Opinion

Opinion | Prof. Efemini demise: A big blow, huge loss to humanity

By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

“Adieu Prof. Efemini!

Late University of Port Harcourt Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) Prof. Andrew Efemini.

You are worthy of Julius Caesar’s summary of his own victory in Pontus, “Veni, Vedi, Vici” – I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Preamble

Ernest Hemingway in his submission about death stated, “Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another”

The news of the demise of Prof. Andrew Efemini, a friend, brother and comrade whose love for humanity is exemplary, as severally demonstrated in his usual readiness to pay the supreme price for any cause in which he believes, came to me as a rude shock and at a time when I and my dear wife were battling for our own lives.

Efemini, my wife and I were of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Calabar, Cross Rivers State in the eighties. While I was with Efemini in the Philosophy Department, my wife was of the History Department.

For fear of the deteriorating health of my wife at the time, of Efemini’s demise, I carefully refused to break the news to her until she was a bit stabilised.

Although it is appointed unto every mortal to return to his maker, but for death to strike at the entry point to the peak of his calling is heart wrenching.

Prof. Efemini has been battling a particular ailment occasioned by unfavourable situation in which he found himself during the administration of Prof. Ndowa Lale, as the Vice Chancellor of UNIPORT. His health challenge took him to India where he was duly treated and came back hale and hearty only for death to pluck this special human being from us when he was given the opportunity to make the changes he has been dreaming of all these years.

Seeing my pitiable situation coupled with others who have passed through the golden path of this gem of a fellow, my Lecturer, Ludovico Ariosto tried to console us by stating, “I regret not death. I am going to meet my friends in another world”

In this regard Christ my Lord and Saviour, in tandem with the position of Ariosto, assured me that though death is inevitable but is not the last bus stop.

Prof. Efemini an Enigma Worth Celebrating At 56 – Eze

This was the title of the press statement I did on this rare gem and published in June 14, 2021, before his death few weeks after.

According to this statement, I described Professor Andrew Efemini as an Enigma Worth Celebrating at 56.

Full Details of My Statement:

Chief Eze who made this assertion on the occasion of the birthday of the erudite professor stated that Carey Lohrenz in his Fearless Leadership series wrote and I quote, “Knowing your value, speaking up, and not flying under the radar this is what fearless leadership is about.”

On the other hand, Mike Yaconelli in trying to explain and expand the thought of Mr. Carey Lohrenz stated and I quote, “Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated.

After going through these great quotes by these great minds, Prof Andrew Efemini of University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State in Nigeria readily came into my mind.

This is a man who, right from his birth, has demonstrated readiness to pass through the path where the Lion dare not to attempt to tread. His mother confessed that even when Prof. Efemini was in her womb, he was restless and very eager to come out before the time to face the world.

Mike Yaconelli had no other person in mind apart from Prof. Efemini, when he made the above quote as the qualities and character of one “being bold, firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient and cannot easily be intimidated is all about Prof. Efemini as my account below will explain.

Prof. Andrew Efemini, who turned 56years on the auspicious day of 13th June, 2021, is a Professor of Philosophy. A Fulbright Scholar, former ASUU Chairman of UNIPORT and former Dean Students Affairs and a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Fear of Prof. Efemini Is the Beginning of Wisdom in Some Quarters

If there is anybody who can easily attest to how fearless and intimidating this erudite Professor of Philosophy was, it is Prof. Ndowa Lale, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt.

The activities of Prof. Efemini will ever remain green in the mind of Prof. Ndowa Lale, for the number of years he is left to live on this planet.

The well celebrated brawl between Prof. Ndowa Lale, and former Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNIPORT chapter, Prof. Andrew Efemini, an activist, is a clear case of the toughness of this dreaded University Don, who has served as National Election Monitoring Officer with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to records available to me, Efemini accused Prof. Lale, who assumed office on July 13, 2015, of financial impropriety, highhandedness, intimidation and incompetence and called for his immediate removal.

The ex-ASUU chair said he decided to petition the University’s Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Prof. Mvendaga Jibo, to end Lale’s “abuse of office and poor performance”.

This fighter of injustice in all ramifications said: “Prof. Lale criminally misled the Senate by not providing an approved schedule of fee in federal universities to the distinguished members. The fee schedule directed that the recommended fees for all students should be a maximum of N45,000 only.

“The directive is that students coming into the university should be charged fees not exceeding N45,000, all inclusive. The circular warned against the collection of acceptance fee, but Prof. Lale collected N30,000 as acceptance fee from each student. Under the draconian VC’s watch, first-year students are charged N128,000, excluding non-statutory charges at the various faculties and departments.

“In 2017, Prof. Lale, in pursuit of his ambition to see stooges and surrogates go to council, caused the withdrawal of elected internal members of council, who were yet to serve their statutory four-year tenure. In spite of protests, Lale ruled that two years in council for Senate representation is legal.

Let him provide the law. Prof. Lale, after two years, conducted another election to council at the Senate on February 28. The tenure of four years, as stipulated in the university law, was violated.

“Prof. Lale must be urgently removed from office and investigated to save the university from further highhandedness and damage. He cannot be in office as VC, while Senate necessarily reviews all cases of injustice to students, arising from his criminal concealment since 2015.”

Efemini also alleged that the VC and his illegal internal council members unleashed terror on him and some members of staff, especially lecturers who were opposed to his ruthless abuse of office.

Only a fearless fellow as captured by Mike Yaconelli in his quote above, like Prof. Efemini could take this type of action. This action, of course earned him underserved suspension and his salaries for months withheld by the University on the order of the out gone Vice Chancellor, Ndowa Lale.

Prof. Andrew Efemini narrating his ordeal under the draconian regime of Prof. Lale stated,

“I want Nigerians to know that I am now a destitute, and suffering from health challenges caused by my unlawful suspension from UNIPORT that has now lingered for five months.

“I have informed the university in writing that as a diabetic and hypertensive patient that my life is threatened by cut of my salary over my alleged incitement of students.

“My health condition has further deteriorated as I cannot afford to buy drugs to attend to my health. I now live at the mercy of friends and well-wishers.

“I have contemplated suicide severally with a suicide message for the Nigerian people on how a Professor or anybody at that should not be treated,” he said.

Efemini said he was being persecuted for his stance against management of UNIPORT for their alleged anti-student policies.

He said that management accused him of inciting students to protest hike of non-statutory charges leading to his arrest and detention by the police.

The outspoken lecturer said that he did not sponsor students to embark on protest, but had only urged management to dialogue with the students.

“The issue is that we needed the university to dialogue and find a compromise with students rather than sweeping the matter under the carpet.

“I have written letters and have been appealing to them for five months now to recall me; as I no longer have money to attend to my deteriorating health,” he said.

Efemini said he needed at least N50, 000 monthly to buy insulin alone and that this excludes cost to run his family, urging Nigerians to come to his aid.

The Opera News Throws More Light on Prof Efemini

In an article titled, “Justice For Prof. Andrew Efemini and Other Lecturers in University of Port Harcourt” explained as follows

Professor Andrew Efemini is a young vibrant and stern professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Port Harcourt. He has an enthusiastic teaching experience and profound undiluted love for students. He perhaps might be seen to have been unjustly and inhumanely affected by Prof. Lale, the 8th Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt.

Prof. Andrew Efemini had intense legal battle that led to his suspension by the Prof. Ndowa led University of Port Harcourt.

Based on the current regime change in the University of Port Harcourt. It has become imperative that Justice for Andrew Efemini and other lecturers be considered by the Acting Vice Chancellor.

Prof. Andrew Efemini has been controversial and same time discretionary over the leadership style in Uniport but Prof. Ndowa E. S. Lale could not understand Prof. Andrew Efemini like other Vice Chancellors.

Truth is the cry of all, but few game of the few~ Bishop Berkeley

In the recent past, Prof AE has been in the news for counter allegations and allegations back and forth with the Prof Lale Led University of Port Harcourt management. The recent truce called by AE to Prof Lale though through the media is a welcome development.

Presently, Efemini is either suspended or suspended indefinitely. He has not been in the payroll of uniport since his disagreement with Prof Lale.

But one is tempted to ask why these heated quarrels and hate? Maybe Prof Lale do not really understand him. It is Efemini’s nature to argue as a philosopher which by my “personal” opinion, Prof Lale failed to realize as a manager. Lale forgot that he is first a manager in the office of the Vice-Chancellor thus should have been able to amicably address the lingering disagreements between himself and the erudite Professor.

Historical fact shows that AE by nature controversial, and always and always disagrees with Vice Chancellors. A brief synopsis shows that viz

AE started teaching in Uniport in 1991. By 1992, Andrew Efemini (AE) started participating in ASUU politics and was privileged to become the Chairman of Uniport Chapter from 2005 to 2010.

Before becoming Chairman he recall disagreeing sharply with Prof. Theo Vincent at an ASUU Congress. It was about his call that we should end the 1992 strike.

AE quarreled with Prof. Briggs over unpaid salaries due to ASUU strike and promotion criteria. One of the gains of our struggles is the fact that colleagues can move straight from the rank of Senior Lecturer to the rank of Professor.

AE disagreed with Professor Baridam who inherited the promotion crisis. They obtained a strike approval from the national body and the Vice Chancellor in the presence of the Pro Chancellor agreed to suspend what his predecessor called “Satanic promotion guidelines”. Professor Baridam did not say over his dead body.

Few people knew that AE resisted what is called then Abuja exploitation. A private company and a federal agency signed an agreement to charge N7000 and N5000 to each staff and student respectively. The federal agency got a number of universities including Uniport to sign into that scheme. He revolted against the agreement in spite of intense lobby and pressure. UNIPORT WAS REMOVED FROM THE ARRANGEMENT.

AE insisted that Professor Baridam’s capital campaign where workers were expected to contribute part of their salaries for five years to the university should be optional.

In 2009, AE revolted against the Federal Government in the “ridiculous” bus conduct experience. Can you believe this? The Vice Chancellor then only called him to say “my Chairman, that is not your portion”. His response was “it is my portion. As long as our salaries are ceased and government is failing to sign the agreement, they should expect more.”

Professor Lale raised the issue of his bus conductor as one of the allegations against him in 2017. According to Prof. Lale, AE protest then embarrassed the university.

AE protested in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Owerri, Enugu, etc so many times fighting oppression and exploitation.

Since, it is the nature and in the nature of Prof. Efemini to critic administrations, without hard feelings. We therefore call on the Acting Vice Chancellor Prof R. E. Ogali to consider setting-up panel to recall Prof Andrew Efemini and other lecturers who were suspended or sack in order to enhance equilibrium and tranquility in the system.

Reinstatement of Prof. Efemini

The plea and condition of Prof. Efemini to the public and the University Management fell on deaf ears until God in his infinite mercy sent a DANIEL in person of Prof. Stephen Okodudu, as the new Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, to reinstate Prof. Efemini accordingly.

In this regard, I sent this message to the new Vice Chancellor, titled, “Eze Commends UNIPORT AG VC, Prof. Okodudu Over Rescuing Destiny Of Students …says Reinstatement of Erudite Prof. Efemini is an act of Fairness and Divine Intervention” where I stated as follows:

According to the book of Proverbs chapter 29 verse 2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” (New King James Version)

This inspired holy statement came into play in the affairs of students and staff of University of Port Harcourt when Prof. Steve Okodudu was appointed as the Acting Vice Chancellor of the Institution. In this regard, as a righteous leader, he embarked upon actions that have brought peace and hope back to the University.

His peaceful conduct and action came into climax when he granted pardon to students of the University of Port Harcourt, whose futures have been stocked in limbo since 2016, when the institution implemented its policy on ‘No School Fees, No Examination’, which saw the fortunes of over 1,000 Students hanging on a scale.

Describing the grant of pardon as humane and an act of kindness, the party chief said the students may now hive a sigh of relief, adding that the VC’s gesture has laid to rest all speculations and uncertainties about their almost-dashed futures.

Eze reiterated that the students were unduly mistreated by the previous management which ignored appeals from all quarters, including the ruling of a competent Court of Jurisdiction, directing that the students be mobilized for the mandatory NYSC scheme, having met all necessary requirements to be enrolled for the programme.

Similarly, Chief Eze described the reinstatement of Prof. Andrew Efemini, to his position as worth commending, after many years of undue disengagement by the former management led by Prof. Ndowa Lale, whose only legacy is leaving the university, staff and students in ruins and melancholy.

Eze hailed Prof. Andrew Efemini for putting up muscle and a rare courage to absorb the shocks and difficulties that accompanied his years of gory travails, while appreciating the Ag. VC. for his determination to pursue noble objectives for the good and service of humanity.

He appealed to the University Management to also consider paying the backlog of salaries and emoluments owed Prof. Efemini, given the fact that his disengagement has remained a destitute of verifiable basis, as it was borne out of sheer witch-hunt, malice and hate.

Eze further reiterated that his good friend, Dr Mike Huckabee must have had the likes of Prof Steve Okodudu in mind when he expanded the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ on peace by postulating that, ” Blessed are the peacemakers.’ And I think a lot of people do not understand that there’s a difference between a peace lover and a peacemaker. Everybody loves peace, but wearing jewelry around your neck and saying ‘I love peace’ doesn’t bring it.” Prof Okodudu has walked, worked and brought peace to University of Port Harcourt and surely peace will forever follow him in all his endeavours, Eze maintained.

From all these records and actions of Prof Efemini, you can agree with Mike Yaconelli and Mr. Carey Lohrenz that they had Prof. Efemini in mind when they stated and I quote, “Boldness doesn’t mean rude, obnoxious, loud, or disrespectful. Being bold is being firm, sure, confident, fearless, daring, strong, resilient, and not easily intimidated. It means you’re willing to go where you’ve never been, willing to try what you’ve never tried, and willing to trust what you’ve never trusted. Boldness is quiet, not noisy.”

Prof Efemini on VC Prof Owunari Georegewill

In my widely circulated prophetic article predicting about the appointment of Prof Georegwill as the next Vice Chancellor of UNIPORT published by September, 2019 titled, “Unique Uniport’s Future & Prof Georgewill: Bird’s Eye Perspective By Close Observer”; Prof Andrew Efeminj sent this text to assist me in unraveling to the world why Prof Georegewill is the best candidate as the next VC of UNIPORT.

According to Prof Efeminj, “Professor Georgewill Owunari is a respecter of Elders, colleagues, staff, and students. He is conscious of the fact that the rights of staff and students must not be abused. We can therefore expect a conscious effort by him to negotiate and reach consensus with stakeholders on the way forward. Prof Georgewill has engaged in self development within and outside Nigeria necessary for running a first class university like University of Port Harcourt and I am convinced that Uniport under his watch will surely benefit from his well articulated vision of a great university. Perhaps the greatest quality he will bring to the table is his respect for constituted authorities in the country. We can expect special funding and projects to flow into Uniport from his goodwill and understanding and support to the administration of President Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.. With Professor Georgewill Owunari as Vice-Chancellor, we should expect full expression of students without brutalization and victimization. I expect him to have good working relationship with the Unions on campus”

My Encounter with Prof Efemini and Conclusion

I was admitted into University of Calabar in Cross Rivers State of Nigeria in 1985 to read Philosophy where Prof. Efemini then was already in his second year in the same Department. By the end of my first semester in the University, I have become the most popular student in the Campus after leading the University Football to win the maiden edition of the NFA/PEPSI COLA Football Tournament amongst all the Higher Institutions in Nigeria.

Based on what and who I was in the University, the students then crowned me “Eze The Malabite’ indicating that I represents the struggle and boldness of what every student of UNICAL is known for. While male students from that University are called Malabites the female folks are called Malabresses.

With this accomplishment, I was elected unopposed as the University Director of Sports and based on my popularity in the University; I was lured to contest the President of the Philosophy Department where I met the irresistible and brainy young Andrew Efemini who was a class ahead of me as an opponent.

By the time we presented our manifesto, I had no other option left than to vote for him and to the pride of all, he brought a lot of changes to the Philosophy Department of UNICAL from where he started active unionism.

When I say someone is brilliant, I mean that Prof. Efemini is one fellow that Nigeria could not exploit his potentials.

After our days at UNICAL, I left to the North where I spent over twenty years before coming to Port Harcourt to meet this great Malabite in whom I am well blessed.

“Prof. Efemini, as you celebrate your birthday today, it is my sincere prayer with my wife who was another great Malabress to wish you not only more fruitful years but sound health for better services to humanity”. That was the conclusion of my last birthday message to the Late Professor Efemini.

Election of Prof. Efemini as the DVC of UNIPORT and My Last Discussion with the Erudite Professor

When I got the report from a concerned stakeholder in the affairs of University of Port Harcourt pleading with me to prevail on the Minister to Transportation to stop the plan to elect Prof Efemini as the next DVC of the University which I vehemently rejected, Prof Efemini reading the report sent this to me, “Chief I don’t think the person knows me and the role I played in the university in the last 30years. I am loyal to CRA and the Vice-Chancellor beyond what Abiola Waisu can understand. Is it right for a DVC to be forced on a Vice-Chancellor?

After few days of this communication, Prof Efemini was duly elected as the DVC on 28th July, 2021 and he alerted me accordingly and I sent this text back to him, “Prof, you dreamt it and we prayed for it and it came to pass!! Congratulations my brother as I hope to work on your election as the DVC of the great UNIPORT by first week of August. Thanks”.  He replied back immediately, “Please wait for Council approval Chief”.

On the 31st July, 2021, during my family normal monthly prayer meeting (Night Vigil) into the next month, I was giving testimony on how God blessed us with the election of my brother as the next DVC of UNIPORT only for me to receive a text few minutes after telling me that my brother has departed to the other side of the world. I wailed.

I was dumbfounded and only wished that this should not  be true, seeing what AE has suffered and struggled. For him to depart when it is time for him to actualize his dream and vision for the type of UNIPORT he has always envisaged is painful.

I cried, I asked, Prof. Efemini, what happened to the book that you promised to do for my 64th birthday coming up in the next few months? I asked, Prof Efemini, who will help me edit the book that I am doing on the legacies of Amaechi which you promised to work upon? Prpf, whqt of the employment you promised my daughter with? Sadly, I am still waiting for answers to these questions to no avail. 

The Death of Prof Andrew Efemini

According to Stephen King, You need not die happy when your time comes, but you must die satisfied, for you have lived your life from the beginning to the end”

My brother, Prof. Efemini lived a fulfilled life and according to the statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the University of Port Harcourt, Sam Kpenu where he gave 30years of his productive life to, “UNIPORT Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Efemini Is Dead. Professor Efemini died on Saturday, 31 July, at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.

The statement went further to explain that, “Efemini, a professor of Psychology of Development in the Department Psychology, Faculty of Humanities was recently appointed as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) at the 459th Senate Meeting (Extra-ordinary) on Wednesday, July 28, 2021.

The appointment was awaiting approval by the Governing Council of the institution.

According to the statement by the PRO “the Vice Chancellor, Professor Owunari Georgewill, described Professor Efemini as a man of idea, whose contributions had assisted the growth of the University.”

The Vice Chancellor made the remark when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the deceased.”

Special Appreciation to Prof. GeorgewillVC, UNIPORT

The way you stood and supported the candidature of Prof. Andrew Efemini simply exposes you not only as a true brother but a Leader who believes on honouring true friendship. God will always be there to fight for you and make your reign as the Vice Chancellor of UNIPORT a remarkable one.

Conclusion:

I am consoled by the quote of Albert Pike, who, knowing the great works Prof. Efemini has done to improve humanity stated, “what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

Adieu Prof. Efemini!

You are worthy of Julius Caesar’s summary of his own victory in Pontus, “ Veni, Vedi, Vici” – I came, I saw, I conquered.

Sleep on my brother until we meet again not to part from each other anymore.

May God grant those of us that you left behind the fortitude to bear your departure and may He grant your gentle soul eternal rest no matter your shortcomings while with us over here.

Once again, Adieu!

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached thru ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com

Join the debate; let's know your opinion.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.