Investigation

Sports varsity: Anioma salutes FG as NUC gives final nod

…supports Nwoko’s quest for Senate

Prominent indigenes of Anioma in Delta State, have applauded the Federal Government and the Nigerian University Commission (NUC), for what they said was a bold step in giving the final approval for the first Sports University in the country, which is cited in Idumuje-Ugboko. Reacting to the good news, the Executive Assistant on Education Monitoring in Delta State, Dr. Ignatius Ezoem, told this reporter that the approval of such a specialised university is a testimony to the ‘never say die’ attitude of Anioma people.

The renowned educationist and former Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical) Asaba, believes the founding of a university would further open up the Anioma nation to the world, as, according to him, Anioma land is blessed with people, who are focused and development driven.

He said: “I salute both the government and the founder of the institution. It’s been a dogged and focused ambition from Prince Ned Nwoko. “He encountered some setbacks along the way but because of his determination, he never gave up the idea he believed so much in. “Although some of us are not surprised because of the things he had done in the past. He has not only contributed his quota in developing his home town, he has continued to spread it across the nooks and crannies of Delta North Senatorial district.

“We commend him and urge all sons and daughters of Anioma to take a worthy cue from him. He keeps raising the bar and I believe we can all key into this development.” A political scientist, Ugo Nwaghodoh, also heaped praises on Nwoko, describing him as a God-sent to Anioma people. “Seeing is believing; just go to Idumuje- Ugboko and see his footprint.

He has also done appreciably well in his philanthropic drive as more and more people continue to benefit from this. “The Stars University is another testimony of his vision to not only open up his place but to also develop it. The Nigerian government has equally done well by seeing through the lenses of Nwoko in establishing this specialised university,” he said.

A leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State, and former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Pascal Adigwe, emphatically said because of the things Nwoko has done and still doing, he remains the best candidate for Delta North senate seat in 2023. Adigwe, who is the Director- General of Prince Ned Nwoko’s senatorial campaign, also said that the Anioma people and Deltans regard Prince Nwoko as an illustrious son with a track record of integrity and excellence. He noted that Prince Nwoko had sterling standing as a foremost philanthropist, accomplished business magnate, a respected politician, as well as progenitor of the Africa Malaria eradication project and London-Paris Club loans refund, which helped to end Nigeria’s recession. Adigwe stated that Nwoko has made outstanding contributions to education in Nigeria with the recent Federal Government approval of a Sports University at his Idumuje-Ugboko homeland, acknowledged as the first sports university in the country and sub-Saharan Africa.

He said: “Anioma people of Delta North senatorial district are very proud of Prince Ned Nwoko. He is an international lawyer and matchless patriot. “He is a leader of national reckoning. He has the political clout, education, experience and exposure to represent Delta North at the National Assembly.” The DG of Ned Nwoko campaign or-ganisations therefore urged the PDP delegates to support him and be assured that his victory would herald unprecedented development and progress in Anioma land and far afield. Nwoko, a former Member of the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003 from Idumuje-Ugboko in the Aniocha North Local Government Area, is seen as the frontline PDP senatorial aspirant in the forthcoming party primary. Recall that the NUC gave the newly approved university a nod to decide 30 per cent of its curriculum content.

NUC reviewed the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS), for universities, revising it to Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS). The reform, according to the education regulatory body, will soon be unveiled to the public.

The implication, it said, is that the CCMAS will provide 70 per cent of what should be taught along with the expected outcomes, while the universities will provide 30 per cent based on their individual contextual peculiarities and characteristics. Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, stated this recently at the presentation of licenses to 12 new private universities recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). According to Rasheed, the radical re-engineering of curricula in Nigerian universities carried by NUC is to meet global standards and international best practices towards preparing Nigerian graduates for relevance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), world economy with the skills needed for the future.

The NUC boss charged proprietors of the new universities to ensure that quality is not compromised at the expense of maximisation of profit, adding that NUC will not hesitate to sanction institutions that violate its operational guidelines.

He applauded proprietors of the private universities licensed at the occasion, for the initiative of establishing universities despite the huge resource implication of establishing a private university in Nigeria. “The role you play in bridging the gap created by the growing demand for university education in the country by your investment is not, and can never be taken for granted. “I would like to therefore congratulate the Proprietors of the 12 newly approved private universities and assure them of the NUC’s unrelenting support and cooperation,” he said. Nwoko, a businessman, has often said the country needs a sports university because it will make children more dedicated to their education. He expressed delight that the bill he proposed in the House of Representatives in 2017 is finally seeing the light of day. The billionaire businessman said the All Stars Sports University “will take sports in the academic world as a lifestyle to build careers that will enable individuals to make their mark and etch their exploits in accounts of history.

“The project has not only been in the pipeline since 2017 but a burning desire and one of the bills I proposed while in the House of Representatives, which has finally seen the light of the day. However, there is a misconception that sports hamper a child’s dedication towards academics. “The university is modelled to pursue the advancement of learning in specialised areas of sports development including management as well as to conduct specialised professional coaching courses, and research to advance various breakthroughs in sports.” Nwoko said Nigerians should disregard reports that the university is being used to achieve ulterior motives.

“Due to its geographical location and cultural reservations, coupled with the malicious propaganda and misleading tale, tension was generated and the attention of different investigative entities and panels of inquiry at various levels, including the Nigeria Police Force was attracted. “I, therefore, call on all and sundry to eschew peddling malicious tales and support my vision in rewriting the sporting narrative of our country.

“The university is taking off with a secondary school section to scout athletic talents from infancy to proactively improve the number of athletes who finish their education with credentials/training for both sports and non-sports careers to nurture growth and transition.” Twenty three years ago, Nwoko conceived the idea of having a Sports University in Nigeria to be located in Idumuje-Ugboko, Delta State. As a parliamentarian, he sponsored a Bill for its establishment. The Bill however was not passed but he never gave up on that vision.

He believed so much in sports and education and that a university of such would bridge the gap between sports and education, offering both conventional and specialised courses where students will graduate with double honors. Nwoko believed that if founded, the Sports University will be a veritable ground for selection of sports men and women that will represent Nigeria at local, continental and Intercontinental competitions.

In the Aniocha North Local Government Area, where he is seen as the frontline PDP senatorial aspirant in the forthcoming party primary, Nwoko, many believe, has populist appeal. Delta North known in local parlance as Anioma, is populated by the cultural quadrants of Aniocha, Oshimili, Ika and Ndokwa. A matchless philanthropist, he had spent millions of Naira on road infrastructure and scholarships within Delta and other parts of the country. Last February, he rehabilitated the Onicha-Ugbo –Idumuje- Ugboko Road linking the South-South and South-East to Abuja at a cost of N100 million.

In 2018, he awarded N120 million scholarships to students in secondary and tertiary schools across Nigeria. This followed a tradition he initiated as member of the House of Representatives for Aniocha / Oshimili federal constituency from 1999-2003.

Not too long ago, Nwoko, a British educated lawyer offered over 22 first class graduates of Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) Effurun, a million naira each, after receiving a doctorate degree (Honoris causa). At his Idumuje-Ugboko homeland, lies “Mount Ned”, a wondrous architectural resort, where people of all hues troop to seek succour from Nwoko, a prince enamoured with human goodwill and charity. A man of the people, the entrance of his country home is ever streaming with hopeful callers, mostly in dire straits. His is like Mecca or Jerusalem, except that the “pilgrims “here are not looking for God but a simple good man. In Ned, Anioma people feel a brother. His victory may not, according to his admirers, stun his opponents or shock the public because his street credibility is unassailable.

Like all mortals, Nwoko may have his flaws. He is not a saint but he has no pact with the devil, according to his people. Tucked in the heart of Delta State in the South-South of Nigeria is Idumuje-Ugboko, a town notable as home of eminent personalities in the State and in Nigeria; people that have achieved fame and popularity based on their antecedents and intellectual capacity. Nwoko remains one of those eminent personalities that have stolen the people’s hearts. Little wonder he is called the prince of kindness.

 

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