Delta Governor Ifeanyi Okowa inaugurated members of the Project Management Committee for the three newly established universities in the state on Wednesday.
Okowa, who served as the House of Government, Asaba, said that the creation of three new universities in the state was aimed at expanding citizens’ access to university education.
The Committee is chaired by the Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, 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 Ms. Bridget Odobor will serve as Secretary.
He said the committee members were carefully chosen based on their backgrounds in academia, public administration and the private sector.
The governor added that they were men of deep intellect and management acumen.
“I have absolute confidence in his ability to get the job done,” he said.
Okowa said critics of the establishment of four universities in the state were unaware of the critical data available to the government.
“On Friday, March 26, 2021, the National University Commission granted the state government the operating license for the three newly created universities in Asaba, Agbor and Ozoro.
“With that approval, we have scaled the biggest obstacle to its establishment.
“What remains now is for us, as an administration, to put in place the appropriate operational structures and modalities for its successful take-off in the 2021/2022 academic session.
“In line with the character driven by the processes of this administration, it behooves us to have a Project Management Committee to help the successful transition and take-off of these universities.
“The three newly established universities in the state are Dennis Osadebey University, Asaba; Delta University, Agbor; and Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro.
“I am aware that there are those who question the logic of having four universities in the state.
“It is because they are not aware of the data available to the government, therefore it is understandable that they are not familiar with the harsh reality faced by thousands of qualified high school graduates in their pursuit of a college education.
“As a government, we are faced daily with the feeling of pessimism and doom experienced by these young men and women who are unable to enter existing universities due to lack of space.
“I’ll quote some statistics, in the 2018 JAMB report, no less than 80,131 deltans representing 4.85 percent of total applicants sat for the board’s college entrance examination.
“However, only a fraction of those who passed could be admitted. Additionally, for the 2019/2020 academic session, 25,896 state candidates chose Delta State University as their first choice.
“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 maximum load capacity,” Okowa said.
He regretted that most of the people at Delta could not afford the fees charged by private colleges.
According to him, some young people turn to antisocial vices, due to frustration.
“How many join the train of immigrants in search of greener pastures in Europe using unorthodox methods with all the dangers associated with them.
“Therefore, it is incumbent on us as an administration to expand 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 unease in the state through various business development programs.
“Our efforts in this regard run the risk of failing if each year more high school graduates are stranded.
“Not because they are not qualified, but simply because there is not enough space in the existing public universities to house them.
“The state government is fully aware of the financial implications of establishing new universities.
“We have not made this decision lightly nor have we acted hastily.
The decision to establish new universities was one of the results of the first Delta State Education Summit in February 2016.
“We believe that the benefits of having these universities far outweigh the cost.
“In fact, it makes more economic sense for the state government to update the institutions as we have done because these universities will not only inherit the infrastructure and staff from previous institutions.
“It will also guarantee a good return on investment.
“We are confident that these new universities will go a long way to meet the aspirations and yearnings of our people for a good quality education, as the State Government ensures that you get the most value for your money.
“The committee, which has eight weeks to complete the task, has the following terms of reference:
“Take stock of the personnel, movable property and liabilities of the transitory institutions, namely: Faculty of Education, Agbor; Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro and Delta State University, Anwai campus.
“Develop strategies for the smooth transition of institutions to new universities, including the completion of all ongoing certificate and diploma programs so far mounted there.
“Advise the State Government in the prioritization of programs and projects of the new institutions and determine the start-up programs.
“Elaborate strategies for the sustainable obtaining of funds for the new institutions.
“Make other recommendations that facilitate effective take-off of institutions in a way that meets the short-term and long-term aspirations of the delta.”
The committee chairman, Muoboghare, thanked the governor for choosing the committee members.
He assured that his committee will work hard to present its report within the stipulated time ”.