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University community only sane place in Nigeria today — Rivers Varsity Law Professor

University community only sane place in Nigeria today — Rivers Varsity Law Professor

 

Michael Ogwezzy, a professor of Law at Rivers State University, Port Harcourt hails from a family of academics. In this interview with PAUL UKPABIO, the professor of Public Law reveals the lifestyle that facilitated his rise to the peak of academic excellence. He also speaks about life on the campus, his childhood dreams and the strategy that has helped him to avoid scandals with female students.

 

DID you consider yourself a privileged child?

I was born in the early 70s at a town called Abbi in Ndokwa West LGA, Delta State. Abbi is the community where my late mother hailed from. My parents, Chief and Mrs Ogwezzy, were school teachers. I would have considered myself a privileged child because of the status of my parents as teachers, but I discovered that we lived like every other family in the community. We attended the same community primary school and secondary school and played together with the children of the less privileged too. Because of our lifestyle, I did not see myself as privileged.

What would you readily recall about your early life?

What I would recall about my early life is that my siblings and I were trained under highly disciplined parents who would not allow us to behave in a manner that was contrary to societal norms. They believed that you must work hard and that hard work is the only secret to success and enduring life. They believed that education is the key, and as a child, you must imbibe the value of hard work through education.

How did your early life influence the personality that you are today?

My childhood life influenced the person that I am today because I was made to understand early enough that it is only through education that one can achieve a sustainable living. They ruled out the short cut. My parents made us to believe that it takes painstaking effort to achieve anything worthwhile.Tell us a few things you remember about your childhood and your parents.

As a little child I remembered growing under my grandma while my mother was furthering her education. My grandmother nurtured us till death took her away around 1986. While we lived with her, she ensured that we didn’t miss school both at primary and secondary levels. She would not take any excuse for not going to school. In cases where we would have missed school because we were late and could be punished, the old woman would personally lead us to school and apologized to the teacher for our lateness. She always gave the moral backing. My parents were core disciplinarians and no-nonsense people. They believed that hard work is the basis for success.

In those days, polygamy was popular. Was that the situation in your house?

Yes, I grow up in a polygamous home. But it did not make any difference in my life. We lived in harmony with one another.

What decided your choice of academics?

Since I was born by educated parents, I think that influenced my thinking about making life through education. My parents made me to know that education was the only way I could achieve a sustainable livelihood. Education may not make one a millionaire but it will certainly make one a better person.

What motivated you to continue studying up to PhD level?

After Umia Primary School, Abbi Grammar School and Emu Secondary School, Emu-Uno, all in Ndokwa West LGA of Delta State, I moved to the premier university, the University of Ibadan, where I studied Law and graduated in 2001. I attended the Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus between 2003 and 2004 to enable me qualify to practice Law.

Because I had always wanted to become a university professor, I proceeded for my master’s degree in Law at the university of Nigeria, Enugu Campus where obtained the LLM degree with a PHD grade in 2008. I also obtained the professional masters degree in Law and Diplomacy (MLD) from Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State. I later obtained the Master of Advanced Studies in International Organisation (MASIO) from the University of Zurich in Switzerland in 2011. I finally obtained a PhD in Law from the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus in 2013. These citadels of learning left an indelible imprint on my life because I was inspired by those core university academics/teachers who trained me to become what I am today.

What is the correct way to address you now and how do you feel with such achievement, especially in Law?

The right appellation or title is “Professor”, and I think I should be addressed as such. I feel fulfilled that I achieved it at this stage in my life without blemish. I give God almighty all the glory. I am now Professor Michael C. Ogwezzy. I am a professor at the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt. Right now, I can say the long walk has ended.

Can you share with us some of the challenges you faced?

My challenge has always been to succeed with my academic endeavours. Money was always made available by parents and elder siblings.

You are the second professor in the family. How many more should we expect?

Yes, I am the second professor in my family. I cannot state the number to come. Almost everybody in my home has a postgraduate degree which qualifies them to engage in academics. So expect more coming up shortly.

How is life on campus? Isn’t it boring doing the same thing all the way?

Life on campus is interesting. I have studied in four universities and I have taught in four other universities, making eight. The university is relatively the only sane place in Nigeria of today. There is still some level of decorum on our campuses because the rules and regulations are still enforced even though a few persons flout them and get away with it.

How do you handle your relationship with female students?

I am very strict about this because it can easily rob you of all your efforts.  No university condones immoral relationship or behaviour. As lecturers, we are to ensure that we protect and uphold the university rules and regulations so that the university does not lose its place in our society.

Many lecturers pick their wives from the campus. Was that the case with you?

No. I met my wife at the Law School.

Who are your role models?

My role models are my lecturers: Dr (Mrs.) Osifunke Ekudayo, later Prof. MOU Gasiokowu; Prof. Ifeoma P. Enemo; Prof. Obinna Okere; Prof. Robert Kolb and Justice Chima Centus Nweze. Meeting these people in the different universities where I studied through the years influenced what I am today.

What is your advice to younger people?

I would say that they should imbibe the idea of hard work and resilience in life. They should be focused from the beginning and be unweaving in character. They must be humble and respectful in their conducts. They should respect constituted authorities anywhere they find themselves. Above all, they should understand that education is the key to a sustainable life.


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