…Honours Prof Joseph Akawu Ushie for Emerging Fellow, Association of Nigerian Authors
By Saviour Ekpe
The immediate past Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Udom Inoyo has called on Nigerians to cultivate the culture of celebrating success as according to him, such culture will spur others to put in their best in any responsibility afforded them.
Mr. Inoyo made this assertion at Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre Uyo when he sponsored a dinner celebration in honour of Professor Joseph Akawu Ushie, Dean, Faculty of Art, University of Uyo, who on Friday, November 5, 2021, became a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).
The oil magnet noted with regret that instead of spending time and resources for a profitable venture, people rather lavish it on excessive wastages, non-essential and inconsequential celebrations. “We live in a society where role models are not celebrated. That is why I’ve spent private funds to appreciate and encourage teachers, over the years. There is no doubt about the fact that there is a lot of unemployment yet, there is so much appetite for consumption in the society”.
Mr. Inoyo while paying glowing tributes to Prof Ushie, described him as a man of uncommon and accelerated achievements and noted that the literal icon has distinguished himself among his colleagues and contemporaries. He acknowledged the exceptional diligence exhibited by the professor and added, “I am always interested in due diligence”.
It could be recalled that Mr. Inoyo has instituted an annual award in honour of an ace media icon, Mr. Ray Ekpu for members of the Akwa Ibom State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), christened, ‘Ray Ekpu Annual Award for Investigative Journalism’, with a competing prize of five hundred thousand naira for winners.
Also speaking at the celebration, Professors Ashong Ashong of Communication Arts Department; Luke Eyo and Iniobong Uko both of the English Department, all of the University of Uyo appreciated the selfless and humanitarian gesture of Mr. Udom Inoyo, extolled the attribute of their Dean of whom they described are being humorous in character, disciplined in behaviour, accommodating as a father and above all, a diligent gentleman who sees success, pursues it, achieves and shares same to others. On a personal note, Professor Ashong Ashong added that himself and Professor Ushie were mates in Primary and Secondary Schools, noting that he has over the years studied Professor Ushie as a book and has reached the conclusion that his kind is very rare to find.
In his remarks, Mr. Charles Udoh, the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Environment and Solid Minerals poured encomiums on the initiator of the celebration, Mr. Udom Inoyo and maintained that the spirit of appreciating and encouraging excellence is lacking in the society. He said, “It is rare in this part of the world that people are celebrated for their accomplishments”.
While noting with satisfaction the decision of Udom Inoyo to celebrate the cerebral icon in the person of Professor Ushie, he called on other well meaning persons, organizations, governments at all levels to institute a reward system that celebrates excellence and expressed the hope that it will spur many to give their best in any of their endeavours.
A glance into Professor Ushie’s abridged profile indicates that Professor Joseph Akawu Ushie hails from Akorshi, Bendi, the hilly Obanliku Local Government Area, which domiciles Nigeria’s foremost tourist attraction site, the Obudu Cattle Ranch of Cross River State. He attended St. Peter’s Primary School, Bendi; Government Secondary School, Obudu and the prestigious University of Calabar where he studied English and Literary Studies and was the Secretary-General, Student Union Government.
Professor Ushie obtained a Masters Degree in 1988 and a Ph.D in English Language from Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan (2001). Professor Ushie had served as Head, Department of English, and on several boards and committees in the University of Uyo. He had also been Chairman, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Akwa Ibom State Chapter; Judge, ANA National Literary Competitions (2009-2010), Juror of the Canada-based International Poetry Competition (2017) and a Co-editor, Montreal 2017 Global Poetry Anthology.
Professor Joseph Akawu Ushie, a professor of General Stylistics and Literary Criticism, a renowned Nigerian poet of the third generation and leading scholar of African literature, is characterized by a peculiar lachrymal tone definitive of the poetics of his generation, his poetry is unique for its compelling eco-consciousness and intemperateness with the social injustice of present-day Nigeria. He was the Africa’s representative at the 2010 Philippine PEN 50th anniversary celebrations. His poetry has appeared in world-class literary anthologies and has earned global attention. Ushie is a Fellow of the 2002 Fulbright Program and recipient of many honours and awards including that of his Cross River State Government for his outstanding contributions to the growth of African Literature and Culture.
Professor Ushie had previously explained, “Before I became a lecturer, I worked as a journalist. I was trained as one. After secondary school, I worked as a Radio Nigeria reporter, where I won a few prizes. I was posted to Sokoto. I witnessed the transition from radio to television. I had an elderly friend from Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar, who became a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He loved me to be his chief of Staff when he became a senator, despite the fact that I was not from the North, during my youth service’. Also, Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammadu Maccido took me as a son.”
He remarked, “I have spent 36 years in Akwa Ibom State, my contributions in this state are more than all my contributions anywhere. I am a very simple person. The things which move other people don’t move me. I tell myself if the government is going to push me to a point where I become frustrated to leave the land, I’d rather push the government out of the land, however, I will do it. Even if it means the government will crush me, I will die gallantly, like a soldier.”
While playing host to one of the Nigeria National Dailies sometime ago, Professor Ushie further explained “A professor is supposed to contribute solutions to the problems in society. As far as I am concerned, what matters to me is not the title, but how much funds I can put into the bank of knowledge, so when anyone wants to withdraw from that bank, there will be something in the account. What this means for me, ultimately, is that I must keep working as if I were still working towards the title. I should not begin to think that as a professor, I have already reached the peak of knowledge with nothing else to learn. The title is not in my head; it is in my record”.
Also graced the occasion were: Mr. Orman Esin, Honourable Commissioner for Culture; Dr. Ubong Josiah (HOD) English; Anietie Usen, Author of a popular book, The Village Boy; Pastor Anietie Ukpe, the DG of the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (ANA member); Prof’s wife, friends, children and other family members including Roseline Akawu Ushie (spouse); Adie Akawu Ushie (son). Others were: Rev (Mrs.) Angela Ashong (cousin & friend’s wife); Ms Charity Akpan – President, FASA, UNIUYO; Ms Theresa Akomaye (little sister in-law); Ms Promise Ochibry (niece & prize winning spoken word poet); Akan Essien (ANA).