VC of COOU, Prof Fidelis Okafor receiving the Garkuwan Award from Isah Abubakar, National President, Northern Youth Council of Nigeria.
A group under the aegis of Northern Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) recently at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), Igbariam Campus, honoured the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Fidelis Okafor, with the prestigious Garkuwan Matassan Arewa Award for his outstanding performance in the development of education in the country.
Presenting the award, the group's National President, Comrade Isah Abubakar, said what informed their decision were Prof. Fidelis Okafor's numerous contributions in the education sector, noting that he (Okafor) had helped to mould many flourishing characters in and outside the Southeast Geopolitical Zone.
According to the youth leader, they found him worthy because of his sterling qualities and profound commitment in taking education to greater heights, even as he described him as a quiet achiever.
Abukakar who explained Garkuwan Matassan Arewa to mean, the shield of Northern and Nigerian youths, said the vice chancellor's developmental strides at COOU could not go unnoticed, noting that Prof. Okafor's achievements had placed the institution in the world map, as well as positioned the institution as one of the leading universities in the country.
Abubakar commended the Vice Chancellor's achievements as the Provost of Nwafor-Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe, before taking over at COOU where, he said, Okafor had done a lot.
He described the VC as a patriotic citizen whose performance at various echelons of leadership was worthy of emulation by those who wished to become better citizens, stressing that with such people in various positions in the country, there would not be calls for secession or agitation from any section.
Maintaining that the VC's triumvirate vision, sincerity of purpose and fear of God were responsible for his distinction, he pointed that Okafor was never linked with any issue of misappropriation in his entire career.
According to him, 'People are calling for secession and evacuation of some tribes in their communities, instead of working for national unity and peace. The youths are the future of this country and as such, we must fight for the right cause.
'We are aware that our leaders have failed us. How can Nigeria in the 21st century still be talking about closure of schools in the name of strike? The way out is to restructure Nigeria because an average Northerner also feels that he is marginalised.
'It is on this note that we want to invite Prof. Okafor to a meeting of all the VCs where the unity and peace of the country will be discussed knowing full well that they have quantum of youths under their tutelage,' he said.
Receiving the award, Prof. Fidelis Okafor expressed gratitude to NYCN for singling him out from the far north.
Describing the award as a university award, Okafor maintained that the future of the country lay with the youth and stressed the need to give them the opportunity to pilot the affairs of the nation.
He said that the university which was renamed after the late Biafra leader, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in 2014, was famous for serenity and had always propagated the unity of the country.
Noting that Nigeria would get better in an atmosphere of peace, he said that what the average Nigerian needed was a means of livelihood and a conducive environment to raise children. He regretted however that politicians had denied them such, leading to the various sectional agitations now.
In his remarks, the Director of Medical Services, COOU, Dr. Emmanuel Ekwesianya, said the award truly befitted the character of the VC and his contributions to the various higher institutions he had managed.
He said that the university was one of few that maintained an academic calendar under the stewardship of Prof. Okafor, whom he described as a problem solver.
Earlier, the Special Assistant to the governor on Student Matters, Sherriff Zadok, said that the VC deserved the award given to him for his enormous input over the years, noting that the award was a welcome development to both the VC, the institution and to the people of Anambra.
Fides reported a few months ago that the Northern Youth Coalition for Peaceful Co-existence led by its National Coordinator, Mr. Ochai Adakola, conferred an award on Prof. Fidelis Okafor for his outstanding contributions to the educational sector and infrastructural development in the university.