AFAM ICHA-ITUMA@47: CELEBRATING NIGERIA’S YOUNGEST UNIVERSITY VICE CHANCELLOR
Celebrating Professor Afam Icha-Ituma, VC, Coal City University Enugu – A Dynamic Leader at 47
By Collins Azu
Professor Afam Icha-Ituma, Vice-Chancellor of Coal City University, Enugu, Nigeria, turned 47 years on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. He is the second Vice-Chancellor of one of the fastest-rising and globally-focused universities in the country. Professor Afam Icha-Ituma ranks amongst the youngest Vice-Chancellors in Nigeria.
Professor Afam Icha-Ituma was born into the noble family of His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Icha Ituma, a rare gem and a former Nigerian Ambassador to Australia with concurrent accreditation to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji Island; first Deputy Governor of the old Enugu State, Secretary to the Government of (old Anambra, old Enugu and Ebonyi States respectively), among other top government positions.
Professor Afam Icha-Ituma, however, decided early in life not to bask in the glory and accomplishments of his father of blessed memory but to carve his name and path through hard work, honesty, integrity, courage and humility.
Of course the apple does not fall far from the tree. The young Afam could not avoid the values and virtues of his father in service for the public good with a high level of proven integrity and distinction. As the first son, the personable Afam decided to contribute his own quota to nation-building and honour his father through his work for humanity. He followed his father’s distinguished service in public life and higher education. He earned his B.Sc in Mass Communication from the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), (Nigeria), MBA from University of Leicester (UK), PhD in Human Resources Management from Brunel University (UK) and Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning from Brunel University.
He spent many years overseas occupying senior level positions at top British institutions and collaborated with over 30 institutions around the globe. His desire to make a significant difference in his homeland led him to resign his position at Bournemouth University and forego for good those lucrative positions and the established life in the United Kingdom to return to Nigeria with his family in 2012.
Prof Afam Icha-Ituma’s remarkable decision to voluntarily return to Nigeria contrasts with that of many Nigerian scholars who are leaving the country in droves in search of a better life abroad instead of generating innovative solutions to address the numerous challenges facing the Nigerian higher education system to bring it to beneficial functionality, national relevance and global competitiveness.
In 2020, Prof Afam Icha-Ituma was selected after a carefully designed process as the second Vice-Chancellor of Coal City University (CCU) to champion the vision of making CCU a world-class University with Sir Chinedu Ani as Chancellor, Professor Chinedu Nebo as Pro-Chancellor, and Professor Chidiebere Onyia as Chair Strategic Advisory Board.
Since his assumption of office as the Vice-Chancellor, he has been creating a community-friendly campus that places students first and foremost in it’s priorities. The intellectual life of the University has become increasingly vibrant with many academic activities and high quality teaching from well-qualified scholars recruited from top universities both at home and abroad. He is leveraging on his extensive international experience and global network to build strategic partnerships with institutions internationally to make Coal City University an internationally competitive institution in Nigeria.
He has consolidated the University framework, transformed the institution into an active teaching and research-based university and has brought in eminent world-class scholars to the campus to nurture the mind and soul of this fast rising university in Africa.
Professor Afam Icha-Ituma amply proves that great leaders demonstrate achievements, humility, continuous learning, and wise counsel. His strength of character, energy, work ethics, firm roots in industry, transparency, and selfless service to humanity are the kinds of qualities and values that are desperately needed in Nigeria and around the world. His cheerful, friendly, supportive, and approachable demeanour sets him apart from many top chief executives. He has earned a reputation as a rigorous but fair leader who does not play favourites. He steadfastly welcomes fresh ideas, and appreciates and acknowledges the work of others. He continues to demonstrate that leading from the well of intellectual generosity, kindness and respect can be successful in the Nigerian university system.
Professor Afam Icha-Ituma’s credentials prior to becoming Vice-Chancellor includes being Professor of Human Resource Management and Dean of Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike (AE-FUNAI), Nigeria. His career at AE-FUNAI was characterized by many firsts. He was the pioneer Director of Academic Planning; pioneer Director of Information and Communication Technology Unit; pioneer Director of Centre for Entrepreneurship and Employability; pioneer Director Centre for Internationalization, Linkages and Global Ranking; and pioneer Dean Faculty of Education. He was also a member of the University Governing Council. In all of these roles, he made outstanding contributions to the University and has been instrumental in lifting its international reputation.
Indeed, Prof Afam Icha-Ituma has had a distinguished professional and academic career. He has a rich background in academic research as well as university management and strategic policy advice for governments and national agencies. He is a Visiting Professor of Human Resource Management and Internationalization at the University of Lincoln (UK). He has served as a Visiting Research Fellow at Kingston Business School (UK), Visiting Fellow at the University of Leiden (Netherlands), Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the University of London (UK), Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the University of Lisbon (Portugal), Erasmus+ Visiting Professor at the University of Kent (UK), and Linnaeus-Palme Academic Visitor at the University of Gavle (Sweden).
He has also served as External Examiner at the University of Manchester, University of Northumbria, University of Wales, and Pan-Atlantic University. He has served as a professorial assessor at Nigeria Defence Academy, the Pan-Atlantic University, Covenant University etc.
He has published extensively in leading Business & Management journals and is frequently invited as a keynote speaker at national and international conferences. He has also been the recipient of national and international grants and has successfully supervised several MSc and PhD students in the United Kingdom.
At such a time when Nigeria needs young, sincere and dynamic leaders to take the country to the next level of technological and intellectual transformation, it is worth celebrating those who have responded to such calls, shouldered heavy responsibilities, and punched far above their weights.
Indeed, shouldering enormous responsibility for institutional building in the Nigerian university system with numerous achievements is worth celebrating. It’s indeed a 47th birthday worthy of celebration for the dynamic, visionary and indefatigable Vice-Chancellor, Professor Afam Icha-Ituma, as he leads Coal City University on the path to greatness and becoming a world-class University.
The Publisher, Editorial Board and Management of hoo!haa!! Online Newspapers congratulate our brother and generational role model, Afam Icha-Ituma, as he clocks 47 eventful years on earth.
We equally felicitate with the entire Coal City University community, especially the Chancellor, Sir Chinedu Anih for upholding and furthering the vision of the founder, Coal City University, Enugu, Ọzọ Rev. Fr. Prof Stan Chinedu Anih, a man who saw tomorrow by bringing Ecumenism to Ndigbo thereby making it practicable for us to be practicing Catholics and as well promoters of the rich Igbo cultural heritage