THE passage of Prof Cordelia Agbebaku on February 16, 2017, a Professor of Law, was a rude shock to the AAU community, her friends, family and numerous admirers. The iconic scholar, Professor of Law, author, immediate past Vice Chancellor of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State and writer was a woman of steel. She was generally healthy fellow and was seldom sick, hence people were rather taken unawares by her sudden demise.
Take a name Professor Cordelia Agbebaku, the people‘s mind quickly shifts to one of the best serving Vice Chancellor in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma , she had the experience which influenced her to greater heights in the academic world. A recipient of over 118 honour and awards from within and outside the country. A distinguished Professor of Law and administrator. The people may wonder if she is the amiable, articulate and ebullient academic with over 120 publications and membership of 20 learned societies to her credit .Her successful tenure has brought to an end a period of leadership vacuum during which internal strife among members of the university community, leadership crises and communal mistrust had almost torn the institution apart.
Prof Cordelia Agbebaku was born about 55 years ago. She hailed from Esan West Local Government of Edo State. Professor Cordelia Agbebaku’s infrastructural revolution at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State repositioned the university as one of the best universities in Nigeria in line with Professor Alli’s concept of liberalised opportunity for the individual. She has also repositioned the university for academic excellence with transparency and accountability as the watchword .Little wonder, a lot of commendations and awards were bestowed on this enigma, who has impacted immensely on the lives of the student and staff of the university during her tenure as vice-chancellor.
As an administrator with zero tolerance for criminal activities within the academic community, she maintained an unwavering determination to rid the system of corrupt practices and criminal tendencies. She made it clear on assumption of office that it would no longer be business as usual and has remain faithful to that policy. There is secrecy in her administration as she ran an open door administration, encouraging all staff to be open and diligent in their work. This was why some staff found to have engaged sharp practices have been dealt with according to laid down rules, while others faced disciplinary measures. With all these major achievements during her tenure as Vice-Chancellor, there is no doubt that Prof. Cordelia Agbebaku came, saw and conquered as AAU VC. To crown it all, it is on record that she was the first blue-blooded product of AAU to occupy the exalted position after almost 30 years of its existence.
Does such a worthy daughter not deserve the honour that is due to her, in line with the adage that “Honour should be given to whom it is due? Suffice it to say that no amount of cheap publicity and blackmail can erode the outstanding performance and good works of Professor Cordelia Agbebaku as Vice Chancellors of the University.
The former AAU VC attracted from Tetfund both in infrastructure, library and capacity- building. Known for her goal oriented approach to educational management, Professor Cordelia Agbebaku achievements at the helm of affairs at the Ambrose Alli University, continued to earn herself the respect and love of the university’s management, staff, students as well as parents and guardians.
But those who knew about the Vice Chancellor’s academic pedigree, her professional experience, her exposure and desire to always be an agent of positive change have never been surprised by her promises of yesterday which have become the reality of today.
The former Vice Chancellor, in collaboration with the academic and non academic staff of AAU, has worked assiduously to make sure that the university continually achieves its mandates, but the bar of academic excellence is being raised by Prof Agbebaku through exemplary leadership approach, the rapid addition to the infrastructure of the school and staff motivation. Prof Agbebaku has attracted the following projects:
The TETFUND projects which Prof Cordelia Agbebaku attracted were: 1. the construction of 3-in-1 300 Capacity Lecture Theatre at Permanent Site, 2. Construction of Faculty of Social Sciences Building Complex at Permanent Site, 3. Procurement and Supply of 969 Volumes of Books in 26 Subject areas to the University Central Library, 4.Procurement of Brand new Toyota(STD) roof No. Bus Ambulance Equipped Medical Facilities at University Health Centre, 5. Procurement of 35 qualities of Electronic Library Equipment at Faculty of Clinical Science Library, 6. Procurement of 100KVA/1104C44TA922 at University Central Library, 7. Procurement of Teaching and Research Equipment for the Departments in the College of Medicine, Department of Architecture and Computer Science. Other TETFUND Projects are: 1.Furnishing of the 1000 Capacity Lecture Theatre with Modern theatre seats including rehabilitation of the ceiling and painting at Main Campus, 2. Procurement and installation of Language Laboratory Facilities in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, 8. Procurement and installation of Furniture and Equipment for the Department of Political Science, 9. Procurement and installation of Furniture, Fittings and Equipment for the Faculty of Law, 10. Procurement of various laboratory works Facilities Equipment for water supply and standby Generators, 11. Construction and Furnishing of Faculty of Arts Office Block and Lecture Halls.
During her tenure,Edo State Government under Governor Adams Oshiomhole executed the following projects at Ambrose Alli University: 1.Construction of 500 Capacity Lecture Theatre at Main Campus, 2. Construction of Lecturers Office Block at Main Campus, 3. Construction of 500 Capacity Lecture Theatre at Emaudo Annex, 4. Re-roofing of Central Library Building at Main Campus, 5. 500 KVA Generator,6. 2 Comrade Luxurious Bus (42 Seated) and Rehabilitation of Provost Lodge, Ogbeha Quarters and other numerous projects. Construction of workshop building for department of building and studio for fine and applied arts department in the faculty of Environmental studies. Location: Main Campus.
Construction of 2-in-1 Laboratory Block for the department of Medical Laboratory science. Location: College of Medicine.
Furnishing of 2-in-1 Laboratory Block for the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences. Location College of Medicine.
Construction of Library Building in Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences. Location: College of Medicine.
Construction of 500 Capacity Lecture Theatres in Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences. Location: College of Medicine.
Completion of Abandon Moot Court Building in the Faculty of Law. Location: Main Campus.
Furnishing of Moot Court Building in Faculty of Law. Location: Main Campus.
Construction of departmental building for the department of Agricultural Economics. Location: Emaudo Annex.
A woman whose peace and reconciliation agenda to stabilize the system was all encompassing, who left no stone unturned to reconcile all group in the university community and put an end to communal mistrust and internal strife. Today, the popular slogan in the institution is Agbebaku’s “lets come together as member of the family and ensure the development of intellectual capacities of individual to understand and appreciate their environment and the acquisition of both physical and intellectual skill which will enable individuals to develop into useful members of the community.
What I have paraphrased above is only a tip of the iceberg. It is the minutes’ illustration of Prof Cordelia Agbebaku With her demise, a major eclipse has occurred in our intellectual horizon. It is like a library being set ablaze, as the sage once put it. Adieu our dear Professor of Law, Cordelia Agbebaku, the Murray of our time! May God grant her soul eternal rest and to her husband, Prof. P. E. Agbebaku, their Children and grand–children, the fortitude to bear the loss.
Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin