Disciplined Nigerians: Meet Professor Stanley Chukwudi Udedi

Disciplined Nigerians: Meet Professor Stanley Chukwudi Udedi

Disciplined Nigerians: Meet Professor Stanley Chukwudi Udedi
Disciplined Nigerians: Meet Professor Stanley Chukwudi Udedi

Professor Udedi is the Dean, Student Affair, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Nigeria and has been there since 2016. His impact in the university cannot be overemphasized. He is the gem that the Educational System in Nigeria needs as all his intentions are focused towards the improvement of the welfare of students. Prof. Stanley also stands as the solid rock and protector to defend students against abuses and other forms of harassment from lecturers, staff or by their fellow students.

SI Team spotted Professor Stanley as a gem in the Nigerian University and embarked to carry out an interview with him. Read about his biography, what influenced him and what he has to say;

Professor Stanley Chukwudi Udedi, was born 50 years ago at Akama-Oghe, Ezeagu LGA of Enugu State. He started his primary school at State Farm Settlement School, Adani, Uzouwani, LGA of Enugu State and completed that at Udoka Primary School, Awka Anambra State. He started his secondary education St Paul’s Seminary Umunoko Important and completed at All Hallows’ Seminary, Onitsha before proceeding to a one year apostolic work at St Dominic Savior Seminary Akpu, in Orumba North LGA. Because the scripture says that many are called but few chosen, he entered the defunct Anambra State University of Science and Technology were he obtained BSc in Applied Biochemistry in 1991. He was appointed a graduate assistant in same Department in 1994. He later obtained his MSc and Ph.D from same Department in 1997 and 2006 respectively. Providence helped him to go through several leadership opportunities ranging from being the Alumni Relations Officer to being the Head of Department Applied Biochemistry. Professor Stanley Udedi is the first graduate of the Department to head it.
He was appointment the Deputy Director of the Biotechnology Research Centre and later ended up the Ag. Director of the centre in 2015. From there the Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku appointed him the Dean of Students Affairs in 2016. But, one of the most interesting parts of his career was that he was a member of the University Governing council form 2005 – 2009. That particular appointment gave Prof. Stanley a lot of advantage and opportunities for him to meet with people from different walks of life.

Who influenced you in having a disciplined character?
Apart from my parents late Mr Charles& Mrs Beatrice Udedi whom people believed were great disciplinarians as well as my going through the seminary formation. I came into the university as a trainable manpower. Then, while in the university, I was blessed to meet the duo of Professor Francis Chukwuemeka Ezeonu and Dr. Ezenwa J. Chukeze who has remained my mentors.

Okay Sir, what has kept you going over the years of trying to maintain yourself and stick to those principles?
At a point, it is a struggle. As a student, I was introduced to the Marxist Club. Marxism has to do with equality of human race. It has to with socialism and Communism. It was Karl Marx who was preached that Men are Equal. So, I was brought into that, and still have passion of being fair to all concerned.

-So, you were attracted to that club because of the kind of person you are?
Yes I was. As Marxists we preached and practiced Equity and Fairness. You know, you cannot be preaching equity and fairness and you are given to capitalism and it’s vices. For he who goes to equity must go with clean hands. You know, we believed that we are fair and good. As students, we even had to fight for others when they were intimidated, we fought lecturers who were selling hand-outs to students, and we fought lecturers who were harassing our girls sexually. We fought them through petitions, and all those really informed my character. These almost played against me when I became a staff of the department. Some of the big people said that I was violent, but, fortunately, I still had the job.

But, the turn around in my life came in 1998 when I the HolyGhost taught me the scripture showed the missing link with the philosophy I was preaching. You know, I was preaching a philosophy of fairness and equity but based human knowledge and on what I considered trying to make the face of the earth anew based on my strength. I started reading the scripture myself and started being particularly interested in God and God’s eternal words. I started seeing that for everything that I have been doing in the past, it has connection with some places in the scriptures. So, I started marrying the scripture with my behaviour. So, now, somebody could say, he has now accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour. So, immediately I took that personal decision and I started seeing those things from the scripture. For everything I see in the scripture, I now had a reason why I should do it. So, if you ask me why I don’t sell hand-outs, I would say because God says do unto others as you want them to be done unto you. And as a student, I never loved hand-outs because I was of a humble origin and I had no money to buy them. So, when you want me to buy hand-outs by force, I will fight you, I will form a group to fight you. Because my parent’s do not have the money, so, I survived through that means. Now, because I survived through that means, when you want to sell hand-outs, I say ‘No, we don’t need that because some of these kids you are seeing don’t have the money. Let it be open, if anybody wants to buy, let him buy. The same thing applies to the issue of harassing female lecturers. Why? Not just because I know it is bad but because I know that if you are a man and you want to have a son or daughter, will you want your daughter to be harassed by another man when she gets into the school? The scripture made it very clear again ‘The cup /measure with which you give to people, is the measure in which you will be given’ – that is the law of attraction.

So, in the law of attraction, whatever you do to yourself, that’s what you do to others. So, by that law, I started marrying some of these with the scriptures and it didn’t take time, I started recognizing that I live a better life. You know, my life is better when issues are sorted out at first principle. What do I mean by that? Everybody knows that once I get you in examination misconduct, I am reporting you. Every student and staff knows that in my faculty. So, nobody cares about begging me. That’s what I mean by first principle. So, from the beginning, people already know that this is Stan’s character, please leave him.

Initially when I was inaugurated, it was a little bit of struggle but gradually when they discovered that I remained consistent then people allowed me to live my life and then today I enjoy it. Presently, I am the chairman of the faculty mis-conduct panel of Nnamdi Azikiwe Univeristy and everybody has confidence in me that whatever I see is what I am going to say. These things actually helped me a lot. So, I can really say that marrying the word of God with the behaviour I chose helped me a lot to sustain. Because you know, sustainability is key. You have done all these things as students but now I could have decided to give in. But because I now had sustenance, because I now know that I am doing it for the sake of God. Because I know that I am now doing it because I know that that is what God wants. And for instance, if not for God’s grace, I will not have been able to swim through the challenges of the university because things were hard but He saw me through and it is time for me to serve as a way of mentoring other students so that they will also swim through. So, He will not be happy with me when I derail and start forcing them to do things that ordinarily I wouldn’t want anybody to do to me.

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-So, the main idea is that you are living through the principles of the word of God?
Yes! That’s the watchword of whatever I do today. Anything I want to do, I will want to succeed it on that mirror, and not because I am good but because I aspire to be one and I have seen the scripture as something that can give me in a guide to live a righteous, not just a righteous, to live a fulfilled life. Because of the scripture, I am contented. Whatever I have I will give God glory for it. Whatever I have, whatever He gives me, I know the Lord has provided. He is the great provider. So, I know that is the one He wants to provide for me as at that point in time.
I have held so many positions and I am sure that I hadn’t worked extra for them if not that consistently with my character, people say He could do this. So, I contributed little or nothing apart from developing my behaviour and being consistent in having almost all those appointments. I never influenced any because I never had anybody to influence it for me. Even the one that I am here now, when the Vice Chancellor (VC) appointed me, he told me that I have confidence in you and I said wow, if you have confidence in me then I should have confidence in myself. I was particularly touched by one of the write-ups of a journalist when I was made the dean; he posted it online and said ‘Dr. Udedi has been appointed the Dean of Students Affairs to take over from Professor Ken Nwogu. Dr. Udedi is coming from a well-established forthrightness which is one of the ingredients that is needed in building a growing university’. I wouldn’t forget that, I crammed it.

The journalist said, he is coming from a well-established forthrightness. Forthrightness is a word which means more than righteousness. It means you are not just righteous but you are pro-active. So, that made me know that people are actually watching me, it guided all my actions as this dean here. At times when students come here, I try to make them feel free so that they are not scared. The female students will come in freely and stay around, you know, discuss, with me, play with me, chat with me and go. Not coming in scared. The young ones will come in. One problem with the young men is that because some of them are trying to use the system as student leaders to exploit the system. How do they do that?  They will come here, perching on your body as the dean and then go behind the department to collect illegal fees from their fellow students. Some departmental presidents organize parties with the departmental funds and charge students money to pay for attending the party which is their money. So, when they come, they see a different person because that was one of the things I fought against as a student.

If they ban lecturers from selling hand-outs, students should also not sell hand-outs indirectly. Because when a student organizes a party and charge ₦500 for the popular side, of which students had already paid departmental dues, faculty dues, etc. So, the faculty due is his money, it should be used to organize his party. So, why will there be money for admitting you into the hall. We never did that as presidents, why will people introduce them now. You see it both in the faculty, you see it in the union, you see it everywhere.
So, because you come and say ‘No, things must be transparent’ then you are no longer the guy they want there. So, you see them, they wouldn’t be coming to you, they will be running away but you will be pursuing them because you still want to know what they are doing wherever they are. You will tell some of them, let me know what is happening in your faculty, in your department, are there people exploiting you?
You will only see them rise when they want to fight management. But, as they exploit fellow students, they will be suppressing them from rising.

-So, does it mean some student leaders don’t have that leadership ability?
Yes, they are not leaders, they are just a group of people who gather themselves and saw a resource in the system of which they are exploiting the loophole; the weakness of the system. So, they are actually opportunists. Some of them will not develop into this kind of character that we are talking about because they are already compromised. You tell a student leader that from the time revision starts in the calendar till the time exam ends, there should be no social gathering, no social functions, no parties, no traditional cultural dances so that students will focus on the essence of coming to the university. But, due to the fact that those programs are programs that have been designed to generate money in their pocket, they cannot say no. That is why this session, we have introduced a concept, and the university is bringing social program to the students coupled with the already existing calendar of academic activities. So that the students will know that from so and so period, if they want to do induction, they should do induction. From so and so period, if they want to do cultural day, whatever they want, and religious time. But once it is January this, the university in the calendar revision. From that time of revision to the end of exam, no other program will run except academic programmes. So that, the students as tender as they are can be focused on their studies.

Okay Sir, have there been times when you are being rebuked, attacked because of you are standing for what is right?
Nobody can attack me because the people who know me know that it is consistent with my character. And I follow due principles. They will only discuss at my back but Juluis Ceaser said it “That the thing that threatens me is at my back for when they shall see the face of Caesar, they shall vanquish”. So, I am not bothered about what happens at my back, it is for the cowards. They say cowards die many times before their death. But, the valient dies only but once. Of all the things that chases a man, I seem who I am somebody should fear. There is nothing to fear. The only person that fears is somebody who is doing something bad. So, there is no fear, if there is collision of interest, we resolve it on the table.

Like, if a dean calls me and says sir, we were not aware of this, we have already fixed this. We say okay dean, because you are aware and you going to be part of the functions. He say Yes, Okay dean, write a letter and bring it to us so that we can approve so that we would know that the Dean is there. So, but now it cannot be possible because by next week, we would be bringing in the calendar for the entire year so everybody that from January 5 – February 30, that revision has started and exams will end on 30th. So this time is a no go area, it is all about the essence of which. You know, I want students to understand that the university has two components for a total man; the social component and the academic component. If you don’t have two of them, then, you have learnt nothing.
But, one cannot take over from the other. If you are only a bookworm, you will end up not being a good graduate. But, if you now over do the social, you will end up not reading your books. And being a young person, that’s why we are staff advisers, we are meant to guide you in the way you operate, that’s why we bring out timetable. That’s why there is exam period.

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When we implemented it last semester, the people cooperated and you see, there will be no band beating during exams, no dancing, there will be no music except for the music department that is part of their course. All cultural days will have been suspended, that’s why the students guided so that these functions can come before the exams or come after the exams. So, you will now know that such a time in second semester, you have to do your cultural thing. We have to do students week, do whatever. Once it is May 20th, everything ceases, everybody goes back to the classroom and it is time for exam. Because, if you don’t do that, some weak people will not know the time to play and the time to work hard. They will be lazing about, when it is time for exam; they end up in the examination hall.
So, we are carrying out a research paper. We are doing the correlation like immediately we introduce this program, we will also bring in the program of advocacy and strong sensitization against examination mis-conduct. We will use students to form an advocacy body, they will come to class, distribute sweets, and other good things while begging fellow students not to involve in examination mis-conduct. We will now check the number of students caught in examination misconduct in the last 2 years compared to that year where there was sensitization. There will be no force. The advocacy will be fun. Some people will go to the hostels, some will go to the classrooms, churches while the dean will be actively involved in going to churches, seminars and anywhere there is function, the dean will also send people to go there and plead with students.

-Why do you need to give something?
You know, gifts have a way of making people happy. So, by the time we come in with biscuits, juices and all that. This thing is a way of trying to sensitize the environment. Fliers will and we will also bring in something more like an enlightening show. ‘Say No to examination mis-conduct. Say YES to working hard during the exam.

-Okay, the examination mis-conduct is from the side of the student, say mal-practice?
Yes, everything is centered on the students, we will not handle staffs. Our mandate is on students, so, we move around the campus, sensitize them, get the students union involved, get students organization and student leaders involved because immediately after the student union, the student leaders summit, we will mobilize them for this sensitization.
So, I feel that if we have that sensitization, it will help to a large extent. Not that they will not cheat, but, a good number of persons will have heard, because if we say it on time, you will now be able to marry why social functions should not impede into the academic functions, why each of them will be separate, why each of them will be on their own capacity. Even in those social functions, while you attend, you will also get them to know that while you do this, it is also good to do the other one. So, we intend to put it in perspective in what we are going to do. And I feel that it is going to make a lot of impact. At least, if we can reduce exam mis-conduct by 30%, it has achieved a lot.

Okay sir, what is your long term goal in terms of how you envisage a/the university system to be? What do you aim at achieving?
For this university honestly, my long term goal is to work towards enlisting this university as the 1st 100 universities in Africa. You know, world class performance, actually has been things that I have been imagining how it will look like if my Alma Mata attains that because I didn’t know whether I told you that I am a total graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, all round graduate. I have my 1st degree, 2nd degree and my PhD. So, this is my Alma Mata in tripartite form.
So, what I am trying to say in essence is that I am looking at a situation whereby our university will be acknowledged and recognized internationally. It comes from the discipline of both staffs and students on campus because you cannot show good visibility without good research. You cannot do good research if the lecturers, if the academics are not committed to research and you cannot do good research without your students. The students are the real people that also do part of the research in the course of their project. And, we cannot achieve that if they are not interested in advancing the same vision we have.
They need to be interested in advancing the vision of quality scholarship. That is quality in terms of the overall essence of why we are here.

-So, making it part of the 1st 1000 in the world, is it in terms of academic performance?
In all performance, there are a lot of things that are checked in the university. Is the university visible; visibility? What are the student’s performances? Their graduates, where are they working? Their staffs, do they publish in international journals and do they publish in competitive creative journals? Do we see them in international conferences? Do they come abroad to do presentations? These are all that counts.

Okay Sir, what is your advice to other people? Based on people that are indecisive, people that are disciplined, and also young people that are coming up but are yet to build a strong character in them.
Yes, being disciplined is a win-win end from any angle you look at it. For the disciplined people, my advice is that they should continue. They should not be frustrated. Let them remain positive and know that they have chosen the best course of action.

For the undecided, or rather for the people on the other side of the divide who feel that anything goes. It is not too late. It is a simple decision because it is a challenge that we must perform so that this society will be better -even for our children yet unborn.

For the undecided, they will easily be crushed, because if you are not hot and you are not cold, I will omit you out of my mouth. So, the undecided will perish faster. So, they should decide soon and let them decide on the path of the positive.

-Do you have to tell them that it pays to be disciplined because some are still a little bit confused because they are not grounded yet?
As for the ones that you said may be confused, they are not confused. They know it takes a lot of sacrifice to remain on that group. They know the right thing but they know that they need to pay some sacrifice. They need to abstain from certain things. They need to continue to exhibit what is right which is not always easy.

Somtochukwu
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Somtochukwu

Coach, Motivational Speaker, Writer and Teacher.

▪ Follower of Balancism.
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