Unical : Recounting Prof. Akpagu's Strides One Year After Leaving Office As VC

Prof. Zana Akpagu, immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar. 

By Inyali Peter 

Today, December 1, 2021, marks exactly one year since Prof. Zana Akpagu bowed out in style as Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Calabar (Unical), after serving out his illustrious and projects laden five-year single term. 

Prof. Akpagu made history in December 1, 2015 when he assumed office as the first alumnus Vice Chancellor of the University. Being the first "true" Unical blood to attain the exalted position of VC, much was expected of him. 

By the time he handed over in 2020, the University community knew that, truly, one of them had tested power. His five-year tenure was characterized with projects within and outside the University, employment opportunities for teeming youths, research breakthrough for staff, etc. 

He handed over a University in a very stable condition in terms of physical infrastructure, research and development, security, etc. 

Although a lot was said about his administration's investment in infrastructure, one area that much wasn't heard about was improvement of the University's budget and internally generated revenue. 

Understanding the importance of finances to the development of the University, Prof. Akpagu ensured he improved the internally generated revenue of the University to over a billion naira in a year by investing in entrepreneurship and diversifying the University's source of revenue. 

Like many Universities in Nigeria, Unical was majorly funded through school fee and other charges students pay. To remove the pressure from students and overcome the temptation of increasing students levies and charges to improve revenue generation, Akpagu opened other sources of revenue for the institution. 

For instance, he  invested and expanded the Unical Water services to be producing water in commercial quantities to serve the entire Unical community and state. He also upgraded the unit to a full directorate thereby giving it the platform to function effectively. 

He also invested in Unical Paint and expanded the production capacity to a commercial level. Before he left office, Unical was producing paint in commercial quantity. 

During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Akpagu's administration also took advantage of the situation and ventured into Hand Santizer production. Unical Hand Sanitizer was a hot cake and orders were coming for the product within and outside the state.

Similarly, Akpagu shot the University's Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) budget to the third highest in the country in 2020 through his effective utilization of the funds that were previously voted to the University. Perhaps, his rating as the beat VC in utilization of TETFUND funds by visiting TETFUND officials played a huge part in achieving improved budget allocation for the University. 

In terms of security, his cordial relationship with students, staff and host community helped him address the issues of Kidnapping in staff quarters, cultism, theft, amongst others. He also built a standard Police Station at the University Staff quarters to help curb insecurity. 

To make Unical's offering more appealing to the contemporary Labour demands, Akpagu embarked on massive programme expansion by creating new faculties and departments. Although, he was enable to get full accreditation for some of the programme, it's still on record that he's the first VC in Nigeria to get full accreditation for faculty of Dentistry in its very first presentation. 

In terms of infrastructure, as earlier stated, his name was synonymous to projects. At some points, he as nick named Mr. Projects owing to his massive investments in infrastructural development. 

Under his watch, Unical always had one hundred percent in Environment during accreditation. He replaced ornaments that were as old or even older than the University with more alluring ones. This explains why the institution was rated as one of the cleanest Universities in Nigeria in his time. 

Apart from bringing facelift to the university's environment, during festive seasons, Akpagu made the University an alluring tourists sites by wearing it a serene ambience from the gate through the boulevard to the main campus with state-of-the-art Chrisman decorations. Fun seekers and tourists always troop in in their numbers to take pictures, make skit, etc. 

As human, Akpagu's regime was not without flaws but his successes outweighed his flaws. This explains why one year after leaving office as Vice Chancellor, his name has continued to reverberate at every nook and cranny of the University. 

He may not be in power again but even his greatest critics can't deny the legacies he left behind or the fact that he put Unical in the pedestal of sustainable development that'll forever be remembered. 

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