Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta says the establishment of three new universities remains the highest of his administration’s legacies for the state.
He said he was happy that the new universities had justified their establishment by bridging the gaps in university admission and making it cheaper and closer to Deltans.
Okowa stated this on Saturday at the Founders’ Day Celebration of University of Delta, Agbor, and said that the university had justified its establishment by admitting no fewer than 5,219 students since it began academic activities in the 2022/2023 academic session.
He said that founders’ day meant a lot to a school as it allowed members of the university community to meet friends and associates to thank those who founded the school and others who had contributed to its growth.
“Today’s event is about the success of a purposeful idea aimed at expanding the frontiers of knowledge and institutionalizing the deepening of higher education for the advancement of society through research, teaching and learning; the tripod on which tertiary education stands.
“Today, the three new universities we established are in session and have helped in narrowing the gap while at the same time, bringing higher education nearer and cheaper to our people,” he said.
The Governor appealed to the university’s Governing Council and Management to continue on the trajectory of raising the stakes in its determination to grow it to enviable heights.
“For the students, I implore you to exhibit the highest sense of responsibility and patriotism. This university should be known for academic excellence, because that way, you can attract goodwill and resources to your university.
“This will attract endowments, scholarship schemes and other benefits from stakeholders and well-meaning members of society eager to leave landmarks and legacies here.
“Please be proud of the opportunity you have been offered to do the right things and carry out the intention, purpose and vision of the founders – real education for the advancement of society while preparing for a successful and purposeful future.”
He charged the university’s authorities to ensure that students were trained in entrepreneurship studies and engaged in research and consultancy services as a means of generating funding for the university.
On the criticisms trailing the school fees charged in the universities, Okowa appealed to parents and guardians to show understanding, saying that the naira had depreciated over time.
“I have heard people complain that the fees are too much, but I know that the total fees paid in this institution and the other two institutions is less than N200,000 per annum.
“I am also aware of private universities that charge fees running up to millions per annum. Imagine the plight of an average family with three wards who are qualified for admission to universities.
“People must understand that the naira has depreciated a lot and the universities must run their affairs. We pay the salaries of all the staff and the infrastructure as much as we can but it’s important that the universities are financially strong to enable then run the day-to-day activities of the institution.
“We believe that we don’t want to have universities that cannot keep the students in a functional state of learning so I appeal to parents to please bear with us as the naira has since depreciated,” he said.
In her speech, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Stella Chiemeke, who lauded the vision behind the establishment of the university, said that at its inception in 2021, UNIDEL commenced academic activities with eight faculties approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Chiemeke stated that four of the faculties were domiciled at the main campus in Agbor while two each were domiciled at Owa-Oyibu and Owa-Alero campuses in Ika North-East Local Government Area of the state.
According to her, the Faculty of Arts has eight programmes, Faculty of Computing offers four programmes, the Faculty of Education mounts 22 programmes, and the Faculties of Engineering, Environmental Sciences and Science have six, five and 12 programmes, respectively.
She pointed out that the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences had 12 programmes, and that the Faculty of Law had only one programme.
While paying tributes to Governor Okowa for floating the three state-owned universities simultaneously, Chiemeke said that the institution offered admission to 5,219 students into various academic programmes for 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 academic sessions.
Delivering a lecture titled “National Growth And Development: Building A Robust Partnership Between The Military And The Ivory Tower For A Better Nigeria, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, said that national growth and development were the aspirations of every nation.
Irabor noted that most nations utilised the instruments of state such as the armed forces and educational sectors in achieving such objectives, pointing out that in Nigeria, the Armed Forces provided the enabling security environment in line with its role as stipulated in the 1999 constitution.
He disclosed that educational institutions across the country had also made remarkable contributions to national growth and development by empowering people with adequate knowledge, requisite skills and values.
According to the CDS, Nigeria could attain higher national growth and development if the military and the academia work more closely together in a collaborative partnership to harness the immense capacity of both institutions.
Governor Okowa also inaugurated the new Ika South Local Government Council Legislative Building and the LadyOak Cancer Care Centre built at the Central Hospital Agbor.