The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council has called 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.
In a statement signed by Michael Ikeogwu, NUJ Chairman,
Delta State Council and Patrick Ochei, NUJ Secretary, Delta State Council, the body added that “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, this morning.”
The Union continued: “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.”
According to the statement, “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.”
Continuing, the Union said: “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 percent 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,” Delta NUJ added.
The body reiterated 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.”