From Ugochukwu Iwuji, PhD
Morning shows the day and a disciple first attains discipline before proclaiming discipleship. There is a sense in interrogating the pre-leadership era of a performing Chief Executive. This is one hiatus that public opinion analysts should strive to fill in order to enhance the quality of public discourse. There is always the need, therefore, to establish a symphony between a leader’s antecedents and the nuances of his present status.
In literary theories, for instance, one cannot establish the discursive paradigms of traditional Historicity without a measured recourse to New Historicity.
For Engr. Dr. Michael Arimanwa, the cerebral and hardworking Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, it has been a harvest of achievements after another since his appointment as Rector three years ago.
There is indeed no area of life in the polytechnic that the workaholic Rector has not given a Midas touch of excellence.
His gargantuan strides have further justified the rating of the polytechnic as the best in Nigeria; as well as positioned the staff and students of the institution as the best in Nigeria.
Tracking Dr. Arimanwa’s days of humble beginning is symbolic in appreciating the gigantic infrastructural renewal and cultural reorientation he is galvanizing as Rector of the best polytechnic in Nigeria. It is also a way of generating discursive elements that could inspire others. It may not be immodest to state that a lot of people are already modeling Dr. Arimanwa’s enviable potentials. Thus, this essay will offer them a veritable window to view the essential Arimanwa as he grew through the ranks.
This is in keeping faith to the biblical poetics of not neglecting days of little beginning (Zechariah 4:10)
With an eye on the academia, the Rector had joined the services of the polytechnic in 1993 as Technologist (1) in Civil Engineering Department. Realizing the importance of fortifying himself intellectually for the task ahead, Dr Arimanwa had quickly gone ahead to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, Masters Degree in Structural Engineering and Doctoral Degree in Structural Engineering.
With a dint of hardwork, young Arimanwa had risen to the rank of Chief Lecturer in the polytechnic, making him eminently qualified and experienced for the task ahead.
In the course of his career, Dr. Arimanwa had been Dean of School of Engineering Technology from 2009 to 2012. He also headed the Works and Services Division of the Polytechnic where he distinguished himself. Between 2011 and 2017, he was Director of Monitoring and Evaluation Unit where he monitored construction of projects in the polytechnic in liaison with the Physical Planning and Procurement Unit.
It was in this capacity that he played crucial advisory roles to the Rector at the time which contributed to the realization of strategic goals for the polytechnic.
When he was the consultant structural Engineer at Physical Planning Unit, Dr. Arimanwa successfully designed and supervised more than twenty structures in the polytechnic.
As Chairman of Price Intelligence and Cost Review Committee of the polytechnic, Dr. Arimanwa was reputed for saving a whopping N43, 877, 92.34 (forty three million, eight hundred and seventy seven thousand, ninety two naira thirty four kobo) within the period he held sway. The cerebral academic also distinguished himself in other committees he chaired such as Building Maintenance Committee (2011), School of Engineering Staff Appraisal Committee (2010-2012), Works and Transport sub-Committee of the 13th Convocation Ceremony, among others.
Remarkably, Dr Arimanwa assailed expectations in the positions he had held while beating existing records and raising the bar.
This made it possible for him to achieve strategic goals set in those areas, thereby enhancing productivity in the polytechnic. Observably, one can surmise that the tripartite virtues of brilliance, hardwork and excellence were central to these uncommon achievements Dr Arimanwa recorded in these areas. Naturally, every good work deserves commendation hence the flurry of commendation and litany of garlands for the young, enterprising engineer and academic.
In 2015, for instance, Dr Arimanwa was given a commendation letter by the management of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede. This was closely followed by a merit award for dedication to Duty by the same management later in 2015. Now, if we underscore the operational dynamics of higher institutions, we shall better appreciate both the purpose of the award and the personality involved in it. Need we say that it is virtually in the academia that awards are given with a measured clarity of purpose? Staff who have been privileged to get a commendation award from the school management are profoundly celebrated among their peers owing to its symbolic nature.
The name of Engr. Dr. Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa is almost metaphorical for awards and garlands. For since his life has been that of excellence in service delivery, it is therefore natural that he will be inundated with medals and honours. After all, is it not what one plants that one harvests? Well before this world class scholar became Rector, he had been given an award of excellence as best Dean of Federal Polytechnic by the Judicial Council of Students’ Union Government.
Similarly, he was given award as the Most Competent and Diligent Dean by the Society of Chemical Engineering Students of the Polytechnic.
As far back as 1999, markedly, this gift to humanity was given award as Best Lecturer on campus by the Students’ Union Government. By every ramification, one considers the enormity and significance of these awards, one significant denominator is that they were products of excellence and competence.
And make no mistake about it, the avalanche of awards received by this iconoclast of a personality may not properly tell his exemplary story of excellence and diligence. But they remain valid testaments of his rare efforts at blazing the trail of sound conduct.
Speaking in a recent event at the polytechnic, Dr. Onyekwere Ezirim, Director of Academic Planning of the institution posited that Engr. Dr. Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa is a perfect gentleman who even before his rectorship had been an icon of discipline and excellence.
Dr. Ezirim also affirmed that the Rector while serving as Dean of the School of Engineering made significant contributions that helped the school have the most disciplined crop of staff in the polytechnic. He also recalled how as young academics he used to call the Rector, “the anointed” as if he had a premonition of his priesthood. By implication, Dr. Arimanwa was already behaving like a priest before he answered the divine call of priesthood.
So, when in 2012 the young engineer made himself available to be ordained priest in Anglican Communion, it might not have come to many as a surprise. Most people would have simply seen it as a mere formalization of the characterization of vintage Arimanwa.
Even as a priest, Dr Arimanwa’s penchant for excellence in service has not been in doubt. His life itself symbolizes service to God and man.
He is a thoroughbred Bible teacher and counselor who has saved lives on the brink with his powerful messages that come with precision. It bears saying that his priestly life is almost impeccable as he leads a life of piety and modesty, exuding biblical principles at all times. There is therefore no antithesis between the life of vintage Arimanwa on the pulpit and his private moments.
This is coming at a time when there is a widening hiatus between the pulpit (clergy) and the laity occasioned by perceived attitudinal inconsistencies. Any wonder then that the authorities of the church earlier in the year promoted him to the rank of a Reverend Canon in the Anglican Church, effectively making him a standard for the church orthodoxy and principles.
In wrapping up the pre-rectorshp era of Engr. Dr. Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa, it is apropos to reappraise the recent testimony of the Registrar of the institution, Mrs. Eucharia Anuna, on Rector. In a modest event marking the birthday of the Rector, the Registrar who profoundly had known Dr. Arimanwa right from his days as lecturer, attested to his sterling character and supreme intellectual erudition.
Further, the Polytechnic scribe described the Rector in a most plausible tone: “I can say that he is a born-again Christian; a simple man with a superb character. He hardly has issues with anyone. I have never seen him react violently. He is always conscious of his commitment to God. He intensively studies the Word of God and prays without ceasing. In terms of conduct, Rev’d Can. Engr. Dr. M.C. Arimanwa is a highly disciplined man.
Above all, he has no business with women. This is a man who hardly talks, but when he speaks, he does it with precision and wisdom. In fact, our Rector has a God-nature.”