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Barely two weeks to vacate Imo State Government House, Owerri, Governor Rochas Okorocha has secured express approvals from the National Universities Commission (NUC) for the establishment of three new universities in the state.
The universities, which are all sited in Orlu (Imo West) Zone of the state included University of Creative Technology, Omuma-Isiaku/Nkwerre, University of Medical Sciences, Ogboko and University of Sciences and Technology, Umuna.
The three will increase the number of Universities established under the Okorocha administration to four, having during his first term, built and delivered Eastern Palm University, whose real ownership is still in strong doubt as there are still speculations that the institution was his private university.
Business Hilights gathered that the letter of recognition was issued following the formal presentation of the master plan, academic brief, university laws and the Act of Parliaments that approved the establishment of the new universities to the NUC.
Details of the letter signed by the Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, said the universities had been recognised as the 50th, 51st and 52nd state universities and the 172nd, 173rd and 174th universities respectively in the Nigerian university system with effect from May 7.
A key point contained in the letter is for the governor and the state government to take advantage of the professional and technical advice from the commission to establish the universities.
However, checks in the 2019 budget of the State did not show massive allocation to education as a sign that funding had been made available for the immediate takeoff of construction activities or even academics.
Besides, a mega crisis is brewing in Umuagwo community of Imo State where the outgoing governor Okorocha suddenly announced the relocation of Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area to Ehime Mbano LGA. But he turned around to tell Imo people that the institution was merely re-named.
Meanwhile, the outgoing governor had given a marching order for the immediate movement of both staff and office equipment to Ehime Mbano, the new site housing another glorified secondary school which he has re-christened a Polytechnic.
Already, the host community housing the Imo Polytechnic, Umuagwo, revolted against this unpopular decision and described it as Okorocha’s parting Greek gift.
Umuagwo community accused Governor Okorocha of insincerity, pointing out that they would not allow him mislead them again as he has done on several occasions, insisting that they were satisfied with the Polytechnic and do not need his last minute university.
Okorocha had assured Imo State of new six universities, four polytechnics and two colleges of education, but the speed of which he is using to deliver them at the dying minutes of his administration raises more questions than answers across the state now.
For instance, some of the placards carried by Umuagwo youths read as follows during their recent demonstration: “We are okay with our polytechnic”, “ Umuagwo youths and all indigenes say no to kangaroo University”, “No polytechnic, no land”, “we will not fall mugu again to Okorocha” etc.
Currently, analysts are raising questions for Okorocha to provide answers ahead of his leaving government. The fundamental questions thus arise:
a. Did he provide any accommodations for the relocating academic and non-academic staff at Ehime Mbano?
b. Are there enabling environments for the relocated polytechnic to immediately and seamlessly resume academic activities?
c. Can the structure in Umuagwo polytechnic house the new Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences?
d. Where are the facilities for the take off of the new university?
e. Where will the personnel be sourced from for the University apart from the ceremonial naming of the Vice Chancellor and Governing Board members, who are obviously Okorocha’s cronies?
f. How is the new University to be funded more so, when there was no feasibility studies before the hotchpotch announcement?
g. Why did Okorocha wait till few weeks to his inglorious exit to announce the establishment of litany of universities and other tertiary institutions?
h. What happens to the economic interests of private developers in Umuagwo? These and more are pertinent questions begging for answers, which unfortunately, Okorocha may not remain in office to provide answers as time ticks.
Business Hilights is an online news channel conceptualized and structured to report and track on a daily basis; latest developments in critical business sectors to serve as a one stop news gateway for governments, foreign and indigenous investors.