BY UDEME CLEMENT
The move to establish University of Commerce in Akwa Ibom State is in line with the efforts to reposition the economy for the Vision 20:2020 target. While some experts see the initiative as a positive step to make Nigeria an industrialised nation, others say such institution is needed for economic transformation not just in Nigeria but in the entire West African sub-region.
Elder Joshua Eyo Asuquo, Council member, Chartered Institute of Commerce of Nigeria and the immediate past chairman, Nsit Ibom local government, speaks on the economic benefits the university will bring now and in the long-run.
Your Institute is planning to establish University of Commerce in Akwa Ibom State. Tell us what makes this institution different from those we have already in the country?
At the last conference of the Chartered Institute of Commerce of Nigeria we had in Kaduna , we took a stand to establish what is called University of Commerce . The institution will be one and unique in the whole West African sub-region because this is the first time we are going to have such a University in the region.
This is the only institution that has a parent ministry, which is the ministry of Commerce and industry both at the state and federal levels. We have institutes of marketing, accounting and public administrators which do no have parent ministries. The only institute that has a parent ministry at present is Chartered Institute of Commerce of Nigeria .
Commerce is very important because it has to do with economic growth and development. Also, it involves all facets of human endeavours. For instance, engineering, medicine, accounting, marketing, finance, transport, public administration and every other aspect of economic transformation and national development are embedded in commerce.
What are the economic benefits that this university will bring to Nigeria ?
As a Fellow and Council member of the Institute, I can say clearly that enormous benefits will come to Nigeria in terms of skills acquisition by Nigerians, creation of jobs, which in turn will translate to wealth creation for the people and the entire economy. Such University coming to Nigeria will be of immense benefits because people from different fields like finance, marketing, transport and other aspects of commercial activities will be guaranteed.
The University will serve as a centre for commercial activities in the country. The University will increase the level of people orientation towards Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative aims at growing the economy.
It will promote combination of public and private economies because when the two sectors merge at one point, the out come will be increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as increase in revenue generation for government to execute capital projects across the country. At present, a lot of activities are geared towards the public section when the private sector has so much to do with national development. So, the University will teach people to be self reliance and employers of labour.
What makes Akwa Ibom suitable for the University of Commerce ?
To start with, the present governor has embarked on many projects to develop the state and his effort has attracted commendations within and outside the state. Realistically speaking, whatever we are doing is complementary to efforts of the governor. What is happening in the state now is uncommon transformation and this unique development is touching the life of every indigene as well as non-indigenes living in the area.
For example, many people who are non-indigenes of Akwa Ibom are currently benefiting from the free and compulsory education programme in the state. This is quite impressive because the multiplier effect in terms of skill training acquired by beneficiaries of this programme will have positive impact on national development.
This particular programme is portraying the positive image of the state even outside the country. The governor is using the initiative of free education to tackle the house boy or house girl syndrome, which people used to talk about in the past. So, the establishment of free education in the state is a wonderful development with enormous economic benefits in terms of human capital development and nation’s building at large.
Aside from that, the road network is so unique that every ministry and corporate organisation now sees the place as being conducive to hold important seminars. People coming into the state often commend the government for the rapid transformation. At present, a lot of actors and actresses come into the state because of the Tropicana.
Also, the airport in Akwa Ibom is of international standard. For example, in the last two years, Pilgrims travelling to Israel passed through the airport. Beyond this, the government is planning to set up industries in 31 councils in the state. Once this is done, the place will be fully opened for influx of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).
It was at the last national council meeting of the Institute in Kaduna that we deliberated on the need to have this University in Nigeria. As a council member and fellow of the institute, I suggested that since we already have college of accountancy, that takes care of the all the professional accountants in Jos, we should disengage that and bring it down to the South. There is no other better place than Akwa Ibom State . Interestingly, the council has approved that we should work towards the establishment of the University.
Also, recently I had a meeting with the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Akwa Ibom, Chief Adasi Obulum. We need 100 hectares of land, which is the first requirement by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC). He gave us assurance that we should forward a letter to the state government to that effect.