Authorities of the University of Port Harcourt have announced the endowment of a Professorial Chair in History in honour of the 2nd Vice-Chancellor of the Institution, Professor Sylvanus Cookey.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Joseph Ajienka, made the disclosure while speaking at the 80th Birthday Ceremony and formal inauguration of the Professor Sylvanus Cookey Chair in Malaria Studies in the University, held at the Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium, last Friday.
Professor Ajienka, who extolled the leadership qualities of Professor Cookey as 2nd Vice-Chancellor, disclosed: “I have the permission of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council to announce that one of the new buildings being constructed would be named after Professor Cookey. When you have a name like Professor Cookey around you, you will know that it would attract a lot of positive developments.”
In his speech, Chairman of the occasion and Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, who described the University as unique, said that its achievements were as a result of the solid foundation laid by people like Professor Cookey. According to him, the University is the industry for the development of human capacity and as a result it is the most fundamental institution for the development of a country, stressing that no degree of importance attached to the development of a university would be too much.
“You cannot overstate the significance of good institutions to deliver good education. Funding remains a continuous challenge to our universities,” he stated advising that any that is worth its salt should be financially self – dependent. The Monarch noted that Professor Cookey left a great legacy during his seven years as Vice-Chancellor of the University, advising the authorities to continue to grow in the right direction by striving for financial independence.
Also speaking, Director, Centre for Malaria Research and Phytomedicine in the University and Chair Occupant of the Sylvanus J.S. Cookey Professor of Malaria Studies, Professor Omotayo Ebong, said that the event was organized to formally announce and inaugurate the Chair, as well as mark the 80th birthday of Professor Cookey. “It is the first dedicated event for an endowment in this University and it is most fitting that it fell on the day that the University joined the rest of the world to mark the World Malaria Day, she added.
Professor Ebong, who highlighted the contributions of the University in the fight against malaria, said that Professor Cookey’s benevolence would help in sustaining the drive for excellence in malaria research in the University. She appealed to individuals and corporate bodies to invest in the campaign against malaria.
In his response, Professor Cookey thanked the authorities of the University for honouring him in such a manner, pointing out that the essence of life was for the benefit of the society. He disclosed that his tenure as Vice-Chancellor was most challenging, yet the University remained dear to him.
Highlights of the event were presentation of lectures entitled: “Investing in Malaria” by Professor Wellington Oyibo of the University of Lagos and “Perspectives in Academic Mentoring” by Professor Yakubu Ochefu, Vice-Chancellor, Kwararafa University, Taraba State, performance by the Uniport Concert Chorus, presentation of gifts to the Celebrant, decoration of the Guest Lecturers with the University of Port Harcourt mufflers and cutting of the birthday cake by Professor Cookey. Other dignitaries present at the event were: King Dandison Jaja, Amanyanabo of Opobo; former Vice-Chancellor, Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs, former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte; Chairman Niger Delta Exploration and Production PLC, Mr. Goodie Ibru, amongst others.