by Stanley Azuakola
In this era of frequent university staff strikes over wages, the only government which has shown interest in establishing more universities is the government at the centre – the FG. Some states like Ogun have even begun the process of merging different universities in order to cut cost.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State is, however, treading a different path. He has disclosed his government’s plan to establish two more universities in the state. And he expects to conclude work on the new universities, including the relocation of the already existing Imo State University (IMSU) to its permanent site, before the end of his first tenure in 2015.
If he succeeds, it would bring the total number of state-owned universities in Imo State to three.
When he came into office in 2011, the governor made no pretences about his desire to relocate the Imo State University (IMSU) to his hometown in Ogboko, Ideato-South Local Council. The people of Imo State fiercely resisted the governor’s moves in that regard until he did an about-turn.
As a result of that people-power in action, the permanent site of IMSU is now expected to be in any of the nine local councils in Owerri Senatorial District subject to the decision of the people.
That doesn’t mean the governor is shelving plans to have a university sited in his hometown. The dream is still alive, as one of the new universities, the Imo European University, would be sited there.
According to the governor, the other new university, the Loyola Jesuit University would be sited in Ngor-Okpala also in Owerri zone. Already, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with the host community for the provision of 300 hectares of land.
Here’s hoping the governor has thought things through as establishing universities involves more than securing the site.