By Onisoman Kos-Ikah
Setting the Records Straight
Our attention has been drawn to a malicious petition with the above subject, written by Nonso Nwosu and Company, Barristers and Solicitors, on behalf of unnamed, “concerned Chiefs and Stakeholders of Ogbia, Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State, wherein they alleged that the Governor of Bayelsa State is making moves to propose the establishment of Federal University for the South-South in Bayelsa State. They also accused the Governor of making moves to “deceive the Federal Government and compromise top officials of the Federal Ministry of Health to achieve the objective of offloading the illegally employed staff of the Bayelsa Medical University…”
While we dismiss the entire publication as childish, lacking in both facts and knowledge of the issue, orchestrated to cause disunity among Bayelsans in general, we deem it necessary to set out the simple fact as it is, for the better judgment of Bayelsans of the true motive of the so-called concerned chiefs and stakeholders.
The Federal Government of Nigeria is implementing a most commendable initiative to establish six Federal Universities of Medical Sciences (FUMS), one in each of the six geo-political zones in the country. The South-south geo-political zone consists of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa-Ibom and Edo States, and any of these states reserve the right to pursue the siting of the federal university of medical sciences in their state. At the moment, no site in any particular state has been decided or agreed on for the South-south.
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, proactively presented for the Bayelsa Medical University to be adopted and converted to the federal university of medical sciences for the South-south geo-political zone. Although there is a private university in Rivers State owned by Dr. Peter Odili, the fact that the Bayelsa Medical University is the only public medical university in the South-south which has achieved resource verification and approved to run full scale medical courses, proves a comparative advantage for the state and remains the very best option for expedited adoption as the FUMS for the South-south zone.
Having stated the above, it is also pertinent to state that the position of the Bayelsa State Government transcends political interests and considerations, neither is it against the interests of any senatorial district or specific local government areas. It is clear, therefore, that any group of persons giving political interpretations or colorations of genuine efforts that will be beneficial to Bayelsans, irrespective of their ethnic, educational and political backgrounds are doing so with the sole intent to deprive the state and its teeming educable youth and future generations, of this important opportunity.
Furthermore, it is misplaced understanding to say that “a new Federal Medical University is being contemplated for Bayelsa State” or that a Federal University is being proposed, as there has not been any specific request or registered agitation for a Federal Medical University anywhere in Bayelsa State. Also, the FUMS is in no way undermines the existence or continued development of the Medical Faculty of the Federal University, Otuoke, its proposed teaching hospital and the Federal Medical Center, whether in Yenagoa or Otuoke. At best, this initiative complements existing medical faculties and expands opportunities for students with interests in the medical sciences across the state.
The complaint or petition is self-serving, smirks of unwarranted rivalry, intended to disparage the person of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by dragging his name into a narrow, politically motivated, ill-intended, ethnically-skewered petition to massage the egos of individuals. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a statesman and father who would not trade the development of Bayelsa State on the grounds of petty sentiments knowing his antecedents as one who has never traded his interest for the peace, development and unity of his dear people, little wonder, today the name Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is known globally for peace unity and development.
Therefore using his name to drive home this malicious demand is already an effort in futility and dead on arrival.
Also, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a father and leader to all in Bayelsa and enjoys a robust relationship with the current governor, His Excellency, Senator Douye Diri who always listens and has high level regard for the former president. Therefore, it is unfounded for any group of persons to fan the embers of discord between both leaders as the bond that exists between them is that of a father and son relationship.
It is also clear that the petition does not represent the views of the good people of Ogbia, Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas, as it is only a representation of a few individuals whose intentions are not altruistic.
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri who approved and invested several millions of naira for the accreditation of all the tertiary institutions in the state in the current academic year, is representing the long term interests of Bayelsa State and should be commended for his proactive stance to ensure improved education opportunities for the youth with interests in the medical sciences and more.
We therefore urge all well-meaning Bayelsans and the general public to disregard the contents of the petition/publication, and the progenitors of this campaign of calumny against the long term benefits of this venture for all Bayelsans.
*Kos-Ikah, Media Assistant to the Honourable Commissioner for Education Bayelsa State writes from Yenagoa.