The University of Nigeria administration under the leadership of its Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Igwe, will, on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, remove the drapes over the newly sculpted hand statue in the roundabout between the University of Nigeria Library and the Departments of Nutrition and Dietetics/Home Science and Management, Nsukka. The unveiling and commissioning by the sponsor will then take place shortly thereafter.
It is on record that the sculpting of the 20-foot hand statue was sponsored by an alumnus of the University, Apostle Nnamdi Stanley Mbaigbo, through his company, Tropical Gate Limited, from January 20, 2020 to December 7, 2020 at a very admirable and respectable cost.
The original idea behind the sculpting of the statue was initiated in 2014 by Jeff Unaegbu, a graduate of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, who is presently an Assistant Chief Cinematographer of the Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The site for the manifestation of the idea was approved by the Physical Planning Unit of the University. It is on record that Mr. Unaegbu has also initiated and accomplished the ideas of writing books of histories of different faculties, Institutes and Unions of the University in a bid to preserve memories of the University of Nigeria.
The direct labour for the statue was supervised by FIRMWORLD Sculptures and the company contracted young talented artists for the work. The statue was sculpted by Ugonna Umeike and one of the inscriptions was also designed by David Ekekwe, both graduates of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Nelson, a graduate of the Department of Social Works, helped immensely in the direct labour.
According to Mr. Unaegbu, the statue is a standing symbol for the motto of the University which is “To restore the dignity of man”.
The idea behind the statue is also to stamp on the consciousness of the University community and its publics, the importance of the philosophy of the founding fathers of the University. According to him, the University adopted the motto “To restore the dignity of man” as a banner against the dehumanization of humans, especially Africans and other black people in world affairs. “Every man has a right to be alive and reach the highest point of his dreams, provided the dreams do not dehumanize other humans”, he said. In 1963, while advising the first graduating students, the most prominent founder of the University, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, had pointed out that the motto points to the “restitution of man’s inalienable birthright to social equality, economic security, political freedom and religious tolerance. These abstract notions form the basis of man’s fundamental rights without which there would be neither regard nor respect for human dignity”.
Aside the “To Restore the Dignity of Man” theme, the statue has “Show the Light” as its second name. This was an adaptation from the words of Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), “Show the light and the people will find the way”. These words were also adopted by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as motto for his newspaper, West African Pilot in 1937.
It is on record that the sponsor of the “Show the Light” hand statue, Apòstle Nnamdi Stanley Mbaigbo through Tropical Gates Limited, also graciously sponsored the first edition of the UNN staff football competition game in 2018. He also sponsored the second edition of the game in 2019 and the third edition in 2020. He believes in the vision of creating a fit and healthy environment. Apostle Mbaigbo has also presented papers at faculty of Art students cultural week entitled, “Life after school” in 2018 and 2019 respectively. He is a graduate of the Department of Archeology and Tourism, Faculty of Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.