Nigeria

New Ikere varsity: Examining its prospects and expectations

A few weeks ago, history was made in Ekiti State with the announcement of the upgrade of the 42-year-old College of Education Ikere Ekiti, to the status of a university. A university was not only created for and in Ikere community, but it was named after a prominent son of the town and former governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua. The creation of the university and its naming has evoked ecstasy among the indigenes, some of whom had made the policy a reference point and a topic of discussion among the people.

Attempt was made during the administration of Governor Segun Oni to implement a similar policy, but it met a brick wall of opposition. This was due to political undercurrents that brought about differences and communication gap as well as poor sensitisation of the locals. But the recent move by Governor Kayode Fayemi seemed to have resolved and laid the crisis to rest, hence, the widespread acceptability of the move among the indigenes, both at home and in the Diaspora.

Having a university, coined from a language derived from the words: “a universal city” under a 21st century economy, has a lot of tremendous benefits. It remains one of the most potent weapons to remove the sting of poverty through radical socio-economic and political development of the host community. These and other reasons were responsible for the encomiums that trailed the announcement of the policy. With this, the people are already awaiting.

A peep into the prospects attached to it shows that they are enormous. This may be the main reason why the expectations and enthusiasm among the people of Ikere and indeed the state are high. The people must therefore brace up to tame the ills that could accompany such commendable development in the Nigerian society so that the benefits can outweigh the cons.

In actual fact, the elevation of the college to a university status was a long-sought demand and agitation of the people. Ikere, being the second largest town in Ekiti state deserves a university owning to its pivotal role in the social-economic and political development of Ekiti State. It is generally believed among the people that the town would be able to contribute adequately to educational advancement of the state by playing a complementary role in the prosecution of Fayemi’s human capital development and knowledge economy components of his government.

After the conception of the policy, the administration started on a rocky pedestal by building a trust that would ensure smooth take off of the University of Education, Science and Technology. The trust emanated from the passing of a bill, at the House of Assembly, which was subsequently signed into law to make the policy stand on a solid constitutional ground. That actually stabilised the system and spurred the locals’ spirit to instantly embrace the policy and prepare themselves to take ownership of the proposed university.

One of the most interesting aspects of the policy has been the reasons adduced by the government about the action. During one of the interactions to mark the second year of his administration, Governor Fayemi said he took the action because of the emerging trends in education where universities, polytechnics and colleges of technology, have taken over attention in terms of human development, research and training, and employment dwindling for the College of Education. Fayemi said admission into the College was reducing on an annual basis and subvention kept increasing despite the paucity of funds in Ekiti State. He said spending such huge amount on monthly basis would be more profitable to the state, the personnel, admission-seekers and the host community.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the university would radically impact the economy of Ikere town and Ekiti State in general, and expand their socio-political frontiers. Fashioning the university to focus on education, science and technology courses would make it employ more people, admit more students, which would automatically increase the population of the environment for more economic prosperity for the land owners, traders, house owners in terms of rent and better social exposure for the youth and role-modelling.

As lofty as the foregoing seems to be, the host community in partnership with the state must prepare ahead for other attendant negative social activities such as cultism, drug abuse and illicit sexual activities that are often associated to a university environment. However, with strong partnership among the government, Ikere traditional institution and the university management, these can be tackled so easily.

Now, the expectations are high that the university is coming with a lot of advantages, because the kernel for its creation is to engender more robust human capital development by ways of training and employment and for better socio- economic values for Ikere and Ekiti State at large. It is expected that the entire body of critical stakeholders would play their roles so that the people’s hope would not be dashed.

Mr. Dalimore Aluko, Assistant Principal, Ikere High School, Ikere, Ekiti State can be reached through 08032712451, 08066181583 or aluko4christ@yahoo.com

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