By Elijah Terdoo Ikpanor
This day, 10 years ago, I was officially engaged by the Benue State University, Makurdi as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of History at the age of 27. It was a long awaited expectation for me haven stayed around the Department teaching at the GST, Diploma and Sandwich programmes at the age of 25 after my NYSC. When this finally happened, I went on my knees thanking God for a dream come through. Many thanks to Dr. Emmanuel C. Ayangaor who supervised my BA project; Prof. Mike Odey who supervised my MA in Economic History and Prof. Olayemi Akinwumi who baked my PhD for the public consumption.
I sincerely thank my benefactor, Prof. Gowon Ama Doki whom God used to actualize my long held dream of lecturing in the University. He personally took over my case when my Lecturers affirmed I will be a good addition to the Department. I became one of the first appointments Prof. Charity A. Angya would make upon assumption as the 4th VC of the University. My friend and brother, Dr. Wade Zack Ver shares this history with me as he is just a digit ahead of me in our personal staff numbers.
Over these years, I have grown steadily through the ranks. I have enjoyed the support of my Department through the headships of Prof. Mike Odey; Prof. Okpeh Okpeh; Prof. John Ebute Agaba and currently, Prof. Saawua Nyityo Gabriel. I equally appreciate my Faculty and all University Colleagues that have supported my growth in the University.
I have gotten both local, national and international exposure courtesy of the support from colleagues. I have my special thanks to Prof. Terhemba Wuam, the Dean of Post Graduate School, Kaduna State University who lifted me up as a Graduate Assistant and exposed me to the world of publishing. My first editorial work from the Symposium on 10 Years of Military Invasion of Zaki Biam was through his magnanimity. He refused to take the glory alone and insisted we co-edit the book since it was my idea. Therefore, the book, “The Military Invasion of Zaki Biam” was edited by two of us while I was still a Graduate Assistant.
Thereafter, Dr. Chris Orngu found me resourceful to work on so many research teams with him. Our Conference on Ethnic Minority Agitations and Nigerian Politics: Reflections on the Tiv “Revolts” of 1964: 50 Years after which was convened in 2014 produced two books which I was allowed to co-edit by my senior colleagues; Dr. Chris Orngu and Dr. Terhemba Wuam.
I have also edited several other books with other colleagues; “Tiv Displacements in
Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba Stats, 2013 – 2019” with Chris S. Orngu & Peter Kerto, a Commissioned research by Msugh Kembe in 2019; “History, Globalization and Relations in Africa: Festschrift in Honour of Okpeh O. Okpeh, Jnr” with P. I. Patrick Iyorwuese Ukase, Bem J. Audu & Sylvester Ugbegili in 2018; “ECOWAS at Forty, A Festschrift in Honour of Professor Armstrong Adejo” with Chris S. Orngu in 2017; “The 2015 General Elections in Nigeria: Emerging Issues” with John Tor Tsuwa in 2017; “Democracy,
Politics and Economy in Nigeria: Essays in Honour of Samuel Ortom” with Wilfred Terlumun Wilfred Uji & Bem Bem-Japhet Audu in 2014; “Ethnic Minority Agitations and Political Development in Nigeria, Vols. 1 & 2” with Chris Orngu & Terhemba Wuam in 2015; “Themes on Women Studies in Africa: Perspectives from Nigeria” with Okpeh O. Okpeh in 2015; “History and Philosophy of Science” with Dr. Damian Tersoo Anyam and others.
I have equally published a single authored book on “Contemporary Campus Cultism and the Character of Politics in Nigeria” among well over 30 Journal Articles and Book Chapters in reputable local, national and international peer reviewed journals and books.
In these 10 years, I have benefited from ASUU Veterans who exposed me to the rigours of Union activities. Dr. Raphael Amokaha took me to NEC when I was even a Graduate Assistant. Prof. Victor Igbum did not only expose me to the National Body of the Union, he facilitated my appointment into various committees that networked me to National Officials and Comrades from other Universities. My services were also highly commended by the National body after the assignment.
I was privileged to also serve my Professional body, Historical Society of Nigeria as a National Assistant Secretary for two terms. Throughout that period, I learnt under the leadership a consummate thoroughbred historical icon, Prof. Ogbogbo Chris B N and other reputable historians like Prof. Aghalino Samuel, Dr. Mfon Mfon Umoren Ekpootu, Prof. Akachi Odoemene, Assoc. Prof. Dave Imbua and many others.
I have also found a family… Dr. George Genyi and Prof. Member George-genyi have remained parents and a solid pillar from the first day…I’m most grateful.
My brother Shadrach Teryila Ukuma, PhD. My brother, permit me not to say much here. You have been everything.
Though my Dad can not witness this Decade’s feat, I am sure he will be resting peacefully since he saw his dream of seeing me complete a PhD fulfilled. May his soul continue to rest in peace, Amen.
My family has been so understanding. I appreciate you all. To my wife, Her Majesty, you came into my life at the right time. Thank you for loving me unconditionally.
Above all, there can never be a building without a foundation. Prof. Yakubu Ochefu laid the foundation for a solid History Department and provided shoulders upon which we have climbed. My first course allocation was to teach Comparative Economic Growth and Development with him. As a Graduate Assistant, I sat in the class as a “senior student” and listened how he introduced the course and guided me how to teach. Prof. Armstrong Adejo is another person that has moulded me silently. He would call even during holidays to check on my progress. On a sad note, late Prof. Silas Okita who loved me from the depth of his heart and even argued that I should be given accelerated promotion will only be posthumously acknowledged here. May God rest his soul as we commit him to mother earth this week.
Finally, I wish to appreciate my students who have been interesting since the first day. I have made a couple of friends with students across so many Departments. Without them, this journey would not have been smooth. I appreciate you all.
To those I did not mention here because of space, I love you all for journeying with me over these years. May God continue to bless and give us the grace to do more in teaching, research and community service in Jesus name, Amen.
Elijah lectures at Benue State University, Makurdi