally the NUC has confirmed it. I can assure you that whoever wrote the petition can never come out to defend it because when you go round the school, you would be amazed with the level of efforts that have been put in place,” the Deputy Vice Chancellor who claimed that he joined the Akpugo campus of the university in October 2011 stated.
On his part, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Prof Uzomaka, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-trained professional gave a detailed account of academic activities in the school but declined comments on administrative issues especially the purported employment of a fresh graduate of the school, Obinna Ojukwu, as the Dean of Students’ Affairs.
“Well, I am the one in-charge of academics here and I can tell you that we don’t compromise standards in this school and I stand to be corrected. We have seven departments in this campus; Electrical Electronics, Computer Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical and Food Science Technology. Those are the seven departments we have here.
“Issues that border on accreditation were equally raised and what I have to tell you here is that two departments have full accreditation, that’s Food Science Technology and Electrical Electronics; others are interim accreditation, but they are all accredited. I am a pioneer dean of this campus since 2011 and that has enabled me to have full information concerning academic activities here.
“Let me tell you something; I studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the best engineering schools in the world today. I cannot preside over a place where you don’t follow standard. By the way I presided over the manufacture of the first computer in Nigeria; I have a name in this country and cannot be in a place where you don’t follow rules.
“May be some people will be having such belief that everybody working here must be a Catholic and as such anything goes, but let me shock you now; we have so many non-Catholics working here and I am one of them. The fact that somebody like me is here simply means the chancellor only goes for the best irrespective of your religious background. So the people you see here are core professionals and there’s no cutting of corners here”.
On allegation that a fresh graduate was functioning as the Dean of Students’ Affairs, Prof. Uzomaka said: “My association in the university is to make sure HODs do their work and lecturers follow standards; I don’t concern myself with such other pedestrian issues. I don’t have information on that. But the areas where I am in charge, I can tell you that we are doing very well.
Like I told you, I am the dean and I went to MIT and can’t be fooling around here. We have the best here as far as engineering is concerned. Apart from the interim accreditation we have for some of the courses, we are virtually operating on a comfortable note and very soon, we’ll secure the full accreditation,” he said.
On her part, the ‘controversial’ Reverend Sister accused of either marking or remarking examination scripts, Achuno, accepted working in the Exams and Records unit of the registry. She said apart from her work at the unit, she is also the clearing officer of the school.
“Our work is though not steady, I was transferred from Okija to Caritas and from Caritas to this place. I came here in April last year. We do the work assigned to us by the head of the units. After every requisition, we refer it to the appropriate authority for release of funds. And as the head of clearing, I ensure that facilities needed are procured.
“I don’t mark scripts of students it is not in our authority to mark any script no matter what the issues are.
“We also do not have powers to reprimand lecturers for down-grading students. It’s not in my power. What we do is to compile any issue that is brought to our notice and forward same to the dean of the faculty who is expected to get back to the lecturers concerned. What do I know about engineering that I will begin to mark scripts or reprimand lecturers; we don’t do that here. We only refer cases to appropriate authorities. I am a novice in engineering as a matter of fact. Last year, the same issue of marking scripts came up but in the one of last year, they simply wrote about a Reverend Sister but this time round, they mentioned my name clearly and its very unfortunate because I don’t know anything about what they are talking about.
“As for Obinna Ojukwu, no doubt he was our student but has graduated last year. They are the students currently mobilising for NYSC. He used to be the General Hall Representative of the school and nothing more. All those insinuations that he was the dean is completely unfounded because as we are talking, we have a deputy dean of students affairs who is in this school.”
Also giving further explanation, the Deputy Dean of Students’ Affairs, Dr. Jude Iwuno, said he assumed the office in November last year as the campus was initially controlled from their headquarters.
“As you know, this campus is the last of the three campuses, most of the activities were initially coordinated from the headquarters and gradually they settled down and established the office of the Deputy Dean of Students’ Affairs. I am the Deputy Dean for Akpugo campus. Obinna was a student in the department of Petroleum Engineering until last year. He couldn’t have been made the dean. He was only handling issues that have to do with the halls to ensure that the students didn’t have problem in their hostels and the halls, he was one of those called hall reps. But you know students; once you do your job well even as hall rep, they may even begin to tag you one thing or the other. In some cases, you may even be called dean. These are some of the things that happen in schools but let me state clearly here that he was never a dean. He was one of the boys used as hall reps to ensure there’s serenity in the hostels.
“The truth is that if you know the history of Madonna University, it’s a gradual but systematic development. What you see here is simply the effort of one man, a single individual. The campus lacks nothing here but I can tell you that even when NUC came and demanded that some facilities should be put in place before a given period of time, those things have been put in place. It’s a question of discovering that one thing is lacking, the school authority hardly wastes any time in putting such thing in place. It’s a developing institution and I can assure you that at the level we are today, we can comfortably compete with any institution anywhere.
“Anyway, there is no school you go today, even federal universities where students are not complaining of one thing or the other. You have to appreciate the fact that this is a private university and we strive for the best. We are still developing structures and facilities; as it is often said, “seeing is believing”. You have been taken round and you have seen some of the things for yourself”.