By Ikenna Nwokedi
The Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka on Friday, 17th November 2023 honoured Labour Party (LP) Presidential Candidate and former Governor of Anambra State, H.E Peter Obi with an award of the Philosopher King of the Year.
The award to Mr. Peter Obi and other individuals ranging from captains of industries, political office holders, members of the academia and those who strive for societal growth and development was on the occasion of the 2023 UNESCO World Philosophy Day and Alumni Homecoming held at the University Auditorium with the theme, “The Human of the Future and the Future of the Human.”
In his remarks, Chairman of the occasion and LP Gubernatorial Candidate in the last Anambra polls, Hon. Valentine Chineto Ozigbo described the theme of the conference as apt and very timely especially now that the nation yearns for servant leadership.
Hon Ozigbo affirmed that Greek philosophers categorize humans in three forms, those who are self-centered and exhibit selfishness as ‘idiots’, those who are conscious of their religion and ethnicity are described as the “tribes people” while those who seek for the common good of man are regarded to as the “citizens.”
He averred that there is nothing wrong with the black people but for bad leadership which is the bane of the present society. He stated that beyond leadership and followership there is need for critical thinkers that will help to chart a new course and bring about effective and goal oriented leadership.
Declaring the event open, UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, described Philosophy as a process which deploys critical questioning, logical thoughts and rational arguments in examining issues.
The VC emphasized that the process connotes the tolerance of differences of opinion, the acceptance of differing identities of race, religion, ethnicity, culture and the respect of human rights and dignity.
Prof Esimone also reminded the gathering that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference decided in 2005 to designate the third Thursday of November every year as World Philosophy Day.
In his address, the Head, Department of Philosophy UNIZIK, Prof. Arinze Ubaabunike-Agbanusi informed that UNESCO in year 2002 launched the philosophy day while on October 2005, World Philosophy Day was inaugurated and third Thursday of November every year is set aside for the celebration.
Prof. Agbanusi revealed that the UNESCO World Philosophy Day is a day in which philosophy is reaffirmed as the mother of all disciplines for which reason the highest academic degree of the Ph.D which is an acronym for Doctor of Philosophy.
He posited that the Department having been led by capable heads of departments over the years, has produced innumerable number of graduates who have made very remarkable contributions in various areas of service to humanity.
The scholar informed that for the department to wax stronger, it has arrays of needs such as philosophy building, a departmental vehicle, endowment of scholarship funds for indigent and blind students of the department, equipping of existing lecture halls by procurement of smart boards, voice amplifiers, laptops and printers as well as book shelves for the offices of the professors and other lecturers of the department.
The Lead Paper Presenter, Prof. Okey Ikechukwu, stated that the nation’s primary need is human beings who with the right skills and knowledge can contribute to immense societal growth. The scholar affirmed that philosophy is human disposition to seek knowledge while philosophers are great thinkers who employ the use of the faculty of skills to seek knowledge of first principle.
Prof. Ikechukwu also informed that philosophy is not ultimate wisdom and university teaching does not make anyone a philosopher but the quest for knowledge and information.
He opined that the celebration of the UNESCO World Philosophy Day is a day set aside to remind us the value of philosophy as the foundation of all learning, impact of philosophy as the development of political orientation of all people, the role of philosophy in making man truly human and the eternal relevance of philosophy in determining the future of mankind.
In his remarks, the Chief Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker, His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi emphasized the need to engage in critical thinking and produce leaders who will get the nation to work. Obi stated that the word ‘His Excellency’ usually attributed to those in corridors of power should be used for those who exhibit excellent lifestyle in leadership positions.
The former Governor of Anambra State opined that in places where democracy work, technology should not change humans but humans should change technology in other to have positive results leading to the birth of leaders who will work towards a better society for the present and next generation.
Highpoints of the occasion was award presentation to UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, UNIZIK Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu, Chairman of the occasion; the lead paper presenter and other distinguished Awardees.