After years of bickering and intrigues, the ninth vice chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt has finally emerged.
He is a medical doctor and Professor of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Port Harcourt UNIPORT, Prof Georgewill Owunari.
Georgewill emerged winner in a keenly contested selection process, which saw no fewer than 12 eminently qualified candidates jostling for top job at the university.
He was former Deputy Provost of the College of Health Sciences.
He becomes second indigene of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of the state to be VC of UNIPORT after the graceful Emeritus, Prof Nimi Briggs.
Announcing the results and presenting the new VC to journalists in Port Harcourt, Chairman of the Governing Council, Senator Andrew Uchendu said, “I want to assure all of you that we meticulously complied with the full provisions of the act on the selection of the vice chancellor of the university.
“After interviewing about 12 of them, we found three of them appointable.
“For the first time in my life, I have received a delegation of the President, who is the Visitor, to act on his behalf, and on behalf of the President, I want to announce to all of us that the council of the university has considered the report of the Selection Board, and approved the appointment of Prof Georgewill Owunari as the 9th Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt”.
Owunari takes over from Prof Stephen Okududu, who was appointed last year on acting capacity.
Addressing newsmen after he was announced as the VC, Owunari promised to carry everyone along during his time in office.
Reacting to the appointment, the President of the Rivers State Chapter of University of Port Harcourt Alumni Association, Comrade Sam Woka, congratulates Prof. Owunari Georgewill on his emergence as the 9th Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt.
In a congratulatory message of the chapter, Woka described the appointment of Owunari “as one that gladdens the hearts and inspires hope, going by his wealth of experience, record of outstanding performance in administration and his deep and undying love and passion for the University of Port Harcourt.
“We believe that the task of repositioning the University to enviable heights and upholding the dreams of its founding fathers will be greatly consolidated under the current management”, he said.
He further “expressed appreciation to the Pro-Chancellor and members of the Governing Council for the deep wisdom shown in responding to the clarion call by appointing an Alumnus as the 9th Vice Chancellor of our dear Alma Mater”.
Woka said, “the Alumni is optimistic that as a thoroughbred Alumnus of Unique UNIPORT and one of its best, Prof. Georgewill will ensure the continued transformation of the university while representing the interest of staff, students, university community and its stakeholders”.
He, therefore, thanked all who supported and worked towards the actualisation of the call for an Alumnus VC, and also urged all Alumni to support the current administration of Prof. Georgewill to succeed.
It would be recalled that the new VC was born on May 15, 1965 in Abonnema in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, with his twin sibling, Hon. Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewill of the Court of Appeal.
He attended Bishop Crowder Memorial School, Abonnema between 1970 and 1976, and obtained a credit pass in the First Leaving School Certificate Examination before proceeding to the Nyemoni Grammar School also in Abonnema where he obtained his G.C.E. “O” Level Certificate in 1981 in flying colours.
His quest for higher education, took him to the University of Port Harcourt to study Medicine.
In 1987, he graduated with Second Class Honours Upper Division B.Med. Sc. degree in Pharmacology.
His diligence and hardworking nature earned him the nickname “Prof” as early as his secondyear of undergraduate study.
In 1990, he obtained the MBBS degree of the University of Port Harcourt.
He did his housemanship at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital before proceeding to Edo State for his one year National Youth Service as Medical Officer at the Specialist Hospital, Osisioma.
In 1993, he commenced residency training as a Registrar in the Department of Internal Medicine, UPTH.
In 1994, on the leading of his teacher and mentor, Prof Reginald Nwairegbu Pawa Nwankwoala of blessed memory, he applied and was employed as a Lecturer II in Pharmacology after a successful interview.
He rose through the ranks and was promoted to the rank of a Professor of Pharmacology on May, 4, 2010 at age 44.
He also holds the MSc degree in Pharmacology and the MD degree of the University of Port Harcourt.
Owunari has served the Department of Pharmacology, the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, the College of Health Sciences and the University of Port Harcourt in various capacities, during which he discharged his duties creditably.
As examination Officer in the Department of Pharmacology, He supervises undergraduate and postgraduate students of the Department.
Owunari is a fellow of the Royal Society of Biology London; member, International Association of Medical Educators USA; member, Society of Peadiatric Oncologist Italy; member, American Society of Neurochemistry; member of the West African Society of Pharmocology; member, Nigerian Medical Association; member, Association of Specialist Medical Doctors in Academia; member, Indian Society of Pharmacology; member, The World Academy of Science; member, Research in Medicines Society; member, National Cancer Investigation Society UK; member, World Health Workers Without Borders; member, West African Society of Toxicology; and Fellow, Institute of Industrial Administrators.
He is a friend to the New York Academy of Medicine and the Australian Academy of Science.
Owunari has also served his community, Abonnema, his state, Rivers State, his professional associations, Nigeria Medical Association, and the West African Society of Pharmacology in various capacities.
He was appointed Justice of Peace by the Rivers State Government in 2002; served as Assistant Secretary General, NMA, Rivers State; Editorial Board member, Journal of the WASP; Secretary, Board of Governors, Comprehensive Secondary School, Abonnema; and Executive Adviser on Health, AKULGA.
He is a reviewer of Pharmacology articles for many journals. He is currently a member of the Editorial Board of the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine.
In 2010, Owunari was appointed Dean, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Niger Delta University, where he served creditably during his tour of duty there. In February, 2012, he was elected, Deputy Provost, College of Health Sciences of UNIPORT.
In 2013, he was voted into the Governing Council of the University of Port Harcourt as Congregation Represntative where he served in various committes of council, including the Finance and General purpose committee F&GPC.
On the national arena, Owunari, served as chairman, Syndicate session on UBE in National Education Summit, organized by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Abuja in 2008.
He served as member of Technical Committee for the Senate Committee of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Education between 2008 and 2009.
He was a Resource Person at the National Education Conference organized by the Senate Committee on Education in conjunction with SIGNIP promotions in Abuja in March, 2010.
He has over 50 original articles in Peer Reviewed, Local, Regional and Foreign indexed Journals.
Owunari is happily married to his lovely wife, Dr. Udeme Georgewill, a lecturer also in the Department of Pharmacology, UNIPORT, and they both have four children.
He is a devout Christian of the Anglican Communion. He is a licensed lay reader and a Knight of St. Christopher.
In 2009, in recognition of his invaluable services to his community, he was installed a chief in the Otaji Group of Houses of Abonnema Coucil of Chiefs.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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