Saturday, September 24, 2022 was a red-letter day for Igbo community of the University of Lagos as they converged at the Jelili Omotola Hall of the University to hold their maiden “Iri ji: New Yam Festival”.
The ceremony was put together by a group known as Chukwu’s Oriental Friends specifically to honour and celebrate the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Management Services, Professor Lucian Obinna Chukwu.
It was graced by some principal officers of the University led by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS; colleagues; associates; relatives; friends and well-wishers of Prof. Chukwu irrespective of cultural leanings.
The highpoint of the event was the presentation of an award of recognition to Professor Chukwu, to acknowledge his unparalleled love, diligence, astuteness, brilliant service to humanity and exceptional achievements since he assumed office.The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS, also bagged an award in recognition of his non-discriminatory management approach and outstanding accomplishments just as the Directors-in-charge of Confucius Institute, Professor Chimdi Maduagwu and Distance Learning Institute, Professor Uchenna Udeani also smiled home with similar awards courtesy of Chukwu’s Oriental Friends.
The convener of the event, Professor Willy Iyiegbuniwe explained that the New Yam Festival was an agelong cultural festival of the Igbo people which is meant to mark the end of the annual rainy season.
According to him, the maiden Iri ji in the University of Lagos was meant to celebrate meritorious service, sterling accomplishments and loyalty which Prof. Lucian Obinna Chukwu epitomises.
The retired Professor of Finance who recalled the turbulence of the past years particularly the COVID-19 pandemic which left devastating effects on all spheres of human endeavours, noted that the New Yam Festival gives Igbos the opportunity of thanksgiving to God for preservation and continued successes despite many challenges.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the ceremony, Professor Peter Odeiga congratulated Professor Chukwu, describing him as a pride to the Igbo community not only in UNILAG but across the world. Prof. Odeiga was particularly full of gratitude to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS, for running an all-inclusive management.
In his goodwill message, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, FAS, congratulated the UNILAG Igbo community on the Iri ji festival just as he appreciated every member of the group for their institutional loyalty and support for his management.
While congratulating the chief celebrant, Prof. Chukwu alongside other awardees, Prof. Ogundipe charged them to see the honour as a call to further service and greater achievements at their duty posts.
In his remarks, the celebrant, Prof. Lucian Obinna Chukwu was full of gratitude to the organisers of the ceremony.
He recalled with excitement, how he began his journey in the University of Lagos as an undergraduate in 1980 and how he has spent 31 years rising through the ranks to attain his current position as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Management Services.
Flanked by his wife, Mrs. Ngozi Chukwu, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor identified passion for UNILAG, commitment to people and hard work as principles which kept him on track.
While admonishing the younger generation on the right path to success, Prof. Chukwu advocated uprightness, development of right attitude and strength of character as the way to go.
He was particularly thankful to the Vice-Chancellor for being a source of motivation to everyone and reiterated his commitment to serving the University, his community and Nigeria to the best of his capacity.
The event saw friends, relatives and well wishers taking turns to shower encomiums on Prof. Lucian Obinna Chukwu for his simplicity, large heart, service oriented and impactful approach to everyone and everything connected to him.
The maiden “Iri ji” in the University of Lagos saw Igbo culture being displayed at its best as guests turned up mostly in Igbo attires just as delicacies were mainly of Igbo origin while indigenous music filled the air.