By Daniel Dafe
Commissioner for Higher Education in Delta State, Professor Patrick Muoboghare, has defended the decision of the state government that excluded the College of Education, Warri, from the list of institutions in the state to be upgraded to universities.
Recall that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Tuesday sent a request to the Delta State House of Assembly seeking for approval to upgrade three higher Institutions to university status.
The letter to the lawmakers sought to upgrade the College of Education Agbor to a University of Education, Anwai Campus of the Delta State University, to Delta State University of Science and Agriculture, and the Ozoro Polytechnic, to Delta State University of Science and Technology.
Some observers had said it was a political decision to belittle Delta Central Senatorial district, arguing that Delta North would now have two universities and wondered why an old institution like the College of Education, Warri was left out of the arrangement.
Also, some said the only state university, Delta State University, is underfunded and wondered where the Okowa administration would get the needed funds to run the new universities.
Furthermore, critics of the move said Delta State already has enough higher institutions of learning, adding that what the state needs are industries for the youths to work in.
Muoboghare, while responding to questions during a telephone conversation with Oasis Magazine (OM) on Wednesday, wondered why some Deltans are trying to bring in ethnic colouration to the arrangement to upgrade the three institutions.
He said: “We are not starting afresh. We looked at what we have on ground; what piece of land do the institutions have on ground and to what effective use have they put that space to use?
“People must not forget that Asaba is the Delta State capital. Forget that it is in Delta North. But, it is a home to all. In Nigeria we say 36 states and the federal capital territory. Is it really proper that what we have in our state capital is a campus of another university? Wherever we come from let us know that the capital is the home to all. An institution in the capital should not be an appendage of another institution.
“Then looking at the three Colleges of Education, enter any one of them. Look at the infrastructure on ground and make a recommendation to anybody which of College of Education, Agbor or College of Education, Warri should be upgraded. Anyone will pick Agbor because of what is on ground.”
To critics, he said development does not come by citing an institution in a particular place.
He continued: “What we are after is admission space for our children. Wherever the children are, we will seek admission there. Our people go to Ado-Ekiti to seek admission. How many Yorubas come to Delta to seek admission? They go to Covenant and other private institutions. Go there, Delta state students outnumber others.
“Deltans are education loving. Let us not truncate their aspirations. That a child scores 250 or 280 i JAMB and has no admission and we are proud as a people. We have failed them and the next thing for them is criminality. Now, by the next admission round, admission pressure will be far less because you could have in Abraka, Agbor, Ozoro and Avwian. It is the children we are thinking about. I am from Uwheru. Is there a university there?”
About the funds, he said Delta has what it takes, saying that the difference will not be much.
Adding: “What they are going to fill now will just be the top echelon- position of professors.”
Furthermore, he said the Industrial Park in Kwale will come in, stressing that it is a big project that will attract investment and could solve the problem of unemployment.
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