By Funmilayo Adeyemi
The National Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take-off of the Bayelsa Medical University (BMU) the third University in the state and number 48 state owned university in the country.
The approval was given by Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, Executive Secretary, (NUC) in Abuja on Thursday.
Rasheed said it was necessary to have a specialised university in the state which would be a pacesetter in medical line judging by the governor’s doggedness in advancing the course of education in the state.
The establishment of BMU brings the number of universities to 170 in the country.
The BMU is now recognised as the second public medical university and the fourth medical university in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that Bayelsa State already has two functional universities; the Niger Delta University, established in 2000, and the University of Africa, established two years ago.
The executive secretary said though the commission did not want the proliferation of universities, Gov. Seriake Dickson’s achievements in the two other universities was sufficient encouragement for the establishment of another one to increase enrollment.
“With the powers confined on me and the management of NUC, we shall recognise Bayelsa Medical University as the 48th state university and the second public medical university in Nigeria.
“It has also become the fourth medical university in Nigeria.
“This is because we have two private universities, one in Port Harcourt and the other in Lagos; and now we have two public medical Universities, one in Ondo State and the new one in Bayelsa.
“We do not want the proliferation of universities. We are aware that some states only build more and neglect, but with what the governor has done with the two universities, we feel that anything he touches becomes gold.
“We hope that this University will be a pacesetter. It is number four in line, but we hope it will soon be number one,’’ he said.
He noted that the current 169 Universities have a total enrollment of only two million students, when Nigeria’s population stood at 200 million, meaning that just one per cent of students were currently enrolled into the university system.
Rasheed encouraged governments and other stakeholders, to contribute to the country’s educational development.
Speaking earlier, Dickson said investment in education was a cardinal point of his administration.
The governor said the state had continued to fund education in the state in the last seven years through the establishment of model boarding schools, provision of learning materials, learning and teaching infrastructure and others.
He noted that the state which was ranked number 27 in education in 2012, had moved to the third, Fourth and second position in the last three years.
He said: “If we do not invest in education and build schools, we should be prepared to build more prisons and to enrich more cemeteries.”
“In Bayelsa, furthering the course of education is one of the top priorities of the government as we have decided to match our words with actions.
“The crisis I met in Bayelsa was such that I had to compel children of school age to be in school through melt down penalties.
“We now have over 10,000 students taken from their parents and spread in all the boarding schools.
“We take responsibility for their feeding, uniforms, books and others; and we also paid for the WAEC fees of all students in our model boarding schools.’’
The governor said that the Bayelsa Education Trust Fund had been set up where contributions were made by him and everyone who earned from the state to cater for the educational needs of the state.
He also noted that a Technical and Science Board had also been created in the state to encourage Science, Technical, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) study.
“With all these, we believe there is need for more tertiary institutions.
“The enrolment figure has increased, so we want a specialised University to meet the demand of our students,’’ he said.
Dickson, who said that there would be no government interference with the university, pledged to make it the best training institution in Africa. (NAN)