Professor Greg O. Iwu: A tribute

National Open University of Nigeria. (NOUN)

National Open University of Nigeria. (NOUN)

I first heard of the name, Professor Greg O. Iwu, OON, through the media in the 1990s when he was appointed sole administrator and later managing director of the Nigerian Coal Cooperation, Enugu. I, later, got to know more about him when I was appointed a member of the Governing Council of the University of Benin where, for almost two decades, he served as a distinguished scholar, Professor of Industrial Chemistry, Head of Department of Chemistry and Dean of the Faculty of Science.

As fate would have it, we were both appointed into the Governing Council of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), in 2009; he as the chairman and I as one of the members. We blended, almost immediately, and related as if we had known each other for decades. While this cordiality might have been due to the fact that we were both academics, the reality is that it was due largely to his humble and affable personality.

Prof. Iwu was a calm, soft-spoken, humane, chivalrous but very principled person. He had an almost unmatchable experience in management and immense knowledge of university administration. As chairman of the Governing Council, he articulated a vision of the National Open University of Nigeria which was enchanting, unimpeachable and infectious while his conduct of meetings was characterised by politeness and respect for the contributions of members. He never attempted to impose his views. Rather, he was always willing to be persuaded by superior arguments. More important, he was a consensus builder, always working to get the best out of diverse and, often, conflicting opinions.

The Governing Council, over which Prof. Iwu presided, was characterised by harmony among its members and working relationship with the management. I cannot recollect any significant incident of rancour throughout his tenure. It is, therefore, not surprising that the university witnessed monumental growth and acceptability, as demonstrated by the exponential increase in student population (from 30,000 to over 100,000) and the inflow of quality academics. That period also saw the transition from the foundation-laying era, under Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, to the era of consolidation and expansion, under Professor Vincent Ado Tenebe. Indeed, it is to the credit of Professor Iwu’s managerial dexterity that the change of leadership in NOUN took place, in 2010, smoothly, seamlessly and almost unnoticed.

Prof. Iwu’s performance at NOUN was more or less a replay of his earlier exemplary leadership achievements, spanning decades: At the Coal Corporation, in Enugu, he successfully reactivated the coal industry for export to Europe after 20 years dormancy. Also, worthy of mention was his outstanding performance as Chairman of the Governing Council of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (2005-2007) which earned him the award of the best Pro-Chancellor in Nigeria.

The secret of Professor Iwu’s successes in all these areas of endeavour was his combination of discipline, hard work and dedication. Those of us privileged to work with him will continue to cherish his humane and fatherly disposition. He was considerate, compassionate and always empathetic, without losing sight of the rules and basic values of the organisation in which he served. He was, by any standard, a good man and a leader worthy of emulation.

We shall miss this wonderful man whom I am honoured to call a friend.
May his great soul rest in perfect peace!
• Emeritus Professor Sogolo lives in Abuja.

  • Tosin

    Open University is bigger than I thought!
    RIP sir.

  • abiamone

    Giving his approximate age at death would have further enriched the tribute. .