In this part of the world where many people believe that the best way to achieve results is by cutting corners, Professor Ignatius Akhakhia Onimawo may not be accepted by all. But those who value quality tertiary education will always hold the Vice-chancellor of the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma in high esteem.
Onimawo achievements, after just nine months at the helm of affairs at the Ekpoma based state university, according to education analysts, have continued to earn him the respect and love of the university’s management, staff, students as well as parents and guardians.
But those who know about the vice-chancellors’s academic pedigree, his professional experience, exposure and desire to always be an agent of positive change have never been surprised by his promises of yesterday which have become the reality of today.40 years ago when he was admitted to study agricultural biochemistry and nutrition in University of Ibadan UI), he was just one of the ambitious youths many of whom were yet to give proper definition to their dreams. Today, he is one of the few who have turned their dreams into reality. Onimawo is one of the outstanding Vice-Chancellors in Nigeria today whose exemplary character serves as a compass for undergraduates, most of whom are still seeking the route to genuine success.
His contemporaries believe his success story is a product of the solid training he received at UI, his willingness to learn from others and diligence, while his kinsmen say his respect for tradition, culture and values is what has taken him this far in life. But those who are close to him know that all these and his desire to always use his wealth of experience and exposure for nation-building are those things that made him a fulfilled man.
Born on July 20, 1957 in Afowa, Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, he attended St. James Grammar School, Afuze from 1972 to 1976 where he obtained his WASSCE (Division One), 1976. With this feat, he was admitted into the premier university in Nigeria (UI) in 1977 for B.Sc degree in agricultural biochemistry and nutrition and he graduated with a second class upper division in 1982.
Onimawo proceeded for his master’s programme and thereafter a Ph.D. programme in human nutrition (nutritional biochemistry) in 1985 and 1995 respectively, also in UI.
In 2012, he bagged a certificate in Professional Development in Nutrition (CPD).
The VC started his working career as Lecturer III in the Science Technology Department of the Federal Polytechnic, Idah, Kogi State in 1983 and rose through the ranks to the position of Chief Lecturer in 1999 before he joined AAU as Senior Lecturer in 1999. In 2001, he left to take up an appointment with Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and rose to the rank of professor in 2005.
He rejoined AAU in 2005 and became the Vice-chancellor on May 11, 2016. The VC has distinguished himself in the areas of research and publication. His infrastructural revolution at the university has repositioned it as one of the best universities in Nigeria. Academic excellence, transparency and accountability are his watchwords.
As an administrator with zero tolerance for criminal activities, he exudes unwavering determination to rid the system of corrupt practices and criminal tendencies. He made it clear on assumption of office that it would no longer be business as usual and has remained faithful to that policy.
There is no secrecy in his administration as he runs an open door policy, encouraging all staff to be open and diligent in their work. There is still more to be done in order to make the university one of the best ten universities in Nigeria. His words: “We still have to build on what we have on ground by improving on our internally generated revenue rather than depending on government.
We have introduced the monthly inaugural lecture and monthly prayer session for every member of the university which takes place every first Thursday of the month and every last Friday of the month. Health walk was also introduced by my administration to the members of the university to keep fit. We have to do more researches and contribute more to our national industrial development, while the management, staff, students, government and even parents have different roles to play so that AAU can continue to achieve its mandate.”