ESUT PRESS: What inspired you to contest for the position of SUG president?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Well, thank you ESUT PRESS for that question. Actually my aspiration to be the SUG President was borne out of my desire to re-establish a better image of the students union before the students. I was so passionate about bridging the widened gap and ensuring a better leadership. I develop this ambition right from when I was in my first year, and I had to take up several leadership position to shape and prepare myself for the task ahead. I was once a departmental Treasurer and later the departmental president of Computer Engineering, prior to my becoming the first Democratically elected SUG President of our prestigious University. As a student earlier days in the University, I wasn’t so comfortable with some of the very many Challenges I faced, like transport, accommodation, security, etc. I remember my first day in ESUT, when I came to sit for my Post UTME, a colleague of mine who also was seeking admission, while we were trekking to the park at the MTN stand then narrated to me how he almost missed his post UTME examinations that day. He had boarded a vehicle from Holy ghost to ESUT, but unfortunately because he had never been to ESUT before, the driver took him pass Agbani to Akpugo, some kilometres away from his destination.
It was a pathetic one, very unwelcoming and demoralizing for new students seeking admission like ours. The problem then was due to no special identification of University Shuttles etc so that students can board and feel at home. So, all these motivated me to develop the appetite to lead the students, though, then I never knew what I was thinking, but I knew I was going to make impact.
ESUT PRESS: what was your toughest challenge when you did your campaign?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Smiles… Students Politics in ESUT is one of the toughest in the region. You know prior to my election, students union election were done via delegated representative, where representatives from each department will come and cast their vote. Then election wasn’t that interesting. Many students don’t even know that election is going on. Some students will stay in school and graduate without knowing who his/her SUG President was. It was just a game of the highest bidder. Then Faculty Presidents, Departmental Presidents and SSGs were the key players in the game. They decide who wins and that is dependent on the financial buoyancy of the candidate and also the political will of the past SUG Presidents and other comrades. But you know, my own election was a total reverse of the usual norm. The Students Union Government at that time had signed into law that election thereafter shall be done by Mass Election, democracy, In that case, every student is eligible to vote. So, it was very tough for me. My greatest challenge then was that in as much as I wanted to win, I knew I needed to do my campaign well and convince the students that I am the right candidate, but then I could not totally exonerate the Past SUG Presidents, past and present faculty leaders, Departmental leaders etc in making the decision of my candidacy. It was very hard resolving the trial differences of theses comrades and getting their endorsements. I suffered a lot, and I don’t think any person will suffer as I did. I had to take my campaign to all the faculties and different campuses. Apart from the fact that some students were apolitical, some were so indifferent that you will have to persistently convince the person to support you.
ESUT PRESS: What did you do during your campaign time that you regretted doing?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Well, my people I passed through a lot to get to where I am. There were lots of disappointments, betrayals and deceit during my electioneering campaign. The major thing I regret most during the campaign was borrowing money to finance my campaign. But that wasn’t uncommon though, what pained me is the circumstances that surrounded the choice. You know, when I was aspiring for the position, I met with lots of stakeholders both within and outside the campus to help me achieve my dream. I received assurances and promises from them. They promised to help me with the money it will take to run the campaign, as part of their support. So, I was busy relying and hoping that they would fulfil it. But at last, at the dying minute, I was disappointed. So, I felt so bittered, though, it was a big motivation and challenge to me. After the event, I started reaching out for people to help me with money to continue with my campaign.
ESUT PRESS: what was it like being the SUG President?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: My dear, uneasy they say lies the head that wears the crown. Being an SUG PRESIDENT wasn’t an easy task. There were more to the fame and public ovation. It’s about sacrifice. And for myself who was elected by the students it was a more tedious one. You know during my campaign, I had a lot of supporters, so many people love me, so many supported me and almost all the student had access to my reach. When I assumed office, a lot of students would send in the complains, their problems, their concerns etc, everyday I receive lots of calls, text messages etc and I have to attend to them. Otherwise, I fail in my promise to attend to their welfare. Some will call you that they are in police custody, others that the hostel security, and so on… and you know there are lots of things students never knew. Some of these students thought that being an SUG President makes you a very rich person, well, that a myth and it’s deceptive. As an SUG President, I don’t receive salary, I don’t receive any allowance, I don’t have direct access to the Union’s fund. The school release money for the union and oversees directly and indirectly the expenditures made from these money. But, everyday I receive complains from students of unimaginable amount of money they require of me to help out in their situations. And you know I had a very unpleasant beginning. On resumption of office the Union’s Bus, ALUTA JET was badly dilapidated. The engine was down, it needed body work, the interior was so unworthy of looking at, to cut it brief, it was just immovable. I had to tow it to school and parked it at works Department while it took me over 1 month to get approval from the University to release the students money for the refurbishment of the vehicle. I thank the Vice Chancellor for his support in my government. I appreciate all he did and I pray God to repay him. The money was released and in conjunction with the works department, I was able to totally refurbish the ALUTA JET into what it is today. I changed everything and brought it back to life. That was my first achievement in office and I gave it the name ALUTA MISSILE. So, my people, throughout the period of over 3 months I used taxi everyday to run my day to day activities and attend to the needs of the students, the union and the university. Nobody gave me a dime to do all these, I was just spending and doing it out of passion and love for my students. Being an SUG President for me was an opportunity for me to develop capacity for the future. I know it wasn’t rosy but to God be all the Glory.
ESUT PRESS: was their any achievement as the SUG president?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Laughs… I am surprised that you’re asking this question, but anyway, that’s your work and you’re doing it well. First, before I answer your question I want to take this opportunity to thank the Almighty God for giving me grace to do the much I did. I want to also thank all the very many faithful colleagues who helped me achieve this feat without expecting anything in return. I want to thank all the students for the support I enjoyed from them. You all have done me well and I say thank you. Now back to your question, I will try and mention just very few that affected the whole students. firstly, I think I have told you about the refurbishment of the Union’s Bus, so that one aside. Shortly after that, students in the hostel raised a very audible alarm on the insecurity challenges. They reported several cases of rape, thievery and other negative vices. Students could no longer go for night classes to read because of fear of insecurity. It was like the ESUT of the past was coming back(laughs). So, I took some steps to curtail that menace, I organized first in history a SECURITY SUMMIT which had in attendance, representatives of the University Management, ESUT Chief Security Officer, Union leaders, Hostel Management Leaders, Students Forces- the Man O War etc and the general students. At this summit the students raised all their concerns and I took note of all of them. After the summit, I took excos of the hostels with the union leaders to meet the Vice Chancellor, where as the leader of the students, I presented the issues raised and charged the University Management to take action. The summit yielded positively, the school approved the release of a patrol van, and mobilized security Night patrol team. After that I wrote an SOS letter requesting the Governing council to approve the “Light Up the Campus Power project” to the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman ESUT Governing Council. As part of the success story, the council few months ago approved the project. So, in the area of security I did my all I could to ensure my students are safe.
Secondly, during my administration, I championed and ensured a new face of ESUT transportation system. It was part of my campaign promise, and I fulfilled it. I planned the process of changing the Colour, name and numbering of the University shuttles, to ensure easier identification and reduce cases of unfortunate reports I receive everyday. Prior to my administration, the transport route for all these buses, shuttles and keke that you see were so inconveniencing. Students coming from Enugu through main gate gets dropped at FANS, then finally to the hostel park. Keke people only take backgate through FANS to the hostel park. It was very stressful for students in other faculties like Agric, MME, Education, Environmental, those at students Affairs etc to trek from FANS or MTN Stand to their respective faculties or destinations. But I ensured a total change of route that passes through all the faculties, so that students can board and alight at their destination of choice. The route as you know now passes through FANS, Education, Environmental, Agric, Law, Hostel and finally to the park. I want to this regards appreciate the my SUG Ministry of Transportation for executing this. Today in ESUT, we have shuttles, with ESUT Name and LOGO boldly written on it, and with ESUT colour too. It wasn’t easy achieving this, because of the compromise that needed to be reached, but, meanwhile, I thank God for the success of the project. I also wish to appreciate the ESUT Ventures, Transport Unions, Keke, Bus, etc for complying and showing their support. I really say, thank you.
More still, I want to proudly say that my government, first in recent times achieved a great feat in providing free access to creative opportunities that boosted their leadership, entrepreneurial and capacity competence. I initiated in partnership with Non government Organisations leadership training conference, Entrepreneurship seminars and Capacity building workshops. All these are verifiable, I can remember vividly, “The Conversation” a program the SUG did in partnership with Benson Boris. I can also remember the program we did in partnership with “Lead the youngsters initiatives” the other leadership program done by the SUG Ambassadors etc. This achievement to me I cherish so much because of the impact it generated.
I would also like to proudly say that my government had the most structured government ever. My government had The Executives, Legislative arm, and the judiciary. I also had the Ministers of different ministries that I created and SUG Ambassadors to different faculties. I also had Executive Assistants who represented myself at the departmental level. It wasn’t easy establishing this legacy, but I’m grateful to God that all who were part of my government were part of the history. I ensured that all my appointees both Judiciary and other parastatals received their appointment letter and had ID Card of office. Not only that this appointment gave the appointees a boost of their portfolio but it provided them very wonderful opportunities to develop the leadership capabilities, and this is verifiable with proofs even when they are out of school. I ensured I carried everybody along. I remember when I won my election, I called all those who contested with me and I offered them ministerial appointments. I asked my faculty presidents to appoint on my behalf my Ambassadors to their faculties. Departmental presidents did that for Executive Assistants. Some people who lost during elections of faculties, I appointed them as ministers and so on.
Before I forget please, there’s one thing I did few months after my resumption of office that really gave me joy. I was so happy I did it because I made a change, I corrected the problem and set the standard. It was and Executive charge and it was my most precious legacy as the Union President. The thing is, normally during Matriculation Ceremony, the SUG would meet all the service providers in school, Photographers, Transporters, food sellers etc, collect huge amount of money from them. It was already a recurrent norm, but I changed it. I changed it because it is not helping the students. The students are the consumers of these services, they are the ones who suffer because after the SUG might have finished collecting these monies, on the matriculation day there will be very high inflation of prices of services in the campus. Transport will rise with more than 100% increase, same as food, photograpghy etc. When I came on board I issued a presidential order restraining any member of the SUG from collecting any money from any person, and I also instructed that all service providers maintain normalcy in the price tag of their services. To this effect, I mobilized my force men, the Man o War and the NDLEA on the matriculation day to enforce this order and punish offender. Students can affirm to this because on that day some drivers who collected above normal price refunded their passengers while those who failed to make refund were taken to the barracks. This legacy I cherish, and I know it will last long. I thank the Man O War and NDLEA for all the support, God bless them all.
Lest I forget, it was in my government that the First Student Union Government General Assembly meeting was conducted. It was like the national Confabulation, all the Union Arm of government, the presidents of Departments and faculties, class reps etc were all present.
Personally, I know I made ESUT SUG Proud in my time. When I was the president, I won the position of the Chairman Council of SUG PRESIDENTS, Enugu State. I have the highest recognition as a student leader with over fifteen awards. I did my best to represent ESUT well.
Finally, because of want of time, I want to say that the even ESUT Press today is part of my success story. I remember I gave ESUT Press office at the SUG SECRETARIAT.
This is not just all my achievements but I think this will do for now.
ESUT PRESS: Few months ago the university issued a memo, announcing ur suspension, why that?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Yes, you’re right. Some months ago a memo was issued notifying my suspension as a student and invariably as the Union’s President. You know, when I won my election, even before I was sworn in, I went to God for a special thanksgiving, and I dedicated myself to Him and asked Him to take charge, because I know that a day like this might come and that their will always be turbulence of the ship. I knew what it took me to be the president, and I knew the fight that was fought, but when I sat on the sit, I knew even more that the battle wasn’t yet over. I was suspended because of the alleged 3 million Naira embezzlement. The management gave me time to recover the stolen money but I didn’t meet up with the time.
ESUT PRESS: It was alleged that you, financial secretary and treasurer embezzled 3 million, is their any truth in that?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Truth? Did I hear you say truth? Who on earth wants to hear the truth? I’m just suprised you’re looking for the truth. Because in this world, especially in circumstances like this, everybody wants to believe the lies. There is one thing about truth, all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident, but the fact is that truth is like a pregnancy when the times comes it will surely prevail, but is always good that one keeps his. conscience alive because conscience is like an open wound that only truth can heal. Since all these happened everybody has been clamouring to hear from me, to know what I have to say, but one thing for sure was that though the whole thing took me by surprise, I was not bamboozled. I knew it might come, but I didn’t know how.
You know, nothing attracts jealousy and envy like success, and when you’re successful people can go extra mile to bring you down. Just to make sure you’re a failure. You all are witnesses to the time I was the president. God used me to achieve a lot, my government was a success, everywhere you go, people talk about me etc, they see what I do, the policies I championed, the good decisions I took and the success achieved. Do you think everybody was happy about all that? Some people were like, why must all these happen in NWAIKUKU’s time? Why must it be him? This guy is going too far, etc instead of coming together to help achieve a better ESUT, some people swore to destroy it. And they present themselves as saints. They went to the extent of using some of my executive members to achieve their goal. But, I thank God it happened at the time it did because, if it had happened anything later, it would have been worse. God was just trying to protect me from total collapse. I know I had good ambition for the students, I wanted to give them the best and that was my goal. When I resumed office I had wanted to build a sport centre at the hostel area. I have already done the architectural design of the site plan and all the five different sports including football that I wanted to build. It was in the budget i prepared. But when I discussed that with the management and Director Physical planning, I learnt that the area wasn’t meant for such, so I had to change plan. I decided with the help of the Vice Chancellor to build an ultra modern Podium which will serve as a stage for activities like matriculation and convocation. It took me over 2 weeks to get the architectural design, and the bill of quantity is expected to cost more than 8 million naira even, which is very much higher than the money released by the school for the union even. I had already gotten a contractor that would handle the project. Also, my Director of Socials, Vice President and the committee on SUG Award Ceremony had already presented a rundown of the expense and budget for the event. I also as part of the tradition wanted to attend to the Parliament to augument the budgetary allocations. So, these were what I wanted to do some hours before I was robbed. I thank God I took all the steps legitimate by law, I reported to the vice chancellor and reported to the police too. The police made arrest and investigation. But you know this wasn’t an unplanned attack, it was deliberate, and they were influenced by people who wanted my downfall, people who never wanted me to achieve my goal. So they took advantage as planned, and they were able to convince some of you with their lies. But those who know me, knew what I can do and what I cannot do. I do not blame the Vice Chancellor for his decisions, because if your son seemingly offends you, you have the right to punish him, because he is your child and you want the best for him. For me, that is simply what he has done, and that is what every good father would do. No great mam has ever been without tribulations and persecutions.
There is one more thing to this, when I visit the social media, what I see there everyday keeps me wondering how some people enjoy denting others image. I hate using hate speeches or propaganda as a weapon to fight my competitor (not opponent, because we are just competing in this life). Even if it is the only thing I can brag of, I can proudly say without fear of favour that in my government,even after my government, I never used hate speech, and I don’t castigate people on social media. I don’t complain. I told all my supporter who were willing to fight for me using the social media not to because hate speech is injurious and it is not in my nature. To those who are using hate speech to dent others image, one day they shall see what I saw, and they will make a better resolution.
ESUT PRESS: According to the Dean, the university suspended your academics activities, how does that affect you?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Of course it is affecting me like it would to any student. But I thank the management, who has been lenient and tolerating in my situation. I thank God for that, I am coping well. I know it will soon be over.
ESUT PRESS: Is their anything you regretted not doing as the SUG president ?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: Yes of course there are some things I had hope I will do that I couldn’t do. Though it is not unusual anyway, but it is a concern to me. I wanted to actualize my vision of erecting the Convocation arena podium, because, I really planned it big and I had already deviced a way to fund the project outside the Union’s fund. So it really pained me that I wasn’t able to do it. I pray that the incoming government will take it up from where I stopped. I will provide them all the necessary assistance and support to make it a success.
There is one more thing I had wanted to do. I realized that the problem in ESUT Students Union is lack of orientation of what true leadership is. Many, infact majority believe that the politics is all about tribe and opposition. Some believe that it’s all about fighting and winning. So, you see, we have a bad stereotypic mindset. I wanted to organise a leadership training for all the people who will emerge victorious at the upcoming polls, the departmental and faculty executives, SUG Executives, parliament members, judiciary etc and then invite key successful and distinguished speakers to speak to them. There is need to change the people mindset. How I wish this my idea will one day be a success.
ESUT PRESS: What advise do you have for upcoming political aspirants in the university?
COMR. EZE UCHENNA VICTOR-NWAIKUKU: My advise to them is to be true, to be the best, to never give up on God, to never give up on themselves and most paramount, to keep their conscience alive.