From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has requested approval for the establishment of a campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt.
The governor said the request was made in view of the fact that the existing six campuses of the Nigerian Law School across the country could only admit 6,000 out of the over 10,000 applicants that seek legal education every year.
Governor Wike made the request during the flag-off of two hostel blocks (450 bed spaces each) and a 1,500 capacity auditorium, being constructed by the Rivers State Government, at the Yenagoa Campus of the Nigerian Law School, yesterday.
According to Governor Wike, Rivers State Government was willing to provide the basic infrastructure required in establishing another law school within six months in order to accommodate more students desirous for legal education.
“Let me throw a challenge to the Chairman of Council of Legal Education, to the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Justice, and to the Director General of Nigeria Law School. How do we accommodate this extra 4,000 people that are left out since the only capacity the law school can take is 6,000?”
The governor expressed the readiness of States to support the council of Legal Education and the federal government, if they are given opportunity to provide requisite infrastructure for the establishment of more Law Schools to accommodate eligible aspirants to the legal profession.
He said: “Nobody should play politics with this. As a State Government, I am ready to within the next six months give you everything that is required to establish a Law School in Port Harcourt. What are the facilities you need? Four hostels; two for men, two for women, an auditorium, multi-purpose hall, law clinic, two moot court rooms, vehicles and residences for staff, then, Port Harcourt can host a campus of law school”.
Governor Wike said no person should be surprised that Rivers State Government is intervening in Yenagoa campus of Nigerian Law School because the institution is meant for South-South region.
“So, one of these days, I came here with the DG, and what I saw was not befitting of a Law School for legal education.
“For a school in the South-South, this is where our children come to; we should be able to give support. What Rivers State Government is spending is not less than N5 billion to build 900-bed space hostels for boys and girls and then 1,500 capacity auditorium”.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, described such intervention of the Rivers State Government in improving facility for legal education as a worthy complimentary effort.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, the Attorney General of the Federation, said the request for a campus in Port Harcourt could be favourably considered when a formal proposal is received.
He said: “I see clarity of thought. About how Nigeria can be better off. I see a man with passion, very passionate about development. Everything you spoke about, discussed is about Nigeria to be better off. You are touching life. We see you doing projects. You have written your name in the sands of time”.
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, described the intervention of Governor Wike as remarkable.
According to him, since the Bayelsa State Government donated the land and the few structures, the federal government has not made any contribution since 2011 when it was established.
He said: “This project here you’re initiating today, ought to be a federal government project. And since this campus was donated by Bayelsa State Government, we have not seen anything done by the federal government.
“At this point, It is now the duty of those of us in the South-South Region to nurture this campus, so that it will become a reputation. And so, we are very happy for this hand of cooperation and fellowship you have extended to this campus”.
On his part, Director-General of Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, said facilities at the campuses of Nigeria Law School have become insufficient to cater for the needs of legal education.
“This is so because of the increased number of students enrolment to study law in Nigeria and in diaspora.
“Hence, the urgent need for interventions and assistance in these critical areas. It is, therefore, instructive, a welcome development and the reason for this happy gathering in our Yenagoa.
Chairman, Council Of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, said the central idea behind these constructions by the Rivers State government is to address the infrastructural deficits of lecture and accommodation spaces for the ever increasing number of students seeking to acquire vocational legal training in Nigeria.
He said: “It is no secret that since the establishment of the Yenagoa and Yola campuses of the Nigerian Law School in 2011 little or no attention has been made by Government or concerned stakeholders to build more hostels and lecture halls to effectively accommodate students adequately”.