Rivers State Government on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, announced the release of the sum of N9bn to build three campuses of the state’s university in three local council areas of the state. The amount is part of N16.6bn for the upgrade of facilities at the Rivers Sate University (RSU).
This has drawn flaks from critics and opposition analysts who have taken the governor to the cleaners, saying it was wrong to abandon some world class secondary school projects initiated by his predecessor at N4bn each, only to start another set at N3bn each.
Announcing the release to journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim said N9 billion of that sum will serve as take-off grant for the establishment of new campuses of Rivers State University (RSU) in Ahoada, Emohua and Etche Local Government Areas.
According to him, N3bn will be devoted to each of the new campuses for the construction of faculty buildings, hostels, offices, libraries, auditoria, lecture halls and address other needs required for the campuses to operate optimally.
This is a landmark initiative – Nsirim
The governor’s information commissioner who broke the news described it thus: “This is a landmark development in the history of the institution which has maintained one campus since its establishment in October 1980.
“With the establishment of the three campuses, the communities where they are sited will be opened up for consequential development and economic activities. It will reduce the rate of unemployment in the state.”
The Information and Communications Commissioner also said N7. 6 billion has been released to enable the College of Medical Sciences of RSU establish the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Clinical Sciences and Pathology Building.
With the release, Nsirim said, the college will be enabled to fully commence its programme leading to the award of Bachelor of Medicine, and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).
According to him, the gesture will also strengthen accredited department and those due for accredition at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
Nsirim also announced that the State Government has established a scholarship scheme for Rivers indigenes studying at PAMO University of Medical Sciences.
This, he said, would provide Rivers children and other Nigerians access to medical education in the state.
“We are glad to share this good news with you at a time when governance has been grounded in most parts of the world because of Covid-19.
“This development will assist to reduce the gaps in the doctor-to-patient ratio in the state and country.
“The Rivers State government under the visionary leadership of Governor Wike, as a responsive governor, is determined to contribute to reduce this gap, thus the massive investment in the training of doctors.
“We are confident that in the next few years, Rivers State will play a major role producing medical manpower in the country. ”
Also addressing the journalists, Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Princewill Chike, a professor, said with the release of the fund, the College of Medical Sciences can operate as a full-fledged college with all its required programmes running.
According to him, accreditation of departments and programmes will be easy to secure because of the enhanced capacity of the college that already has requisite personnel engaged.
On his part, the Rivers State Commissioner for Education, Kaniye Ebeku, a professor, said skeptics who thought that Governor Wike was making mere political statement when he promised to establish three new campuses for the Rivers State University will see that he is walking the talk.
According to him, with the money released and contractors soon to commence construction of classrooms, hostels, auditoria and offices at the three Local Government Areas, there is an assured expansion of RSU to benefit the entire state.
Ebeku said this would increase access to education because admission spaces would be opened for more intakes, and those communities hosting the new campuses wiould enjoy increase commercial activities and attendant development.
This govt doesn’t listen – Ndukwe
An activist and media expert, Oby Ndukwe, who says she is seen as being very close to both Wike and the former governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, reacted thus: “No need for such waste of funds. Unfortunately, this government doesn’t listen to wise counsel until they have wasted so much.
“A case in point is the uncompleted Boulevard Amaechi, his predecessor, was constructing at Garrison through Trans Amadi Road. Instead of completing the project, Governor Wike chose to reduce the design to a mere roundabout nicknamed ‘Spaghetti Roundabout’ because it was very small but had increased cost!
“The masses shouted. Many advised against that but he continued. In less than two years after, the government uprooted the roundabout which of course, couldn’t solve the traffic problem on Aba Road by Garrison Junction. It was a wasted effort. Billions of Naira sunk in! Then came the same flyover he rejected.
“Some of us condemned the idea considering that the design wasn’t suitable in a 21st century Nigeria. He refused to listen! The same Flyover at the Garrison end has worsened the traffic situation as the design was also faulty.
“Now, rather than put in a little money to complete those dilapidating model secondary schools, the Governor is awarding new contracts for new buildings. The reason is simple; more money for the contractors and full credit to him as the initiator of the project. The Nigerian politician and his mentality! It’s always about self. No use advising him because he will never listen.”
This is a chance to put the world class structures to use – Eze
A staunch member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Amaechi’s strong ally, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, a chief and media consultant, counseled Wike to stop playing politics and convert the World Class Secondary Schools built by Amaechi sited in the three senatorial zones into the campuses of RSU if he is actually serious of tackling the educational rot he said the governor created by abandoning visionary policies and projects of Amaechi.
Eze further said that instead of wasting N9bn to build a campus of the RSU in three different LGAs costing N3bn each, he should rather use the N4bn World Class Secondary Schools in each senatorial zone that have been abandoned. He wondered why the governor would not now use this chance to put them to use.
“These structures instead of being allowed to rot away and be dilapidated, Wike can do the state a lot of good by discarding his type of politics that is very unfavourable to the state and put these structures into proper use and convert the billions of Naira in this regard into providing employment for our teeming unemployed youths and offset the Pension arrears accumulated by his administration,” he said.
Wike has no articulate plan – Finebone
A social commentator and immediate past publicity secretary of the APC, Chris Finebone, toed the same line of other critics. “The only explanation for why Gov. Nyesom Wike is doing what he is doing is because he has no articulated programme for education in his government. He has also failed to learn.
“His predecessor was prepared to govern. That was why before he became governor, Chibuike Amaechi had a UNESCO-standard educational blue print in hand. Little wonder Amaechi gave considerable attention to nursery, primary & tertiary education. The best period in the educational development of children is from nursery to secondary school when children deserve strong foundation. This makes it easy at the tertiary level. But does Wike understand this? The answer is no!
“Governor Wike is difficult to be advised on several sectors particularly the education sector. In that sector, he is simply not there. He has already abandoned those secondary school structures to rot away. Advising him what to do with those structures is meaningless and waste of valuable time because it won’t make any meaning to him. I will reserve the advice for Wike’s successor because I believe that by 2023, Wike’s era of cluelessness and backwardness will go away with him. God will raise a worthy governor who will understand and embark on articulated educational programme for Rivers children. Not Wike,” he said.