From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been appointed as chairman of the governing council of the Eastern Palm University, Ogboko, in Imo State.
Former Imo State Governor and President of the Rochas Foundation College of Africa, Senator Rochas Okorocha, disclosed this at the 3rd matriculation ceremony of the institution on Monday just as he assured that the citadel of learning will be a centre of excellence.
Senator Okorocha has also maintained that the Eastern Palm University was not established for profit, but to provide knowledge for children from less-privileged backgrounds across Africa.
He revealed that the university was established under the Private Public Partnership (PPP), with Rochas Foundation and Imo State Government involved, explianing that while the Rochas Foundation has ninety percent in the arrangement, the Imo State Government has ten percent.
Senator Okorocha stated that he has remained an ardent advocate of the PPP arrangement in the establishment of universities because, according to him, it would allow universities overcome certain challenges, adding that the State Government also has the option of selling off its ten percent to Rochas Foundation so that the foundation can have one hundred percent ownership of the Institution.
‘The Rochas Foundation College Ogboko was originally located in these premises. And we had the plan to establish Rochas Foundation University. We had begun to do that before I became Governor. When I became Governor, the State Government did some of the roads here. And considering what the Foundation had done and what the State Government Contributed, the 90 percent and 10 percent ratio was arrived at. The State Government can also sell off its ten percent so that the university can be One hundred percent owned by the Foundation,’ the Senator said.
‘The university is of the highest academic standards. We shall do all within our reach to achieve that. Standards must not be compromised. It is going to be a centre for excellence. One of the best universities in Africa,’ Senator Rochas said.
‘My prayer has been that education should be made affordable, if not totally free, so that the children of the have-nots can also have the opportunity of going to school.
‘That was the idea behind my establishing the Rochas Foundation Colleges in about sixteen states in the country. And today, we have Rochas Foundation College for Africa. And we have more than twenty-five students in all these colleges.
‘And we have in our record about six thousand graduates the Foundation had sponsored to graduate across the universities in the country. So, the Eastern Palm University will help a lot in this regard.
‘When I was Governor, my government had established five other universities also under the PPP arrangement and they were all licensed by the NUC. But today, only the Eastern Palm University is functioning, the other five universities have been closed down, including the University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Aboh/Ngor-Okpala, University of Arts and Sciences, Omuma Isiaku Nkwerre.’
He Continued: ‘In the next academic session, the university will offer 190 deserving students, with 10 from each of the nineteen Northern states, scholarship. And 250 opportunities will be given to the five South-East states, while Imo alone will have 100; then, the South-West and South-South states will have five students each.
‘I am ready to sell my clothes to ensure that children, who would not have gone to school as a result of the circumstances of their births, would go to school. That is the major reason Eastern Palm University was established. And if the Imo State Government can take over the university and do what I am doing here, it will be accepted by me,’ Okorocha stated.