A toast to Unical 'Mr. Project', Prof. Zana Akpagu @60 By Inyali Peter

UNICAL VC, Prof. Zana Akpagu

When God visited the family of Late. Mr. and Mrs. Akpagu of Bebuagbong village, Obudu local government area of Cross River State 60 years ago and blessed them with a very handsome son, now a Professor, Zana Akpagu there was the usual shout of joy, celebration and excitement that's associated with the people of Obudu whenever a new chirld is given birth to.

The shouts are very normal and usual. Whether the child will grow up to become a disgrace that will bring shame to the family or a super star  that will bring fame (Like the case of Prof. Akpagu), there's usually a shout of joy. Women from within the communities usually gather, dance and thank God for the gift. History, however has shown that majority of those who run around new born babies in Africa especially do that with envy and hatred.

This means that despite the joy expressed during the birth of this rare gem, many people who rallied round him singing and joying were not completely happy. Some who can see beyond the physical would have seen that he carried the destiny of multitudes and of course may have tried to cut him short. But God is always God. He was created for a purpose and without equivocation, I need no prophet to tell me that the 60 years of Prof. Akpagu on earth has not just been memorable but fullfilling.

At this point, let me give a brief biography of the cerebral academic and an administrator of no mean repute, Prof. Zana Itiunbe Akpagu.

Mr. Project as fondly called is the current Vice- Chancellor of the University of Calabar and the 10th in the series. He holds the historic record of being the 1st Alumnus of Unical to become its Vice-Chancellor. He is incidentally, the 1st Vice-Chancellor of that institution from Northern Senatorial District of Cross River State.

A professor of Caribbean and African Literature in French, Akpagu until his present appointment, had served the University as a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Administration), Head of Department of Modern Languages and Translation, Dean of Students’ Affairs, Elected Member of Governing Council as well as the Dean, Faculty of Arts.

The Obudu born Professor began his Educational career in the famous Mary Knoll College, Okuku-Ogoja (now-Yala), where he obtained Division One in the West African School Certificate Examination (W.A.S.C.E), in 1977. He thereafter proceeded  to the University of Calabar where he bagged a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in French with Second Class Upper Division in 1982. In 1985, he obtained an M.A in French from the same University and in 1995, a Ph. D in African and Caribbean Literature in French, from the University of Benin (UNIBEN).

Professor Akpagu’s working experience began as a Graduate Assistant with the defunct University of Cross River State, now the University of Uyo. He later moved to the University of Benin as Lecturer 1, from 1994 to 1998 and thereafter took up appointment with the University of Calabar, as Senior Lecturer, in 1998, where he rose to become a Professor on 1st October, 2007.

An erudite Scholar, Professor Akpagu has won a number of awards, including “Dr. E.N Amaku Prize” for Best Graduating Student in Languages from Unical, in 1982. He has attended many Local and International conferences (in U.S.A, France, Isreal, South Korea, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, etc) and with many publications to his credit. He is a member of several professional bodies and a recipient of over 45 awards. The multitudinous awards clearly underlie his massive contributions in the Gown and Town.

The University 10th Vice Chancellor had also served his people in different capacities such as Commissioner of Education, Cross River State (2001-2003 under Governor Donald Duke), Special Adviser to the Governor of Cross River State on Inter-Governmental Affairs (2007-2010) as well as Special Adviser to the Governor, Special Duties (2010-2012 under Governor Imoke).

It is noteworthy that under his watch as Commissioner of Education, he midwifed the establishment of the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), saw to the return of 11 seized Mission Secondary Schools to their owners, including his alma mater, Mary Knoll College Okuku, Yala and established 27 new secondary schools among which are Government Secondary School Atekong Drive (the most populous secondary school in Cross River State and 6 others in Calabar), Government Secodary School, Okuku, Yala.; Kagbong Secondary School Ipong, Obudu, etc.

Professor Akpagu is a devout Catholic Christian, a Knight of the Sacred Order of St. Mulumba and a Jerusalem Pilgrim (JP).  He is a quintessential community leader and chief, who holds the Obudu traditional titles of Unwa-"Ushie of Obudu" which is the highest chieftaincy title in Obudu, “Ushikebe 1” of Ipong, “Utekushu 1” of Bebuagbong, Obudu, “Utah kinde 1” of Bedia, Obudu, “Ushikpel kubong 1” of Ohong, Obudu, “Ntufam  Amid Ejagham” of the Qua Nation,  “Otebeche 1” of Yala, “Garkuwan Matasan Arewa”, "Okungboo1 of Bekwerra", etc.

Prof. Akpagu is happily married to his ever smiling beautiful and elegant wife, Ntunkae (Lady) Winnie and the union is blessed with four lovely chrildren: Briana, Maximillien,  Zana Jnr. and Sean.

Trying to profile the achievements of this accomplished academic and Leader is like imagining that a cat can land with its back on the ground. Some of his good works, successes and uncommon achievements as Unical VC are already in the public domain. Akpagu has done so much such that Unical today is ranked among the very best not just in Nigeria but moving stoutly to be among the best in the world.

Having sacrificed his entire life to serve humanity and serve very well, every right thinking member of the society owes it a duty to pray God to continue to keep him in good health, reward him with higher responsibilities and opportunities and always fight his enemies on his behalf.   

Prof. Akpagu, a Boss like no other is a star. My greatest wish for him today is to continue shinning at the chargrin of his enemies. This and many more I ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Congratulations for the diamond Jubilee and happy birthday, Boss.
Prof Zana Akpagu 8254722220444061250

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