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.
2023: Opobo/Nkoro Agog As Thousands Join PDP
Speaking while receiving the decampee, yesterday, in Opobo Town, the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb Desmond Akawor, described their action as wise decision, assuring them of their safety and support.
Akawor, who was represented at the colourful event by his Deputy, Chukwuemeka Aaron, urged the defectors to remain calm as the PDP, the only development-oriented political party, believes in equity, unity, fair play and justice in Nigeria, saying that the party was poised to build better transformational governance that would be a beneficial to all Rivers people.
He said that it was shameful for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to subject Nigerians to poverty, bad governance, sufferings and hardship, and described the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as a ruined government with clear negative agenda that lacked quality governance for the well-being of the people.
On the 2023 general election, Akawor enjoined the defectors to join forces with the PDP to chase out APC for good by remaining loyal and supportive towards PDP victory at the polls both in the state and at the federal level.
Akawor warned that any attempt to rig the votes in the 2023 elections would create more hunger, stagnation, poverty and death in the land.
Responding, a former chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and decampee in the area, Dr. Promise Diri pledged to ensure the victory of Amaopusenibo Siminialayi Fubara as successor to Governor Nyesom Wike and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as president in 2023, among other PDP Candidates, describing the emergence of the duo of Fubara and Atiku as God’s divine order for Rivers State and Nigeria.
Others who spoke to The Tide, described PDP as the largest development-minded political party in Nigeria, and thanked Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike, and the entire PDP family for giving the governorship ticket to Opobo son.
They assured of 100 percent victory of Fubara and other candidates of the party come 2023 polls both in Rivers State.
Also speaking, Chief Ibiwari Jeremiah, said he was happy for the party whose transform agenda for the past seven years has remained remarkable, and pledged to woo more supporters for the PDP in next year’s election.
In her remarks, one of the decampee, Madam Matilda Jaja, commended Governor Nyesom Wike’s leadership qualities and charisma ,which she said, helped produce quality services in all the hooks and crannies of the state, and stressed that she would use her capacity to mobilise for votes in 2023 for PDP, adding that victory was sure in 2023 for the party’s candidates in the elections.
By: Bethel Toby
Reps Probe 12-Year Remittances, Withdrawals From Ecological Fund
Particularly, the House mandated its Committee on Ecological Fund to “investigate the total consolidated mandatory accruals into the Ecological Fund from 2010 to March, 2022,” adding that the committee should equally “evaluate the disbursement of the Ecological Fund in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution from 2010 to March, 2022.”
The committee is also to “investigate the utilisation of the Ecological Fund by benefiting government’s departments and agencies (MDAs) from 2010 to March, 2022 and establish infractions (if any).”
To establish these facts, the House asked the committee to conduct public hearings with all the major stakeholders on the effective and efficient utilisation of the Ecological Fund and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
These resolutions were sequel to a motion moved by a member of the House, Femi Bamisile, titled, ‘Need to Investigate the Total Consolidation Accrual and Utilisation of Ecological Fund.’
Bamisile, while in the motion, noted the existence of the Ecological Fund as an intervention fund set up by the Federal Government to address multifarious ecological challenges across the country.
He also noted that the Federal Government, the 36 states of the federation, the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) receive funds through the Federal Allocation Committee as shares from the Ecological Fund.
The lawmaker stressed that apart from the annual statutory appropriations, four agencies of the Federal Government draw funds from the one per cent share of the Federal Government allocated to Ecology and Derivation Fund, according to their respective enabling laws.
Bamisile stated that the National Emergency Management Agency, by virtue of Section 13(2) (b) of its Act, draws 20per cent; National Agency for the Great Green Wall, by virtue of Section 12 (2) (b) of its Act, draws 15per cent; the North East Development Commission, by virtue of Section 14(12) (b) of its Act, draws 10 per cent; and the National Agricultural Land Development Authority, by virtue of Section 18 (2) (a) of its Act, draws 10per cent.
He said, “The House is worried that efforts at making beneficiaries of the Ecological Fund accountable for their accrued shared funds in the last few years have been ignored. Sections 88 and 89 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) empowers the National Assembly to conduct investigation and power as to matters of evidence.”
Organ Harvesting Charges UK Court Denies Ekweremadu, Wife Bail
The arrest was announced by the London Metropolitan Police, yesterday, with officials saying that the couple would be charged promptly before a court in Uxbridge.
Ekweremadu appeared before a magistrate, yesterday afternoon, and was denied bail.
The case was subsequently adjourned until July 7, after the child involved was identified as a homeless 15-year-old from Lagos.
However, details of the alleged offence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka, were unveiled, yesterday, as they were accused of plotting to traffic a homeless child from Lagos into the UK to harvest his organs.
The court heard the couple, who have four children and a house in Willesden, North London, hoped to transplant the boy’s organs to their daughter who suffers from kidney failure.
Police were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery laws last month and arrested the couple two days ago at Heathrow Airport as they attempted to board a plane to Turkey, the court heard.
Ekweremadu, 60, is said to have had £20,000 on him at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.
The child is now under the care of safeguarding authorities and the Metropolitan Police, officials say.
Ekweremadu, and accountant wife, Beatrice, 55, are charged with conspiracy to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting.
The senator was wearing a grey sweater while his wife was wearing a black and white knitted cardigan at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court, yesterday.
Prosecutor Damla Ayas said: “It is conspiracy in relation to human trafficking offences for the purposes of organ harvesting. The victim in this case is 15 years old.
“They (the couple), were interviewed at the police station. Both of the defendants have provided a prepared statement.
“Mr Ekweremadu, in his prepared statement, denied allegations of human trafficking.
“He said at no stage has he arranged transport for anyone with intention to exploit them.”
His wife similarly denied the allegations in her prepared statement, the court heard.
Counsel to Ekweremadu, Gavin Irwin, said: “There is no question this is a serious allegation. Mr Ekweremadu is a member of the Senate in Nigeria.
“He has previously held an even more senior role as deputy president of the Senate.
“He is a member of the bar in Nigeria. He is a principal in a law firm that bears his name.
“Those issues taken together go way beyond him being a person of good character…rather that he has led a blameless life as a public servant.”
Irwin added that the allegations were “nothing short of preposterous”.
Also speaking, Counsel for Mrs Ekweremadu, Antonia Gray, said: “She has never been complicit or involved in any alleged illegal trafficking of any young person.
“She is a financial accountant with an unblemished record.”
The couple have an address they could stay at in Willesden, northwest London, the court heard.
The prosecutor made an application to adjourn the matters for 14 days.
Ms Ayas said: “In respect of these offences, Attorney General’s consent is required and the Crown requires 14 days for that to be obtained.”
Magistrate Lois Sheard said: “These are serious allegations and these matters are now adjourned until July 7, back here at Uxbridge.”
Ms Sheard remanded both defendants into custody ahead of their hearing next month.
The Ekweremadus are charged with “conspiring to arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation….between August 1, 2021 and May 5, 2022 within the jurisdiction of Central Criminal Court”.
The investigation was launched by the Met’s Specialist Crime team after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022.
The Met Police has confirmed that the boy is safe and being looked after.
Mr Ekweremadu was held with Nwanneka Ekweremadu in Britain this month.
Ekweremadu has been an elected senator in Abuja since 2003 after moving into politics after years as a lawyer.
His wife, five years his junior, is an academic and doctor, and also a major public figure in Nigeria.
They are believed to have four adult children.
The Metropolitan Police has said that the child, who is under the age of 18, at the centre of the alleged plot, is in care.
Organ harvesting involves removing parts of the body, often for cash and against the victim’s will.
Ekweremadu has been in the UK for, at least, the past fortnight having met with members of the Nigerian community in Britain in Lincoln around 10 days ago.
He tweeted: “It was a pleasure and an honour to receive a letter of appointment by the University of Lincoln, UK, as Visiting Professor of Corporate and International Linkages. I also got a highly treasured gift – a copy of the Magna Carter. It was created in 1215, about 807 years ago”.
The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May, 2022, the force said.
Spokesman for Ekweremadu, Uche Anichukwu, confirmed that his principal had been held in the UK.
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