If statistics and other considerations are anything to go by, then it would be Mr. Gabriel Okebe, and no other academic, that would be the next substantive provost calling the shots at the College of Education, Oju.
But sometimes the thinking in some circles defies conventional logic and what is right in the estimation of the ordinary right-thinking member of the public might not seem so in the eyes of some actors, especially the kingmakers.
For if logical reasoning, equity and balance are allowed to come to play in determining who should be the next provost of the college, then nobody, outside Obi LGA should be selected for appointment as the next substantive provost of the college.
After Godwin Oga, the last substantive provost of the College, a new one is expected to be approved for appointment by His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom any moment soon.
The governor himself recently gave a hint when he, in a meeting with his appointees of Igede extraction, set a tone as to how the new provost would emerge.
He told the appointees to “source from within” a new provost, a clause which has either rightly or wrongly been interpreted by stakeholders to mean that the academic to be appointed should be a member of the state Exco, while others went home with the interpretation that the person must be lecturing in the college.
Based on the governor’s insight, some have penciled down SA to the Governor on Labour, Gender and Special Duties, Dr. Sunday Edor.
Yet, others have strongly rooted for Mr. Gabriel Okebe, a Chief Lecturer in the college.
Other nominees in the queue include Mrs. Jane Aja, wife of the late provost, John Ajah; Prof. Boniface Odeh, Mr. Peter Ipenyi, a principal lecturer in the college; Barr. Gabriel Adenyuma from the University of Abuja and Mike Ukuru from Ida Poly in Kogi State.
But the College rule which says that for a provost to be appointed he or she must fulfill the criterion of being a Chief Lecturer in the College combined with the backdrop of the governor’s order that he or she must come from within, has pruned down the candidates to Okebe, Edor and Ajah, making the trio most eminent for the plum job in the college.
However, if some variables including equity and other considerations interplay in the selection process, then the most eminent can still be narrowed down to Mr. Okebe who is an Obi LGA indigene.
One of the variables is the catchment areas of the college which, as defined by the government Act that established the college, include chiefly Oju, Obi; and other parts of Zone C and B.
A peer into the history of the College since it was renamed from Advanced Teachers College Oju to College of Education, showed that, out of the eight provosts including one sole administrator that served the college, four ex-provosts were appointed from Oju LGA alone, while Obi, Otukpo, Buruku and Konshisha had shared the rest, which goes to imply that for equity, Obi LGA should naturally produce the next provost to be appointed.
From the archive and for the benefit of doubt, late Aja from Obeko Council Ward of Obi LGA served as acting and substantive provost between 1992 and 1996.
He was followed by one E. Audu from Buruku LGA who served in acting capacity between 1996 and 1998, while Prof. Peter Agogo from Ibilla Council Ward of Oju LGA served between 1998 and 2002 in substantive capacity.
Agogo was followed by one E. Aboyi from Otukpo who was the provost that served in acting capacity between 2002 and 2006. He was followed by Daniel Okwoche, Ainu, Oju LGA (2006-2009). His’ was a substantive capacity.
Between 2009 and 2010, Jacob Omenka from Ainu, Oju LGA, was appointed and served as sole administrator, while 2010-2012 one Konshisha’s P.N. Shirga served as acting provost and Amb. Godwin Oga from Owo, Oju LGA, occupied the position in substantive capacity between 2012 and 2017.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing, opinion poll seems to favour Mr. Okebe from Obi LGA who is believed to possess not only the managerial ability, experience needed to bring the college from its decay state to the best form it should be, but also fulfills the condition of being a Chief Lecturer and as well as being an indigene of Obi which deemed to be grossly marginalized or disadvantaged in the past.
Okebe has worked in various capacities in many socio-political organizations in Igede.
He was a member of the Strategic Committee of Governor Samuel Ortom.
He was the Vice Chairman of the Igede Prayer Summit for Ortom/Abounu, and an active participant in the Benue state stakeholders meeting.
Jane Ajah on the other hand was once Deputy Administrator in the college and it was during her time a crisis erupted, leading to the closure of the college. She and her principal did not complete their tenure as a result of the crisis.
If the governor holds tenaciously to the college rule that the provost must be a Chief Lecturer who comes from within the college community and at the same ensure equity in the selection, then Okebe from Obi LGA certainly appears to hold the ace.
Yet, whoever will be appointed in the end by the Governor is a matter of time to tell, albeit many eyes are on Okebe, whose detailed profile will be displayed here later.