The leadership, administrative acumen and style of Professor E.Uche Ikonne was unique. He was focused and determined to take the University to greater heights and he really did in various areas; Infrastructural development, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Academic Planning, Research, Staff welfare, Staff training and development etc. As Vice Chancellor he remained humane, focused and always aiming at his set goals. He never allowed pressure of work to overwhelm him. Sometimes when there are deadlines that need to be kept that appears insurmountable to his subordinates, in one minute he will find a way to prod everybody to focus on the task and deliver. Once the coast is clear he will be in his best mood and will throw rib cracking jokes and introduce such conviviality that will marvel everyone. I once asked him how he succeeds to blow hot and cold almost at the same time and his answer was that Leadership is not rocket science, we only need to have the right mind set- you must make a concerted effort to achieve your goals including blowing hot and cold almost at the same time.
Professor Ikonne is very tech savvy and ICT compliant and made concerted effort to ensure staff of the university are ICT compliant. He is a workaholic that ensured all mails both electronic and hard copies leave his office within 24hours. He read and digested reports, underlining critical points and most times requested staff to speak to their reports for efficient implementation or domiciliation of any policy therefrom. Despite being a workaholic that is versatile, he believes strongly in team-spirit and does not feel at ease if you go through a document without discussing the highlights or critiquing. He believes that critiquing makes systems better. As an administrator he always insists on concentrating all efforts on the present while planning for the future rather than whine about the past which you cannot recover. His approach to the welfare of people working with him is second to none.
It is important to highlight some of the landmark achievements of Professor E. Uche Ikonne especially towards ensuring that Abia State University is 21st century ICT-compliant. A major one is the connection of the University to the national grid after 28 years of its location to Uturu to ensure steady power supply which is pre-requisite to any ICT.
𝐖𝐞𝐛𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐏𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐃𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐩𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭
Within the first year in office with the mantra “Our story must change” he ensured the development of a robust and interactive university Website (www.abiastateuniversity.edu.ng ) and Portal (portal.abiastateuniversity.edu.ng) which are linked. The ABSU virtual school portal enables
online fee payment,
online registration modules for newly admitted students including generation of matriculation numbers,
online hostel application
online course registration preventing students from moving from office to office to register,
online generation of class list by lecturers;
uploading/downloading of all results on the portal and
online checking of results by students and
online application and issuance of transcript
He ensured complete automation of results with reduction of the human interface in production of final degree results such that Heads of Departments generate end of semester results (composite results) and draft students transcripts for senate approval from the portal seamlessly from their offices. He started and nurtured the portal to maturity for 4-year programs a feat that was not easy for a five-year single term considering the fact that the university has been carrying all results on paper and file since inception in 1981.
Professor Ikonne introduced e-administration which commenced with e-Senate where senate members attend senate paperless with their laptops, iPad or other mobile devices. He ensured the electronic issuance and generation of matriculation numbers, e-transcript request and management system. He established workstations in almost all departments and automated examinations and records. He established the international transcript office which enables alumni to apply for their transcripts from any part of the globe and the transcripts are sent within record time and achieved complete automation of all operations related to transcript and certificate verification requests. He introduced Online Hostel/Hall management and electronic Document management. Lecturers and senior administrative staff were provided with institutional emails which made it possible for them to access various academic gateways.
E-Learning Management system
Professor E. Uche Ikonne introduced E-learning management on the university portal (development of text, audio and video files for teaching and use of virtual classrooms) and organised training (in phases) for all staff both teaching and non-teaching.
As a visionary leader; the training for academic staff focused on use of learning management systems. It is remarkable that he did this before the advent of corona virus and everybody started thinking of E-administration and e-learning.
Professor E. Uche Ikonne a quintessential leader with the right mind set ensured that the University Library for the first time had uninterrupted internet subscription with robust bandwidth which made the E-library very functional.
𝐈𝐂𝐓 𝐏𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐲 𝐃𝐨𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭
To cap it all he developed an ICT Policy document for Abia State University. The aim of the Abia State University (ABSU) Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy is to facilitate teaching, learning, and research. It also seeks to enhance collaboration with partnering institutions, linkages, communication with funding/regulatory agencies as well as administrative activities. The ICT policy will drive digital technology and facilitate academic excellence that will ensure prompt graduation of highly skilled people and by providing technical and technological assistance and service to all units/faculties of the university.
This policy document is to guide advancement of ICTs in the university to enable accomplishment of the ICT goals of the university. The policy document highlights guidelines and approaches to be adopted in the use of ICT with special emphasis on development, implementation, maintenance, and the optimal distribution of resources (hardware, software, data and human resources) as well as the safe and healthy utilization of ICTs and the environment.
𝐈𝐂𝐓-𝐂𝐚𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐃𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐩𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐟𝐟 𝐓𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠
Professor Ikonne did not just introduce innovations and ICT upgrade of Abia State University. He ensured that staff are adequately trained to embrace the reality of the 21st century. He ensured that ICT-Capacity building for all categories of staff to enable them fit into the various roles. Academic staff were repeatedly trained on E-Result management, electronic document management, use of e-learning management system (development of text, audio and video files for teaching and use of virtual classrooms).
Internet Connectivity and Bandwidth
According to Ralph Stogdill- an adequate analysis of leadership involves not only a study of leaders but also of situations; understanding that internet connectivity and bandwidth is a major issue in Nigerian Universities, Professor Ikonne increased the bandwidth as much as possible and put in place a mechanism to achieve full internet connectivity on all campuses through a committee. This resulted to a blueprint which the university can use to achieve this.
Salman Rushdie commenting on James Joyces Ulysses stated that “a scholar worthy of his salt should build a whole universe from a grain of sand” the giant strides of Professor Ikonne in ICT development in Abia State University can be likened to building a whole universe from a grain of sand; making the best lemonade from lemon and lighting a torch that will perpetually lead the university away from dark corners to limelight.
𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐟 𝐎𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐚 𝐂. 𝐔𝐠𝐛𝐨𝐠𝐮
Immediate Past Director, Institute for Computer Studies
Abia State University Uturu