– Emmanuel U. Tibi, Ph.D.
It is with grief in my heart that I have to write about what should ordinarily gladden our hearts, that what we have long been praying for, vide: the upgrading of the College of Education, Agbor to a University of Education, Agbor is about to come through.
Instead of celebrating the enablers of the glorious legacy that is about to be bestowed on our community, we are contending with misguided comments, vituperations and outlandish outbursts from people within and without our communities. It is however necessary that we should try to put the records straight, in order that all of us do not fall prey to the trap of gullibility which ill-informed people are setting all over the place, for us to collectively fall into.
For starters, it is important that people understand that the Delta State Government led by H.E. Senator (Dr.) A.I. Okowa has just submitted three (3) bills to the Delta State House of Assembly for the upgrading of three existing institutions to three full-fledged universities. None of these three bills is meant for establishment of a new university. Emphasis is on their prior existence and as canvassed, they are all deserving of upgrading. It is clearly not possible to upgrade what does not already exist and in upgrading an existing facility, you only take the facility to a higher level than it was before the upgrading. It is as simple as that.
College of Education, Agbor had been existing since 1980 as an NCE- awarding institution, until 2006, when efforts were made to upgrade it to a position of preparing students for the award of Delta State University, Abraka’s degrees in education, (Bachelors only) in an affiliation arrangement. Having gone through the various crucibles of academic maturity and integrity, the College started hankering after being uplifted to University of Education, Agbor. This is because that is the only way to grow and develop. If the electric transformer serving a community becomes inadequate because of increase in households or facilities depending on it, what is done is that a bigger transformer is installed to replace the smaller one. You do not go and install a nuclear reactor in place of the small transformer. Transforming College of Education Agbor to University of Education, Agbor is a monumental leap for our community. It might look like a small step taken in the eyes of people who are bereft of ideas about the system, but it is a giant leap for mankind.
Every person who has a clear vision of what progress means to a community should thank God and pray for Dr. A.I. Okowa-led government for being this visionary, this bold, this resourceful and this credible in discerning people’s yearning and taking steps to meet their expectations, within the limits of public resources.
I do appreciate the limitations people have because in tertiary education, you follow your discipline, and do not know much about other disciplines. It is expected that before people make public statements about issues outside their purview, they ought to consult persons who are more informed about such issues. I am particularly worried about statements that are emanating from persons who are members of the College community, who are giving out information to the public that tend to portray the action of government on this upgrading programme, in bad light.
These people have neither seen, read nor heard the content of the bill. Basically, a university is a university; it is established or installed through upgrading, with the authority to award degrees in disciplines that its Senate (and with input from the Governing Council) approves, based on the availability of human and material resources for such programmes, as confirmed by National Universities Commission (NUC) through accreditation of such programmes. It is bewildering that people can just cook up outlandish theories about a system they are neither part of, nor have access to its inner workings, and peddle such inanities to an attentive public, and causing such grievous damage to our collective psyche. My guess about this bill on College of Education Agbor, transmuting into University of Education, Agbor must contain elements that identify at least five or six faculties of which only one would be faculty of education.
The name of a university does not in any way limit that university to the number or types of programmes that it can operate for as long as it is able to satisfy NUC and other stakeholders that it has the wherewithal to efficiently and effectively operate and deliver graduates that will represent the best interest of such a discipline.
The Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode was formerly Tai Solarin College of Education, Rivers State University of Education, used to be College of Education; both are awarding straight honours and/or education degrees to the students in the liberal arts and sciences, technology and vocational studies disciplines.
All the Universities of Technology and Universities of Agriculture established in Nigeria have Schools of Education where they award education degrees in technology, vocational and entrepreneurial studies.
College of Education, Agbor, since inception was designed as an NCE-awarding institution, but over the years it had been running diplomas programmes in computer science and other disciplines that are clearly not part of the mandate of its establishment.
My appeal is that we should pray ceaselessly for this upgrading effort to succeed and also pray for the enablers and influencers of this project to have the resilience, zeal and capacity to deliver on this project which has been variously dubbed a legacy project for our community.
End the fallacy and embrace objectivity, please.