UNIZIK moved over 3600 position forward in global ranking of Universities

Although it is not yet uhuru for Nnamdi Azikiwe University; but the giant strides of the institution under the distinguished leadership of the Vice Chancellor; Professor Charles Esimone is laudable.

 The race for numbers and/or position has come to stay in our society. For example, a person who has one car may want to increase his cars fleets to three or five, likewise a Country rated amongst top 20 best economies or top 20 FIFA ranking in the World might want to climb higher aiming to get to the top. Whether it is increasing yacht or car fleets or climbing Forbes rating, one key element in achieving this is having a clear vision. 

One thing is to have a vision; other important factors are when, how and who will help in realising the vision. No doubt, the visionary leadership of UNIZIK VC is backed by willing and ever-ready team players at all levels across the prestigious institution. In an interview with The Cable News; the VC shared how he was able to achieve such a magnificent strand. 


“I started my administration with a clear vision — what I describe as Project 200. Project 200 is our vision to put Nnamdi Azikiwe University among the best 200 universities in the World, 10 in Africa, and number one in Nigeria. That vision had five major pillars described with the acronym of ACADA: academic excellence, community service, administrative exploits, discipline, and advancement. These five ACADA pillars were the things that revolutionised what we have done and that made us do things slightly different from what my predecessors have done. The vision was crafted with the notion of looking at the gaps and what we needed to do to take us to where we ought to be as a university.” So, from the very start, the VC has a vision that will always keep him on the move. So, running with this vision has tremendously turned the tide in favour of UNIZIK.


In the words of the Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology,UNIZIK VC, Professor Charles Esimone “In terms of academic excellence, we did things completely differently. Of course, if you look at the overall ranking of the university now, it is very clear that the ACADA pillars of Project 200 have helped us. When I started as vice-chancellor in 2019, our overall ranking was 4,927. But as we speak, even though we encountered two years of losses attributable to COVID and industry strikes, our current world ranking is below 1,500 from 4,297. As we look at our ranking in terms of universities that are not up to 50 years old, we are even below 500 ranking on the world stage. That is a very great feat. In 2023, we were number 31 in sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, in Nigeria, we have been fluctuating, depending on the ranking houses. We were ranked number 4 in Nigeria, but we have been oscillating between number 10. That is far from our ranking by the time I came on board. We were around 31. The five pillars of Project 200 have placed us very high.”


With a clear vision to be the best in Nigeria, the quality of lecture delivery must be put into perspective. The dynamic UNIZIK VC emphasizes understanding the importance of quality lecture delivery, as well as digital teaching and research. “I also try to look at how people deliver lectures. That is why we embrace ICT as a viable tool for lecture delivery. As we speak, it is almost impossible right now for you to go to a lecture hall and then people are dictating notes. We are using PowerPoint, and it is compulsory more or less. ICT and online modes of teaching and lecture delivery have been entrenched very consciously in the system. By the time I came on board, the bandwidth that we were using in the entire university was just less than 10 megabytes. Internet was not common. I started by procuring three STM-1s so you don’t have any excuse why you cannot do digital teaching or research. As we speak now, we have moved from three to six to make sure that internet connectivity is everywhere in faculties and departments.” He said.

Professor Esimone; UNIZIK VC.


In order to fully harness the potential of Alumni Association, UNIZIK VC took a lot of revolutionary steps including decentralising matriculation. According to him, these steps are necessary because they create bonds that make the students return and give. His words “…We have not harnessed the potential of alumni…We used to do central matriculation, and I decentralised it. I said faculties, do your matriculation. Since I came, the faculty has handled it. They read the VC’s speech, the dean and the HODs. So, the parents from the beginning identify with the faculties. They see you bare, raw, your challenges and problems. They associate with it from the beginning because it is not ephemeral. It is that bonding that helps when these people graduate and they are going to come back and give. That culture needs to be entrenched so people don’t extort students; they don’t abuse students; they need to love them like a parent will love his or her children and know their personal needs. We have also put up more mentorship groups. So, if you have a problem, the faculties, and departments can come to your aid.” Are you still unconvincing with the massive leap of UNIZIK, moving more than 3,000 steps forward? Read on and discover how they judiciously utilized their TETFunds to execute groundbreaking projects.


For a school located a few hours drive from Onitsha(Onitsha is known for having magnificent structures), structures must be top-notch to catch the attention of even the locals. The place of infrastructure in the ranking of Universities is indispensable. Most institutions suffer from infrastructural decay as a result of poor funding. Others lack structural edifices owing to administrative bureaucracies and embezzlement of funds. UNIZIK judiciously utilized TETFund interventions alloted to the school. This greatly influenced her global ranking. Here are some of the ones highlighted by the Professor Esimone:


 “Let me start with the faculty of social sciences. As a faculty, they never had any building of their own. They were just in the old building on the permanent site. But through TETFund, the faculty has a gigantic building. They also have a huge department of psychology building. The same thing goes for the faculty of education where all their buildings were scattered. The faculty of education has a big building now. They also have a Department of Vocational Technical Education (VTE) building. I so much like VTE. It is a middle-level manpower that we have lost in this nation.”


“Of course, our faculty of pharmaceutical sciences. We have two laboratories, giant ones, and office complexes. What we had before could not accommodate the growing population. We have for the first time a pharmaceutical microbiologist. I am a molecular biologist by training. But many times, we used to go abroad to do molecular research. However, through TETFund, we established a molecular research lab at the Nnewi campus.” 


“We also got a special intervention for a urology research centre which is at the Nnewi campus of the teaching hospital where we do urology research. It is a wonderful place.”


“But one that I so much cherish is that if you look at the entire Anambra state, we don’t have a zoo. Through TETFund, we have been able to have a zoo, even though we are trying to get a second intervention to complete it to make it standard.”


“We got standard equipment for six laboratories and workshops for the faculty of engineering, the same thing with the department of music. The department was performing very well, but no equipment. Through TETFund, we were able to equip the department. They have a state-of-the-art department.”


“TETFund also gave us a hostel. We have a hostel that is about to come up now. Unfortunately, the contractor messed up and he ran away after some time. But I wrote to the fund and they gave me the authority to terminate the contract and then recover the funds. We are in the process of recovering the funds. But now we have re-awarded it. We are starting a hostel through TETFund.”


“There is a department of architecture. It is a special intervention from the fund. They just started work last month and we are happy that it is moving at a very fast pace. I want to commission the place before I leave. If you go to the Nnewi campus, there’s a laboratory that they are doing for the first time.”

The great writer Robert Greene once said, “everything is judged by its appearance; what is unseen counts for nothing. Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, then, or buried in oblivion. Stand out…Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colourful, more mysterious than the bland and timid mases.” UNIZIK has built gigantic structures and taken giant steps thus far, and it is obvious they will not stop anytime soon until they reach the top. 


Professor Charles Esimone, who once said, “I never dreamt of becoming Vice Chancellor” has steered the wheel of UNIZIK to an enviable height as the school’s VC. Moving something a thousand steps forward is not easy, not to mention moving over 3000 steps. Just like Ex-Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike, who was nicknamed Mr. Projects by former Vice President Professor Yemi Osibanjo; Professor Esimone has already earned a nickname, for he said, “They call me the master of Project 200 but we have not reached 200 yet. We are still less than 1,500, about 1,300 globally.”

Thus, Professor Esimone is about to leave a very big shoe size for whoever is taking over from him as he rounds up his five-year term in June this year. But, in the interview, he has given his successor a vital clue on how to succeed; his words “So, I hope my successor will be able to look at these yardsticks we have used and strengthen them further. There are areas where we could have done more but there was a paucity of funds. Funding is one of the major deterrents to good, ambitious projects. One of the things I did which I want him to do very well is to look beyond government or university and look for endowments. I ran the university like a businessman, I got endowments. BUA gave us N1 billion in projects. Run the university like a business, not waiting for what the government will do because the government’s hands are filled. They have a lot of problems; we understand.”

Lack of continuity is one challenge that is facing high impact vision. This is usually the case as any new administration will want to come with something new. Therefore, paying little or no attention to the vision of the prevoius administration. If the in coming VC decided to consolidate what Professor Esimone has started, then in no distant time the goal will be actualised. 

Comment below if you think the new VC will continue to build on Professor Esimone’s vision. Also, tell us if you think UNIZIK will ever be ranked 200 in the world.


Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) has two campuses, one in Awka and the other campus is located at Nnewi. The school also has three premises namely Oko-Ofia, Agulu and Ifite Ogwari premises all located in Anambra State. 

The school which has 14 faculties and 57 departments is founded on the philosophy that knowledge should be propagated and disseminated to individuals without let or hindrance. Teaching and Research would be anchored on the needs of the Nigerian and International society generally.The future begins here.



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