By Raphael Ekpang
Increased availability of technical and vocational education should be part of core strategies towards permanently addressing youth restiveness and boosting oil and gas production in the Niger Delta, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and other stakeholders have said.
Speaking on Wednesday at a public hearing in Abuja organised by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.on Federal Polytechnic, Orogun Delta State (Establishment Etc) Bill, Senator Omo-Agege along with several academics, traditional rulers and opinion leaders emphasized vibrant support for the proposed institution.
Sponsor of the bill and senator representing Delta Central Senatorial District, Omo-Agege explained that he sponsored the bill in response to constituents’ yearnings while several stakeholders who attended the public hearing emphasized further justifications for the move.
Omo-Agege said: “I moved to sponsor this Bill because, like all senatorial constituencies, the Urhobo ethnic nationality of Delta Central Senatorial District as the 5th largest ethnic group in Nigeria, and indeed all Deltans, deservedly expect me as their voice here to negotiate fruitfully on their behalf, represent and defend their interests unreservedly, responsibly and courageously. Like every Distinguished Member of this Committee, I do not take these expectations lightly.
“The proposed Federal Polytechnic Orogun is conceived as an institution for academic excellence in fulfillment of the Federal Government’s policy of establishing at least one federal polytechnic in every State of the Federation. It will be an institution with an all-embracing statutory mandate to develop a wide range of professionals in Engineering and Technology, Social Sciences, Sciences, the Arts and Humanities, among others.
“This Polytechnic is coming to resolve a huge challenge presently affecting a great majority of our otherwise qualified tertiary education admission seekers who are mainly products of Delta’s more than 1,126 public primary schools, 500 secondary schools and 1,000 private schools.
“Unlike their counterparts in many parts of the country, hundreds of these young Deltans who perform excellently well in entrance examinations conducted by the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) are often denied admissions.
“Due to no fault of theirs, a great majority of these young Deltans are just abandoned or left behind in today’s stiff competition for career paths development. The justifications for this anomaly are often ‘quota’ and ‘catchment areas’ admission criteria.
“Therefore, the Federal Polytechnic Orogun is a major strategic, thoughtful and necessary response to this challenge. It will create needed admission opportunities for young Nigerians and help us to better manage the social decay that often grows from the frustration of our future leaders who are unjustly denied access to the tertiary education they desperately need to shape their lives. It is for all Deltans and Nigerians,”
He also stressed that the choice of Orogun as a central location was based on relevant considerations, including the availability of oil wells in its communities which have been lacking federal presence that can benefit the people directly.
“With tens of active onshore oil wells and huge gas deposits, Orogun Clan is one of the geese laying the golden eggs that sustain our nation’s giant economic strength for several decades now. I trust my Distinguished Colleagues would easily agree with our leaders and people in general that even for this alone, Orogun justifiably deserves some federal presence in return, and this Polytechnic is timely,” he said.
In his presentation, Professor Samuel Ibodje submitted that the establishment of the institution will be of great social and economic enhancement to the state in particular, the South-South geopolitical zone and the country in general.
While stressing that the establishment of a Federal Polytechnic in Delta State is long overdue, he said this would “ensure real locaI contents through effective community participation in the oil industry, reduce unemployment through skill acquisition and stem the growing tide of youth restiveness in the state and the entire South-South region”.
Also, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Professor Akpofure Rim-Rukeh said the proposed polytechnic will satisfy the yearnings of admission seekers, provide the needed manpower for the oil and gas industry as well as boost socio-economic activities in the area.
Others who spoke in support of the bill include Professor Temi Akponunor, Dr. Augustine Ebiai from the Nigerian Army University in Biu and Dr. (Mrs) Veronica Ogbuagu, former Commissioner for Education in Delta State.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Ahmad Babba Kaita disclosed that the committee was not in receipt of submissions against the establishment of the institution.