From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has said he does not believe that establishing more universities would solve the problems associated with higher education.
Governor Wike stated this on Monday while speaking at the flag-off ceremony for the establishment of the Emohua Campus of the Rivers State University in Emohua Local Government Area.
He said what should be of more concern should be how more funds could be committed to existing universities, so that they can offer the needed holistic educational training in the production of requisite manpower for the country.
“Why I cannot build more universities is not because I don’t have where to build (site) them. But, it is to have the money to fund the universities. The ones we have, we have not been able to fund them,” the governor said.
“If I want to play politics, I can say I want to start University of Engineering. It is easy to say that, but to bring it down to what is truly expected of a university of engineering; to employ lecturers, to provide infrastructure, and the equipment that are required for modern engineering is not an easy thing.”
Governor Wike said, he was mindful of the dreams of the founding fathers of the state university that the institution should drive education related development from designated council areas in the state.
He stated that in addition to Etche, Ahoada and Emohua Campuses of the university, the government has decided to site another campus in Ogoniland.
Wike said: “Because I believe in the dream of the founding fathers of this University, there’ll be another campus in Ogoni. I have already told the Pro-Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor of the university about it.
“I had earlier given out the premises of the Model Secondary School, Saakpenwa to the Kenule Benson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic in Bori. But the Chairman of the Governing Council of that institution said they don’t think they can use it.
“We can’t allow the structures to remain like that. So, a campus of the university will move in there immediately.
“Bori area is now like a town. By the time the Saakpenwa-Bori-Kono road is completed, nobody will need to stay in Port Harcourt to go to work in Bori anymore.”
Performing the flag-off, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Ndowa Lale, noted the enormous investment in education, undertaken by Governor Wike, and hinted that the governor is using it to achieve holistic development of the state.
According to him, multiple campuses of a university promote, increase carrying capacity for the institution, improve revenue and eventually facilitate development of the host communities.
Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University Prof Nlerum Okugbule said the institution was overwhelmed with the level of support received from Governor Wike, which has helped them to improve their teaching and research capacities.
He stated that 40 years after the university was established, Governor Wike has been able to actualise the dream of the founding fathers the institution to have multiple campuses spread across the State.
He expressed: “It will be recalled that at the inception of the university in 1980, it was intended to have campuses in several parts of the state. The aim was to use the various campuses to promote the development of all parts of Rivers State. After over 40 years that vision has now been actualised by our courageous, bold and dynamic governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.”
Rivers State Commissioner for Education Prof Kaniye Ebeku lauded the governor for taking the bold step to actualise the dreams of the founders of the state university.
The Pro-Chancellor of the institution, Hon Justice Iche Ndu, commended Governor Wike for releasing money for the establishment of the campus and transferring the right of the land from Government Secondary school Emohua to the Rivers State University.
The Director of Physical Planning, Rivers State University, Ben Woke, said the governor has given approval for the construction and furnishing of hostel blocks, administrative building that will have about 48 offices, 21 lecture halls and theatres in campus.
Others are, the construction and furnishing of a mini shopping centre, one health centre, a maintenance building, a guest house, construction of internal roads, connection of the campus to national grid, provision of street light.