By Inyali Peter, Calabar
The Paramount Ruler of Boki local government area of Cross River State and his council of Chiefs on Saturday conferred on the Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, Prof. Zana Akpagu one of the highest Chieftaincy titles in Boki nation, Otu Ochikanong Obonghe Mu Boki.
Speaking at the event which held at the Government Secondary School Wula, Boki, Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Pius Tawo said that it was the first time in over 30 years that the Boki nation was honouring someone with Chieftaincy title.
Tawo said that although the VC has received many chieftaincy titles in recent times the one from Boki was special because “it’s coming after over 30 years”.
He said that for the entire local government to agree to break the jinx of such a long time shows that Prof. Akpagu has performed exceptionally as a Vice Chancellor and has affected lives of Boki sons and daughters positively.
While calling on the University to partner with Boki for development, he said that there’s no meaningful development that can be achieved in any part of the world without strong partnership with the Universities.
“This Boki traditional title today is very important and significant to us for two reasons; This is the first time in over 30 years that Boki nation is conferring Chieftaincy title on anybody. It’s not just like others because it’s only given to someone who has performed exceptionally. It’s also not completely traditional, it’s a combination of tradition and religion.
“There’s a relationship between Universities and development. Boki is very proud of the relationship with Unical. I call on Unical to remain partners for the development of Boki”, he said.
He charged the VC to see the recognition as a call to continue to do more for the University and the Boki nation.
Paramount Ruler of Boki, His Royal Majesty, Otu Fredaline Akendu while performing the coronation said that the event was very symbolic as it brought the entire Boki people together for the first time in a long time.
He said that the Boki council of Chiefs took advantage of the ceremony to address the incessant communal clashes ravaging some communities and have now agreed to live together as brothers and sisters.
“Today is a special day for Boki. Because of one man, Prof. Akpagu, the Boki people people have come together as one people and the togetherness shall continue. I want to say that the crisis ravaging some Boki communities have been put to rest because of the function”.
Chairman of the Planning Committee, Prof. Bette Enu who reeled out some achievements of VC lauded him for his giants strides as well as magnanimity in appointing Boki sons and daughters into sensitive positions in the University.
He said that ” Prof. Akpagu took over a University that was limited in terms of curriculum offers. But in three years, he has been able to establish four faculties. A 42 years University hadn’t the faculties of Engineering, Pharmacy, Environmental Science and Dentistry which he has all established in three years. The faculty of Dentistry in fact has been rated as the best in the country.
He has also expanded Unical offers by creating six new departments. Outside this, he has embarked on over 30 capital projects; many have been completed while some are in different stages of completion. He is a friend of Boki and has appointed so many us into sensitive positions “.
Reacting, Prof. Akpagu said that “I grew up as a young Obudu boy who never knew the difference between Boki and Obudu. I’m happy that today I’ve renewed my bond with Boki because for me this is home coming.
“I want to thank the Paramount Ruler of Boki and his council of Chiefs, my colleagues from Unical and everybody who made this happen. When I assumed office, my first five appointments were all from Boki. At some point people were asking me if I knew what I was doing but I told them that there was no problem surrounding myself with Boki people and today I don’t regret that doing that.
“For us, everything we have done and achieved, the credit goes to God and all of us. We can’t do anything but God. We will continue to explore other opportunities to do more for the University and our people in our remaining years in office”.