More Varsities As Okorocha’s Parting Gift To Imo

| May 31, 2019 | 0 Comments

Governor  Rochas Okorocha whose tenure ends May 29th, announced that the National Univerisities Commission has approved licences for 3 more state-owned universities in Imo. HENRY TYOHEMBA looks at the divergent views trailing the planned  additional universities in the state.

An Egyptian author, Ahmed Zewail once said that  higher education should be based on quality and not quantity, funded adequately and free from unnecessary bureaucracy.

This clearly  brings to mind the issue of numerous tertiary institutions in Nigeria and the implication of the quality of education they  offer.

Recently, three more universities were welcomed into the fold of universities. These newly approved universities:  University of Science and Technology, Omuna Isiaku; University of Creative Technology, Umuna and the University of Medical Sciences, Ogboko all situated in Imo State.

With these new universities, Imo now has five state-owned universities, which makes it the state with the highest number of universities in the country.

Recall that over the last two decades, the Nigerian University System had grown rapidly from less than 30 university entities in 1996 to about one hundred and seventy four (174) as at today. Sadly, while the number of universities in the country is experiencing rapid transformational growth, the quality has always been a major issue.

Out of the total number of these universities, 79 representing 46.5 per cent are private universities, 43 federal universities and the recent approval of the  three universities for Imo state has taken the number of state-owned universities to fifty two (52).

The approval of three universities in the same state has continued to raise eyebrows over why there are many universities in the same state.

Many also wonder the reason for more universities when the existing ones are in tatters.

Others also ask why the governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha is in pursuit of additional universities in the state while his tenure expires in few weeks.

One of such persons who showed concern over the additional institutions is an astute political scientist and a lecturer in the University of

Abuja, Humphrey Ukeaja.

Ukeaja who lamented the

the inability of state and federal governments to properly manage existing tertiary institutions added that  there is need to invest in those institutions,  rather than establishing new ones.

Also speaking, a lecturer in the Imo State University who pleaded anonymity, stated that a lot needs to be done in the already existing institutions and wondered why the governor had to establish new ones.

“For example in my school, we have some structures that need to be rehabilitated. If the government has excess money, it would have invested it in the state university. It will help a great deal to make the university become one of the best in the country. Investing also will help in expansion of the institution to increase its carrying capacity,” he said.

Also, a resident of the state, Uzochi Ezeh expressed worry over what will become of the universities when the governor leaves office.

“ You know what is happening in Nigeria; when one government leaves, and another comes in, the one that comes in abandons what the previous one had done and starts up new projects. This is why I am worried about these new institutions,” he said.

However, Gabrielle Okaka, an indigene of the state is of the opinion that the new universities were a welcome development as the establishment will increase accessibility to tertiary education in the state.

Okaka who opined that Imolites were people who loved education added that the schools will spur the youths into embracing education as entrance will not be as difficult as it used to be in the past.

“Just recently, an Imo indigene, Ezenala Ekene Franklin  got the highest score in JAMB. Students from our states have done really well in many examinations. That is why I am saying that the schools are going to help the state a great deal,” she said.

Also in support of the new tertiary institutions is Chidi Sunny. Sunny who is a public analyst stated that the new schools are ‘specialized schools’ in Science and Technology, Creative and Medical Science and as such, will deal extensively with their fields of specialisation.

He added that those faulting the additional schools were enemies of progress who do not want good for the state.

“I know that  governor Okorocha has his shortcomings but no matter what, anybody who invests in education has my support. I commend him for that and urge the incoming government to carry on with what he had started,” he said.

Even as argument rages on the additional institutions, to Okorocha, the rationale

behind the establishment of the new universities was as a result of more candidates seeking for admission.

“The challenges of no admission for our  children will be reduced with the establishment of the new universities. As a state, we have made adequate provision for sustaining the university through enough funding to run the universities,” he said.

He said the universities were established through the instrumentality of the State House of Assembly, adding that the main aim of putting in place the new institutions was to bring development to rural areas and increase access to university education.

The governor explained that in the past seven years, the state had maintained the highest number of students seeking university admission in the country, saying, “It is only 20 per cent of them that are admitted. This will give  admission to the 80 per cent who are denied admission and are roaming the  streets.”

On the funding of the new universities, Okorocha said adequate arrangements have been put in place to ensure issue of financial challenges

are not associated with the running of the institutions.

“If education remains a priority, there is enough funds to run the universities. We are also involving the private sector because the universities are open to public  and private partnership. The project started a long time ago,” he said.

While receiving the master plan, academic brief and environmental impact  analysis from Okorocha, the  executive secretary of National University Commission, Prof Abubakar  Rasheed said the commission would move into  action on how to develop the curriculum for the universities to be allowed to commence operations in the University of Creativity.

“By the provision of the law establishing NUC and by the power conferred on me and having Imo state House of Assembly to pass the law for the establishment of the universities, I hereby recognise the three universities,” he said.

This issue has continued to generate diverse opinions from stakeholders in  the country with majority kicking against the establishment of universities  but rather a more conducive environment for the existing ones to  accommodate students.

Rasheed, at a maiden National summit on Private Universities in Abuja, recently, hinted that the Commission was currently processing well over 300 applications for the establishment of private  universities to boost the number of tertiary institutions in the country to  accommodate Nigeria’s population.

While it seems to be a welcome development, to others it is but a waste of  resources. Such would have been the reason why the Registrar of Joint  Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Isha’q Oloyede lamented  that in a bid to solve the problems of higher education in Nigeria, government had created new problem within the system with the emergence of more Private Universities.

Although he added that these problems are not  insurmountable, he said, “We only hope that this Summit would be a fertile ground for us to share ideas on how we can solve these problems.”

For former Nigerian Vice President, Mohammed Namadi Sambo, creation of new universities in the country is apt as there is need to create  more access to university education as Nigeria’s population continues to grow.

“The population of this country is huge and it is encouraging to see that there  are constantly new universities being established. So I believe that will  support the number of students we have in this country, “he said.

Culled from :Here

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