Posted by News Express | 31 May 2020 | 1,452 times
In an apparent move to shut down and mock the people of Mbaise from where the former Governor Emeka Ihedioha comes from, the incumbent Governor Senator Hope Uzodimma has caused the Imo State House of Assembly to amend the University of Agriculture and Environmental Science law with a view to relocate same from Mbaise to Umuagwo in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area, being Uzodimma’s own senatorial district.
Ndigines of the area made up of three local governments namely: Aboh, Ahiazu and Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Areas respectively also appear to have been intimidated since after the relocation of the said University from Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala to Umuagwo, having lost the grip of power through the Supreme Court judgment that ceded power to Governor Uzodimma.
Mbaise people are said to be unhappy over the development, but have not written any protest letter or any official statement coming from any of the apex pressure groups such as Ezuruezu Mbaise, Umunna Mbaise, Nguru League in Mbaise, Obiri Ama Mbaise and Oke Ovoro Ezuo all in Mbaise land.
Most leaders of the said groups are necessarily being conscious of effects of organ-ised protests or any other negative moves against the governor. It was further gathered that some of these leaders in-charge of Mbaise Socio-Cultural Organisations are also looking forward for appointments or any other political patronage from Governor Uzodimma and would not want to engage themselves in any extraneous activities against the governor.
Recall that the former Governor Rochas Okorocha applied to the Nigerian Uni-versities Commission on behalf of the state and wanted the university to be located in Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala after he had erected over 20 classroom and office blocks on the area for a take-off of the university and the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved the application.
The law of Imo State under the watch of the former Governor Okorocha established the University in Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala before he, Okorocha vacated office in 2019, but according to members of Imo State House of Assembly, the Nigerian Universities Commission located the same university in Umuagwo in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area.
It was not clear on why the former Governor Rochas Okorocha signed a law which established the said university in Aboh Mbaise/ Ngor-Okpala, while NUC approval reads that the university was approved and located in Umuagwo which is presently hosting Imo State Polytechnic.
There was a reasonable suspicion that between the administrations of Ihedioha and Uzodimma, another approval may have been secured from Nigerian Universities Commission to locate or relocate the said university to suit their intentions.
The proposal to amend the law which came as an Executive Bill was presented by the Majority Leader Uche Ogbuagu and it passed first, second and third reading in matter of minutes at the floor of the house. The governor signed the Bill into law less than 24 hours it was passed by the Imo State House of Assembly.
The speed at which it was presented and passed into law did not allow honourable members representing the three Mbaise State Constituencies Aboh, Ahiazu and Ezinihitte to prepare and op¬pose the amendment for the relocation of the University.
In an interview, Hon Denise Adikwuru, who comes from the community where the university was located said that Governor Hope Uzodimma should have seen his actions from the point of moral and legal perspectives, stating that the former Governor Okorocha had an intension to create mischief and confusion in the system.
“What we are looking at now is the first law signed by the former Governor of old Imo State Sam Onunaka Mbakwe, establishing a campus of Imo University in our community, having met all the criteria.
“Okorocha was not serious on what he did. Unfortunately again, Governor Uzodimma is on a vendetta mission against Mbaise nation. Otherwise he would have corrected the legislation and allow the university to either be as it were by Mbakwe’s administration or correct the anomaly created by Rochas Okorocha’s administration. Removing the university from Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala where several classroom and offices have been erected is most unfair.”
On why apex leaders of Socio-Cultural Organisations in Mbaise are not speaking out Adikwuru said, “our people are shocked to hear that the university has been removed despite more than 30 years of keeping the land and waiting on the government to make use of it and laws made by successive governors establishing and reestablishing the university in the same Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala. They are prepared to make a statement if the governor refuses to reverse himself. It was not because they want appointment from Uzodimma and no Mbaise man can be scared of making a statement.”
On if the governor was working for 2023 Governorship election and wants to intimidate Mbaise people to submission, again Adikwuru said, “it is part of his mission to run our people down. The governor feels intimidated by our population, popularity and solidarity to any of our own just like we overwhelmingly supported Ihedioha during the governorship election in 2015 and 2019.
“Our people are well connected globally. If government is no longer interested on the land we made available for the university, our people have the capacity to attract a world class invest¬ments in the area.
“The community that donated the land feel highly disappointed. The community and estate developers around the area feel very bad, having acquired lands for use close to the university and waiting for the university to take off.”
Every sitting governor had played politics with Imo State University particularly with Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala site. They have always promised to activate the dreams of the former Governor of old Imo State Chief Sam Onunaka Mbakwe who started the university in the 1980s and saw the need for Multi-Campus of the university.
In 2008, the administration of Chief Ikedi Ohakin attempted to relocate Imo State University from Owerri to Okigwe which was resisted by Imolites. In the midst of the confusion, it became very clear that Mbaise people were not also willing to lose out on the basis of size of the land which was part of the conditions to retain the university.
The people of Mbaise/ NgoOkpala teamed up to increase the size of the land by voluntarily donated more land up to 103sqm and the committee set up by Ohakim over the issue had no choice but to accept Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala as the permanent site for Imo State University. The committee’s recommendation was subsequently passed into Law by Imo House of Assembly.
Ohakim delayed signing the bill into law and was quoted as saying that he will make the signing a priority if re-elected and this was during his second tenure re-election bid in 2011. Unfortunately, he was not reelected and instead of the former Governor Okorocha who succeeded Ohakim to sign the Law, he relocated the university to Ogboko, his home town.
Analysts have said that the options available to Mbaise people are to plead to Governor Hope Uzodimma to implement the Sam Mbakwe’s Law Siting a campus of Imo State University at Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala site or to relocate the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo to Aboh Mbaise/Ngor-Okpala if the controversial University of Agriculture and Environmental Science must be relocated to Umuagwo where Imo already has a state polytechnic. (Sunday Independent)
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