[From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia]
After 28 years of existence, Management of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, (MOUAU) has requested from Federal Government the release of N10 billion as take-off grant.
Vice Chancellor of MOUAU, Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, disclosed this Friday while briefing newsmen on the achievements of his administration in his first 100 days in office, an opportunity he used to announce that the Dean of Student Affairs of the university has been removed from office.
Founded in 1993, the federal government-owned MOUAU was not give the N1 billion take-off grant extended to other specialized universities established at the same period. Previous administrations made frantic efforts to secure the money to no avail.
Apparently because of the depreciation of the naira over the years, the university decided to ask for N10 billion take-off grant. Prof Iwe said that their request was channeled through the Presidential Visitation Panel that came to assess activities of MOUAU over past 10 years, for onward delivery to federal government.
Commenting on last Tuesday’s students’ demonstration in the university, The VC explained that it was a “family misunderstanding,” not unrest, as was being speculated in some sections of the media.
“We didn’t have students’ unrest. What we had was just a family misunderstanding. They didn’t demonstrate against lack of halls for examinations, water or high acceptance fees but were demanding for constant power supply, improved security, reformation of the Students’ Union Government (SUG) and resignation of its President; and resignation or removal of the Dean of Students Affairs for her unfavourable student policies,” he said, adding “the problem was “a misunderstanding within the SUG.”
According to him, operators of the university’s generator, who, fearing that the demonstration may degenerate, ran away without putting on the light; together with their Director, have been suspended for causing the university embarrassment.
MOUAU management, he added, decided to remove the Dean of Student Affairs, not because of what the students demanded, but based on “the overall assessment of the functions of the Dean.”
He said the university management was grateful to God that the demonstration was not hijacked by miscreants, adding “the issue was quietly resolved and we sealed it this morning with a town hall meeting.”
On his achievements in his first 100 days in office, Prof Iwe said his administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), which resulted in the building and equipping of a state-of-the-art weather station in MOUAU by NiMet which has promised to also build the University’s meteorology laboratory, adding that the deal with NiMet include staff trainings and donation of resource materials.
The VC noted that the weather station was very important for agriculture, engineering meteorological studies, civil engineering, among other courses. He expressed optimism that the presence of NiMet would fast-track accreditation of the Department of Water Resources, as well as Agro-Meteorology of the university.
He said on May 25, 2021, he fulfilled his promise of conducting Senate meetings online which would enhance web-visibility of the institution, describing the achievement as a “breakthrough,” as it has remained on the drawing board for the past five years.
To fulfill his promise of producing self-sufficient farmers, Prof Iwe said the university has launched MOUAU Agric Graduate Loan Scheme (MAGLS) and empowered seven graduates from different Colleges of the university with loans ranging from N120, 000 to N400, 000, to enable the beneficiaries to establish businesses in fish production, poultry farming, cassava production, pig farming, egg sales, palm oil marketing and agric input sales.
His administration, he said, has purchased equipment worth N2 million which would facilitate opening up of farms by clearing 400 hectares of land, for which the school was seeking the assistance of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
According to him, his administration was fast-tracking the completion and expansion of the College of Agricultural Economics, Rural Sociology and Extension (CAERSE), the College of Physical and Applied Sciences (COLPAS) and the College of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (CNREM) complexes, among other projects;
He said that serious efforts were being made to process Students’ Statement of Result and over 2, 000 transcripts and uploading same on an electronic platform for the public to access before July ending.
He revealed that the university’s Shuttle service would be revived by September this year as the trade dispute which led to the grounding of the University’s transport scheme five years ago has been resolved and the keys of the 45 vehicles deployed for the scheme returned by the contractor.
In the same vein, he said that University’s Microfinance bank would soon be restored and opened to business again.