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UNIPORT Vice Chancellor: Beyond Ethnic Consideration



The issue of weaving the appointment of a vice chancellor around ethnic sentiment was an inhibiting factor to the lucid testimonies of academic excellence and improved standard that is the present hallmark of the university.

Within the past 10 years the University of Port Harcourt has come under critical appraisal and accessment in terms of leadership and administrative efficiency. The university, has no doubt, witnessed a rapid transformation and phenomenal rise, and its standards has improved tremendously in all ramifications.

With the quality of leadership bequeathed within the period under review, the quest for leadership succession had equally received more than scanty attention.

With the stewardship of the present Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Don Baridam coming to an end in July this year, the Governing Council of the University had since advertised the bid for replacement of the outgoing vice chancellor in some national dailies, with specific standards fixed for the next occupant of the highly coveted but challenging office.

The defined objectives of the said advertisement stipulates that candidates aspiring to be the next Vice Chancellor of the University must be “a candidate with vision, proven academic distinction, managerial ability, integrity, transparency in private and public life and a minimum of eight years in service as a Professor in the university.

There are however, intense clamour for a rethink of the criteria set by the Governing Council for the appointment of the next vice chancellor of the University, especially in the area of eight years professorial service as precondition. This had fleared up agitations within and outside the university community. At the centre of these agitations are some indigenes of Ikwerre ethnic group, host of the university who see the eight years professorial experience as a deliberate plot to frustrate the chances of emergence of a vice chancellor of Ikwerre extraction.

Irked by what is considered a politics of exclusion which had denied the host ethnic group of producing a vice chancellor in the school for the past 35 years of its existence, the people had since registered their discontent through organised protest at different fora. The latest protest was led by the spokesman of Ikwerre workers in the University of Port Harcourt, Comrade Godwin Kenneth at the 26th Convocation ceremony of the Institution penultimate Saturday, May 15, 2010. Addressing the tumultuous crowd a no mean guest and visitor of the University, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, an alumnus of the university and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Kenneth lamented the marginalisation of Ikwerre people in the appointment of the university’s vice chancellor.

He said; “the university had been here for 35 years; other ethnic groups have had their share of the position except the Ikwerre people who are the owners of the land. He argued that as a matter of concession the appointment of a vice chancellor, especially at this point in time, be allowed to shift to the Ikwerre people who have given a lot to the university.

But a broad spectrum of the society are insisting that the search for the new vice chancellor should be carried through with solemn faithfulness with the spirit of excellence and standard that has guided the university within the past decade. His Excellency the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, an alumnus of the University and also a prime son of Ikwerre land is pivotal in the quest for excellence and meritorious conduct as the yardstick for the selection of the next vice chancellor for the university.

Addressing the 26th convocation ceremony of the university, Governor Amaechi said the issue of weaving the appointment of a vice chancellor around ethnic sentiment was an inhibiting factor to the lucid testimonies of academic excellence and improved standard that is the present hallmark of the university. He said the campaigns should not be carried to the absurds, and the loath of ethnic prejudice should not be allowed to bite into the university system and truncate the thriving policy of excellence, quality control and the standard that the university had enjoyed within the past years. As a product of the university, Governor Amaechi detested the tendency of the university relapsing into a humdrum existence after a quantum leap for excellence.

A lecturer in the department of Sociology of the University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Steve Wordu shares similar view with Governor Amaechi in selecting a new vice chancellor for the university. Speaking with The Tide On Sunday on the contentions issue, Dr. Wordu said the appointment of the next vice chancellor of the university should go by a democratic process and the best candidate should emerge. Drawing from reports and core comparative studies, Dr. Wordu, an environmental sociologist and Assistant Director of the General Studies Unit of the university described the institution as the fastest growing university in West Africa. He attributed the successes so far recorded by the University to the astute leadership and strategic administration in the system.

He commended and congratulated the outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University Prof. Don Baridam for his exceptional leadership which had turned around the fortune of the institution, “Prof. Baridam is one of those astute academics and University administrators who are dynamic and very knowledgeable about the world of academia to carry a university comparatively and competitvely globally. He had conducted proper administrator in the University to attract such tremendous fund that facilitate the overall development of the University.”

By his strategic capital campaign for fund raising through local and international partnership, he said Prof. Baridam was able to execute and get so many projects commissioned within his period of stewardship.

Dr. Wordu is also the assistant general secretary of the Rivers State Chapter of the University of Port Harcourt Alumnus Assocation. As a proud product of the University he said it was the desire of the alumni association to ensure that the present standard raised by the University is not compromised in any way.

Going down memory lane Dr. Wordu, recalled how as a growing youth, he watched the elders of Choba community negotiate with government officials on the establishment of the University, 35 years after he said the University which was a product of the Willinks commission to provide man power for the neglected minorities had contributed immensely to the development of the Nigerian state, in all fields of human endeavour.

Also commenting on the issue, Dr. Okey Onuchukwu, a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics said he did not subscribe to ethnicity as a yardstick of selecting the next vice chancellor for the University. According to him a University is a repository of excellence and schorly process. As such, he would want the next vice chancellor of the University to be selected strictly on merit. He however pick holes in the requirent of eight years in service as a professor in the University as a pre-condition for the selection. He said the condition will deprive professors who have interest in the job, and could perform well, but had not attained eight years in service of the job.

As far as Dr. Onuchukwu is concerned, a professor is a professor, and the number of years in service may not really be a determinant of excellence and performance. “I don’t subscribe to ethnicity as a basis of chosing a University Vice Chancellor, but the idea of eight years in service as professor may not really be the best option. A professor of one year could do far better than a professor of ten years, people should be given a fare chance to contest the job”.           

A renowned educationist in Rivers State Mr. Paul Nwanikpo also condemned the idea of selecting Baridams successor through ethnicity consideration. To him the advocates of ethnicity may as well be out to deem the noble aspiration and phenomenal success recorded in the institution. He said a university is a place for the acquisition and utilisation of knowledge in practice and should be devoid of ethnic sentiments. Considering the challenges of educational development in Rivers State Mr. Nwanikpo called on the apostles of ethnicity to drop their campaign and embrace the concept of “total transformation through practical demonstration of excellence and collective will for development.”

A public commentator, Mr. Bolaji Ajai who spoke with The Tide On Sunday also detested the idea of appointing a Vice Chancellor based on ethnicity.

Ajai called on the proponent of an ethnic agenda in the ivory tower to drop the idea and make other development requests such as special empowerment and capacity development programmes from the University.

In an earlier reaction to the agitations on the demands, Williams Wodi, Public Relations Officer of the University, had stated that the vice chancellor position was not tied to ethnic consideration, as only qualified candidates irrespective of ethnic affiliation will be selected. He said the issue at stake was sensitive and the university did not operate on any zoning or quota system when it comes to appointing a vice chancellor. He added that the conditions and criteria of selection as stipulated in the advertisement of the Governing Council of the university was not compromiseable.


Taneh Beemene

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NPA Pledges Safe Navigation Of Vessels On Warri Pilotage District



The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has assured navigational safety for all stakeholders operating legally in the Warri Pilotage District, despite the urgent need for breakwater reconstruction.
This is just as NPA pilots enabled the safe berthing of inbound vessels – MT Zonda and MT Stellar as well as outbound vessel MT Duke, MT Vardar and MT Igbinosa last week with six vessels at anchorage outbound and inbound for Bonny Island, Koko and Escravos.
NPA stated that although the Escravos breakwaters constructed to prevent the siltation of the Warri channels had collapsed decades ago, it has concluded the survey and mapping of the channel.
The authority also noted that it is at the conclusive stages of securing relevant approvals for the best financing option to fund its reconstruction and has put measures in place to ensure safe berthing of legally operating vessels in the spirit of trade facilitation.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said the up-to-date local and international training as well as simulation and maneuverability competence building of the highly experienced pilots of the NPA, have ensured zero incidences of vessels running aground.
Bello-Koko said the authority had procured and installed adequate buoys for the Warri channel and realigned the entrance buoys as well as docked and reclassified vessels.
He said the authority has also stipulated frequent simulation training and retraining for all the pilotage crew to enable them to respond to the exigencies of the channel.
According to him, the occasionally reported incidents of vessels running aground cannot impede the channel, as they are vessels operating illegally without NPA’s marine pilot onboard.
He said the vessels ran aground because they veered off the channel and safety-marked areas due to incompetence.
Bello-Koko said to enhance domain awareness capability to detect and frontally keep illegal vessels at bay, the authority recently awarded consultancy for the installation of Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) across all its port locations with the first phase already completed.

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Most popular toys in 2018



Every year some toys emerge as popular among children across all ages. These toys are considered a “must have” by most kids and are often on their Christmas wish list. The year 2018 is no different with some toys making it to the favorite list of most children. Most times, the toys vary in terms of size, color and design giving kids a chance to choose the ones that appeal to them. Nevertheless, it is essential to start your shopping early to get the best deals without having to stretch the available funds.

What to look for when buying toys in 2018

Apart from having your kids’ preferences in mind when purchasing toys in 2018, you should also check if they are suitablefor children.Some of the things you should consider when buying toys are listed below.

  • Age of child – Most toys have a label that indicates the age of the child that is allowed to play with them. Ensure that you read the label before buying a toy, so that gets all the benefits meant to be derived from using it. Age-appropriate toys contribute to the development of children, making it vital that they get the right type of plaything.
  • Safety – Majority of the favorite toys can be a great addition to your child’s collection in 2018. However, it is essential to check the toys for corners, sharp edges, and harmfulpoints which might not have been mentioned on the warning label. Toys that are easy to dismantle and have loose parts should also be vetted to see whether they are appropriate for the child. Focus on buying toys that cannot lead to injuries and are durable for different kinds of play.
  • Affordability-The price of toys vary from one store to another, with some being cheap and others quite expensive. When going shopping, have a budget that will guide the quality and quantity of toys that you can purchase for your children. You can consider buying one expensive toy that is their favorite and adding others that are low cost to achieve a balance.
  • Versatility –Toys that can only be used for a short time or appeal to children of a specific age group may not be the best ones to buy for kids. Go for toys that can be used to entertain and educate the child over a long period without them getting bored.
  • Durability –Most children, especially toddlers enjoy picking apart toys as a way for them to explore its workings. It is therefore vital to buy toys that made from sturdy material, and all their parts are screwed on tightly so that they are not easily spoilt. Also, ensure that paint used on the toys do not easily peel off and are non-toxic.

Top 6 favorite toys in 2018

The number of toys launched in 2018is many with several appealing to both boys and girls of different ages. Some of the toys that have been ranked as favorites this year include:

  • LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall Building Kit

The game is designed to resemble Hogwarts Great Hall Building in the popular Harry Potter movie. It is 878 pieces which when arranged reveal the Great Hall which is a famous building in the film. Some of the pieces that stand out are the treasure room, spiral staircase, and potions room. Popular figurines are also part of the set with characters such as Nearly Headless, Nick, Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, Ron Weasely, Hagris, Draco, Professor NacGonagall and Susan Bones among others.

  • Barbie Care Clinic Vehicle

Barbie has been part of the favorite toy list for many years, and in 2018 she is in charge of a mobile clinic. She has a twenty piece set that includes a gift shop, exam room and waiting room which are used to tackle emergencies of varying magnitudes. The ambulance in the collection has lights as well as siren sounds that are turned on using a button which is quite exciting for kids who are three years and older.

  • Paw Patrol – Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck

Kids that love the Paw Patrol cartoon will enjoy playing with the truck whose sounds, and flashing lights keep them entertained. The truck has a Marshall who sits in the cab looking out but can also jump into the fire cart when they need to rescue animals. The extendable ladder and working claw are fun to use to save animals stuck in trees.

  • Smart Learning Home

Fisher price has always focused on making playtime fun for babies for many years. In 2018, they introduced a toy that helps small children learn about the weather, numbers, and shapes. The interactive toy also has sounds, music, and lights to keep your baby entertained. To find out more about interactive toys for babies, visit

  • Sesame Street Lets Dance Elmo

Elmo is loved by many children that have interacted with him and his friends on the Sesame Street show. In 2018, he is dancing and grooving to different types of music, making him an excellent toy for children working on their motor skills. The toy has musical modes namely songs, colors and animals which gives kids a variety to choose from. When the modes are changed, Elmo begins to wiggle, or dance and the color on his heart begins to turn as well.

  • Radio Flyer busy buggy

Toddlers that are active and always on the move will enjoy having this ride-on toy. The carriage has several features that make its fun to ride over short distances. Some of the fancy features that make it one of the most interactive toys in 2018 include an adjustable dashboard, horn, moving windshield, and sliding beads among others. Active youngsters get to develop their motor skills as they cruise within the home while adjusting their reflective mirror.

Overall, no matter the choice of toys you buy for your children, ensure that they are educational, fun and safe.


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CRFFN Registers 5000 Freight Forwarders




More than 5,000 freight forwarders have so far registered with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN) in its on-going membership drive.

The CRFFN Director (Education and Research),  Mr Alban Igwe,  told our correspondents  on Thursday in Lagos that the initiative was part of efforts to re-organise the freight forwarding business in Nigeria.

He said that freight forwarders, who failed to register with the council, would at the end of the exercise be regarded as fake businessmen.

According to him, the council plans to enforce its operational code which allows only registered members to practise.

“The registration, which started last year, is on-going. The enforcement, which should have started already, will start shortly as soon as all logistics are on ground.

“We have a tribunal that will try all illegal freight forwarders and any forwarder found guilty will be sentenced.

“Education of freight forwarders continues because over 70 per cent involved in the business do not have more than school certificate,” he said.

Igwe said that the association had concluded plans to conduct intensive training across the country in line with the provision of the Act that established the council.

He said that education remained the key role of the CRFFN in assisting freight forwarders to acquire professional skills and knowledge.

Igwe said that the council had signed memoranda of understanding with 10 training institutions to facilitate achievement of this objective.

The CRFFN Director also said that the training programme had made it possible for interested freight forwarders to acquire PHD degrees, stressing that the era of quacks had gone.

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