Uchechukwu Nnaike

It was excitement all the way at the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria (UNEC), as graduates of the Department of Geoinformatics and Surveying recently reunited to celebrate the 55th anniversary and homecoming of the department.

The celebrants were in a joyous mood as they relived their experiences as students of the department. While some are now addressed as professors, doctors and chiefs, many hold key positions in government. Some were also meeting for the first time since they graduated more than 50 years ago.

Although the award gala held at the Surveyors’ House, Secretariat Enugu, the opening ceremony held in the main hall of UNEC, refurbished by former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bede Ibe.

Declaring the event open, the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Smart Uchegbu, challenged Nigerian surveyors and estate managers to help government to find a solution to the frequent cases of building collapse in the country. He said the collaboration and advice from experts has become necessary to save further loss of lives arising from collapsed buildings.

He called on the alumni and corporate bodies in the country to support the institution, as government’s allocation was no longer sufficient to meet its needs and maintain its leading role in the country’s education industry.

He expressed delight that the surveying department that started in 1961 with only 12 students now enjoys student enrolment of over 200.

Uchegbu, who represented the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Chukwuma Ozumba, said since inception, the department had made great strides in teaching, learning and research, which he said are the bedrock of the existence of the university, just as he promised that the institution would continue to ensure that the youths receive the best training in today’s competitive world.

“This is a reflection of the importance of this profession in national development; your products are today occupying prominent positions in many areas of human endeavour, both scientific and environmental spheres. In fact, I am informed that one of your products, emeritus professor, Francis Fajemirokun, former deputy vice-chancellor, University of Lagos, would deliver the keynote lecture on this occasion.”

In his remarks, the Head of the department, Dr. Elochukwu Moka, re-stated the determination of the institution to continue to maintain its pride of place in the comity of modern surveying training in the country, adding that being the first among the first generation universities to offer surveying, it has strived to main that position.

Moka explained that in order to keep abreast with the global changing trend in the profession, the name of the department had been changed from Department of Surveying to Department of Surveying, Geodesy and Photogrammetry and now to the Department of Geoinformatics and Surveying.

“For us to remain relevant as a force we have tried to embrace every emerging technology in the field of study within the available resources; the university authority has been supportive notwithstanding the dwindling allocations from the federal government.”

The HOD disclosed that the Education Trust Fund (ETF) had assisted at a point when the federal government attempted to designate the University of Nigeria as a centre of excellence in the study of surveying in the country.

Moka, who graduated from UNN in 1982, also commended the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON); the Nigerian Institution of Surveying, Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra State branches and some alumni for supporting the department at different times.

He said due to the capital intensive nature of the programme, all the supports have not met the financial demands of running the department, adding that the National Universities Commission (NUC) and SURCON’s accreditation exercises last year, had pointed out some of the areas of deficiencies, though the programme was not threatened by being de-accredited in any way.

At the award gala night, some eminent surveyors, who have contributed to the growth of the profession were honoured, some of them were Professor Emeritus Francis Fajemirokun; Prof. Francis Okeke; the Dean, Faculty of Environmental Studies, UNEC, Mr. John Okoe Quarshie-Doku from Ghana; Prof. Okpala Okaka; Dr. Elochukwu Moka; Dr. Ndukwe Chiemelu; Mrs. Mary Bassey Okofu; and Dr. Vitus Uzodinma.