– PA F. IRUNKWOR
– NO; STILL ON GOVERNMENT’S FRONT BURNER
– EMMANUEL U. TIB
Pa Friday Irunkwor, a tradomedical practioner of Ika extraction asked this rhetorical question on
I would like to start this response by thanking Pa. F. Irunkwor, for being so concerned about the fate of education in Nigeria, Delta State and Ika Nation, in particular. Being a trado-medical practioner and still showing so much interest in the fortunes of the tertiary institution in Ika Nation, speaks volume for his candour and patriotism. I commend his altruism.
He spoke out of his genuine desire to see that Ika nation and its people’s progress and lay positive foundations for better days for the present and future generations.
While appreciating Pa F. Irunkwor for his outspokenness on this matter, it is pertinent to correct some impressions that were created in this publication. For starters, the issue of “upgrading College of Education, Agbor to a university” has not been abandoned. The quest to upgrade the College was not started by Delta State Government; rather, it started as a request from various stakeholders inside and outside Delta State because of several factors pertaining to education and to the College of Education, Agbor. Prominent among the issues has been the dwindling prospects of the College as an NCE- awarding institution due largely to the very low patronage of the programmes by students, as clearly identified by Pa. F. Irunkwor, in his statement. It is not only College of Education, Agbor that is adversely affected by the gale of low admission into the NCE programmes.
However, we should talk about our own, even as we have three State Colleges of Education and one Federal College of education in Delta State. This has negatively impacted on Ika Nation in particular and Delta State in general, and so the need for remediation of the situation. This need has crystallized into a vision for the College, to be upgraded to a university of education in the eyes and desires of various stakeholders and interest groups.
Luckily for the College of Education, Agbor, it has been a bastion for educational progress in the comity of colleges of education in Nigeria by making leading forays into areas of educational development. It was College of Education, Agbor that started the quest for participation in the affiliation degree programmes with universities which eventually culminated in the affiliation arrangement with Delta State University, Abraka, which other colleges of education benefitted from. The affiliation degree programmes of the College immediately threw up the challenge of strengthening the academic capacities of faculty and other staff, following the need to sustain the academic integrity of the affiliation degrees being awarded to the students by Delta State University, Abraka. This was necessary to bring the affiliation students at par with their counterparts at the parent university (DELSU).
Today, College of Education, Agbor has the fastest growing faculty with over one hundred and forty PhDs in various disciplines and still counting. So, if and when it is upgraded, College of Education, Agbor can count on more than enough adjunct and full-time faculty to implement existing and prospective degree programmes, as a full-fledged university.
The academic staff of the College has not only grown in number, but they have also grown in capacity through research, academic publications as well as in technical and professional competencies to teach and manage educational systems.
College of Education, Agbor, initiated inaugural lectures by very senior academics in the College of Education system (in form of distinguished lecture series) long before National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) made it mandatory for all Readers and Chief Lecturers in Colleges of Education in the country.
This College of Education Produced the first internal provost from the College system and today is exporting academic/management leaders to other tertiary institutions in Delta State and beyond.
All these, and more point to the fact that the College is very ready to commence offering its own degrees if given approval.
The impression that the Colleges of Education, Agbor and Ekiadolor that were established at the same time in the defunct Bendel State and that while Ekiadolor is now Tayo Akpata University of Education, Agbor remains a college of education, is a misinformation. Every interested person in the College of Education Ekiadolor upgrading project knows that Governor Adams Oshiomole was playing politics of deceit, by announcing C.O.E. Ekiadolor as a university just to enable him establishes Edo University, in his village of Iyanmho. From get-go, he never intended that C.O.E. Ekiadolor would transform into a university.
Anyway, Governor Godwin Obaseki has handed the College of Education, Ekiadolor to the Federal Government as a Federal College of Education, for the award of NCE, only.
College of Education, Agbor has been on a trajectory to transform into a full-fledged university for a very long time, but a university, being the apex educational facility anywhere in the world, needs a lot of inputs to get off the ground, if it going be able to discharge the enormous responsibilities of teaching, research and community service.
Based on stakeholders’ campaigns and pleas that College of Education, Agbor should be upgraded to utilize the enormous faculty and resources for the benefit of humanity, the Delta State Government has been looking into the request. As willing as Delta State Government may be to upgrade the College, there are other agencies that have critical roles to play before the government can make a proclamation on the issue. For instance, the National Universities Commission (NUC) which regulates the operations of all universities in Nigeria be they federal, state or private must issue a license before a university can be approved.
One of the major attributes of a university is that it is cosmopolitan in nature, meaning that is it a community comprising of peoples from different countries, nationalities and cultures.
Thus, in its establishment, people are not confined to demographics of statism, tribalism or pedestrian communualism. In this connection, it is not right to be pandering to mundane sectional sentiments in canvassing for the upgrading of the College of Education, Agbor. The C.O.E., Agbor belongs to Delta State Government, just as it owns the two other C.O.Es at Warri and Mosogar, the three polytechnics at Otefe-Oghara, Ozoro and Ogwashi-uku. All these institutions were sited in those locations to bring even educational development to all parts of the State. Anyone of them that deserves upgrading will get it, if and when Delta State Government has reviewed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to its establishment and sustainability.
His Excellency, the Governor, Senator (Dr.) A.I. Okowa is a highly methodical person, and this is the reason why he is a very successful leader and politician. He goes about the business of governance with diligence, intelligence and integrity. While he is free to be “Ika-centric”, he continues to cater to the needs of Delta State and indeed Nigeria. He is very efficient in giving every matter its deserved attention and in due time.
The quest to upgrade College of Education, Agbor to a university, is receiving the attention it deserves, amidst the numerous issues of governance that he is assailed with. All Deltans, and indeed Nigerians should keep praying for Governor Okowa that God continues to endow him with good health, wisdom, and resources, to lead Delta State to the level of peace, prosperity and security of our collective dream.
It is important that we all continue to encourage all relevant authorities and interests to work assiduously to ensure that our hopes for the College of Education, Agbor are realized during the tenure of this government because it would be recorded as a legacy project in the history of Delta State.