History of Godfrey Okoye University
The idea of establishing a Catholic University by the Catholic Diocese of Enugu was first conceived and presented by the Emeritus Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Dr. A. O. Gbuji, to all priests of the diocese. He wanted a university with the name “Cor Unum”, a university that could represent the unity of all educational institutions and activities of the diocese. In spite of the effort of the bishop to see the project take off immediately, it did not. Bishop Gbuji later discussed his plan with Rev. Fr. Prof. Christian Anieke, whom he had appointed the provost of the Institute of Ecumenical Education in February 2006. Rev. Fr. Prof. Anieke understood the importance of a university in the diocese and took the bull by the horn. He assured the bishop that he would use all the resources he had to ensure that he built a university for the diocese. At a meeting in the Council Chamber of the Institute of Ecumenical Education, Thinker’s Corner, Enugu, on 9 November 2007, the convener of the meeting, Rev. Fr. Professor Christian Anieke, Provost of the Institute, informed the participants that he had applied for a university that would belong to the Catholic Diocese of Enugu. He also assured the members that he would bring all the financial resources needed for a takeoff of the project. In attendance at the meeting were:
- Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Christian Anieke
- Barr. (Mrs.) B. N. Ugwu
- Msgr. Prof. Obiora Ike
- Barr. Anthony Mogboh (SAN)
- Prof. Christian Nwachukwu Okeke
- Prof. Julius Onah
- Arch. C. O. Orji
- Rev. Mother Ifechukwu Udorah, DDL
- Prof. Edwin Onyeneje
- Engr. R. C. Odumodu
- Prof. Joseph Ikechukwu Chidobem
- Prof. Festus C. Eze
The meeting was the official inauguration of the Planning and Implementation Committee (PIC), comprising the clergy, reputable public officers and experienced university administrators, some of whom had received training in the National Universities Commission and had a good knowledge of the approved guidelines for the establishment of universities in Nigeria. The Committee, with Prof. Julius Onah as chairman, met several times to brainstorm and agree on the critical issues of the vision, mission, philosophy and objectives of the proposed university and the preparation of the three strategic documents: Academic Brief, University Law and Masterplan. The Planning and Implementation Committee and its sub-committees carried out the assignment not only expeditiously but also with a high degree of commitment, inspired by the sincerity of purpose demonstrated by the Rev. Fr. Professor Christian Anieke, who provided all the logistics needed for the smooth execution of the assignments of the Committee and its subcommittees. Indeed there is always an aura of success and victory surrounding a person of goodwill, and so given his sincerity of purpose and support, the PIC with its subcommittees was ready in record time to invite the National Universities Commission Standing Committee on Private Universities (SCOPU), the NUC committee responsible for the assessment and recommendation for approval all proposed universities, for the first verification visit of the proposed university.
Meanwhile, in one of the meetings, Rev. Fr. Prof. Anieke informed the members that Prof. Julius Okojie had advised him and Prof. Onah to name the university after a bishop who had worked in the diocese since the proposed university would belong to the Catholic Diocese of Enugu. They settled for Bishop Okoye, who contributed a lot to the growth of the diocese, including acquiring 95 percent of the land used as the permanent site of the university. The first name was written as Bishop Okoye Ecumenical University ( BOEcU), which was later modified as Godfrey Okoye University (GO University or, as students fondly call it, GO).
The First Verification Visit
The visit took place on 10 June 2008. The Standing Committee on Private Universities (SCOPU) of the National Universities Commission, under the leadership of Professor O. C. Onwudike, arrived at the Institute of Ecumenical Education, Thinker’s Corner, Enugu, to inspect the take-off campus of the proposed university as well as its proposed permanent site at Ugwuomu-Nike, 15 kilometres from Enugu. Apart from the members of the Planning and Implementation Committee who were present, the Enugu Catholic Community, the Governing Council of the Institute of Ecumenical Education, members of the Diocesan Curia and priests of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu were all present to receive the SCOPU members. Present also were the representatives of tertiary institutions in the state and friends of the proposed university from Austria. In fact, if physical presence was an accurate reflection of stakeholder interest and people’s desire, the Enugu Christian Community had by the quantity and quality of people on that occasion indicated its interest in the proposed university. It was clear from the massive turnout and support that the Enugu Christian Community was fully in support of a new approach to university education, where discipline would not be an appendage but a central creed, an approach that would give the youth the opportunity to have a sound intellectual and spiritual growth, deep-rooted understanding of the unity of knowledge and commitment to the philosophy of dialogue. The outcome of the first visit was very good. Indeed the chairman of SCOPU had this to say before their departure: “There is not much to be done in the Academic Brief and the Law. You have to work on the Masterplan. Thank you for welcoming us, taking care of us and showing us around. You can count on us that we will be able to come within the shortest possible time for the second visit, once you have incorporated our agreements and taken care of the Masterplan.”
Second Verification Visit
The project was very fortunate indeed to have as its pilots the Chairman of PIC, Professor Julius Onah, and Rev. Fr. Professor Christian Anieke, whose strong logistic support, display of pastoral care and profoundly illuminating capacity to manage uncertainty kept members of the subcommittees so fully alert and well focused that they did what needed to be done to qualify for the second verification visit. SCOPU arrived on 11 April 2009 for the second verification visit under a new leader, Professor J. D. Amin. As in the first visit, there was a mammoth crowd of Catholics and other Christians to welcome the team. The newly appointed Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Most Rev. Dr. Callistus Valentine Chukwuma Onaga, was not only present but also accompanied the team to the proposed permanent site at Ugwuomu-Nike where a lot of work had been done. He left no one in doubt about his commitment to the success of the project. The new Chairman of SCOPU and the desk-officers could not conceal their satisfaction. In fact at the wrap up session, the Chairman said, “You have worked hard and well. It remains for us to go back and report to the National Universities Commission, whose decision regarding any further action would be communicated to you.” As the team departed, everybody was happy and prayed for the approval of the university as soon as possible.
The newly appointed Bishop of Enugu was convinced that we had done all things well and would get the licence. He therefore went ahead to appoint the following as members of the Board of Trustees of the proposed university (as required by the NUC):
Professor Joseph Ikechukwu Chidobem – Chairman
Rev. Fr. Professor Christian Anieke – Member
Dr. Mrs. Veronica Egonekwu Mogboh – Member
Professor Julius Onuorah Onah – Member
Professor Edwin Onyeneje – Member
Very Rev. Fr. John Nwafor – Member
Monsignor Prof.Obiora Ike – Member
Prof. Christian Nwachukwu Okeke – Member
Their names were forwarded to the NUC for the normal process of security screening and confirmation of freedom from criminal records.
The Board of Trustees started its work immediately. Its work included the intensification of renovation of the take-off site of the proposed university, commencement of serious work on the permanent site and undertaking of a study visit to certain private universities by the Chairman of the Board, Professor Joseph Ikechukwu Chidobem, the Provost of the Institute of Ecumenical Education, Rev. Fr. Professor Christian Anieke, and Professor Festus C. Eze (a member of the PIC). The first private university visited was Cetep City University, Lagos, which took place on Tuesday, 21 October 2009. The second university visited (on Wednesday, 22 October 2019) was Babcock University, Illisham-Remo, Ogun State, a faith-based university founded in 1999. It was in the midst of a most illuminating and productive engagement with the President/Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor J. A. Kayode Makinde, and his team, which included the Director of Academic Planning, Professor Ademola Tayo, that the information that the National Executive Council sitting in Abuja had approved Godfrey Okoye University as one of the seven new private universities in Nigeria was given to Prof. Anieke. Prof. Anieke could not hide his emotions; he broke into a dance as he shared the news with all those in the office of the VC/ President of Babcock University.
On 27 October 2009, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission formally informed the proprietor (the Catholic Bishop of Enugu) that consequent on having satisfied the requirements of the NUC for the approval of private universities, Godfrey Okoye University had been given a provisional approval to take off as a private University in Nigeria. The terms and conditions of the approval were carefully stated. The proprietor was also invited to the NUC in Abuja for the formal presentation of the provisional licence on Tuesday, 3 November 2009. It was such a joyous moment for the Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. C.V.C. Onaga, Rev. Fr. Prof. Anieke and many people from Enugu who accompanied the Bishop to receive the licence.
A meeting of the Proprietor and the Board of Trustees was held to appoint the pioneer Vice Chancellor and Registrar:
Rev. Fr. Prof. Christian C. Anieke – Vice Chancellor
Prof. Festus C. Eze – Registrar
The university later appointed key officers, following the due process specified by its law:
Mr. Fabian N. Ugwu – Bursar
Mrs. Mary Ellen Chijioke – Librarian
Prof. Emmanuel N. Adinna – Dean, Natural and Applied Sciences
Prof. Eugene O. Nwadialor – Dean, Management & Social Sciences
Prof. Richard C. Okafor – Director of General Studies
Rev. Sr. Dr. Mary Gloria C. Njoku – Director of Academic Planning
Prof. Alois Bachinger – Director of ICT
The new university, Godfrey Okoye University, quickly advertised for students who had obtained acceptable scores in the 2009/2010 University Matriculation Examinations, and who would opt to be considered for admission into the 9 academic departments (and 17 degree programmes) in the two approved approved faculties ( 1. Natural and Applied Sciences; 2. Management and Social Sciences) in the first phase of GO University development. A total of 700 candidates applied. These candidates were properly screened and 214 were found suitable for admission. The foundation Vice Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Prof. Christian C. Anieke, and the Registrar, Professor Festus C. Eze, visited the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to formalise the process of admission and to get the candidates formally placed at Godfrey Okoye University (GO University).
Students arrived on Monday, 7 December 2009 and commenced lectures immediately. The Senate was inaugurated on Wednesday, 9 December 2009 to ratify actions taken on its behalf and to approve the academic calendar. The Governing Council was inaugurated on Monday, 14 December 2009. The first matriculation, which attracted a large number of people, including the Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum (Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah), representatives of the Governor of Enugu State and representatives of other universities in the geopolitical zone, took place on 13 February 2010.
Godfrey Okoye University dedicates itself to impart quality education aimed at inculcating in students strong personality that will ensure the promotion of religious, cultural and epistemological dialogue.
The vision of Godfrey Okoye University is to produce graduates who would be outstanding in learning, balanced in character, personality and ready to pursue epistemic unity in all its ramification.
The philosophy of Godfrey Okoye University is based on the nature of human being as a social being and a dialogue seeking being. From this point of view the university understands education as a dialogical process of acquisition and dissemination of knowledge.