Delta State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on the Delta State Government to jettison the anti-poor-person proposal made by the Management Committee on the Establishment of new universities to use Public Private Partnership (PPP) to run the three newly created universities in Agbor, Asaba and Ozoro.
The NUJ in a statement entitled “Muoboghare Should Not Mislead Deltans”, took a swipe at the former commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, who is also Chairman of the management Committee on the Establishment of the three new universities, namely- – University of Delta, Agbor, Dennis Osadebe University, Asaba, and Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro, for seeking to mislead the people of Delta State in view of reactions trailing the Delta NUJ Congress communiqué issued after its meeting.
The NUJ statement signed by the Council’s Chairman, Comrade Michael Ikeogwu and Secretary, Comrade Patrick Ochei expressed disgust at the insensitivity of the proposal, especially its implication on the plight of indigent persons who would seek university education in the state.
Besides, the statement also expressed puzzle at the resort of Prof. Muoboghare to paint the situation differently so as to score a cheap one.
The NUJ statement reads:
Muoboghare Should Not Mislead Deltans
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council calls on the former Commissioner for Higher Education and Chairman of the Management Committee on the Establishment of the three new universities – University of Delta, Agbor, Dennis Osadebe University, Asaba, and Delta State University of Science and Technology, Ozoro, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare not to mislead Deltans in view of the ongoing reactions to the NUJ Delta Congress Communique, issued after its June meeting.
We are perplexed that a man of Muoboghare’s standing would try to paint the situation at hand differently in order to score a cheap one when he was on live radio programme at Delta Broadcasting Service, DBS Asaba.
Let us reiterate that the Congress of NUJ Delta never said anything about privatisation. We only advocated that the government should jettison the idea of using Public Private Partnership, PPP to run the three newly created universities in Agbor, Asaba and Ozoro.
For the purpose of clarity, this was our submission in the communique “Newly Created Universities: The union frowned at the proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP) being recommended by the Prof. Patrick Muoboghare-led management committee for the running of the newly created universities, as this would discourage easy access to university education by qualified indigent Deltans, thereby defeating the main purpose of establishing the universities in Anwai, Agbor and Ozoro. Also, adopting a PPP model might lead to job loss for existing academic and non-academic staff, thereby increasing the alarming rate of unemployment in the state.”
What’s too difficult for the politician-professor to understand? And it beats our imagination that he even attempted to deny knowledge of our concern, to the extent of referring to it as mysterious information.
On Wednesday June 16, 2021, the Press Unit of Delta State Government released the report on the submission of the proposal of Prof. Muoboghare-led management committee for the running of the newly created universities to the Governor, titled “Delta Mulls PPP In New Varsities’ Development.”
In the committee’s 329-page report, it was submitted that “the private sector shall be a key player in the development of the universities, thus moving Delta universities from an era of 100 per cent dependent on government to a new era of university autonomy in its true sense. We do not envisage a university that will run to Abuja or Asaba to seek permission before engaging necessary staff as that would amount to a breach of university autonomy which is inconsistent with best practices worldwide.”
Again, the reaction of the Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to the Committee was reassuring, as the Governor was quoted to have assured the committee of implementation of the report while urging the members to make themselves available to assist further in the running of the universities.
According to the Governor “I want to reassure you that we will look very closely at the report and recommendations, and we will do the best that we can to implement the recommendations as quickly as possible.
“As much as possible, we want to retain the staff of the institutions, who have the necessary qualifications to be able to function in the upgraded institutions”, said the Governor.
Based on the above understanding, the Congress of the NUJ as watchdog of the society, was not pleased with such anti- poor Delta prospective University entrants and so decided to advise the government to rethink its decision, as that would affect average Deltans gaining access to university education and at the same time lead to loss of employment by those staff who may not meet the government’s requirements. Is that what Muoboghare is calling mysterious?
On this note, we again call on Prof. Patrick Muoboghare to stop misleading Deltans. We never spoke of privatisation, we only addressed the PPP arrangement.
It is on record that the recent obnoxious increase in school fees in Delta State University, Abraka as approved by Prof. Muoboghare as then Commissioner for Higher Education, almost threw the university community into serious crisis. We may not go into that now; however, Deltans are tired of educational policies that are geared towards financial strangulation of poor families in the State.
We wish to reiterate that NUJ Delta State Council will not succumb to intimidation and blackmail by government appointees, who may want to score cheap points as we will remain resolute in exercising our constitutional role of holding government accountable.
We hereby, call on members of the NUJ Delta State Council to remain focused in our renewed efforts towards building a better society where those saddled with the responsibility of holding offices in trust for the people will be accountable, fair and just to all concerned.
Comrade Michael Ikeogwu,
Delta State Council.
Comrade Patrick Ochei,
Delta State Council.