Recently, Fugar Community stood still for Professor Emmanuel Omoh Eshiemokhai to hear the news he had to break. Prior to this, there was ongoing information that a University was proposed for Fugar. Those who heard and those who read the posters and banners could not believe their ears and eyes.
On this historic day, as public announcement went round Fugar at the early hours of that day, people had to change their plans for the day. They did not want to be told, but rather wanted to hear and see for themselves the news about the proposed AFEMAI UNIVERSITY, FUGAR. Before the schedule hour of 11 O’clock a.m, the Council Hall which was the venue of the meeting was filled to capacity and overcrowded with people. The people were not only interested in the Theme of the lecture: THE HISTORY OF UNIVERSITIES: THE UNIVERSITY IDEA; but more so to hear from the horses mouth the authenticity of the news concerning the proposed University.
Before the commencement of the Professor’s lecture, Mr. Joseph Imhoitsike took time to give an appraisal of the Professor’s Curriculum Vitae. The C. V. had to be abridged for time factor and was greeted with lots of applause. With the qualifications and experiences of Professor Eshiemohai, it removed all doubts from the minds of the people about the possibility of establishing the University even before they heard from him.
At this juncture, Professor Eshiemokhai took the floor to address the people. He began his lecture by telling the people what informed the establishment of the proposed Afemai University. He said the knowledge which is the core of human existence needs to be promoted among our people. And that is what a University is all about – to promote knowledge! According to the Professor, intelligent survey revealed that the people of South, South Geopolitical Zone of Nigeria are the most intelligent Nigerians, which we are. But in terms of educational facilities and opportunity, we have been disadvantaged unlike the major ethnic groups in Nigeria. And more so, the people of Afemai have been more disadvantaged as far as University institution was concerned, said Professor Eshiemokhai.
Explaining more about knowledge, he stated that knowledge could be categorized into three as Plotinus said, “firstly, Opinion; secondly, Science which moves the society and thirdly, Illumination which is a spiritual gift of God.
In Nigerian history, the University Idea came around 1948 when the Colonial Masters wanted to train Nigerians whom they could work together to govern the country. This led to the establishment of the University College at Ibadan in 1948. This college later metamorphosed into a full-fledged University of Ibadan as we call it today.
Professor Eshiemokhai as a man who had traveled far and wide across the globe and studied in seven different universities around the world, he told us what he once told the white men that the University Idea originated from Africa. The first ever established University was in Timbuktu in the country of Mali. This was followed by another in Morocco all in the continent of Africa. It was after this that one was established in Italy, followed by one in France and then Oxford in England and the Cambridge university which is the richest and one of the best Universities in the world today.
According to Professor Eshiemokhai, the University Idea is to promote excellence. This must be the pursuit of every reasonable person, he said. To this end, he advised parents to ask their children to be sensible. A University Idea is being promoted in all fields of knowledge. Sensibility is the beginning of human knowledge.
Science which is the secondary aspect of knowledge is the ability to think higher in order to discover and know how things work and why they work the way they do. He referred to the buildings we dwell in and the appliances we use as all being the results of Science knowledge.
The Professor further explained that the ability of analytical thinking of scientists enable them to make the right decisions which leads to discoveries and inventions. This is also projected in University Education whereby one would develop the ability of analytical thinking and decision – making to improve our lot in life and the entire society.
The third aspect of knowledge which is illumination is a natural gift from the Almighty God. It is as the religious world defers to the talents and gifts of the Holy Spirit. At this juncture, Professor Eshiemokhai dived into religion and gave a gospel song praying the Holy Ghost to come down. And as they sang after him, the whole audience was thrown agog and thrilled by the music of the gospel song. This made the occasion the more memorable!
The sense of illumination of the Holy Spirit makes people to be innovative which brings good things their way to better their lots in life. “All these aspects of knowledge of the University Idea” is out to promote, said the Prof.
Before he rounded up his lecture, he presented several documents with evidences to prove to the people that the proposed Afemai University was for real. The people applauded long and loud! The name of the University was already duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission C.A.C. and therefore the name has come to stay. He also told the people that he had already filled forms for the Nigeria University Commission (N.U.C.), for approval.
Further, he announced that the University would be a quality one to produce the best University Graduates in Nigeria, and shall be affordable. As a University of excellence, Professor Eshiemokhai said that he shall employ the services of qualified Professors and Lecturers, half of which shall be foreigners.
In a drive for excellence, he told the people that the already existing Pioneer Secondary School in the community would act as a preparatory school for prospective local students to the University. He therefore said that the school should now be recognized as Afemai University Preparatory Secondary School.
According to the Professor, the departments that shall form part of the take off includes College of Medicine which shall be located at the former Nazareth Hospital, Fugar; A College of Agriculture; Trinity College (School of Theology) to be headed by Minister Patrick L. O. Enike; College of International Law and others. However, he pointed out that the take off would take some time yet as we need to have some standard structures on ground for the University. There is need for befitting accommodations for the coming lecturers and hostels for the students. With the coming of foreigners, he said that we do not have standard structures on ground in Fugar to accommodate them. To this end, he said there is need for those who are well to do to come over at home to invest in helping to solve accommodation problem, which shall soon arise in Fugar because of the University.
Finally, Professor Eshiemokhai warned that the people should not misrepresent the interest of the proposed University. And neither should they cause any go-slow to the effort. It is a collective Afemai development effort, which we must all join hands to achieve. The campuses of the University shall not be limited to Fugar Community alone, but shall ensure a wider spread across the old Afeimai division said the Professor.
As it is popularly known and said, “behind a successful husband, there is a good wife, was demonstrated at this occasion as the wife of Professor Eshiemokhai, Barrister Mrs. Elizabeth Eshiemokhai strongly stood behind her husband to show her support. On her own part, she directed her advice to mothers to ensure the training of their daughters to a higher education level. She cited her own experience as an example when her mother stood her ground to ensure she received education to a higher level, which she is enjoying today. She said that early marriage of daughters, as an easy way to hedge out of parental responsibility is not the best for parents and not in the best interest of our f
emale children. She further exhorted fathers and mothers to join hands together to give proper education to their children.
The Chairman of the occasion, Chief, Dr. Joseph Akhigbe Alemoh, the first Executive Chairman of Etsako Central Local Government Council, thanked Professor Emmanuel Omoh Eshiemokhai and praised his magnanimity for the thought and decision to propose a first class University in Fugar. He said that the present and future generation of Fugar Community shall ever remain grateful to Professor Eshiemokhai, his wife and family. He stated that the citing of a higher institution of learning such as a University had been the yearning of the people of Fugar. And now the Almighty God is answering our prayers through Professor Eshiemokhai.
Chairman Alemoh used the opportunity to appeal to the illustrious sons and daughters of Fugar to support this great proposal in order to speed it into reality. At the same time he rehearsed the developmental efforts that have been made which had transformed the name and image of Fugar Community. To this end, Vice Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe (Rtd.) is to be reckoned with as one of those who transformed the name and image of Fugar with the creation of Etsako Central Local Government Area and the tarring of Fugar township roads. If more of such illustrious sons and daughters of Fugar could demonstrate such patriotism by attracting development to Fugar, Fugar Community would become a wonderful place in terms of development said Chief Alemoh. There are people who thrive on opportunism. They should have a re-think.
As pointed out by Chief Alemoh, with the coming of the proposed University, the present residential accommodations in Fugar are not enough and not even standard enough to meet the need of the challenges of becoming a University town. He therefore joined the Professor and said that all hands must be on deck to lift the image of Fugar and Afemai Community as a whole to greater heights by embarking on infrastructural development effort within the shortest possible time.
Those who invest in our Afeimai University will have first rights in every advantage the University will provide since a Board of Honours will be erected for all to see. It is important to stress that this is our Afeimai University through which the educational aspirations of all Afeimai will be realized.
At the end of this ceremony with a vote of thanks moved by Chief Fidelis Omoera (JP), the former Vice-Chairman, Etsako Central Local Government Council, and prayer led by Pa Sir A. B. C. Nasamu, the people of Fugar and all in attendance went home with satisfaction and pride that in actual fact Fugar is becoming and has become a University Town.