Rural Development: Akpagu takes first ever bank to Bekwarra

Unical VC, Prof. Zana Akpagu

Solomon Ugo,Calabar

The Vice Chancellor, University of Calabar, Prof. Zana Akpagu and his wife, Ntunkae Lady Winnie Akpagu have added another feather to a star studded cap. The duo, on Saturday May 25, 2019 in St. Christopher Secondary School,  Abuochiche, Bekwarra Local Government Area of Cross River State were conferred the prestigious titles of Okungboo1 and Unye Okungboo of Bekwarra which literarily translates to torch bearer and woman of light respectively.

The colourful ceremony drew notable figures of Bekwarra origin, Paramount Rulers from the five local government in Cross River Northern Senatorial District as well as top administrators including different Unions from the University community. It was not only filled with glamour but a sight to behold as the mood of the people is reflected in the open arms given to the August visitor.

Indeed as a torch bearer, it aptly captures the title given that he has led worthy causes through inspiring leadership.

Akpagu, the first alumnus VC of Unical, blessed with administrative insights that earned him the most enviable award of the best performing Vice Chancellor in Nigeria, needs no introduction in his beliefs on cultural values. The unique value to his cultural affinity with the people makes him a quintessential leader. 

A persicope to his disposition towards numerous titles willingly conferred on him by many host communities whose attraction is hinged on performance remains a call to more service to improving on the university and the people. This aptly captures the saying that “a golden fish has no hidding place”. No wonder, Ikpetemana dance synonymous with the Obudu people which showcases the prowess of a victorious hunter and selfless warrior is always performed at ceremonies of this magnitude; affording him the chance to consolidate on the gains achieved so far with a view to breaking new grounds.

At the conferment ceremony, the Bekwarra nation described him in glowing term as that of a rare combination of sociability, dilligence, intellection, exquisite looks and fecund ideas whose outstanding performance in positions held is constant like a Northern Star. To the delight of the Bekwarra race, the latest Okungboo1 whose affinity with the people transcends not only being neigbours but maternally linked has always been one of their own.

Ground breaking performance by an affiliate leader who constantly seeks direction from the people through participatory engagement of the University management is very irrestible.

The enigma presented soothing relief to residents of Bekwarra which until his innovative gesture, clamour relentlessly for a bank in Bekwarra to ease untold hardship experienced when making banking transactions.

In one of his trademarks with proven prudence, managerial skills that most recently received plaudit as a reference point for other university administrastors in Nigeria by the University of Calabar visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari. The President acknowledged his prudence in managing lean resources as a sterling example worthy of emulation in the country.

This act of stickling for fairness and propriety in policies in his stint so far has resulted in a flurry of titles conferred on him. Under his watch, University of Calabar sits comfortably as a university of first choice in the South-South geopolitical zone and one of the most sought after in Nigeria.

Cross River State Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Anthony Eneji, Chairman Central Planning Committee for the conferment ceremony told TNN in an exclusive interview that titles so far conferred on him were earned on the basis of monumental achievements as an academia and administrator.

“He has really distinguished himself to earn any recognition from every corner. We expect him to keep the momentum and keep listening to the call of the people in his responsibility to serving them”

On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Bekwarra, His Royal Majesty, Odey Linus Ogbeche, affirmed earlier views expressed towards Prof Akpagu’s giant strides since assuming office three and half years ago. 

The monarch said, "your tenure is witnessing a lot of tremendous achievements ranging from admissions, employment opportunities, infrastructural development and establishment of new academic programmes”

Continuing, he averred that the Bekwarra nation has not lost sight of the unprecedented level of accelerated promotion of deserving Bekwarra indigene into higher positions while also applauding the location of the University of Calabar Microfinance Bank as a pioneer bank in Bekwarra. 

His Royal Majesty noted that huge disadvantage and pains the people face in making financial transactions would soon be a thing of the past with the bank coming on stream.

Also in an exclusive interview with TNN, Barr Linus Adie maintained that the motivating factor in conferring the highest titles of Okungboo1 and Unye Okungboo on the Vice Chancellor and his wife is attributed to hardwork.

"The desire of the Vice Chancellor to live for his people because Bekwarra nation is witnessing increased participation in decision making process and other opportunities in the university”, he said.

Appreciating the Bekwarra Traditional Rulers Council for the initiative, Chairman Bekwarra Local Government’s Security Committee, Hon Signor Omang Idiege, described him as a worthy ambassador of the people who picked up the gaunlet when faced with the odds of  abandoned projects in Unical. 

"Majority of all the abandoned projects witnessed decades ago have all been transformed”, he emphasized.

Professor Inah, one of the key facilitators of the conferment ceremony said he expects the latest member of the Bekwarra Traditional Rulers Council to keep up the good work being a  torch bearer and sound administrator of the University and Bekwarra people for encouraging  community development.

In his reaction, the latest delight of the Bekwarra nation, Prof. Akpagu, appreciated members of the university management led by the Registrar, Mr Moses Abang, different workers union in the university and Bekwarra Traditional Rulers Council for a call to further serve humanity with a high sense of humility and dilligence while also praying for God’s grace to do more in this regard. 

“I don’t think I deserve the titles, but I see them as a call to duty”, he said while urging the people to fervently pray for him in order to continue his good works for the University and Bekwarra nation. 

Akpagu assurd the people that the Microfinance bank will take off in August this year.
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