From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Stakeholders in Rivers State have commended Governor Nyesom Wike for releasing N16.6 billion for the upgrade of facilities at the Rivers State University in Port Harcourt.
Guests of Viewpoint, a popular radio phone-in-programme in Port Harcourt, made the commendation during the programme yesterday.
Speaking as a guest at the programme, a professor of Econometrics at the University of Port Harcourt, Prof Oke Onuchukwu, described the development as a timely intervention to expand the tertiary education sector and improve the rural economy of the State.
The renowned economist called the people of the State to jettison political sentiments and support Governor Wike and his team so that the basic objective of transforming the rural communities would be achieved through decentralisation of the Rivers State University.
Prof Onuchukwu, a former director of the Business School of the University of Port Harcourt, said the decentralisation will not only enhance rapid socioeconomic development of the three local Government areas but would also make tertiary education more accessible to the people of the State.
The university don, who was part of the team that drew up the developmental blueprint of the New Rivers Vision of Governor Wike, said: ‘The Rivers State University is a very critical area Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike had in mind earlier before he came into Government, that look, ‘I am going to intervene in this University by ensuring that the campuses are decentralised and build a world standard medical college’. That has been there. Wike didn’t just jump into governance, he had a well-prepared blueprint of how he is going to develop the various sectors of the state.’
He described the move to establish a standard medical college at the university as one of the best things that could happen to Rivers State as it would address the dearth of medical doctors in the health sector of the State in the nearest future.
Onuchukwu said there was nothing wrong with the governor’s award of scholarship to students of the Pamo Medical University, who are indigenes of the state, saying that it would encourage the graduation of more medical doctors to complement the personnel requirements of hospitals in the state.
He dismissed ethnic colouration in the development agenda of Governor Wike’s administration.
He said: ‘In the first place, we should commend the effort of the Rivers State Government and try to play down on this ethnic colouration.
‘And one thing I will say here is the government has done this much in this present situation. Some other governments will continue and provide. There is no way the government can address all the issues bothering on development at a time and at a go.’
Speaking in the second segment of the programme, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Coalition of PDP Support Group of Nigeria, Rivers State Chapter, Edwin Ibanichika, and Meme Samuel, respectively, described Governor Wike as a detribalised leader, who has taken into consideration the equality, service and justice in the execution of his administration’s developmental agenda.
They maintained that although the Wike’s administration has ensured spread of developmental projects to all the 23 local Government areas of the State, there was no way the government or any other can ignore the need for urban renewal programmes since 90 per cent of Rivers people improve their economic wellbeing in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas that constitute the capital of the state.
Samuel defended the state government on the issue of decentralisation of projects.
‘You will be unfair to Governor Wike when you constantly miniaturise the New Rivers Vision by saying that development is concentrated in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor and a lot is happening across the 23 local Government areas of Rivers State,’ he said.
‘For example, the expansion of the Rivers State University campuses to three local governments areas on its own has ripple effects socially, economically and even security because insecurity thrives when the focus of the government is not there.’
Buttressing their claims with a list of 106 projects executed by the Wike’s administration in the 23 local government areas, he said: ‘Now, for us in the next 20 to 30 years, if there is a continuity of programme by a succeeding government, you will see that in the next 10 years, Emohua, Ahoada and Etche will open up because there will be careful, deliberate implementation of policies from the school projects.’
It would be recalled that the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, recently, announced that the State Government had released N16.6 billion for the upgrade of facilities at the Rivers State University.
Out of amount, N7.6 billion would be for the proper establishment of the College of Medical Sciences of the university, while N3 billion each will go to the three campuses of the university to be established at Ahoada, Emohua, and Etche Local Government Areas.