Text of the 2016 Dignity of Man lecture by the Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Peter N. C. Umeadi on the alumni’ day of the founder’s day celebration of the University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukka
Our alma mater, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, was founded in 1955 by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, 1st President of the Senate of Nigeria, 3rd Governor of Nigeria, 1st President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Zik of Africa, Owelle Onitsha and was officially opened on 7th of October 1960. ‘ After he became the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1963, the great Zik returned on 15th May 1964 under the auspices of Nigeria Political Science Association and gave one of his many lectures at the Princes Alexandria Hall, Nsukka. I privileged and feel happy indeed to be invited to deliver the 8th Dignity of Man Lecture on the Alumni’s Day of the Founders Day Activities 2016 at Princess Alexandria Hall, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
While attending the Law School at this citadel of learning at the Enugu Campus we came to know that the Federal Government of Nigeria did not sponsor law students in the pursuit of their learning the Federal Government had generous scholarship programmes in all other disciplines not in law. It was the East Central State Government of Nigeria which later set up a programme to grant bursary awards to assist students pursuing law as a course of study. The Federal Government of Nigeria it – seemed was following in the footsteps of the Colonial Government who also in their time generously assisted students in Administration and the Sciences but could not contemplate any help for those who wanted to be lawyers.
Our colonial masters were British and they had a highly stratified society where background determines how a child turns out in life. They would find disagreeable, anyone who struggled to improve his circumstance from that into which he was born. They would refer to such
exertion as social climbing. The sons of butlers were expected to be better butlers and so on. There would be a conscious effort to train their own people to end up working in the multi-chain stores laden with mind- boggling fabulous goods, and in their factories and technology craft yards.
It was your family name and background that decided how you fared not how much marks you made in class. This stratification had spurned many devastating riots in their society but they do not look like letting go.
The sons of lawyers were expected to head for law schools. Even those admitted to read law were further segregated depending on the law school one could attend. Such that it was said that one lawyer who trains from the regular schools could make a brilliant comment before a court which is largely ignored. The same submissions coming from a lawyer who trainedat Cambridge or Oxford were instantly celebrated. Invariably the Judge would have come from either Cambridge or Oxford himself. Essentially, we could not expect our colonial masters to spend their money to train the sons of the natives in the study of law only for them to return to ma-c “trouble” for them. They knew better and invested heavily in the type of manpower they needed. The Federal Government of Nigeria inherited that lacuna, perhaps unwittingly, and the intending law students had to look for sponsorship elsewhere. It would take a long time for students offering all courses to enjoy Federal Government assistance. Back home the first Nigerian University opened its doors at University of Ibadan in 1948. It has indeed an ivory tower as any could be the world over. U.l. as it is fondly called, has produced a veritable list of accomplished academicians and men and women in their chosen fields of study. Again the study of law was not contemplated. Its Department of Law was carved out from the Faculty of the Social Sciences in 1981. More like an afterthought which occurred thirty three (33no.) years after the University was founded. 1 hat
Department of t.aw was accredited by the Council of Legal Education In 1984. The Faculty of Law of the University of Nigeria has a webs.tc on which the Dean of Law, Professor Chukwunonso Okafo, PhD, a proud alumnus and long-standing member of the Faculty said In his statement.
To be continued