The benefits of religious varsities, by Jonathan
By Sam Eyoboka
A COMBINATION of two occurrences, one natural and the other human, almost marred the much advertised groundbreaking ceremony of the Eagle Heights University scheduled for last Tuesday in the sleepy town of Omadino in Warri South local government area of Delta State.
The first was the torrential rains of Monday night in Warri which rendered the only road to the site of the university that the state government and other stakeholders had prepared for the historic occasion marshy.
The second element was the rumor that made the rounds as early as 6.00 a.m. Tuesday morning that President Goodluck Jonathan, chief guest of honour slated to perform the groundbreaking ceremony had cancelled the trip at the last moment making residents of Ughoton and Omadino who had lined the route to catch a glimpse of their President initially disappointed.
But, as early as 5.30 a.m, combat-ready security personnel, dressed in green, took positions directing vehicular movements along the traffic-prone stretch of road from Warri through Okpe local government to Omadino raising the hope of the citizens of the area.
Similarly, desperate efforts were made by church workers assisted by the natives to recreate stands for all the different traditional dance troupes that spent sleepless nights rehearsing for the epoch making event.
Omadino is sandwiched between thick forests and the Warri River. As soon as choppers started circling the venue, the environment became electric as everybody turned towards the entrance in anticipation.
Not long after Jonathan, with several members of his cabinet, emerged waving to the mammoth crowd of persons who had assembled. He was also accompanied by two eminent traditional rulers from the area: the Olu of Warri, Atuwatse II and the Ovie of Okpe Kingdom, Orhue I.
The initial unfriendly weather had given way to a bright day,. The one they call The Elegant Stallion, Onyeka Onwenu’s sterling performance and that of Sammie Okposo had to be stopped for the business of the day.
In his opening remarks, the CAN president and the visioner, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, explained that 42 years earlier, he had received a divine mandate: “Building and equipping the people who build the nation,” and building the people goes beyond spirituality, to include building physically, economically, educationally and socially.
He noted that the mandate has given birth to the establishment of Eagle Flight Micro Finance Bank, Eagle Health Medical Centre, Eagle Hand Foundation for orphans and the less privileged, The International School of Ministry and the Eagle Heights International Schools, EHIS (Nursery, Primary and Secondary) amongst many others.
The Eagle Heights University, EHU, he continued, was a new but unique world class Christian university committed to serving God and humanity in Warri, and the world through leadership in high quality education and professional training, community development, character building, advancing research and knowledge, and utilizing state-of-the-art information and communication technology.
The university, according to him, is set to be at the forefront of the academic transformation of Africa and Nigeria in particular Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, welcoming the president and his entourage to the state for the second time in 23 days, said “A few weeks ago, you were in Gbaramatu of formally flag off gthe marine the Maritime University.
We know that in a few weeks’ time, you will be back to flag off the Gas City at Ogidigben, in between, you are here today to flag off this Eagle Height’s University; a private university of the Word of Life Bible Church. Mr. President, you are sitting right in the land of Omadino in Warri South local government, there’s a connection between this land and the Maritime University and the Gas City.
“The three places form a triangle, and from my eyes of development, it’ll be the future triangle of development in this country, because from Omadino here, a road is being designed; it was originally designed, but the design is being changed by NDDC. That road will over N150 billion. It’ll connect Omadino with Gbaramatu and the Escravos axis. The road will service the Maritime University and also service the Gas City. The future of this area is very very bright”.
According to the President, the university will mark the beginning of a great Omadino that will surely play a key role in the history of this country. He therefore congratulated the Omadino people, “because this is the beginning of real development that will come to this part of this great state and indeed the Niger Delta and Nigeria”. Jonathan continued: `I’m also pleased, just like the governor mentioned, I was in Delta state not too long ago to lay a foundation stone for the Maritime University. Delta is blessed to have two specialized universities; University of Petroleum and of course the Maritime University.”
The President hinted that Delta State would even be greater because “the biggest petro-chemical hub in Africa will be sited in the state. The governor mentioned that in a couple of weeks or so, we are coming back to Delta state to flag off that ceremony. The target is that we must add value to the gas we produce, we cannot continue to export raw materials; we export raw crude oil, we export raw gas with the condensate and so on and so forth.
“When you export raw materials, you create jobs offshore, but when you add value to your materials, you create jobs within your country. We must add value to the gas we produce before sending it out, and where it will happen will be in this great Delta.
“The road project, because if government is siting such major projects; Maritime University, the petro-chemical complex, that place must be accessible by road. It may not happen overnight, but we’ll drive to that place not too far away. We thank all of you for your cooperation.” Returning to the business of the day, he thanked Oritsejafor and his wife as well as members of Word of Life Bible Church, for establishing the university.
“I love the motto of the university: ‘Building and equipping the people who build the nation’. That has always been my philosophy that you have to build the people to build the nation. Without building people, we cannot build a nation. You cannot give what you don’t have. You can’t go to the university and study biology then go and teach engineering or go and build bridges. You must give out what you have. And if we don’t put something into our children, they’ll have nothing to bring out to develop the country.
He stressed the need to invest in the younger generation because, according to him, sometimes people die and don’t even know where their money is, but the quality of their children, the quality of the younger ones that are coming will determine the level of their success in life.
“Today we have to thank Ayo because I’ve seen that without the private sector, government alone; both federal and state, would not be able to create university spaces for our children. Government is trying, within this period I’ve been here, we are talking about 14 universities, and still you have so many Nigerians, infact Nigerians are almost taking over Ghanaian universities. So without the private sector coming in to assist, we cannot provide enough spaces for our children, and that’s why government is quite passionate about universities by the private sector especially religious bodies.
“One advantage of universities owned by religious bodies is discipline and moral education. And you are what you are because of the background training you have, not just the academic training. The non-formal education, which is quite weak in conventional schools owned by government, is available in universities owned by religious bodies. You cannot be a lecturer in a university here and you talk about sexual harassment. That word will not exist here because there’ll be no space for it.