From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The people of Rundele community in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, has urged the management of Ignatius Ajuru University of Education extension campus in their area to return part of the land they occupy to the community for agricultural purposes.
The community said the request become necessary following the removal of major course from the campus, which has reduced academic activities in the premises.
They also said if the school could return part of the land to the community, it would be used for farming activities.
The Community Development Chairman of Mgbuelia Ndele, Emohua Local Government Area, Mr. Kpalikwu Elendu, said the institution has wasted their land: “We are bothered about it because we have wasted a vast land of which we could have used for our crops. We donated the land to government and the government abandoned it.
“The problem is from the governor who took almost all the departments in that campus back to main campus in Rumuolumeni, squeezing all the faculties and departments there, leaving this one for nothing.
“The place was formerly an NYSC camp; but the camp was moved to Nonwa around 1999. The removal of this camp and the removal of the faculties from the campus has affected the development of our community”.
He said: “Nothing comes to the community despite the over 10 acres of land wasted there. We are deriving anything from that land. We are still appealing to the government to please recognize that we have donated that land to them and they should make use it for the purpose for which that land was donated to them, or any other purpose that will be beneficial to the community.
“Instead of using the land for the academic purposes, government people are using it for cultivation of cassava.
“Since government fenced the land, the community does not have access to the land again and all the workers there now use the land as their farm. So, if the government is no more using the land they should quickly return it to the owners, so that we make use of it. For now, they are still occupying it.
“If Government is not using that school again as it stands now, they should return it to the owners. Let us use it. Or they should develop the land. The land there is wasting.”
The CDC chairman disclosed that when the school was functional that community benefited and hard influx of visitors who rented their houses: “When the school was functioning well, a lot of our people had much interest in school. Like some people who were employed as security and other casual labour used the opportunity and became graduates.
“Community men and women also used the opportunity because it is just a walk to the campus. But now that the school is no more, it is affecting us vastly, because that opportunity is off from us. Nothing is happening there. How many students are there? How many departments are there?
“Houses are there; nobody comes to rent them. Even, businesses are not moving again. If students were here as before, markets will move. Our businesses are grounded.
“The government we have today is behind all these. It is affecting the donors of the land”.
Stephen Okuku, the former CDC Chairman of Egamini, Ndele, said: “Their abandonment of that land where we had former Teachers Training College far back 1970, that nurtured many big men today, NYSC camp and to College of Education, is not going down well with us.
“You cannot take our land from us and still not use and you stop us from having it back. We no longer farm there. Farming is not going on there and buildings are there wasting.
“The land there is good and large enough for our farming activities. Our garri is the best in the entire state and we are not happy that that vast land we would be using for agricultural activities is wasting.
A senior staff of the IAUE campus who did not want his name in print, said academic activities were still on in the campus. He regretted that the community was reluctant till Business Studies, which was the top department with highest students and lecturers left the place.
He also mentioned that security was one of the reasons the university moved the most important departments back to the main campus. He added that most of the demands could be met, if the issues were properly channelled.