By Ononye VC
There was jubilation across the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha and beyond as the Nigerian federal government through the Federal Executive Council (FEC) last Monday, May 15 2023, approved the establishment of Bishop Shanahan University Onitsha alongside other private universities across the country.
Goodwill messages from groups and individuals who appreciated this exciting development have been pouring into the Onitsha Archdiocesan Secretariat, the Archbishop’s lodge and the News Room of the Archdiocesan newspaper(Trinitas).
While reacting to the cheering news, Archbishop Valerian Okeke posted on his Facebook timeline saying, “To the Glory of God, our Shanahan University, Onitsha has been officially approved by the Federal Executive Council today.To God alone be the glory, honour, praise, and thanksgiving forever”.
In his reaction, the chairman of the Shanahan University project and Vice Chancellor of Onitsha Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Dr. Basil Ekwunife said the approval was a landmark achievement such that the proposed university has become a full edged university. He commended the Archbishop for this uncommon achievement and visionary leadership.
The establishment of the Shanahan University was the vision of the incumbent Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev Valerian Okeke who wanted his plans for a holistic and excellent tertiary education for the youths to materialise within the shortest possible time. Topmost on the Archbishop’s vision was an institution where excellence and meritocracy would be promoted and achieved.
From the beginning:
It would be recalled that on April 27, 2019, Archbishop Valerian Okeke prayed, blessed and cut the soil of the proposed university on a vast virgin land at Trans-Nkisi, opposite 3-3 community, Onitsha.
On Saturday 8th February 2020, Archbishop Valerian Okeke laid the foundation stone of what appeared to be the first university in Onitsha.This coincided with the Archbishop’s 18th Episcopal anniversary.
During the foundation stone laying ceremony, the chairman, Shanahan University Project,Very Rev. Fr. Basil Ekwunife dropped a hint that business mogul and politician ,High Chief Dr Obiora Okonkwo would lay foundation stone as sponsor of the university chapel while another mogul, Sir Francis Anyakwo an Onitsha indigenous philanthropist will sponsor a hostel project.
According to Fr Basil, the Oluchukwu Micro finance Bank, Onitsha would bankroll the university auditorium project while the Catholic Women Organisation ( CWO) led by Dame Ngozi Nwanosike will sponsor the female hostel project.
Latest development shows that the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO) led by Sir Evarist Uba is taking up the Library project at the University while the Spiritual Director of the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obimma (Ebubemuonso) is already sponsoring a faculty of Management and Social Sciences building all of which are in progress.
Visit by the NUC
Following several inspection visits to various locations and departments of the university by a visitation panel from the National Universities Commission (NUC), there were high hopes that approval was coming the way of the proposed university.
During their last visit on 9th March 2023, they paid a courtesy visit on Archbishop Valerian Okeke. The delighted Archbishop prayed for and blessed the visitors saying, “Today, to the glory of God, the National Universities Commission (NUC) team paid us a visit to inspect our proposed Shanahan University facilities. As we thank God for the successes recorded this far in making this dream a reality, we pray Him to bless us with this academic and formative institution where our younger ones will be formed to meet up with the world standard. May he bless this upcoming proposed university, dedicated to one of the strongholds of education in this country and bless all who have come to facilitate this process, and our younger people whose future would be discerned and nurtured in this university.”
Earlier, while answering questions from a large audience during the Cardinal Arinze annual lecture, Archbishop Okeke said the university would be open to all and would also be affordable for the poor and rich.
The university he said, would run a multi-campus system.