By Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal
If news reports that Governor Peter Obi of Anambra state recently gave N5billion to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University are to believed, his gesture is not only well-conceived but also commendable. Nevertheless, what is clearly not fathomable yet, at least as far as some keen observers are concerned, is the seemingly feeble impression being created and propagated by Governor Obi himself in an attempt to justify his administration’s last minute indulgence in conspicuous consumption that is subtly being perpetrated through an apparent use of state funds that would have otherwise been channeled to the direct improvement of the general well-being of its people. This is why it still boggles one’s mind that private institutions such as Madonna University, Okija, Paul University, Awka, and Tansian University, Umunya, could be lavishly treated by Governor Peter Obi to the sum of 100 million naira each and in the same way he has gone further to extend the same 100 million naira gesture to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, a Federal government owned university for that matter, at a time many communities in Anambra state are still afflicted by poor road networks (including in particular the Uke community where scores of Christian faithful lost their precious lives in the aftermath of Obi’s visit during the electioneering campaign in the just concluded Anambra state gubernatorial poll).
Much as some persons are bound to see nothing wrong in Obi’s ongoing “extravagant” donations to these private and federal institutions located in Anambra state, there is no gainsaying that this ostensibly right decision taken in the very wrong direction represents a remarkable case of sheer misplacement of priorities in the governance of Anambra people. For one, Mr. Obi’s contention that because the services of these institutions situated in the state are enjoyed more by Anambra indigenes than non-indigenes and which reportedly informed his decision to shower them with the scarce resources of the state, is not just comical but totally misdirected. As it were, even though granted that the people of Anambra state origin could constitute the bulk of the population that savor the services of these private and federal institutions located in the state, the fact of the matter is that this line of thought does not in the least justify the current Father Christmas disposition of Mr. Peter Obi in misusing and/or misdirecting the use of Anambra state resources.
The truth remains that these institutions owned and managed by different churches (or their clerics) and the federal government of Nigeria have no illusions about the onerous task, challenges and financial implications of involving themselves in the business of teaching and learning, right from outset. So for Mr. Obi to begin to deep hands into Anambra state coffer and be throwing huge sums of money around private and federal government owned schools as part of what he reportedly calls his “government intervention in tertiary institutions in the state” is clearly an abysmal misrepresentation of the actual yearnings of the majority of Anambra indigenes and a misapplication of governance priorities. This is more so axiomatic given, for instance, that the same Nnamdi Azikiwe university, Awka, reported to have received its own 100 million naira share of Obi’s largesse had in September 2013 reportedly smiled home with the whopping sum of 4 billion naira showered on it by President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal government, for development projects and earned allowances for staff members of the university.
While Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, can proudly and relatively talk about some monumental achievements in terms of infrastructural, manpower and other developments which invariably have made the institution the cynosure of all and the second most preferred university in Nigeria today (courtesy of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board recent assessment ), Mr. Peter Obi appears not realize that this same milestone could be replicated in Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University- and that this cannot be achieved by the present attitude of taking what naturally should be reserved for a hungry boy to give it out to a well-fed man.
Besides, one still wonders if it does occur to Obi that there are scores of indigent students of Anambra spread across the states of the federation who are in greater need of these hundreds of millions of naira being splashed on these private and federal government owned tertiary institutions located in the state. Similarly, does he realize that some of these indigent students in the latter institutions are actually suffering a fate worse than death in their bid to acquire knowledge? Again, does Obi realize that these private and federal tertiary institutions he is splashing money on in the name of intervention are actually meant to be alive to their corporate social responsibility, an obligation they owe Anambra indigenes? Of course, there are many ways these institutions can always carry out their corporate social responsibility, which is not in the least wrong if it entails subsidizing their school fees to a certain reasonable percentage for people of Anambra descent – with special focus on the indigent group.
Surely, this is one mission that the Obi administration should have directed its attention to or, better still, preoccupied itself with some viable strategies aimed at bringing it into fruition, rather than dishing out public funds to discrete (and/or private) entities that have always got the capacity to excel better in the business of teaching and learning.
Onyiorah Chiduluemije Paschal is on www.facebook.com