*Urges Bayelsa On Free Varsity Education for Ijaw Nation
By Bulou Kosin
BURUTU: The Vice Chancellor of Niger Delta University (NDU), Wilberforce Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa State, Prof. Samuel G. Edoumiekumoh, says “my pride would be for the Ijaw nation to attain a time when nobody would tell us we didn’t go to School”.
The University administrator was also persuaded that the Government of Bayelsa State, the rallying point of the Ijaw, has capacity to sponsor free university education for the entire Ijaw Nation and urged attention in that direction.
Prof Edoumiekumoh spoke, penultimate Sunday, in Burutu at the Thanksgiving/Reception Party put together by the Barr. David Otutufegha-led Committee of Friends over the elevation of Ben Binebai to a Professor of Drama, Dramatic Theory and Criticism by the Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, Amassoma, Bayelsa State. The celebrant had earlier said “with sponsorship often in short supply, Ijaw youths should assume status of fingerlings who must propel themselves to be able to swim”.
“We need Western Education to be able to compete favorably with other regions”, Prof Edoumiekumoh asserted, just as he said “Ijaw youths should be focused in self-propulsion even where our parents may not have the wherewithal to push us on”.
“I became a Professor at a young age even when my father had thought that if I go to School, I’ll die. These things hold us back. As youths, you should work hard to go to School. As a Professor and VC, powerful doors are open to me. I am shocked to know today that Binebai is the first Professor of Burutu town, an ancient community. We should strive to have, at least, one Professor in every Ijaw family”, Prof Edoumiekumoh urged.
The NDU VC said on assumption of office, he engaged the National Universities Commission (NUC), on the inadequate admission quota of NDU then placed at 3,500 to raise it to 7600.
“We are now begging Ijaw people to come to School. The NDU is also for all Ijaw irrespective of state. Please forward names of your wards seeking admission through Prof Binebai. Bring your children to NDU. Indeed, I intend a tour of Ijaw communities to canvass for students for NDU”, Prof Edoumiekumoh said to the standing ovation of the excited audience.
“Since I became VC, we have produced 57 Professors. We’ll produce more as they qualify. We have produced 80 Associate Professors and 47 Senior Lecturers. We won’t deprive deserving people promotions. We must set the stage for the time nobody will tell the Ijaw people that we didn’t go to School. That is my pride”, Prof Edoumiekumoh declared.
“It is against this background that, amidst criticisms, I commend Governor Seriake Dickson’s establishment of two universities in the state. I insist that we even need more but my concern is proper funding”, the VC further said.
“I personally believe that as a way of moving the Ijaw nation forward, all willing Ijaw students need not pay school fees. We have the statistics and have done the calculations. It is possible. I mean students of the entire Ijaw nation across the Niger Delta, in tertiary institutions nationwide. It won’t be more than 3 billion naira annually. Taking that out of the annual Bayelsa State budget is a sacrifice that will beget a forward match for the Ijaw nation”, Prof Edoumiekumoh opined.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the Registrar of Nigerian Maritime University (NMU), Okerenkoko, Dr. Alfred Mulade, urged Ijaw youths to take advantage of the NMU, Okerenkoko, at close quarters to obtain university education, stressing that “the Bible itself recommends that we study to show ourselves approved”.
In apparent response to the challenge of encouraging education in the land, Chief Evans Etimigba, at the ceremony, announced purchase of 6 JAMB/UME Forms for willing students even as it was announced that Rt. Hon. Julius Pondi, representing Burutu Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Abuja has 300 JAMB/UME Forms for take by willing students.