By Simon Ebegbulem, Benin-City
Controversy is trailing the alarm raised by Esan elders, who accused Governor Adams Oshiomhole of of Edo State, of alleged plan to relocate the Ambrose Alli University College of Medicine to Iyamoh, his home town in Edo North. The elders believe that the alleged plan was geared towards depriving Esan Central the opportunity to host the College. But the Esan Unity Forum, a group from the same Esanland, faulted the elders’ position.
The Forum, in a statement by Mr. Ehimen Okojie, its Coordinator, described the elders’ claim that Oshiomhole intends to move the College to Edo North as malicious, and an attempt to rubbish the image of the governor. “So we condemn the write-up in its totality especially as the story did not reflect the collective position of Esan people.
Esan Unity Forum believes that the position was masterminded by somebody who has issues with the management of the Ambrose Alli University and today he is seeking for relevance by using the name of Esan Elders Forum”, it said. It challenged the elders to provide a government White Paper or budget where the state government plans to relocate the College of Medicine in Ambrose Alli University, AAU, from Ekpoma to Iyamoh.
The statement continued: “They (elders) even demonstrated ignorance on the allegation that the students population has reduced from 65,000 when the present administration took over in 2008 to 25,000. It is equally important to note that the issue of relocation and students population referred to were out of mischief. Oshiomhole procured and installed teaching and research equipment for the College of Medicine.
Oshiomhole has worked tirelessly to ensure that National Universities Commission, NUC, and professional bodies accredit the College of Medicine, since 2008. Oshiomhole has witnessed the successful swearing in/oath taking ceremony of the sixth and seventh sets of qualified medical doctors of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 academic sessions.
The governor has ensured the recognition of Ambrose Alli University College of Medicine by the Medical Board of California, USA. It is under Oshiomhole’s administration that College of Medicine got full accreditation from NUC. So rather for people to show appreciation for what the governor has done to uplift the College, people are bringing in ethnic connotation to it”.
The group believed Esan elders would not have made such comments because they have been supportive of the governor and they are aware that Oshiomhole, being their in-law, will not take any action to deprive the Esans of their rights. “So we believe that the comment was cooked up by the opposition in the state with a view to instigate Esan people against the governor”.
However, when one takes a critical look at the siting of institutions in Edo, though people may have their diverse views about the Esan elders fear about relocating the College of Medicine, it is reminding the governor that he needs to site an institution in his Edo North before leaving office, maybe a teaching hospital to bring health care close to his people. When Lucky Igbinedion was governor, he relocated the NYSC Camp from Abudu to his home town, Okada, and built the Institute of Technology, Usen.
So, in Edo South, apart from the University of Benin and the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, you have two other tertiary institutions, the College of Education, Ekiadolor and the Institute of Technology, Usen. Though UBTH is a federal institution, it takes care of the health needs of the people from the South.
In Edo Central, the late Ambrose Alli sited Ambrose Alli University in Ekpoma, where he comes from. And when one talks about other institutions in Edo Central, you have the College of Education, Igueben and the Federal Government owned Irrua Specialist Hospital. But in Edo North where Oshiomhole hails from, the only institution there is the Auchi Federal Polytechnic but no health institution.
It was as a result of this seeming marginalization of the people of Edo North in terms of siting institutions in the three senatorial district that Sunday Vanguard recalled that during the first tenure of the Oshiomhole administration, elders from that senatorial district lamented the lack of health institutions in their domain and appealed to the governor to give them a teaching hospital.
Oshiomhole assured that he would look at the issue critically and do what is in the best interest of the people of the state. Perhaps, this could be the time for the governor to act because he is in the last lap of his administration.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Public Affairs, Prince Kassim Afegbua, who spoke on the situation, said: “Yes, it is true that the Comrade Governor has plan to build a state of the art teaching hospital for the Ambrose Alli University, to be located in Edo North. I think it is only appropriate because from what we have seen in terms of responses to health needs, Edo North lacks any credible health institution that can truly serve their needs”.
When asked if the people of Edo Central would not misrepresent the plan, Afegbua cautioned against people playing politics with developmental efforts of the Comrade Governor. His words: “You must help us inform the people that the Oshiomhole administration is one that has been able to carry out reforms in an equitable manner. He does not play politics with development; he is more concerned with the yearnings of the people across the state. It is only natural for the government to provide for the people of Edo North a teaching hospital that will serve both academic needs of the students and health needs of the people”.