Our personality of the week for this week is a revered community leader and an accomplished academic Don whose outstanding leadership qualities and achievements in the academic realm have taken him to the very top as provost of the College of Education, Agbor. In this comprehensive interview he granted Ika Weekly Newspaper reporters on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at his Boji-Boji, Owa residence, he gives an incisive overview of his background, achievements and his steady rise to the pinnacle of his career.
Good day Sir.
Good day Gentlemen
PLEASE, CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF SIR?
My name is Dr. Joseph Onyeisi Ukadike
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD?
I am from Idumu Oba Quarters, Umunede, Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State. I was born on the 5th of June 1957; I attended Primary School briefly at St. Thomas Demonstration Primary School, Ibusa before we came back to Umunede, where I completed my primary school at Catholic Primary School 2, now known as Dia Primary School Umunede. I finished my primary school education in 1970. Then from 1971 to 1975, I was in St. Thomas Teachers Training College Ibusa, where I completed my TC2. After that I was posted to Ekpu Primary School in Ute-Okpu as an auxiliary teacher, where I taught from 1975 to 1979. In 1979/1980 I gained admission into the prestigious College of Education Abraka, Delta State and graduated in 1982 I did my National Youth Service Corps at Kwara State in Ihima area of Okenne, which was in former Kwara State and now Kogi State. After my youth service, I came back and started teaching at Ime-Obi Secondary School, Agbor; where I taught for two years. Later I gained admission to the then Bendel State University, Abraka Campus which was in 1985/1986 Academic Session and graduated in 1988. In 1989 I went to the University of Benin for my Masters Degree Programme in Social Studies Curriculum and I graduated in 1991. In 1989 I was recruited while doing my masters as a part time lecturer in the College of Education Agbor to teach religious studies, so we were teaching Religious Studies to part time Sandwich students of the College. In 1993, I was formally absorbed as a full time lecturer in the department of Social Studies after acquiring my M.ED (Social Studies Education Curriculum) in 1991. I started as a lecturer III, from where I rose to the position of Chief Lecturer through promotions and hardwork.
I was promoted Chief Lecturer in 2008 in the Department of Social Studies. In 1997, I went for my PhD (Doctorate Degree) in the same University of Benin and graduated in 2005 in PhD course (Social Studies Education). So, here I am, I have equally written a number of books and articles, both nationally and internationally. I have also been an external examiner to many Colleges of Education, including Ekiadolor, College of Education Warri and even some of the Colleges of Education in the Eastern parts of Nigeria. Well, as for the various positions I have held, I have held several positions. When I was a Lecturer III, I was elected as COEASU Chairman, Agbor Chapter, when I finished my tenure, and got re-elected again as COEASU Chairman. At the National level, I was elected the Coordinator of Edo-Delta; where I handled all COEASU matters in all the Colleges of Education in the Zone. Also at the national level, I was elected Financial Secretary of all the Colleges of Education in the Federation. Coming back to the college, I was equally elected as Dean of Faculty, School of Arts and Social Sciences in 2006 and in 2008 again, I was re-elected Dean of the same school and finished up my tenure in 2010. After that, I went for Sabbatical Leave at Federal College of Education (Technical) Asaba in 2010/2011 session where I was for one full year. I have been Head of Department (HOD) for four consecutive times in the Department of Social Studies, even before I became the Dean of School. When I returned from my Sabbatical Leave, I was also made Head of Department for Social Studies because we were facing accreditation problem then. And of course, that was again when I tried for the post of provost for the first time.
In 2014, I was made Director of Delsu Degree programme of the College. On the 21st of June 2016, I was made substantive Provost of College of Education, Agbor. Along the line, I was also made the Chairman of Staff Welfare of all the Colleges; Professor Joe appointed me to this position and I was in this position for four years.
That is for the academic environment. For the community level, I am a prominent Chief in Umunede, where I hold the title of Oshodi of Umunede kingdom. My greeting is “OTIKU”. The title is hereditary.
My father’s name is Chief Jacob Jegbefume Ukadike, he was not all that learned, but he was wise. He did not have the opportunity of being educated but because of his interest in education he went to adult evening classes in Umunede. He was a renowned farmer and apart from being a farmer, he was a food contractor to St. Thomas College Ibusa, and also Ika Grammar School Boji-Boji, Owa, in those days. So you can see that he was learned and regarded as an educated man in the society. He also worked with the Europeans and it was through this opportunity and exposure that he got all his children educated. My mother is from Idumu-Obi quarters. She is by name Mrs. Felicia Ukadike Nee Nzononye. She is late likewise my father. They had six children including myself. I am number two. We have three males and three females; but when you talk of the head of the family, I am the head of the family being the first male child.
My late father took the title of Oshodi in 1972 and reigned for a period of thirty three years and died on 25th August 2005. After the burial rites, I took over the title of Oshodi on the 23rd of February 2007.
AS A YOUTH WHILE GROWING UP WHAT MOTIVATED YOU INTO ACHIEVING THIS HEIGHT IN LIFE?
Exposure matters a lot. My dad exposed us, we were living in St. Thomas College compound, and my dad was supplying food to the students then. It was enough motivation, that awareness and we all knew the importance of education. Our father was there for us, he didn’t ask us to go and learn trading and he didn’t ask us to go and learn bicycle repairing. He was focused and a very good disciplinarian. He made us to read even though he had the money. But with his kind of person, you can never get anything on the platter of gold. You have to work for it. That was the kind of lesson he taught us. He made us to work very hard to be self reliant. He was a very purposeful person. He was well known in Umunede and he was rich according to Umunede level. He made us not to be lazy, because he does not tolerate laziness and truancy.
Within Your First Year In Office As A Provost, What Have Been Your Achievements From What You Met On Ground?
Well, first and foremost, I have to start by thanking His Excellency Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa the Governor of Delta State for giving me the opportunity to serve. Well, you are aware that things are very difficult now and we are not getting things easy because of this economic recession that is everywhere; as it is not only limited to Delta State.
Before I was appointed provost, the school environment, was very bushy and we couldn’t have blamed anybody for it; my first step was to launch an appeal to some well meaning individuals in Ika nation, so that we can clean up the compound and I got a very good response from a very great son of the soil, the man is well respected and he does not want his name to be mentioned anywhere, because of the donation. This man donated a new tractor and a Slasher which helped us tremendously to clean up the College compound. If you have been to the college compound of recent you will agree with me that the College is now very clean. That is our first achievement which many people have come to acknowledge. Number two, is peace and harmony in the college. Personally, I am a detribalized human being though I am from Ika extraction but I do not believe in all these ethnic leanings here and there, I always like to do what is right, and to give to Caesar what belong to Caesar and to God, what belongs to God and because of this, there is peace in college community. We now live as brothers and sisters, drink from one cup, eat from one plate and we now see that everybody is happy. I made sure that all ethnic groups in Delta State and even beyond were represented in the various appointments made in the college. They commended me for it and that is the peace that we are enjoying today.
The third one is that when I came on board, I saw that the buildings in our primary and secondary schools were obsolete. I therefore took major steps to give massive renovation to the primary and secondary section of the schools. Today, if you are passing there, it is now the cynosure of all eyes, The pupils, students, teachers and principals are happy. We have equally made foundation for two class rooms down and two classrooms up from those classrooms that the water tank collapsed upon. We have cleared the place and we now want to build the classrooms through self help. What I did was to encourage the Parents Teachers Association to do something and they are doing very well in that direction. Another area of achievement, is that when I came on board, I discovered that all the vehicles owned by the school, were grounded both buses and cars and within the past few weeks, I have reactivated three buses and they are on the road, I have equally detailed some of the buses to be carrying our pupils and students. Through our Internally Generated Revenue, we repaired cars and distributed them to the various offices. Then of recent, I just bought five vehicles for the Principal Officers of the college through our IGR. The Deans are now driving college cars and they are very happy. I made it a deliberate policy for all the Deans to have official cars. Then for the infrastructure, if you get to the new site, you will see the new ICT buildings. When I came on board, I made sure that I followed it up and the building is almost completed now, though through TET FUND Intervention 2013. It is such a great achievement.
Then I brought CBT centre for JAMB exams to the college. I made it a point of duty for the project to work and today as we speak, we have a success story on that project. Our centre was used for the last JAMB Examination and even after the Exams, we were acclaimed the best centre in the whole of Delta State and we have been given another go ahead to conduct the coming JAMB Examination in July 2017 at the CBT centre.
We conducted Deanship and Deputy Provost Elections and there was no trouble. NUC accreditation exercise was held without any problem. NUC increased our admission from 300 students to 600 students. Our degree students for the first time got listed into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Today as we speak, they have mobilized three hundred and seventeen of our students for NYSC. Parents are happy. That again is my achievement.
Then we also discovered that there is paucity of fund in the college, so I decided to raise IGR for the college. So, I bought small cows, which we are rearing now. The poultry farm in the college has equally been improved upon. The piggery section is equally not left out and all these are to raise our IGR in the college.
The College held her eminent lecture on June 28, 2017. It is a way of showcasing the College, so that, well to do individuals can come and do something for the college.
SIR, WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PROPELLING FORCE THAT GEARS YOU TO ACHIEVING SUCCESS IN ANY POSITION THAT YOU ARE GIVEN TO SERVE?
Well, do I say, it is an inner calling. One thing is that I am always afraid of failure. So, whatever I do, I follow it up. I try by all means to supervise any given task to the latter. Whenever I give an instruction I will follow it up with every amount of energy and make sure that things are done. That has been the propelling force behind all these achievements. I also listen to people, give them their respect and seek for their opinions. Once we are discussing and they have a superior argument, I follow it. Another factor is the human relationship. I don’t like to see myself as a boss in anyway because whatever I do is an opportunity; so I put myself down and I open up myself to my friends and I try to be natural. I do not think that any position I occupy will ever influence me negatively in my life. And since I became Provost I did not see any significant change in my behavior. I don’t pretend and I don’t do more than myself. All along, I have lived all my life in Umunede with my people and they so much love me because I did not alienate myself from them. The greatest check on security is when you open yourself and you are simple to people.
Once you are helpful, simple and unassuming, they will help to protect you; nothing will happen to you.
SO FAR SIR, WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU HAVE FACED IN YOUR DRIVE TO THE TOP?
For those that are in administration and managers of men, you will agree with me that the greatest problem of any person is the human complexity. Human beings are complex, you can hardly satisfy human beings but God is helping me. Like what I said earlier, if I discover that you are not relating well with me like before, I will go straight to ask if there is any matter between us and if it means apologizing to you and without wasting time, I will do it. That is my nature.
Some of the major challenges that I have now is paucity of fund to operate the system. The money is not just there and our NCE students’ number is coming down drastically. We have a lot of infrastructures that will need maintenance from time to time; our electricity bill is there, do you know that BEDC gives us a bill of over one million naira on a monthly basis. We are trying to manage with the little fund that is at our disposal and the fund is not sufficient. Another challenge is that there are some of the staff that have been retired and to replace them is another problem. For the past five years, the government has not done any recruitment, so we have a lot of vacant positions, but you cannot employ, you cannot do that on your own; most lecturers have retired and there are some areas that you will need accreditation of those courses and without enough manpower you cannot scale through. Some of our classrooms are leaking. Some of the buildings are worn out and you cannot do anything because we don’t have money. Even to pay some of the casual staff the money is not there.
Another issue is electricity, if somebody can give us 500KVA generator, it will help greatly. The one we had has broken down, it is no longer serving us and we need the power very urgently because we cannot pay for the charges on electricity bill but if we have the 500KVA, it will help us solve some electricity problems in the two campuses. Then for vehicles, we need some Hilux vans, coaster buses for both students and staff. The ones we have are old and bad. They cannot go far. We also need ambulance vehicle or car for our medical unit. We need all these facilities because they are not there. These are some of the challenges that we are facing and we are hopeful that our good brothers and sisters will come to our aids.
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN POLITICS?
No. I am still in service; I cannot be in service and be playing politics.
WHAT IS YOUR PERCEPTION ABOUT LIFE?
Life is very simple. If you do more than yourself you will face problems, but if you live a simple life and you continue to thank God and you are well contented and you are happy with where you are and what you have, don’t try to be over ambitious, you will enjoy your life. I have been enjoying my life, I have never been involved in any criminal activity. I want to live a very simple life, I don’t want to be excessively rich, so whatever is given to me by God I feel grateful and very contented.
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
Yes, I am a Catholic and a third degree knight; a knight of St. Mulumba. I am a zonal leader in the knighthood.
ARE YOU MARRIED?
Yes. I am married to Mrs. Helen Obiajulu Ukadike nee Iloba and we are blessed with five children.
IN LIFE, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BEST AND WORST MOMENT?
My best moment was when I obtained my Ph.D that is my doctorate degree in 2005, and my second best moment was when I was appointed the Provost of College of Education, Agbor on 21st June 2016; and that is why I remain very grateful to His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa for finding me worthy of the appointment on the exalted position. Well, for the worst moment, that was when my mother died.
WHAT LEGACIES WILL YOU LIKE TO LEAVE BEHIND?
I will want to leave the legacy of hard work. I am praying that God in his infinite mercy will turn this College of Education into a University of Education. It will be enough legacies. I want to leave a legacy of having enough infrastructures in the College, so that by the time I finish my tenure I will look back and nod my head and say, yes; I have contributed my quota to the upliftment of the College. I am from Ika; if I do well, it will be on record, if I don’t do well it will also be on record; so I want to leave this legacy of doing well to the college and that is the difference between me and other people from other places. They could come to Agbor, do whatever they like and go. You may not see them again throughout their lifetime. But in my case, I am from Umunede, where will I run to? So, that is why it has become mandatory that I must leave a very good legacy of hardwork, honesty, truthfulness and great achievements.
HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY AWARD OF COMMENDATION FOR YOUR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT?
Oh yes. I have received so many awards that I have actually lost count of them. I have received awards from religious bodies, educational institutions, international organizations like Rotary Club and so many others.
IN WHAT WAYS HAVE YOU DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY CONTRIBUTED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR IMMEDIATE COMMUNITY, UMUNEDE AND BY EXTENSION, IKA LAND?
Well I have played very active roles toward the development of my community. I contributed my time and resources in the building of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Umunede where I headed the building committee which oversaw the execution of the projects. Also, as an Umunede Chief, I initiated and canvassed for several community development initiatives ranging from provision of social amenities in the community, award of scholarships to deserving Umunede students and some other empowerment schemes. I love my people very much and I am always in touch with them and I try to render assistance to that in need whenever I can.
WHAT ARE YOUR FINAL WORDS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND YOUTHS OF THIS PRESENT DAY?
To the government, I say they should focus on formulating people oriented policies and programmes that would improve the living standard of the citizenry.
The youths on their own part, must play proactive roles in ensuring that they take part in nation building. They should refrain from indulging in nefarious activities like gangsterism, drug addiction etc which are detrimental to the growth and development of society. Even in spite of the shortfall of employment opportunities in the society, they should engage themselves in worthwhile activities and self employment ventures which will enable them cater for themselves and their families and in turn accelerate economic activities in the society.
SIR, HOW DO YOU THINK THE RECENT ECONOMIC SUMMIT WILL BENEFIT THE COLLEGE AND IKA LAND?
The Economic Summit will tremendously affect the College of Education in several ways. We have some departments that closely associates with the dreams and aspirations of the summit, they include; The fine and Applied Art department, Theater Arts department, Home Economics department and Music department that will be of immense benefit to the summit, through which Ika Nation, Nigeria and the world at large will know what they are doing and what they can offer and how they can tap from the available resources in the College and Ika land.
SIR IS IT TRUE THAT FORMER PRESIDENT IBRAHIM BABANGIDA PROMISED TO GIVE THE COLLEGE A STRUCTURE, AND WHAT IS THE ITEM?
Former President Babangida actually came, though he was not present Physically but he sent a representative in person of His Excellency Ambassador Leo Okogwu, his brother in-law from Asaba, and there at the occasion he made a donation of 30 office Block and he also laid the foundation of the building immediately.