From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has claimed that only compromised academics who are willing to submit names of politically exposed lecturers as returning officers to rig elections for the ruling party, are being appointed as Vice Chancellors of federal universities.
Governor Wike warned vice chancellors and lecturers to be wary of attempts by some unscrupulous politicians to use them to manipulate elections, declaring that those contemplating to rig elections in Rivers State would be treated as a coup plotters.
He stated this during the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of 9,200 capacity ultramodern convocation arena of the University of Port Harcourt by the State government, yesterday.
Governor Wike said it was worrisome that Nigeria has degenerated to the point where politicians now influence who becomes a vice chancellor of a federal government for the purposes of rigging elections.
He declared: “Let me warn, not one person will dare to rig election in Rivers State. Not one person will dare it. I have told people, allow university community to produce those who will be leaders of this country. Don’t turn university community to be where you will have politicians who manipulate and change the mandate of the people. Anybody who does that, you know it is a coup and you know the punishment for coup plotters”.
The governor stressed that the reason there is so much tussle these days on who becomes vice chancellor of federal universities, is because of political interference by extraneous forces.
He described as heartrending a situation whereby lecturers who are supposed to be revered in society, wilfully compromise their integrity, just to become Vice Chancellor, who will afterwards be used to manipulate elections.
“These days, you see a lecturer, a PhD holder, a professor ready to soil his name, to allow himself to be kidnapped and taken somewhere to sign result and to declare somebody who did not win election winner”.
The governor enjoined desperate politicians in the ruling party not to dent the integrity of the university system because of their inordinate ambition.
Governor Wike warned that any vice chancellor that allows himself to be used to rig election in Rivers State, should be prepared for the consequences of such hideous act.
He warned: “If you want to play politics with us, I will rub you mud. If you want to join us (politicians), openly come and join us. But, if you want to hide under the university.”
The governor declared that 2023 general election would be completely different from the 2019 election, which was manipulated by the ruling party.
He insisted that attempts to prevent transmission to election results electronically would be resisted.
“INEC knows that they have to be prepared in 2023. And that is why we will resist any attempt for anybody to manipulate the amendment of the Electoral Act, to say that election results will not be transmitted electronically. That will not happen. If you want the vote of the people to count, the result must be transmitted electronically”.
Governor Wike stated that as an alumni of the University of Port Harcourt, his business is not to play politics in the university, but to see how he could contribute to the development of the institution.
He promised to complete a primary school building in the university that was abandoned by the previous administration for inexplicable reason.
The Acting Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, Professor Stephen Okodudu, commended Governor Wike for consistently identifying with the ideals and aspiration of the university.
He expressed: “You have continued to support the successive administrations of the university through donation of funds and provision of social infrastructure to give meaning to the lives of staff and students.
“I recall with nostalgia, that Your Excellency attracted then construction of the Faculties of Law and Social Sciences buildings, while serving as the Hon. Minister of State for Education”.
Chairman of the Governing Council of the University, Senator Andrew Uchendu, applauded Governor Wike for laying the foundation for what would be the best, iconic convocation arena in West Africa.
Performing the inauguration of the new convocation arena, immediate past Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Ndowa E. Lale, said Governor Wike’s decision to construct the new convocation arena was a further demonstration that he has a heart to add value to the institution.
He declared that history would be kind to Governor Wike because he has deliberately worked conscientiously for public good.
Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Projects, George Kelly Alabo, said 9,200 capacity convocation arena is going to have convertible compartments, offices, assembly hall, 750kva transformer and would be completed in 14 months.
He further added: “This structure will not only be aesthetically pleasing, it will also be structurally sound”.