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93 years old UNN first student with reg no 1960/001 shows off his certificate

UNN 1st student 1960:001

It was an exciting moment for members of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) community when the pioneer students of the institution were honoured in a programme marking the golden jubilee of its first graduation. The first student to be registered pulled a surprise when he displayed his certificate bearing his matriculation number. INYA AGHA reports.

•Excitement as pioneer students return to varsity

Fifty years after they were awarded their first degree certificates, the pioneer graduates of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) have returned to the school.

As they were being welcomed, one of them, Chief C. N. Eneasato, 93, surprised all. He came with his certificate with the matriculation number 1960/001 to show the guests that he was the first student to be registered in the university.

The management under the leadership of Prof Bartho Okolo had organised a golden jubilee anniversary to honour the 1963 graduates whose outstanding performance in the year’s civil service examination earned the university respect and put an end to derisive criticisms that trailed its establishment as a full-fledged university in 1960.

It was reported that the first graduates of the university took the first 10 positions in the examination, ahead of their counterparts from the then University College, Ibadan, which was established in 1948.

According to the Vice-Chancellor, some people moved against the establishment of UNN at the time of its founding, but the performance of its graduates silenced the critics.

Okolo said: “This distinguished generation of Lions and Lionesses excelled beyond anyone’s imagination. It was reported that their excellent performance at the civil service examination was the beginning of the reputation of excellence, which we all enjoy at the UNN today. Their achievements opened doors for subsequent graduates of this university. Some of these heroes may have fallen, but an event of this nature serves to express our respect, admiration and gratitude for being worthy pioneer students and graduates of this legacy institution. We salute and congratulate them for the legacy of excellence which they bequeathed to us.”

The Pro-Chancellor, Dr Emeka Enejere, said honouring the pioneer graduates was necessary to bring back the past glory of the university for people to have a better understanding of its present state, and make projection into its future.

He chronicled the history of the UNN from when the idea was conceived to when the institution was finally established in October 7, 1960. He saluted the faith of the pioneer graduates in the university at a time when, he said, people called to question the validity of a degree awarded by the institution.

“The role you all played in the University of Nigeria cannot be forgotten; we cannot thank you enough for bearing the name, the Lions and Lionesses, with dignity and candour. Your alma mater is proud of you, and your names shall eternally be written in the book of records of the university,” he said.

The best graduating student of the 1963 class, Prof Johnson Asiegbu, recounted how his set was derided and criticised for being students of UNN, saying many of the critics called the institution Zik’s secondary school. But their determination to succeed, despite infrastructural challenges, he said, made them resilient and focused.

He said: “UNN gave us an assignment when we came here in 1960. An assignment to restore the dignity of man; we came with enthusiasm from start to finish. But within the university, we had challenges of infrastructure and people ridiculed us and our university. If that challenge had affected us, it would have been a different history. But we never lost faith because we knew we had a duty to do for ourselves and to the country.

“Even the Federal Civil Service examination that was organised in 1963 was meant to prove that UNN graduates were not worthy of their certificates.

But the table turned on the critics as we put up a sterling performance by occupying all the top positions in the test. I am happy that the university has sustained that tradition of excellence over the years.”

Prof Solomon Omoregie, one of the pioneer graduates, said the spirit of hard work, which they learnt during their undergraduate days, was the bedrock of their successes in their postgraduate studies abroad.

Prof Omoregie recalled how his classmates had to line up waiting for their turn to study a particular textbook recommended by their teachers. “If you had the opportunity to read that book for 30 minutes, you would not see it again for the whole session, that was how we started,” he said.

The octogenarian, who has a flair for poetry, donated copies of his last book to Nnamdi Azikiwe Library to appreciate his alma mater for giving his life a good shape.

The peak of the event was the presentation of pencil portraits of old and young images of the honorees by the Pro-chancellor and Vice-Chancellor.

The UNN registered over 200 students in October 1960 and graduated 150 of them in 1963.

Source: http://thenationonlineng.net

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Comments (5)

  • lions nd lionesses never loose…may God help help us walk in d footsteps of our legends and super lions and lionesses….Roar!

  • i have a big work to do

  • May the labor of our heroes always spur the spirit of the present generation and shun all vices for the future yet unborn that we may one day be celebrated like them Cudos to Zik of Africa for his bold spirit and his suppoters.For they eskewed all ethnic chauvinisma and clindestine sentiments that we all are today enjoying.

  • Wow, i’m really begining to av goose pimples, studyn @ Zik’s sec. sch was really worth it. Kudos to our pioneer students. Up UNN!

  • woooowwwww, it’s a thing of joy. Only if those of us seeking for adminssion are given then the joy will be complete


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