Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Wednesday inaugurated Project Management Committee members for the three newly established universities in the state.
Okowa, who performed the function in Government House, Asaba, said that the creation of three new universities in the state was to broaden the citizens’ access to university education.
The Committee has Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, as Chairman, with Ambassador Godson Echegile, Prof. Emmanuel Nwanze, and Prof. John Enaohwo as members.
Others include Prof. Abednego Ekoko, Prof. Sam Ukala, Mr Ejiro Udjo, while Mrs Bridget Odobor will serve as Secretary.
He said that members of the committee were carefully chosen based on their track records in the academia, public administration and the private sector.
The governor added that they were men of deep intellect and managerial acumen.
”I have absolute confidence in their ability to get the job done,” he said.
Okowa said that those criticising the establishment of four universities in the state had no knowledge of the critical data available to the government.
“On Friday, March 26, 2021, the National Universities Commission granted the state government operating licence for the three newly-created universities in Asaba, Agbor and Ozoro.
“With that approval, we have scaled the major hurdle for their establishment.
“What remains now is for us as an administration to set in motion the appropriate structures and operational modalities for their successful take-off in the 2021/2022 academic session.
“In line with the process-driven character of this administration, it behooves us to have a Project Management Committee to midwife the successful transition and take-off of these universities.
“The three newly established universities in the state are Dennis Osadebey University, Asaba; University of Delta, Agbor; and Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro.
“I am aware there are some who question the rationale for having four universities in the state.
“It is because they are not privy to the data available to government, therefore, understandably not conversant with the harsh reality confronting multiplied thousands of qualified secondary school graduates in their quest for university education.
“As a government, we are daily confronted with the sense of gloom and doom experienced by these young men and women who cannot gain admission into existing universities due to inadequate space.
“I will cite some statistics, in the JAMB report of 2018, no fewer than 80,131 Deltans representing 4.85 per cent of total applicants sat for the board’s university entrance examination.
“However, only a fraction of those who passed could be admitted. Also, for the 2019/2020 academic session, 25,896 candidates from the State chose Delta State University as first choice.
“Out of this number, 22,358 qualified but only 4,854 candidates could be admitted.
“As you can see, even the State-owned DELSU has reached its full-carrying capacity,” Okowa said.
He lamented that majority of people of Delta could not afford the fees charged by private universities.
According to him, some of the youth resort to anti-social vices, due to frustration.
“As many join the migrant train in search of greener pastures in Europe using unorthodox methods with all dangers associated with such.
“It is, therefore, incumbent on us as an administration to broaden access to university education for our bright students, especially in the fields of medicine, engineering, law, ICT, and architecture.
“Our administration has worked very hard to curb youth restiveness in the State through various entrepreneurship development programmes.
“Our efforts in this regard stand the risk of coming to naught if every year, more secondary school graduates are left stranded.
“Not because they are not qualified but simply because there is not enough space in the existing public universities to accommodate them.
“The state government is fully aware of the financial implications of establishing new universities.
“We have not taken this decision lightly nor have we acted hastily.
The decision to establish new universities was one of the outcomes from the first-ever Delta State Education Summit in February 2016.
“It is our considered view that the benefits of having these universities far outweigh the cost.
“In fact, it makes more economic sense for the state government to upgrade the institutions as we have done because not only will these universities inherit infrastructure and personnel of the previous institutions.
“It will also guarantee good return on investment.
“We are confident that these new universities will go a long way to satisfy our people’s aspirations and yearnings for good quality education as the State Government is ensuring to gets full value for its money.
“The committee, which has eight weeks to complete the assignment, has the following terms of reference:
“To take stock of personnel, moveable assets as well as liabilities of the transitory institutions namely: College of Education, Agbor; Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro and Delta State University, Anwai Campus.
“To work out strategies for the smooth transition of the institutions to the new universities, including the winding down of all ongoing certificate and diploma programmes hitherto mounted therein.
“To advise the State Government on the prioritisation of programmes and projects of the new institutions and determine the take-off programmes.
“To work out strategies for sustainable sourcing of funds for the new institutions.
“To make such other recommendations that would facilitate the effective take-off of the institutions in a manner that meets the short and long-term aspirations of Deltans.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Muoboghare, thanked the governor for the choice of members of the committee.
He assured that his committee would work hard to submit its report within the stipulated period.”