REPORT ON IMO STATE UNIVERSITY ENDOWMENT MISSION ABROAD

 

INTRODUCTION

The much awaited and anticipated trip to the United States of America and the United Kingdom by representatives of the Imo State University Governing Council and the Accountant – General, Imo State, finally took place between 28 December. 2001 and 13 January 2002.

 

PURPOSE

The purpose of the trip, which was well organized and co-coordinated by the Imo State Trade and Development Office in Washington DC, was two fold. First was to expand the endowment drive of the university and secondly to seek academic and institutional partnerships for the university.

 

DELEGATION

The expected delegation was to be made up of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council – HRH Eze Godwin O. Okwuaka, MFR, the Vice Chancellor – Prof Anthony G. Anwukah, the Chairman of the Endowment Fund Committee – Rt. Rev Professor Bishop Emmanuel U. Iheagwam, and the Imo State Accountant – General – Dr. Emeka Adimmadu. However, only two of the delegates – Eze Okwuaka and Dr. Adimmadu made the trip. While the Vice Chancellor stated that the dates were not convenient, the Chairman of the Endowment Committee said that he had official engagement. Inspite of the abridged delegation, the contingent arrived Washington, DC on the 29 December 2001 and went straight into action.

 

PROGRAM

The Imo State Trade Representative in Washington, DC, Hon. Ike C. Ibe, designed a program of activities covering several states in the United States including Washington, DC, Maryland, New York, Louisiana, Georgia and Virginia. The program included fundraising events, endowment activities, and meetings with universities, international organizations, NGO’s, Imo and Nigerian people within and outside the academic community.

 

December 30 - Washington, DC

The delegation met with the Imo State Trade representative at the Imo State Office in Washington to review the program for the trip. Thereafter in the evening, a fund raising and endowment event was held at the Holiday Inn at College Park, Maryland, a Washington, DC suburb. The event, a very successful one, attracted the presence of several highly placed Imo people and a substantial number of other Nigerians, Americans and foreigners. In a very well prepared powerful speech, the trade representative, Hon. Ike Ibe, traced the history and progress of the Chief Achike Udenwa redemption government, the idea behind the setting up of Imo State Trade and Development, Office and the position of education, indeed higher education in the state.

 

In his speech, the Imo State Accountant – General, Dr. Adimmadu painted the financial picture of a state burdened with many years of past economic decay and faced with many very important sectors competing for the state’s very lean resources. This, he said, is one of the main reasons for the international forays of the Imo State University, as the government alone cannot shoulder the burden. He announced that the Udenwa administration has, since coming into office, increased the subvention to the university and other tertiary institutions by over five hundred percent. Inspite of this, he said, the university still needs the support of its people and friends both within and outside Nigeria.

 

The leader of the delegation and Pro-Chancellor & Chairman of the Governing Council of the University, His Royal Highness, Eze Godwin Okwuaka, recounted the progress so far made by his council since coming on board. He also talked about the general direction of the university, its prospects and problems and asked the people to identify with the university and the government. He announced that the university was not just looking for cash donations but for people, groups and institutions to actually endow projects, which could be named after them or their communities or organizations.

 

The invited guests, in response, were highly impressed with the Government of Imo State for supporting and encouraging the university to go international and for making education its center point for development. Each speaker praised the delegation and the trade representative for putting together such a wonderful program the first of its kind, and pledged to assist the university in whatever way possible.

 

Several people made generous individual and corporate donations and pledges of cash, books and equipment. Prominent among whom was Professor Maurice Iwu, who pledged to set up a center for Medical Informatics Connectivity for Africa in the university under the United States National Institutes of Health / Bio-resources Development and Conservation Program and University of Pittsburgh initiative. This pledge came also with the donation of ten computers and the cost of Internet connection required for the center. It was also announced that already, three Imo people undergoing training at the university of Pittsburgh would be deployed for the take off of the project, which is valued at over Seventy five thousand dollars.

 

December 31

The Imo State University account was opened under the direction of the Imo State Accountant – General at the reputable SunTrust Bank in Washington, DC into which all the proceeds of the foreign endowment drive will be lodged. Later in the evening, the Imo State Trade representative, Hon. Ike Ibe, and his wife held a private dinner reception for the members of the delegation. He also took the opportunity to formally present about two thousand books valued at over thirty five thousand dollars to the university.

 

January 1

Dr. Alex Nnabue, an alumnus of Imo State University and proprietor of Lake Arbor Vision Center, organized another private reception for the delegates. He used the occasion to announce his plans to set up a lifetime private endowment for the school of optometry in the university to cover staff, students and equipment for the department estimated at One hundred thousand US Dollars.

 

He also announced that the endowment will be well funded and will run into several millions of naira. He stated that a financial institution will professionally manage it with input from the university. This was in addition to his earlier donation during the fundraising.

 

 

January 2nd

 

The delegation met with Prof. Ephraim Okoro, a representative of the South Eastern University in Washington, DC who is a member of the board of trustees of the school. He announced a pledge of ten computers on behalf of his school and stated that his school has agreed in principle to partner with Imo State University to run a joint program in computer sciences. They also pledged to donate a reasonable amount of books to Imo State University. There was a suggestion that South Eastern University may be willing to build a classroom block or two at Imo State University and might be willing to supply staff while Imo State University will supply students for the program. Again, it was agreed that the discussion on these would be continued with the view to signing the protocol by the summer of 2002.

 

Later in the evening, the delegation met with the members of ORU development union at Upper Marlboro, in Maryland. This is in recognition of their illustrious son and community leader Dr. Adimmadu who was a member of the delegation. This group pledged that they would support the university substantially both in cash and equipment donation in the very near future. They paid glowing compliment to the Udenwa administration and the university council for its initiative. They promised to drive for books extensively and will communicate their donation through the trade office soon.

 

 

January 3rd. Baltimore, Maryland

The delegation proceeded to Baltimore, Maryland, to meet with the management of Nnaka & Associates, a major international transactional law firm owned by an Imo son Mr. Godson Nnaka. After a detailed and successful discussion, the firm agreed in principle to divert its proposed information technology project to the Imo State University. The proposed project will include the setting up of an internet service provider in the campus on a joint commercial scale between the firm and the university as well as a well equipped and manned computer center. The firm pledged that on signing the agreement, it would immediately commence the connection and networking and provide the initial five hundred computers to start off the project. The firm agreed with the delegation that a memorandum of understanding will be drawn up immediately and a detailed agreement signed on or before the middle of the year. It is proposed that the project will take off not later than the end of the year. This project will not only boost the information technology base of the school, it will also provide the much needed revenue base for the school. This investment is estimated to run close to about ten million dollars when fully established and will earn the university and the state the much-needed revenue to run the school effectively.

 

Later in the evening, the delegation met also in Baltimore with the members of Mbaise Association of Maryland. Mr. Eunan Onyema, their President, facilitated this meeting. The group expressed satisfaction with the Udenwa administration especially for its educational policy, which they said is dear to their association. They promised to help the university in terms of book drive and also hinted that they will communicate their donation through the trade office.

 

 

January 4 and 5

New York

The delegation accompanied by the ISTR arrived New York on the morning of 4 January 2002 and went straight into pre – arranged meetings at the Nigerian House facilitated by Prof. Chudi Uwazurike of the City University of New York. They met with a cross section of Nigerians and international agencies including the representatives of UNDP, Phelps – Stokes Foundation, Imo State association etc. The purpose of this meeting was to expose the university to the United Nations based NGO’s in that area. At the end of the meeting, a major commitment was made by the PhelpsStokes foundation to support Imo State University for an initial period of three years in terms of most of the books the university may need and also other educational resources. A formal memorandum of understanding is being worked out to this effect. It should be noted that this organization is the oldest educational foundation in the world and is also the one that gave Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe his first US scholarship in the early 1920s. Dr. Dudley who is the vice president of the foundation represented the foundation at this meeting. Estimated value of this commitment will run into thousands of US Dollars.

 

The delegation later paid a courtesy call on His Excellency, Ambassador Arthur Mbanefo, ODU of Onitsha, Nigeria’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The Ambassador and Mrs. Mbanefo later treated the delegation to a grand dinner reception at their official residence in Tarry Town. The Ambassador pledged his cooperation and generously gave hints about endowments that facilitated our mission.

 

While in New York, the delegation also held a very successful meeting with officials of the International Institute of Education at the UN. At this meeting it was revealed that no Nigerian university has been admitted into this body. The officials after listening to the presentations of the delegation and the history of Imo State University and its programs promised to admit the university on completion of the application process by the school. The officials highlighted the benefits of membership including the Full – Bright scholars and students exchange programs, the worldwide university partnerships program and the opportunities to benefit from the United Nations educational projects. The officials then urged the university to hurry and begin the application process so as to be the first Nigerian university to join the body. The formal registration will be concluded in March 2002.

 

January 6 and 7

New Orleans, Louisiana

The group arrived New Orleans on the morning of January 6 for a thoroughly planned program of meetings with universities and colleges facilitated by Nze Gibson Chigbu who is a member of the Board of Supervisors of Higher Education in Louisiana. Imo and Nigerian people came out en masse to give the visiting delegation a rousing dinner reception and to review the program for Louisiana. The delegates briefed the Nigerian community and informed them that this was a follow up to the meeting held between His Excellency, Governor Achike Udenwa and the Louisiana business and academic community in August 2001 during the World Igbo congress convention. The next morning the delegation held series of meeting with the following schools aimed at partnerships for Imo State University:-

           

Tulane University

The first was with the Dean of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine of the Tulane University. This meeting was held under the auspices of the international Relations Committee of the Louisiana Chamber Of Commerce who’s Director was also present. The director thanked Governor Udenwa for following up with his earlier promise to send a follow up delegation. The Pro-chancellor and other members of the delegation explained succinctly that Imo State University is seeking partnership and collaborations for its new medical school with the Tulane university medical school. The dean thanked the Imo State University for considering Tulane as a potential partner. She stated that Tulane has a wonderful international program and students from over thirty-five countries in its programs. She stated that they would be looking forward to further discussions, as she would formally table the matter before her University Authorities for action. On the delegation’s request for assistance in terms of equipment and computers, she did state that the university often has stock they give away and promised to make a case for Imo state university at their next board meeting. She promised to get back to the Imo Trade office on this; finally she said that she was looking forward to a formal relationship for the two schools. 

 

Dillard University

The second meeting was with the entire management of the Dillard University, a historically black liberal arts university. At the meeting were the Vice president, all the deans of respective programs and several chairmen of departments. There was a remarkable presence of Nigerian professors in the school who were proud of the delegation and played prominent roles in the meeting and discussions. The Pro-Chancellor, the Imo State Accountant – General, and the trade representative made presentations on Imo State side while the Dillard University vice president and all the deans and Nigerian professors made presentations on their side. The two sides reached an agreement in principle that the two schools will definitely work together on joint programs. A memorandum of understanding is being worked out and it is hoped that the main agreement would be signed on or before the summer of 2002.

 

Delgado Community College

The third meeting was with the Delgado Community College. This is the college that provides all the training needs of most of the major hospitals, corporations and institutions in Louisiana. Delgado College runs a two-year associate degree program in hundreds of academic and technical areas. Present at the meeting were the school’s vice chancellor, provost and vice president of academic programs. They expressed enthusiasm at exploring partnership with Imo State University especially with respect to technical education of which they are a leading school. Again, a memorandum of understanding is being prepared to identify areas of possible cooperation. Members of the delegation were presented with souvenirs of the school and undertook a guided tour of the school including a simulated cruise on the school’s ship pilots training program.

 

It is remarkable to note that in the entire meeting with the respective schools, several members of the Nigerian community who left all they had to do and their jobs accompanied the delegation throughout the day. Their primary motivation was that Imo State and the Imo State university through the visit was making them feel proud in their community.

 

January 9

Ashburn, Virginia

The delegation arrived the premises of IMCI Technologies and met with the president and other senior staff of this major industrial giant. The discussion centered on the viability of the company coming into the Nigerian technology and industrial market using Imo State university as a base to provide open eye technological services in Nigeria. The delegation was given a tour of the facilities by the president with both sides agreeing to exchange a memorandum of understanding.

 

January 11 and 12

London

The delegation arrived London on 11 January, 2002. During our stay, we discussed the Imo State University endowment project with Sir Jude Ibe, Chairman, Imo Forum, London and his associates.

 

The Forum undertook to arrange and plan for the endowment project in the United Kingdom and report back to us when they have completed arrangement in that regard. The delegation hereby thanks the Forum for their warm hospitality and support.

 

Recommendation

1.         In view of the skepticisms by Imo State indigenes abroad, the gains of the mission need to be maintained through sustained efforts, quick responses and prompt implementation of endowment memoranda and agreements.

 

ii.         The representative at the Imo State Trade and Development office, Washington, DC should proceed to charter the Imo State University Owerri in accordance with the US laws and regulations to enable the endowment project operate legally and endowers to get their tax rebates and other entitlements.

 

Appreciation

The delegation hereby immensely thanks His Excellency Chief Achike Udenwa, the Executive Governor of Imo State for his kind support and assistance for this unique opportunity given to the Governing Council to showcase the University internationally. We equally congratulate His Excellency on his vision in setting up the Imo State Trade and Development office Washington, DC, the first of its kind by any State Government. We testify that the office lived up to all expectations throughout our visit thanks to the organizational ability, loyalty, commitment and eloquence of the representative, Hon. Ike C. Ibe. In a special way, we thank him, his entire associates and the Imo Community all over the United States especially their facilitators Nze Gibson Chigbu, Professor Chudi Uwazuike and Dr. Alex Nnabue for contributing significantly towards the success of our mission.

 

Conclusion

The tour by the Imo State University to the United States and the United Kingdom turned out to be a huge success in spite of the initial skepticisms. The video documentary and photographs of some highlights of the memorable visit are herewith presented.

 

The success of this initial effort at international endowment cannot be over stressed as it recorded actual cash, potential investments, pledges of support, donations of equipment, collection and drive for books, forth coming institutional collaborations, linkages and exchanges. The trip has opened a great avenue for inflow of resources and investments into the university that will ultimately run into millions of dollars in the short run and long term. The university has successfully been launched into the international arena and it will soon join the elite group of world universities with programs crossing international boundaries. This will put the university into a new enviable position, and assure it a proud status as a university truly and solidly founded on the principle and motto of EXCELLENCE IN SERVICE.

 

 

HRH Eze Godwin O. Okwuaka MFR

Pro-chancellor & Chairman Governing Council

Imo State University, Owerri.

 

 

 

Dr. M.E. Adimmadu

Accountant-General, Imo State.