Brief Overview

Great things indeed start little. This can be said of the present undertaking of founding a university by the Diocese on the Niger. This endeavour started as an effort to crown the great contributions of the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Niger Mission of 1857, who not only evangelised Igbo land but also gave them education. They established schools for the education of the populace alongside churches, as well as health institutions. Most of the schools and health institutions grew and produced great men and women who took after them. Today, the Diocese on the Niger is the mother of many Dioceses in Nigeria.

Coming into Episcopacy in 2011, I reflected on the enlightenment and the quantum of the manpower development that came from the various forms of schools established by these pioneer missionaries. I had the urge to bring this great effort to its apex with the establishment of a university—University on the Niger, Umunya. This vision became very clear and intense in my mind in the sixth year of my Episcopacy. It is at this point that I started sharing this vision with some members of the Diocese and to my surprise, the encouragement I received was awesome.


The history of the Church in this Diocese dates back to the Niger expeditions of 1830 – 1857 led by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) which was founded in 1799 in Great Britain. Though some of these expeditions ended in catastrophe, but the immense economic and evangelistic possibilities cannot be forgotten. For instance, the 1841 expedition gave the whites the idea that Africans only can be used to evangelize Africa. However, in 1857 Niger Mission sponsored by CMS had a breakthrough and mission work started in Igbo land, precisely Onitsha on 27th July.

This landmark success opened a new phase in the historical, religious, economic,    social and academic life of the South, South East and Northern part of Nigeria. The outcome of that missionary endeavour gave rise to the establishment of many Dioceses in the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion of which, the Diocese on the Niger is one of the oldest.  This discovery gave Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther the privilege to be part of the mission team that evangelized West Africa especially, the Igbo mission. It is also important to note that J.C Taylor of Igbo origin played a vital role in the early mission activities in Igbo land.  In order to move the mission forward, Samuel Ajayi Crowther was ordained on Trinity Sunday in 1844, consecrated as the first black bishop on the 29th June, 1864 at the Canterbury Cathedral. By this consecration, he became the bishop of the Diocese of Equatorial West Africa. Rev J.C Taylor laid the foundation of the first Church in Igbo land in 1867 which was dedicated on 16th November, 1870.

Diocese on the Niger is the offshoot of the Niger Mission which covers the old Eastern region and North. Her Episcopal journey as a Diocese started in 1864 with the consecration of Samuel Adjai Crowther as the first Bishop with Onitsha as the Headquarters of the Diocese named Niger Territories. After the demise of Bishop Crowther in 1891, Yoruba Mission joined the Diocese and as a result, the Diocese was renamed Diocese of Western Equatorial Africa with Bishop Hill and Tugwell. Eventually, in 1919, Diocese of Lagos was carved out from Western Equatorial Africa during the Episcopacy of Bishop Tugwell who retained the Western Equatorial Africa as his Diocese and new Diocese of Lagos was inaugurated. The Diocese of Western Equatorial Africa was later renamed Diocese on the Niger. By this act of divine providence, Diocese on the Niger is the Mother of all Dioceses in Nigeria.

Presently, Diocese on the Niger is one of 9 Anglican dioceses in the Province of the Niger which covers the whole of Anambra State. The seat of the See is located at All Saints’ Cathedral, Onitsha with Rt. Rev. Owen Chiedozie Nwokolo Ph.D, as the current Bishop.

History of the Diocese on the Niger’s Involvement in Education

It is important to note that Diocese on the Niger, through the CMS missionaries, were the forerunners of formal education in West Africa especially in Nigeria.  In other words, the Niger Mission gave birth to the Diocese on the Niger and education was one of the strategies of the missionaries.  Bank (1857) writing on the origin of formal education in old Eastern Nigeria observes that opening of mission school by Taylor was a new strategy adopted by the missionaries.  According to him, Taylor began formal school on 6th August, 1857. He commented thus:

“Twelve children were brought to me (that is Taylor) to be educated by their respective parents and guardians. I looked upon them as the commencement of our direct missionary work. We wasted no time to teach them ABC…”

No wonder that when Crowther  visited  Onitsha in 1858, he was very impressed by the progress made in  education and the Bishop responded by sending a dozen iron slates and two dozen slate-pencils to aid Mr. Romaine, the schoolmaster, in his work. People of all ages attended Mr. Romaine’s school. There was the case of one Okosi, a candidate for baptism, who attended every night along with five boys and sometimes in day-time “when there was not much work for them to do on their farm.” Mr. Romaine also numbered among his pupils some “little girls.”

In agreement with the above, Adebiyi (1994) maintains that by this time, that was before the 20th Century, there was no formal schools recognized by the government in rural areas. In fact, government was based in Lagos. In essence, it was the activities of the CMS missionary (Diocese on the Niger) that brought formal education to the old Eastern region. Hence, Diocese on the Niger (Anglican Communion), since the Nineteen Century, spearheaded the task of educating and opening of different schools in Nigeria in stages due to the problem of finance and non-availability of manpower. Notwithstanding these challenges, the CMS centered the mission stations on schools, and at the same time emphasized the need for missionaries and converts to exercise direct Christian influence on the laws and customs of the people. The C.M.S increasingly worked with others, particularly the Methodists, in education and shared in supporting the United Missionary College at Ibadan. This was done in many ways especially through the CMS Bookshop at Lagos which supplied educational materials to schools and mission stations.  For the C.M.S Niger Mission, however, there was greater interest in the development of the Bookshop at Onitsha which started in 1896 with its branches at Egbu (Owerri from 1923) and Port Harcourt 1920. These CMS Bookshops in the Niger mission (Diocese on the Niger) become the chief schools’ supplier in West Africa.

In the Niger area (Diocese on the Niger), CMS extended its work to Awka, where it founded a Teacher Training College which today has metamorphosed into Paul University, Awka and then to Egbu and Patani and by 1910 to the Isoko people.  Development of literary works in indigenous languages was part of their educational plan. For instance, Archdeacon Dennis translated the Bible into Igbo, producing a Union version in 1911 to replace the Onitsha version till then used in the schools while Henry Procter translated the Book of Common Prayer into the Brass language. The educational programme of the CMS missionaries saw industrial institutions established to teach carpentry, bricklaying, dyeing, etc. (Okeke 1994). Also, new crops (cassava, carrots, orange, mango, sweet potato, etc.) not found in Eastern region was introduced by the CMS missionaries.

In addition to the above, on January 25, 1925, the Dennis Memorial Grammar School was opened, and thus a light of the educational development in lgbo land, which can never be quenched, was lit by the Diocese on the Niger. This is the first secondary school east of the Niger.

In addition to establishment of educational institutions, there was also commencement of medical work at Iyi-Enu from the 1890s where a small hospital was opened in 1907 and which presently has become a secondary health provider.  Not only that, Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital, in fulfilment of her corporate social responsibility towards the advancement of learning and providing of  quality personnel  in the health sector, established the School of Nursing, School of Midwifery, School of Dental Technicians, and School of Medical Laboratory Technicians, among others. It also pursued approval for the establishment of School of Medical Information Technology, School of Pharmacy Technician and many other schools that will help humanity and the society at large.

The Promoter of the University on the Niger Umunya considers the inclusion of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences as one of the foundation faculties of the University of utmost necessity. The Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital is located four (4) kilometres from the site of the University on the Niger, Umunya.


The vision of University on the Niger, Umunya is “to be a leading tertiary institution in the achievement of excellence in knowledge dissemination, character building and leadership for the production of entrepreneurial and globally competitive graduates for national development..”

The vision statements provide a focal point that helps to align everyone with the organization, thus ensuring that everyone is working towards a single purpose. This helps to increase efficiency and productivity in the organization.


The mission of University on the Niger, Umunya is “to develop the moral, spiritual and academic life of young people and to produce graduates who will be leaders, job creators and nation builders.”



POEM By: The Very Rev. Prof. Chinedu Nebo (The First VC) and The Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo PhD. (Bishop on the Niger)

MUSIC by Prof. Sir. Sam Ojukwu

University on the Niger, a citadel of learning
Founded for the mastery of truth and knowledge.
To show the way of wisdom, experience and excellence.
In character, leadership and service.

University on the Niger, march on with zeal in the Lord’s grace.
Shatter the yoke of darkness and ignorance
In godly boldness and rectitude

Show the Light ! Lux Fiat!
Show the Light through Knowledge and Truth
Lux Fiat Via Sapientia


The philosophy of the University is the desire to provide, promote and enhance qualitative education with godliness in Nigeria for the production of skilful, entrepreneurial and globally competitive graduates who will make impact in the resolution of societal problems.


The objectives of the University include to:

  1. Encourage the advancement of learning and to hold out to all persons without distinction of race, creed, sex or political conviction the opportunity of acquiring higher education with sound morals;
  2. Produce highly skilled, entrepreneurial and well-rounded graduates that will be useful to industries, commercial ventures and government agencies soon after their graduation as well as capable of establishing their own businesses thereby becoming employers of labour rather than job seekers;
  • Create a stimulating and challenging academic environment, provide requisite facilities for the pursuit of effective teaching, learning, research and the acquisition of tertiary education as are appropriate for a University of the highest standing as well as make those facilities available on proper terms to such persons as are equipped to benefit from use of the facilities;
  1. Advance scholarship, knowledge, research and professionalism; and to promote through research and other means the advancement of knowledge and its practical application to social, moral, cultural, economic, scientific and technological problems in relevant fields of learning;
  2. Promote excellence in science and technology to meet the challenges of the global village;
  3. Inculcate creative and innovative values as well as entrepreneurial capacities in students and foster in them an orientation consistent with the philosophy of the university of producing disciplined, upright, morally sound and ethically cultured patriotic men and women so as to make them more relevant to the national development process thereby ushering in the new Nigeria of our collective dream;
  • Complement the efforts of Government in generating employment opportunities for Nigerians and creating a corruption free society; and
  • Undertake any other activities appropriate for a University all over the world.


In a bid to realize the above stated objectives, the University will adopt the following strategies:

  1. The University will be well-funded to meet its obligations in the provision of adequate useable space; prompt payment of salaries and allowances; purchase of goods and services; purchase of teaching and research equipment; and further development of physical facilities.
  2. There will be adequate provision of needed academic and administrative spaces. These include classrooms, lecture theatres, library, teaching and research laboratories, and staff offices. Infrastructural facilities, such as water, electricity, telecommunication, and roads will also be adequately provided by the University in line with the guidelines in the relevant NUC documents. That will bring out the best in its students to make them stand out through time as the groomed citizens of tomorrow by deployment of the highest quality human and material resources for a dynamic educational system.
  • Admission will be open to all irrespective of race, gender, ethnic, or political leaning. Only qualified students, however, will be admitted to the University.
  1. In its quest to mount high quality academic programmes, the University on the Niger is mindful of the challenge of paucity of qualified academic staff in the Nigerian University System. The University will therefore ensure the recruitment and retention of good quality teaching and non-teaching staff to facilitate quality learning and teaching since the quality of graduates of any university depends, to a large extent, on the quality of staff. The University will put in place, an efficient staff attraction, recruitment and retention scheme that is supported by robust Conditions of Service, incentives and other welfare packages to minimize staff turn-over. Payment of attractive salary packages and provision of appropriate working environment will help in this regard. The University will put in place mechanisms for sourcing high caliber academic, technical, administrative and support staff through partnership and collaboration with other institutions both local and international.
  2. The University will establish degree programmes in the various disciplines including Sciences; Engineering; Environmental Sciences; Law, Social and Management Sciences; Arts and Medicine. It will take off with three faculties: Natural and Applied Sciences, Arts, Social and Management Sciences as well as Basic Medical Sciences. Programmes to be established are such that would meet the needs of the nation and the aspirations of prospective students as well as utilise the facilities at Iyi-Enu Mission Hospital earmarked to be upgraded as the teaching hospital for the University. Since education is the major industry that is well received and loved in Nigeria, the University will be well-endowed with prospective students.
  3. The University, by virtue of its location, will provide a serene working, friendly and conducive environment that is equipped with modern work tools and facilities to ensure maximum productivity, job satisfaction and high morale that could lead the individual worker to achieve the University’s goals and objectives and its own self-actualization. The University will evolve an efficient and effective staff development scheme with adequate deployment of funds to assist staff in their pursuit of knowledge to further their intellectual experience in their various areas of specialization.
  • The University will also pay adequate attention to its carrying capacity and will only enrol students that could be adequately catered for taking into consideration the human, physical and material resources available. Attention will be paid also to the student population growth rate and the 60:40 science-arts enrolment ratio prescribed by Government. This is in a bid to move the nation forward technologically.
  • The curricula of the University will be reviewed from time to time and will be in line with the contents of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) prescribed by the National Universities Commission.
  1. The University will establish academic linkages with other universities in Nigeria and elsewhere so as to benefit immensely from their experiences and learn to avoid their mistakes.
  2. The general well-being of the students as the major stakeholders will be one of the priority areas of the University. Hence, the University will ensure provision of adequate decent accommodation with sufficient catering and security services for the safety of lives and properties on campus. Essential municipal services such as water supply, electricity, roads and transportation will be made available to make life on campus easy and worth the while of the staff and students.
  3. The University will also put in place recreational facilities for in-door and out-door games for the physical development of staff and students.


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