BusinessDay

No state or federal university is better funded than DELSU – Delta Govt

Delta State Government has dismissed the allegation that it’s pioneer university, the Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, is underfunded.

The government also boasted, “No government university in Nigeria today, be it state or federal is better funded than DELSU, Abraka. And no government university in Nigeria, be it federal or state pays better salaries than DELSU, Abraka”, Patrick Moubogbareh, Delta State commissioner for Higher Education, boasted as he addressed newsmen in Asaba, Thursday.

Muobogbareh was reacting to a petition written by major opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) which accused the state government of having ulterior motives in establishing three new universities in Agbor, Ozoro and Anwai parts of the state.

In the statement signed by the APC public secretary (Delta caretaker committee), Sylvester Imonina, the party alleged that the three new institutions were established to de-market DELSU, Abraka and its other campus in Oleh, it accused the government of underfunding the pioneer institution while the governor was luring experienced and qualified academic staff from Oleh to Owa-Alero.

APC wondered how the state government would succeed with the universities when it couldn’t fund the existing one.

Moubogbareh, who spoke in company of the Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, said: “We can beat our chest that we have not denied our pioneer University of funds,” adding that both salaries and allowances of staff were paid.

He therefore, stated that the question of whether the state government was funding the new institutions when it couldn’t fund the existing ones, has been demolished.

He explained that the three new universities were not established because the state is rich but to reach the means of parents and students who are looking for admission into university the state had, but could not as the existing university was not adequate.

“We had children who scored 78 percent to go into Medicine and they were denied admission; not that they were not brilliant enough but that the one medical school could not take care of those who would wish to study medicine.

“We had same problems with Engineering; we had almost the worst problem in Law because there is serious competition in admission into law,” adding that the situation prompted the state governor into suggesting for a way out.

He recalled that in 2019 admission, out of the 25,000 that were qualified, only less than 5,000 were admitted, leaving about 20,000 children who were qualified unattended to. “And the following year, more would join them; some would out of frustration decide not to write exams again,” Muobogbareh said.

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“We know the implications of that and we thought that the best we could do was to establish some more institutions and fortunately for us too, of the three Colleges of Education we had, we are having a total student population of about 1,500 for the National Certificate of Education (NCE) programme and for which we are spending so much as salaries.

‘In the last admission cycle, we had only 45 candidates who sought for admission into the College of Education, Agbor, which was a little over 100 candidates in one session, for which the Delta State Government was spending N206 million per month as salaries – just paying them for doing nothing.

“And we said Delta money could be spent for better results. So, let us upgrade more College of Education into universities, leaving two other Colleges of Education to take of those who would want to come for the NCE programme,” he further said.

“We already know the recent Federal Government policy of phasing out the Higher National Diploma (HND) programme with the polytechnics. When a child goes through the National Diploma (ND) programme, he or she is already tantalised and wants to improve on him or herself in higher education

“Now, the HND programme which they would have gone into has been scrapped. Where does this child go into? Note that we have two School of Technology and one Marine at Burutu. We upgraded one to University of Technology.

“Then, we have campus of Delta State University in Asaba the state capital and yet there are students who would want to go in there. So, we were able to upgrade Agbor, upgrade Ozoro and then create another university here (Asaba), making it total of four universities now,” he explained.

According to him, “We may not be able at that point to manage all the children who are qualified but at least, a lot of them would have been swallowed by the institutions.

“On the issue of financing, the only way we can prepare our children for the future is to ensure that there is education space up to the highest level for a child to take advantage of. This is the reason we did what we did.”

On the allegation that people are leaving in droves to School of Law, Owa-Alero against Oleh, the commissioner said that the oppositions were targeted at the state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa who is an Ika man.

“The three universities are well established by the law of the state House of Assembly, assented to by the state governor, owned by the Delta State Government and approved by the NUC.

On issue of the state government building hostels in the new universities, using the public private partnership (PPP) model, Moubogbareh said that no university would succeed or survive by shutting out the private sector.

Muobogbareh said that DELSU Abraka is 30 years old just as the state itself and is playing the role of pioneer university by providing lecturers for the other institutions, thereby saving them from a lot of frustrations including provision of vacancies to be filled up.

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