By Simeon Nwakaudu
From the very day he was sworn in as Governor of Rivers State on May 29, 2015, Governor Wike ensured that the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, RSUST, received a breadth of new life. Governor Wike in his inauguration address took proactive steps to right the wrong done to some academic staff of the institution by the immediate past administration.
In his inauguration address on May 29, 2015, Governor Wike said: “As a government we shall not violate or tolerate the violation of the democratic and constitutional rights of Rivers State workers by any authority, be it public or private. In consequence therefore and in exercise of the powers vested in me as Visitor, I hereby direct the management of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology to immediately recall and reinstate to their duty posts with all their rights and privileges restored, all the academic staff of the University, who were purportedly disengaged from service on account of their membership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and participating in a legitimate strike action called by the union”.
True to his pledge, all the RSUST Lecturers who were illegally sacked by the immediate past administration were reinstated with full benefits. The administration expended N713.3m to settle their outstanding allowances and salaries. The governor’s action restored academic harmony in the Institution.
One of the first projects that Governor Wike embarked upon was the completion of the abandoned RSUST Faculty of Law Complex. That facility was left to rot for several years.
The state-of-the-art facility considered the best in the country has a standard auditorium, moot courts, digital library, traditional library, standard classrooms and offices.
Despite existing for over three decades, RSUST has no College of Medical Sciences. Successive administrations in the state toyed with the idea of establishing a College of Medical Sciences for RSUST, but none succeeded.
However, on 9th April, 2016, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took concrete steps to actualize the vision of training medical doctors at the RSUST. He laid the foundation stone for the RSUST College of Medical Sciences.
The governor backed up the foundation laying ceremony with the release of funds for the take-off of the required infrastructural facilities of the College. He also released funds for the admission of students into the college , beginning next academic session.
The proposed College of Medical Sciences edifice at RSUST will contain administrative block, lecture rooms, bio-Chemistry, Physiology, Anatomy and Haematology Laboratories and an auditorium.
To lift the academic standards of the University, Governor Wike released funds for the accreditation exercises by the National Universities Commission, NUC, for 17 programmes in the Institution. He has directed the university to ensure full accreditation of courses with interim accreditation.
Speaking during the 28th Convocation Ceremony of the School, he said: “Although I am pleased with the steady progress of the University, It is unacceptable for any of its programmes to be denied accreditation. Accordingly, I hereby direct the Acting Vice Chancellor to correct the deficiencies outlined by the Nigerian Universities Commission and ensure that the Law programme and, indeed, all other programmes, move from interim to full accreditation status without any delay.”
The building projects of the Faculty of Management Sciences and that of Environmental Sciences abandoned by previous administrations will now be completed by the Wike administration. The governor announced the release of N1bn for the completion of these projects which will provide lecture rooms, offices and academic facilities to staff and students of the school.
In an address during the 28th Convocation Ceremony of RSUST, Justice Iche Ndu, rtd, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the 12th Governing Council of the University stressed: “The council, management, and entire staff and students of University declare unequivocally that: ‘Here is an Education Friendly Governor ‘. Here is a governor that has passion for academic advancement and has a sense of purpose, and is prepared to take the university to greater heights in the pursuit of ‘Excellence and Creativity ‘.
The Acting Vice Chancellor of RSUST, Prof Blessing Didia expressed gratitude to the governor for the improved funding of academic activities in the Institution, prompt payment of salaries and other entitlements of staff and the priority given to tertiary education by his administration.
For the governor, RSUST will continue to enjoy the priority attention of his administration despite the prevailing economic downturn.
He said: ” I want assure you that we shall not fail in our commitment to support the University to maintain and grow its facilities, attract and retain quality faculty, and provide a world-class educational experience for our students. ”
Most importantly, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike appointed a seasoned academic, Prof Blessing Didia as Acting Vice Chancellor to bring his managerial experience to bear on the needs of the institution. Closely related is the appointment of a properly selected 12th Governing Council under the chairmanship of a Retired Chief Judge of the State, Justice Iche Ndu to guide the school to the next level.
Like every other sector in Rivers State, RSUST is enjoying a new lease of life. The infrastructure and academic programmes of the school have been revived in the overall interest of the state.
The rousing welcome Governor Wike received all through the 28th Convocation Ceremony of RSUST was indicative of the fact that the students appreciate his positive investments in the school.
As an alumnus of this great institution, an honour he shares with his wife, Justice Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, Governor Wike has proved to be a worthy Ambassador of his alma